Favourite Film and Song

September 16, 2016
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Considering his work schedule and the travel, it is natural that Narendra Modi never really had the time to watch films. As Modi explained in an interview,  "I am generally not inclined towards movies.  But I used to watch them in my youth, out of that curiosity which only youth brings.  Even then, it was never my temperament to watch movies just for entertainment.  Instead, it was in my habit to search for lessons for life in the stories those movies told.  I recall that, once, I went with some of my teachers and friends to watch the famous Hindi movie Guide that was based on a novel by R.K. Narayan.  And, after the movie, I got into an intense debate with my friends. My argument was that the central idea in the movie was that, ultimately, everyone gets guided by his or her inner soul.  But since I was too young, my friends did not take me seriously!" The  film Guide made an impression on him for another purpose - the grim reality of drought and the visualimagery of helplessness that lack of water brings to farmers.  Later on in life, when he had the opportunity, he devoted a substantial portion of his tenure in Gujarat in promoting institutionalised mechanisms of  water conservation. It is a project which he has brought to the national level as well in his Prime Ministerial role.

As Shri Modi got immersed in work and the demands of his elected office became his first priority, the luxury of being able to watch films was no longer available to him. However, he did constantly remain in touch with the world of art and culture. Deeply valuing the contribution of our artists in our overall cultural consciousness,  Shri Modi initiated innovative ideas like the Kite Festival in Gujarat to more recently organising the Bharat Parv in the Rajpath Lawns near India Gate.

And does Modi have a favourite song? The instantaneous response is Lata Mangeskar's exhorting rendition of the song "हो पवन वेग से उड़ने वाले घोड़े......" from the film the 1961 film 'Jai Chittor'? The raw energy of Bharat Vyyas's inspiring lyrics, captured so emphatically in S.N. Tripathi's composition have long remains Modi's favourite -  "तेरे कंधों पे आज भार है मेवाड़ का, करना पड़ेगा तुझे सामना पहाड़ का....हल्दीघाटी नहीं है काम कोई खिलवाड़ का, देना जवाब वहाँ शेरों के दहाड़ का ......"

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How seven years of Modi government has transformed India: Akhilesh Mishra
May 31, 2021
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s second government has just completed two years in office. Overall, he has now been in the Prime Minister’s office for seven years. It is a long enough time to take stock of the hits and misses of an incumbent head of government. So, how should we assess PM Modi’s tenure so far?

One obvious way is, of course, through the list of achievements, most of which are quantifiable. As an example, the numbers reached in flagship schemes are quite extraordinary. Banking the unbanked through the Jan Dhan Yojana — 42 crore bank accounts — and thus taking financial inclusion to every home in India. Funding the unfunded through Mudra Yojana — 29 crore loan sanctions and Rs 15 lakh crore disbursals — and thus seeding an entrepreneurial revolution. Digitising the undigitised through UPI — 25 billion real-time transactions in 2020 — and thus making India the largest digital payments ecosystem in the world.

However, beyond these remarkable numbers, there is one other way to assess the success or otherwise of Modi — the changes in our national character. What are some of these changes?

First, Modi has fundamentally altered the way central governments used to understand economic policy-making. Before Modi, they almost exclusively focused on macroeconomics and the glamour associated with it, while relegating microeconomics to the background or at best to state governments. That is why even after more than 66 years of Independence (in 2014, before Modi took over), the country was still struggling to electrify all its villages, leave alone homes, or ensure proper sanitation coverage in every village, or make healthcare affordable to all.

Modi has corrected this imbalance. So, ensuring that every house gets a tap water connection is now as much a priority as framing a policy framework for privatisation or creating a new paradigm for the agriculture sector with the new farm laws. To his credit, Modi has been able to make stellar progress in these domains.

Second, Modi has forever changed the mindset of only expecting “second best” delivery from central governments. The people of this country will no longer be satisfied with being laggards or followers. If the world develops an efficacious vaccine to combat Covid-19 in less than a year, then we now expect India to be leading that race with not just homegrown vaccines but also administering it at a pace that is amongst the fastest in the world.

Third, Modi has changed our acquired character of the last 70 years, which backed down when faced with a powerful adversary. China, used to having its way from the One Belt One Road initiative to the South China Sea, was stared down into retreating from Doklam and Pangong lake. From climate change negotiations, to free trade agreements, and from large multinational corporations used to bulldozing their way to global think tanks pretending to sway Indian discourse — everyone has realised that this India of 2021 is not the India they knew pre-2014.

Fourth, one of the most significant changes has been in our foreign policy. It is no longer about moral science lectures but is now driven purely through the prism of hard-core national interest. Realpolitik, divorced from grandstanding, is now part of the arsenal.

Fifth, respect for private enterprise and legitimate profit-seeking is no longer taboo. The defence that Modi himself mounted for entrepreneurs — terming them as nation builders — in Parliament is already getting translated into policy and in time may become his most significant economic contribution yet.

Sixth, the work done in empowering women and freeing them from clutches of societal constraints may, in time, become Modi’s most significant social contribution. From administering India’s most important union ministries to permanent commission in the armed forces and from establishing crores of small and micro enterprises to corporate boardrooms, and from freedom from the regressive instant Triple Talaq to legitimate rights in ancestral property — almost all the hidden glass ceilings have been broken.

Seventh, and perhaps the defining and the long-lasting contribution of Modi, would be the way he has managed to fuse our glorious civilisational heritage with our modern impulses. This nation now celebrates the construction of the Ram Temple as exuberantly as it rejoices in the success of the ASAT mission or awaits the launch of Gaganyaan.

The PM Modi-led government is the only government in decades to have been re-elected with a full majority. As the nation battles through the second Covid-19 wave, the appropriate way for the Modi government to mark its seventh anniversary would be to rededicate itself to the seva — service — of the people of this country. This would not just be in tune with the current national imperative but would also be a fitting tribute to the people who voted in this government. After all, would not permanently changing the role of governments — from ruling to seva — be the most stellar achievement of Modi?