I'm an outsider to Delhi and to politics as well: Narendra Modi

Published By : Admin | May 6, 2014 | 12:52 IST

In his recent interview to The Times of India, Shri Narendra Modi outlines his vision on the economy, the environment, defence and internal security, even as he articulates his views on Pakistan, China and the US, ministry-formation, and his style of running government.

Excerpts from the interview:

You and BJP seem confident about getting a majority on May 16. BJP had exuded similar optimism in 2004 and 2009. In 2004, many BJP leaders even allocated portfolios to themselves. What makes you feel that BJP is going to be lucky this time?

If you have attended some of my rallies you would not have asked this question. Recently I have seen some media reports stating that the BJP campaign this time has probably been the biggest mass mobilization exercise of its kind in the history of elections. Even I was not aware of the details till I saw some of these reports. If you see the statements of all political pundits, there is unanimity that there is a strong wave for the BJP-NDA. Political surveys paint a similar picture. Independent analysis of media groups also point to the same thing. How else will you explain the fact that many leaders of the Congress have decided to stay away from this election? It was due to the fear of losing. On the other hand, the fact that we have more than 25 partners in our pre-poll alliance also shows the increasing support we are getting. The response of the people on the ground has been so overwhelming that it is difficult to fully describe it. I have got unbelievable and unprecedented response not in just one, two or three, but in hundreds of rallies across the country. There is tremendous groundswell of support for the BJP. It is something that has never been seen before.

Your campaign has been on the themes of development, growth and good governance. But some of your colleagues have raked up controversial issues, raising fears that your focus on secular themes is just a ruse and that you will take up Hindutva issues once you assume office.

There is this problem of artificial comparisons. While several senior leaders of Congress and of other parties have indulged in the worst kind of comments against me, they have largely gone unnoticed by the media. However, in case of the BJP even a small anonymous worker chanting a particular slogan or a junior leader making a statement is given a lot of hype. There is over eagerness on the part of certain vested interest groups to somehow find out some controversial statements from the BJP. I think a neutral analysis by any journalist will tell us that the BJP campaign this time has been focused totally on the issues of development and good governance. Many political pundits told us that elections in India cannot be won only on the issues of development and good governance. We decided to prove them wrong. It is our responsibility to shift the focus of campaign from trivial issues and personal attacks to the issues of public interest, development and good governance. I wonder if our political opponents would have refrained from the use of abusive language and personal attacks, probably we would have written a new chapter in Indian electoral politics.

Your campaign of development and governance has failed to convince Muslims and other minorities. They have consolidated against you. Do you consider all this to be a failure of your efforts or success of your opponents? Also, do you think it will be possible for you to get rid of the baggage of the 2002 Gujarat riots?

Your question shows how the media, or at least parts of it, are caught in a time warp. Today it is anachronistic to think that a community won't be interested in development and good governance. In fact, it is an insult to the intellect of the Indian voter by such parties that believe that he can be made to forget about real issues of poverty and development and get him to vote in a particular manner just by making him insecure by fear-mongering. The Indian voter today is more mature than what our political opponents give him credit for. I have heard the statements of several prominent leaders of the minority community asking Congress not to try and make them insecure by fear-mongering. They have started to ask what really has Congress done for the minorities and this is where Congress secures a big zero. It's their mindset that they need not do anything substantive for improving the lives of the people and they can just manipulate them along caste and communal lines to get their votes. It is this politics of vote banks which has done the maximum damage to our country in the last sixty years. Now this type of politics has attained its expiry date. Such political parties should either reform or they face an actual threat of becoming extinct.

Our slogan, on the other hand, has been
Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas. We believe in taking everyone together. We believe only the issues of development and good governance impact the lives of all citizens of this country regardless of their caste, creed, region or religion.

You have alleged that the UPA government tried to use the CBI to frame you. Can you please elaborate? Did the alleged plot fail because of CBI's resistance or because the agency failed in its effort? Would you consider an inquiry into the conduct of CBI during UPA's tenure, especially with regard to Gujarat-related cases?

In the last 10 years, the kind of efforts that the UPA government put in somehow fixing me in some or the other false case was huge. If they would have put even ounce of that effort in solving the country's problems, they would not have been in as precarious a situation as that they are in today.

I am a forward looking individual. I have a positive frame of mind. I am also clear that we cannot afford to make the same mistakes that the UPA government made in the last 10 years. I do not believe in the politics of vendetta and witch-hunting. Having said that, it is going to be our duty to reform the institutions and to strengthen them so that they can function effectively and professionally as envisaged under the constitutional arrangement or the statutory provisions. The apex court has on several occasions made adverse observations on the conduct of CBI. It will be our endeavour to ensure that CBI is no longer an institution which can be manipulated to achieve political ends.

How do you view Kapil Sibal's statement that you are a "potential accused" in the Tulsiram Prajapati case, and that the CBI failed to probe your and Amit Shah's complicity in "encounter cases"?

Mr. Sibal is an eminent lawyer and the law minister of the country. Though he is knowledgeable, but more often than not, he uses his legal acumen to the detriment of the country. From what I have observed about him, he places individual interest and the party interest above the interest of the country and the government. Probably he is the only law minister who can coin the term "potential accused". Now that the UPA government is nearing its end, his desperation is increasing by the day. This particular statement is a complete giveaway of his old desire to somehow implicate me in some or the other false case. He must, however, know that in our country there is rule of law and the law is above the law minister.

Mr. Sibal's enthusiasm is not something new. During the 2009 Lok Sabha elections while campaigning in Gujarat, he had publicly declared that if a UPA government is to be formed, he will put Modi in jail.

Sibal has also said that the UPA government has zeroed in on the judge who will conduct an investigation into the allegation that the Gujarat government put a woman architect under illicit surveillance. Your comment?

If Mr. Sibal were to have his way, he would have not only found a judge, he would have also obtained the kind of report that he wants so badly. But he doesn't realize that we have a fiercely independent judiciary. I must say that the conduct of Mr. Sibal in some of the issues has been very unbecoming of a Union Cabinet Minister. He has a lot to answer to the nation. He must understand that institutions and processes are sacrosanct and they cannot be sacrificed at the altar of political expediency.

Mr. Sibal is certainly not a person known for respecting the law or believing in administrative propriety. He is one of those who think that they know the law better than anybody else and so they have a right to abuse the law to meet their ends, however questionable they are. He believes that he is the only intelligent person around and he can mislead the entire nation by his false logic and misinterpretation of laws and facts. After all, he is the one who tried to tell the nation about the zero loss theory in the 2G spectrum scam. It is people like him who have done damage to our institutions. It is also due to leaders like him that the Congress party is in such a poor situation today.

You have aroused very high expectations in the people. Does that worry you? People may be expecting results very soon. As Ram Manohar Lohia said, "Jinda qaumen paanch saal intezaar nahin karti (Democracies don't always wait for five years)."

I am not at all worried. On the contrary, it gives me a sense of satisfaction that even in this climate of extreme pessimism and cynicism, we have been able to revive people's interest in politics. I am happy that people across the country have started feeling a positive energy. There is a sense of hope and expectation rather than a sense of gloom and despair which existed through the past decade. I am certainly conscious that raised expectations bring along with them enhanced responsibility. We are committed to work that much harder to discharge our obligations. All I can promise is that we will work hard with utmost sincerity and commitment to fulfill the dreams and aspirations of the crores of people of our great nation.

When asked whether Robert Vadra will be prosecuted, you have said that you will not engage in political vendetta or a witch hunt. At the same time, you have also said that law will take its own course, and that matters concerning probity in public life cannot be treated as personal issues. Will it be right to say that you are promising no immunity to anyone?

Our country is run by the rule of law. It is not run as per the likes and dislikes of individuals occupying high office. Thus, it would be absurd to even debate that anyone can be granted immunity from law even if that person is me.

You have said that Congress is headed for its worst-ever performance in LS elections? What will be the impact of that on the party?

Congress is fighting for its survival. You might have observed that many of its senior leaders have opted out of elections and are nowhere to be seen during the campaign. The fight is now for the relevance of Gandhi family as unquestioned leaders of the Congress party. Their target is to somehow cross the hundred-seat mark so that their leadership of the Congress party is not challenged. However, I see all possibility of the Congress falling below the hundredseat mark and if that happens, there will be a serious churning within Congress over the issue of leadership.

Do you think Rahul Gandhi has proved to be a failure and should make way for Priyanka Gandhi?

It is for the Congress party to take these decisions post the election results. However, it seems odd that a national party like the Congress should not be able to think beyond the Gandhi family for providing leadership.

What do you think of AAP's future? Has it hindered your campaign by poaching a slice of middle class supporters who were disappointed with Congress and could have tilted towards BJP? It is also said that all doubts about BJP's victory in this election would have been put to rest if AAP not stopped BJP from winning the Delhi polls in December.

BJP is a party which draws its strength from its organizational network and a huge base of its workers and volunteers. Besides, the ground level support from voters in this election has been too huge to be impacted by the advent of any new political parties or formations. We are a party which is fighting on the basis of its own strength. We have set our own agenda and the support we are getting is a positive support for it. The support we are getting is on the basis of our track record and the promises that we have made.

Do you think AAP can replace Congress as an all-India "secular" alternative to Congress should the latter fail as miserably as you say it will?

After the elections, there will be hardly anything left of the Congress party to replace it.

Naxals have been identified as the single biggest internal security threat. To tackle it, one school suggests tough measures while another feels it is an offshoot of larger socio-economic factors and that the symptom will not go away unless the root cause is addressed. Which method would you prefer?

The use of the term Naxalism is outdated and incorrect. Maoism would be a more correct description. Maoism and terrorism are the biggest threats to our internal security. I have always advocated a zero tolerance approach to these problems. Further, we need a clearcut legal framework to address these challenges. Regardless of what are the reasons for the people to resort to violence, our ability to deal with it should not be compromised by lack of preparedness. We can choose to deal with issues the way we want, but our response should not be constrained by unavailability of options. Therefore, I feel that modernizing our police forces and our central paramilitary forces is something that cannot be delayed any longer.

We should invest to equip our security forces with modern weapons and equipments, train them and deploy them effectively. I also feel that Maoism is a problem which has to be tackled by the Central and state governments acting in unison with complete coordination.

You have said that you do not want to be confrontational with Pakistan. Do you feel that your "tough-on-national security" platform will give you space to deal with Pakistan?

We do not want to be confrontational with any country. Foreign policy cannot be conducted by having a confrontational approach with neighbours or for that matter with any other country. We have to conduct our foreign policy with all other nations and specially our neighbours with a sense of trust and mutual cooperation. However, supremacy of national interest has to be one of the basic planks of foreign policy.

Relations cannot be improved as long as there is a trust deficit and to bridge the trust deficit, mere talk cannot replace concrete action. Our country continues to face the onslaught of terrorism emanating out of the soil of Pakistan. The first step in building any meaningful relation with Pakistan has to be Pakistan taking effective and demonstrable action against the terror networks that operate from its soil. Once that happens there will be an increased trust between the two neighbours which will enable us to pursue a policy of dialogue to solve all the issues. We will be very frank and forthright in our dealing with Pakistan.

We are very clear that both our countries have a common history and we share not only borders but also common culture and traditions. Besides, the problems that we face are also common; our biggest enemy being poverty and lack of development. India and Pakistan can together write a new chapter in the development of South Asia if the two countries were to concentrate on fighting poverty and unemployment. 

Will you be deterred by the fact that Pakistan responded to Vajpayee's peace initiative by launching the Kargil attack?

I will only say that we should not be constrained by what has happened in the past if the present throws up new possibilities in terms of solutions. However, as I have said, building trust between the two nations is prerequisite to any further meaningful movement on the relations and that can happen only when the terror networks operating out of Pakistan are dismantled.

Pakistan has multiple centres of power and there is universal acknowledgement that the Army calls the shots when it comes to relations with India. Will you be mindful of this reality?

It goes without saying that pragmatic foreign policy has to be guided by an understanding of the ground realities. However, I think the people in Pakistan increasingly want to strengthen the democratic institutions in Pakistan. As a responsible member of global fraternity, we would also like to work with Pakistan, like any other nation to ensure that the democratic institutions in Pakistan are strengthened.

China has been very warm towards investment prospects in Gujarat. Unlike the US, it did not bring the 2002 riots in its dealings with Gujarat under you. Do you think you can build upon that to settle political differences?

It is possible to solve our problems with China and take the relationship with it to another level. If India and China want to work together towards improving our relationship and resolving our differences, it would be helpful to both the nations. The 21st century belongs to Asia. More than 60% of the world's population resides in Asia. It would thus be in the interest of the entire world that Asia develops and concentrates on improving the standard of living of its people.

Will the strain between you and the US over its refusal of visa to you come in the way of US's anxiety to mend fences?

I have said several times in the past that relations between the two countries cannot be determined or be even remotely influenced by incidents related to individuals. The Atal Bihari Vajpayee government started a new era of partnership with the US. We will build upon that and take it forward. It is in the interest of both the nations to develop further on our relationship. The oldest democracy in the world and the largest democracy in the world are natural allies and we must work together towards global peace and prosperity.

You have clarified that your "news trader" barb was not directed at media as a whole but only those with a vested interest to "distort" facts about you and Gujarat. Still, there's a perception that you are suspicious of the "national" media and have bypassed it by communicating through the regional media.

I am always very clear and forthright on my views about the media. I have the highest respect for media as the fourth pillar of our democracy. I feel a strong, vibrant and neutral media is indispensable for a free democracy. However, even if certain sections of media start being prejudiced about a particular issue and become obstinate about not seeing the truth, it can harm the institution of media and, by extension, our democracy. It is worse when such prejudice is a result of manipulation by vested interest groups, achieved by distortion of facts and perpetuation of lies.

I have the highest respect for the media and I wish people in media will ensure that such aberrations will be dealt by them in an institutional manner. Everybody has a right to form opinions and to express them. However, where there is difference of opinion on facts and matters of law, it is in everybody's interest to let there be a finality of opinion with the judicial system. We should all learn to respect that. That is the only way we can save ourselves from continuous acrimony. 

Do you fear that this equation will be a handicap if you become PM?

As I have said, I have a healthy relationship with the media. Just as I do not believe in trying to influence the media, similarly I am not one to be bulldozed by the media. I have always believed that I will do my work and let media do its work. The media should respect my independence as much as it wants its own independence to be respected by those in politics and government.

It is said that you are the archetypal outsider, that if you were to be the PM, it will mark the biggest departure yet from the past, not just in terms of focus and priorities, but also culture.

I would not contest that description and analysis. I actually consider myself as an outsider not only to Delhi politics but to politics per se. For 50 years of my life, I was just moving around interacting with people trying to understand the problems they face. I was always on the move from one part of the country to another, from one state to another. I have made overnight stays in more than 400 districts of the country. I have seen firsthand the problems and challenges that our people face. I have seen firsthand the hopes and expectations they have. I have also seen from close quarters the kind of talent our people have and the kind of hard work they are ready to put in to improve their lives. To that extent I am always one among the people.

Do you feel that your being an outsider will hinder your effectiveness in office?

On the contrary, it always helps me in discharging my responsibilities. In all my meetings with officers, I am always wearing the hat of the citizen and trying to think on his behalf. I think the sheer amount of time I have spent with people helps me to retain a high level of empathy and understanding for the common man.

Do you feel the Delhi elite will respond to you if you succeed in the face of their hostility?

I don't think anybody wants India to remain poor. They will all be contributors to this journey of progress and prosperity rather than being an impediment as you seem to suggest.

BJP's manifesto promises robust defence preparedness. Defence acquisitions are delayed because of red-tape, institutional risk-aversion and procedural delays which are often engineered by rival factions of arms dealers. How do you propose to get around the problem which has defeated so many honest intentions in the past?

Our armed forces and our men and women in uniform have always displayed highest valour and courage. The nation stands indebted to the heroic sacrifices made by our armed forces in protecting our land and borders. Historically we have always been a nation that has never been the aggressor but one which will fight to the last to defend itself against any aggression. We should take all steps to ensure that our defence preparedness is of the highest order to be able to meet any covert or overt aggression. We also need to ensure that the morale of our defence personnel remains high at all times, and for this, the government needs to take the extra steps to address genuine concerns of our officers and soldiers.

The last 10 years have seen our defence preparedness becoming weak on account of several procurement procedures mired by long delays leading to shortage of arms and equipment. The ideal situation is an efficient procurement system leading to timely and cost effective procurement of quality defence equipment, done in a transparent manner. In the past, we had instances of good quality arms being procured but lacking in transparency in their procurement. In the last 10 years have a paradoxical situation where there was hardly any procurement happening in time and still serious questions of transparency have been raised. I think the time has come when domestic production of defence equipment and machinery needs to be seriously incentivized by the government in a carefully calibrated manner so that we move towards indigenous equipment manufacturing in the medium term without compromising our preparedness in the short term. I am convinced that the time for this idea has come up.

​We must start with indigenizing military equipment. The DRDO has several decades of experience but India still imports most of its military hardware. We should involve Indian corporates in PPPs for defence manufacturing. We have the scientific and technical knowhow but the arms lobby has prevented indigenization of military hardware. This must change, making Indian defence more self-reliant and also saving foreign exchange.

Delhi is full of speculation about the team of ministers in your government. Have you applied your mind to the task yet? It is a relevant question but premature.

You have said that the decision to contest from Varanasi was that of the party. What's the reason it cited? Which seat will you keep if you are elected from both Varanasi and Vadodara?

It was a decision by the party taken in the interest of the party. How many seats to contest from, which seats to contest from, which seat to retain etc. are all issues that are to be decided by the party. As a disciplined worker, I am committed to implement party decisions.

You have also said that it is the party which will decide who should take over in Gujarat if you move to Delhi. But you are sure to be consulted. Who will you back? Anandiben Patel? Will Amit Shah join the PMO?

These are speculative questions that have no answer at present. We will cross the bridge when we come to it. What I can assure is that these are all going to be collective decisions of the party and the interest of Gujarat will be kept in mind as being above all considerations.

You seem to indicate that economy will be a big focus area for you. How will you address the problem of jobless growth? Is the decision opposing FDI in multi-brand retail final?

The first priority of the government will be to restore the health of the economy and put it back on track. This is not only important for reviving growth, but also important for generating employment. If there is one single thing that I feel needs maximum attention, it is generating employment for our youth.

To restore the health of the economy, a number of steps need to be taken. The first and the foremost will be to bring back the focus on infrastructure and manufacturing sector. For this we will have to move away quickly from the present state of policy paralysis and create an enabling environment to revive investor sentiment. We will also have to take steps to remove procedural bottlenecks and expedite decisionmaking process for clearing projects.

Even as we take effective steps to revive growth and generate employment, we will also have to take specific measures for controlling inflation. This will require addressing the supply side concerns. This, in turn, would mean reviving the agriculture sector and come out of the present state wherein agriculture is being seen as non-remunerative. Farmers of this country feed the nation. Just enacting legislations without adequately addressing the challenges that the farmer faces is nothing but a mockery of farmers and the poor. The farming sector has to be revived and we must try to usher in a second green revolution. This can be done only by investing heavily on irrigation facilities and beginning work in right earnest on the river linking project. On the issue of FDI in retail our position has been made clear in our party manifesto.

There is speculation that you will govern more through efficient bureaucrats than your ministers. Your comments.

I do not concur with this. In our democracy, the buck stops with the political executive. BJP and its NDA partners have several years of experience in government. We have the most experienced and talented people to run the government. As I have said on several occasions, we have to work as a team.

You have raised unemployment and jobless growth as a major issue against the UPA. In so doing you appear to have raised expectations of the youth who are looking for a quick solution. Can you tackle the challenge of employment generation swiftly?

The record of the UPA government on creating jobs has been very poor. While the NDA government created more than 6 crore jobs in its 6-year rule, the UPA government has created only 1.5 crore jobs in 10 years!

Job creation has to be our primary target. There is no point in talking about hollow development schemes when the people are not getting jobs. I understand the raised expectations of youth. This is because there was absolute pessimism in the last 10 years. They now have a glimmer of hope and that is due to our track record. I think our youth is extremely talented, capable and ready to work hard. They have a right to dream. They have a right to build their own lives and careers. It is our responsibility to give them ample opportunity. It is our responsibility to ensure that they get the right kind of education and skills so that they can be employed.

We are aware of the expectations and we are ready to work hard to meet those expectations.

Growing joblessness in the manufacturing sector is a cause for worry. More are finding work in the services sector. Do you think this needs to be reversed?

The UPA government did not focus on the manufacturing sector. We are very clear that we have to focus on the manufacturing sector because that is where jobs are generated. Even within the manufacturing sector, there has to be adequate focus on the micro, small and medium enterprises. The next war that is going to be fought globally is the "jobs war". We must prepare our country to face that challenge.

Homelessness is another giant challenge. Low interest rates helped many among the middle and lower middle classes to buy their own homes. But the rise in interest rates has put the dream beyond the reach of many. Can you make any commitments on easing the burden on the salaried class?

It is a matter of shame that even after 65 years of independence, we have not been able to provide shelter to our citizens. The Congress government never gave adequate focus on this issue. We are clear that by the time our country completes 75 years of independence, every family should have a house of its own. Not only this, we should aim that this house has access to toilets, water and electricity. To achieve this, there has to be a national policy on affordable housing. Any such policy has to creatively leverage land as a resource. We will aim at arriving at a policy which has a mix of public investment and private investment and the focus will be on easy access to credit including interest subvention, if necessary. 

What about the economically weaker sections? Can existing schemes like Indira Awas Yojana be scaled up or modified, or will you like to launch new projects?

We have to examine all options in a comprehensive manner. Our focus has to be on addressing the issue of urban and rural housing in a comprehensive manner. We will focus on the economically weaker sections.

What do you think of NREGA? Opinion is split about its benefits. Its votaries say that it has set a floor for rural wage and has provided cushion to landless labour. Critics say that it has distorted the wage market, and the billions spent without any durable community assets being created. What is your view?

We are committed to the effective implementation of NREGA. However, there is a need to analyze the costs and benefits in a professional manner. Experts should be asked to find out the loopholes and plug them. One thing is clear: at present, there is hardly any creation of durable community assets. We cannot let so much public money be spent without creating any durable assets. It also needs to be examined whether part of the NREGA funds can be used for rural housing, rural sanitation and providing skills to the unemployed in rural areas. I feel that after the Act was passed by Parliament with the support of parties like BJP, the UPA government did not follow it up with proper implementation. They were more interested in reaping political benefit out of this scheme rather than focusing on effective implementation to provide employment support.

Indian agriculture faces the problem of low productivity and rising pressure on land. How can things be remedied at a time when wages are rising?

I have often said that we have to address the problem of low productivity in agriculture. Agriculture needs to be made remunerative to farmers. The entire methodology of fixing the MSP needs to be relooked at. The farmer has to be adequately compensated for his efforts. The UPA government has neglected the agriculture sector and has done nothing for farmers. We need to bring back the focus on agriculture and take effective steps to improve the lives of farmers.

The first step has to be adequate investment in the irrigation sector. The Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana promised in our manifesto is a clear pointer to the focus that we are likely to give to the agriculture sector.

Secondly, we have to take research in agriculture from lab to land. For this there has to be massive increase in extension activity. In short, we are committed to bringing the agriculture sector out of the present state of government apathy and neglect. Our focus is going to be on increasing productivity and thereby the income of the Indian farmer.

We also need to invest heavily on agro infrastructure and create value addition for the products. This will not only create additional employment opportunities but also increase the income of farmers.

There has been in recent years an intense environment versus growth debate. Do you think it is possible to resolve the tension between the competing objectives?

I think that we can take care of environment concerns even while giving sanction to projects. The problem arises when the procedure for environment clearance is used in a malafide manner for rent-seeking. This leads to projects being delayed. In such a situation, environment protection is not the objective of the government and projects are also delayed. It is this lose-lose situation which prevailed in the last 10 years. I am convinced that we can move towards a win-win situation where all environment concerns will be adequately addressed, but not at the cost of project delays. All decisions, even rejection of proposals, should be taken in a transparent and time-bound manner.

Many of your colleagues have complained about a determined attempt by your "secular" opponents to rally Muslims against your PM campaign. What is your response?

The Congress party is now staring at certain defeat. In all likelihood, it won't cross the hundred figure mark. As a last ditch effort out of a sheer desperation, it is trying to hide in the bunker of secularism. The Congress party and some of its allies are trying to resort to fear-mongering among the minority community. However, they do not realize that today's India no longer responds to fear-mongering. Most people can see through such gimmicks.

I only feel that it is unfortunate that a national party should resort to such tactics. However, I am confident that this is going to backfire and even lead to a backlash from the minority community which has now started seeing through the vote bank politics of Congress and is getting increasingly disenchanted with its politics.

It is said that if a Modi sarkar assumes office, RSS will work as an extra-constitutional authority. Your comment?

The only holy book of the government is the Indian Constitution. I am very clear that the government is run as per the constitutional provisions.

Why did you not campaign in Rai Bareli but in Amethi?

These are issues decided by the party as per its best interest.

What do you think of the censoring of your interview to Doordarshan?

It is highly unfortunate that the national broadcaster has to come under political pressure and political interference. It is yet another example of how the Congress party has tinkered with the institutions.

The list of institutions it has tried to damage is now growing longer by the day. They have interfered in the functioning of CBI, IB, CVC, CAG, etc. They have even tried to disobey the orders of the apex court. Even today they continue to abuse the position of the institution of governor.

I wish there is greater debate among the champions of press freedom on this issue.

Courtesy: The Times of India

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PM Modi's interview to Moneycontrol
September 06, 2023

Ahead of the G20 Summit in New Delhi, PM Modi tells Moneycontrol about his vision for India’s role in a world riven by geopolitical uncertainties, the need for credible global institutions and dangers from financially irresponsible policies. He said, "India’s growth is not only good for Indians but also for the world. India’s growth is clean and green growth. India’s growth is being achieved with a human-centric approach that can be replicated in other countries too."

Q: What was your vision for G20 in India when the Presidency moved to us?

A: If you see our motto for the G20, it is ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam – One Earth One Family One Future’. This captures our outlook towards the G20 Presidency aptly. For us, the whole planet is like one family. In any family, each member’s future is deeply connected with that of every other member. So, when we work together, we progress together, leaving none behind.

Further, it is well known that we have followed the approach of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas, Sabka Prayas in our country over the last 9 years. It has yielded great dividends in bringing the country together to pursue progress and deliver the fruits of growth to the last mile. Today, there is international recognition for the success of this model, too.

This is our guiding principle in global relations as well.

Sabka Saath – bringing the world together to face collective challenges that affect all of us.

Sabka Vikas – taking human-centric growth to every country and every region.

Sabka Vishwas – winning the trust of every stakeholder through recognition of their aspirations and representation of their voices.

Sabka Prayas – utilising every country’s unique strength and skill in furthering the global good.

Q: You will be hosting world leaders during a time of war and great geopolitical uncertainty. The international order has not been as unstable as this since the Second World War. Amid such a situation, the theme of the G20 summit is Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, or One World, One Family, One Future. How are the presidents and prime ministers you meet responding to your call for Vasudaiva Kutumbakam and a human-centred approach to solving international problems?

A: To answer this question, it is important for me to speak a little bit about the backdrop in which India became the G20 President. As you said, a pandemic followed by conflict situations posed a lot of questions to the world about existing development models. It also pushed the world into an era of uncertainty and instability.

Over the last many years, the world has been keenly watching India’s growth across many sectors. Our economic reforms, banking reforms, capacity building in the social sector, work on financial and digital inclusion, the pursuit of saturation in basic necessities such as sanitation, electricity and housing, and unprecedented investment in infrastructure have been hailed by international organisations and domain experts. Global investors also showed their confidence in India by creating records in FDI year after year.

So, when the pandemic struck, there was curiosity about how India would fare. We fought the pandemic with a clear and coordinated approach. We took care of the needs of the poor and vulnerable. Our digital public infrastructure helped us reach them directly with welfare assistance throughout. The world’s largest vaccine drive provided 200 crore doses free. We also shipped vaccines and medicines to over 150 countries. It was recognised that our human-centric vision of progress had worked pre-pandemic, during the pandemic and after it. At the same time, our economy was a global bright spot for a long time and continued to be so even when the world was facing the multi-dimensional impact of a conflict.

Meanwhile, over the last 9 years, the world has also witnessed that India was willing to bring various countries together through various initiatives such as the International Solar Alliance and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure, among others. Therefore, there was a widespread acknowledgement of India's words, work and vision as both inclusive and effective, nationally and internationally. At such a time when global trust in our country’s capabilities was at unprecedented levels, we became the G20 President.

So, when we laid out our agenda for the G20, it was welcomed universally, because everyone knew that we would bring our proactive and positive approach to help find solutions for global issues. As the G20 President, we are also launching a bio-fuel alliance that will help countries meet their energy needs while also empowering a planet-friendly circular economy.

When global leaders meet me, they are filled with a sense of optimism about India due to the efforts of 140 crore Indians across various sectors. They are also convinced that India has a lot to offer and must play a larger role in shaping the global future. This has also been witnessed in their support for our work through the G20 platform.

Q: You have described India’s Presidency of the G20 as the People’s Presidency. Instead of confining it to one or two cities, G20 events have been hosted across the country. What made you decide about the novel idea of democratising G20?

A: Many people are aware of my life after I became Chief Minister of Gujarat. But for many decades before that, I had played organisational roles, both in apolitical and political setups. As a result, I have been blessed with the opportunity to visit and stay in almost every district of our country. For a naturally inquisitive person like me, learning about different regions, the people, unique cultures and cuisines, and their challenges, among other aspects, was a tremendous educative experience. Even as I marvelled at the diversity of our vast nation, there was one common thing that I observed across the country. People of every region and every section of society had a ‘can do’ spirit. They took on challenges with great resourcefulness and skill. They had great self-belief even amidst adversity. All they needed was a platform that empowered them.

Historically, in the circles of power, there was a certain reluctance to think beyond Delhi, particularly Vigyan Bhavan, for hosting national and international meets. This may have been due to convenience or lack of confidence in the people.

Further, we have also seen how even the visits of foreign leaders would be restricted to mainly the national capital or a couple of other places.Having witnessed the capabilities of the people and the wonderful diversity of our country, I developed a different perspective. So, our government has worked on changing the approach since day one.

I have hosted several engagements with global leaders around the country.

Let me quote a few examples. The then-German Chancellor Angela Merkel was hosted in Bengaluru. French President Emmanuel Macron and the then-Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Varanasi. Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa was hosted in Goa and Mumbai. Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina visited Shantiniketan. The then-French President Francois Hollande visited Chandigarh.

Many global meets have also been held in different places outside Delhi. The Global Entrepreneurship Summit was held in Hyderabad. India hosted the BRICS Summit in Goa and the Forum for India-Pacific Islands Corporation Summit in Jaipur. I can go on quoting examples, but the pattern that you can observe here is that this is a great change from the prevailing approach.

Another point to note here is that many of the examples I have quoted are of states that had non-NDA governments at the time. This is also a testament to our firm belief in cooperative federalism and bipartisanship when it comes to national interest.

This is the same spirit that you can see in our G20 Presidency too.

By the end of our G20 Presidency, there will have been over 220 meetings in 60 cities across all 28 states and 8 union territories. More than 1 lakh participants from approximately 125 nationalities will have visited India. Over 1.5 crore individuals in our country have been involved in these programmes or have been exposed to various aspects of them. Holding meetings of such scale and hosting foreign delegates is an endeavour that calls for great capacity building in terms of infrastructure, logistics, communication skills, hospitality and cultural activities, among others. Our democratisation of the G20 Presidency is our investment in the capacity building of the people, especially youth, of various cities across the country. Further, this is yet another example of our motto of Jan Bhagidari – we believe people’s participation is the most important factor in the success of any initiative.

Q: The G20 was set up in 1999 in response to the Asian financial crisis. While a number of international institutions that were established after the Second World War no longer seem fit for purpose, do you think that G20 has been able to fulfil its mandate?

A: I think it would not be right on my part, with India being the President of the G20 right now, to do an evaluation of the G20’s journey over the years.

But I think it is a good question which needs a larger exercise to arrive at the answer. Soon, the G20 will be nearing 25 years of establishment. Such a milestone is a good opportunity to evaluate what objectives the G20 set out with and how far it has been able to achieve them. Such introspection is a necessity for every institution. It would have been wonderful if the UN had undertaken such an exercise when it turned 75 years old.

Coming back to the G20, it would also be a good idea to seek the views of nations outside the G20, especially from the Global South, when it reaches the milestone of 25 years. Such inputs would be very valuable to chart the future course for the next 25 years.

I would like to mention that there are many countries, academic institutions, financial institutions and civil society organisations that continuously interact with the G20, provide ideas and inputs, and also convey expectations. Expectations are built only where there is a track record of delivery and there is trust that something will be accomplished.

India, too, has been active in this forum even before becoming G20 President. From terrorism to black money, from supply chain resilience to climate-conscious growth, we have made important contributions to the evolving discussions and actions over the years. There have also been appreciable developments in global cooperation on these issues after they were raised at G20. Of course, there is always scope for improvement, such as greater involvement of the Global South, and a bigger role for Africa, amongst others. These are the areas that India is working on, during its G20 Presidency.

Q: On one side, there is a lot of talk about the bifurcation of the global order, with blocs led by the United States and China. But on the other side, India has been advocating for a multipolar world and a multipolar Asia. How do you think India is reconciling competing and even divergent interests among G20 nations?

A: We live in a highly interconnected and interdependent world. The impact of technology transcends boundaries and borders.

At the same time, it is also a reality that every country has its own interests. So, a continuous effort to create a consensus on common goals is important. Different forums and platforms for dialogue are the place for this.

The new world order is multipolar. Every country agrees with another country on a few issues and disagrees on others. Having accepted this reality, a way forward is worked out based on their own national interests. India is also doing the same. We have close relations with many different countries, some of which find themselves on different sides on certain issues. But one common factor is both such countries have strong ties with India.

Today, the pressure on natural resources and infrastructure is increasing. At such a time, it is vital that the world strongly stands against the ‘might is right’ culture. It must be recognised that shared prosperity through optimum utilisation of resources is the only way ahead.

In such a context, India has a resource that is perhaps more important than any other kind of resource – human capital which is skilled and talented. Our demography, especially the fact that we are home to the largest population of youth in the world, makes us extremely relevant for the planet’s future. It also gives nations of the world a strong reason to partner with us in the pursuit of progress. In maintaining healthy relations with countries across the globe, I must also commend the role of the Indian diaspora. As a link between India and different countries, they play an influential and important part in India’s foreign policy outreach.

Q: India has been a strong advocate of reformed multilateralism as a priority for G20 so that we have an international order that is just and equitable. Can you elaborate on our vision for reformed multilateralism?

A: Institutions that cannot reform with the times cannot anticipate the future or prepare for it. Without this ability, they cannot create any real impact and end up as irrelevant debating clubs.

Further, when it is seen that such institutions cannot act against those who violate the global rules-based order or worse, get hijacked by such entities, they risk losing credibility. There is a need for credible multilateralism powered by institutions that embrace reform and treat various stakeholders with consistency, equality and dignity.

So far, we spoke about institutions. But beyond this, a reformed multilateralism also needs to focus on going beyond the institutional sphere to tap into the power of individuals, societies, cultures and civilizations. This can only be done by democratising international relations, and by not making government-to-government relations the only medium of contact. Increasing people-to-people contact through avenues such as trade and tourism, sports and science, culture and commerce, and mobility of talent and technology, amongst others, will create a true understanding between different nations, their aspirations and their points of view.

The interconnected nature of our world today can become a strength for peace and progress if we focus on a people-centric policy.

Q: A notable element of your diplomacy has been that India is friends with nearly every country in the world, which is a rarity. From the US to Russia and West Asia to Southeast Asia, you have solidified relationships across the board. Do you think that today India is the trustworthy voice of the Global South in the G20?

A: There are many factors behind the strengthening of India’s relationships with various countries across regions.

After many decades of instability, in 2014, the people of India voted for a stable government that had a clear agenda for development.

These reforms empowered India to not only strengthen its economy, education, health and welfare delivery but also gave the country the ability to become part of global solutions in various domains. Whether it is space or science, technology or trade, economy or ecology, India’s actions have been lauded worldwide.

Whenever any country interacted with us, they knew they were interacting with an aspirational India that was looking to partner with them in their progress while also taking care of its own interests. This was an India that had a lot to contribute to every relationship and naturally, our global footprint increased across regions and even countries that saw each other as adversaries became friendlier with us.

Further, when it comes to the Global South, these are countries with which we empathise. Since we too are part of the developing world, we understand their aspirations. At every forum including the G20, India has been raising the concerns of the countries of the Global South.

As soon as we became the President of the G20, we held the Voice of Global South Summit, which made it clear that we were a voice for the inclusion of those who felt excluded from the global discourse and institutional priorities.

We have given importance to our ties with Africa over the years. Even at the G20, we have given momentum to the idea of the inclusion of the African Union.

We are a nation that looks at the world as one family. Our G20 motto itself says that. In any family, every member’s voice matters and this is our idea for the world too.

Q: This is an El Nino year and the effects of climate change are more visible than ever in the form of flooding and fires. Even though developed countries talk a lot about climate change, they are not meeting their main climate pledge of providing $100 billion in finance by 2020. In contrast, there is an unending supply of money for wars. As a leader who is in tune with the aspiration of the Global South, what is your message to rich nations that are a part of the G20 on this issue?

A: I think there is a need to understand that the way forward is related to changes in scope, strategy and sensitivity. First, let me tell you how a change in scope is needed. The world, whether it is developed or developing countries, needs to accept that climate change is not only a reality but a shared reality. The impact of climate change is not regional or local but is global.

Yes, there will be regional variances in how it plays out.

Yes, the Global South will be affected disproportionately.

But in a deeply interconnected world, anything that affects such a huge population of the planet will surely have an impact on the rest of the world too. Therefore, the solution will have to be global in its scope.

The second factor in which change is needed is in terms of strategy. A disproportionate focus on restrictions, criticism and blame cannot help us tackle any challenge, especially when we seek to do it together. So, there is a need to focus on what positive actions are needed, such as energy transition, sustainable agriculture and lifestyle transformation among others, and give them a greater push.

The third factor in which change is needed is sensitivity. There is a need to understand that the poor and the planet, both need our help. Different countries of the world, especially the Global South, are at the receiving end of the impact of the climate crisis, despite having done very little to create the problem in the first place. But they are ready to do whatever it takes to help the planet, provided the world is ready to do whatever it takes to also help them take care of their poor people. So, a sensitive and empathetic approach that focuses on resource mobilisation and technology transfer can do wonders.

Q: You have been a strong advocate of clean and renewable energy. Even though there is resistance from some energy-rich countries to the accelerated deployment of renewables and the phasing down of fossil fuels, India has shown a steadfast commitment on this issue. What should G20 members do collectively and individually to show that they are indeed dedicated to clean energy deployment?

A: I had earlier mentioned taking a constructive, rather than purely restrictive approach in the response to the climate crisis. Over the last 9 years, India has been exemplifying it.

Let us first speak of the strides we have taken domestically. In the Paris meeting, we had said that we would ensure that 40 percent of our energy would come from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030. We achieved this in 2021 itself, 9 years ahead of our promise. This was made possible not by reducing our energy consumption but by increasing our renewables. The installed capacity of solar energy went up 20-fold. We are among the top 4 nations in the world in terms of wind energy.

The government has been working on providing incentives for the electric vehicle industry. The industry has responded with greater innovation and the people are responding to it with greater openness to try the alternative. The behaviour transformation to avoid the use of single-use plastic became a people’s movement. Safe sanitation and cleanliness are now the social norm. The government is working to popularise natural farming and our farmers are also looking to increasingly adopt it.

Growing and consuming millets, our very own Shree Anna, is now an important topic in our national discourse and is shaping up to be the next mass movement. So, there is a lot that is happening in India that has made a massive impact. Naturally, we have also spearheaded global efforts to bring countries together to care for our planet.

The International Solar Alliance has reached out to the world with the mantra of ‘One World One Sun One Grid’. This has resonated globally and over 100 countries are members. This will help replicate our solar success story in many sun-rich countries.

India has also led the Mission LiFE initiative that focuses on Lifestyle for Environment. If you observe our cultural ethos and traditional lifestyle principles, they are based on moderation and being conscious of the environment. These principles are now going global with Mission LiFE.

Further, there is another way to look at it, which I have explained in multiple forums. Just like health-conscious people make every decision in their lives based on how the decision will impact their health in the long term, there is a need for planet-conscious individuals.

Each lifestyle decision, if made with the planet’s welfare in mind, will benefit our future generations. This is why I said we must move from mindless and destructive consumption to mindful and deliberate utilisation. If you have observed the trajectory of my answer, it is completely focused on taking responsibility and making things happen. Whether it is one country or a collective, when it comes to the climate crisis, it is taking responsibility and making things happen that will make a difference.

Q: While there is increasing inter-connectedness in the world, we are also seeing a trend towards greater national autonomy in securing supply chains as well as their diversification. Do you think geopolitics is now a determining factor in decision-making for global corporations, and what is India doing under the G20 umbrella to facilitate smooth global trade?

A: Geopolitics and related factors can have a significant impact on decision-making in international trade. Instances of unilateralism and isolationism driven by such factors can contribute to supply chain disruptions and impact livelihoods, especially in critical sectors.

This is why, today, investment in creating reliable global value chains is gaining importance.

At the same time, geopolitical factors alone cannot help. Countries need to offer stable policies that encourage trade, industry and innovation. During its G20 Presidency, India is playing a significant role in strengthening the multilateral trading system and promoting rules-based global trade.

We have been able to get global deliberations going on removing bottlenecks that impede the integration of MSMEs in international trade, developing frameworks that could make global value chains resilient towards future shocks and embracing the need to build consensus on WTO reforms.

Q: Unilateral decisions and beggar-thy-neighbour mercantilist policies by some rich and powerful countries are distorting international trade. We are seeing more and more bilateral trade agreements as well as the decline of the World Trade Organisation’s relevance. This affects developing countries more than anyone else. What is the way forward for G20 if we must have equitable trade policies that promote development in the poorest countries?

A: As part of its Presidency, India has been supporting agendas that promote a stable, transparent and fair-trade regime that benefits everyone. The essential role of the multilateral trading system with WTO at its core has been acknowledged while also being committed to working towards necessary reforms, including strengthening WTO rules, restoring the dispute settlement mechanism and concluding new mutually beneficial WTO agreements.

India has also been advancing the interests of the developing world, including the interests of nations not represented in the G20, such as the countries of the African Union.

Further, perhaps for the first time in the history of G20, the troika is with the developing world—Indonesia, India, and Brazil. This troika can amplify the voice of the developing world, at a crucial time when there are increased tensions due to global geopolitics.

Equitable trade policies are certainly a key area of thrust at the G20, as this directly benefits the whole world in the long term.

Q: Debt vulnerabilities have increased for several low-income and middle-income countries. What more do you think must be done by lender G20 states to help these poorer nations overcome debt distress and attain sustainable growth?

A: India's G20 Presidency in 2023 has placed great emphasis on addressing the global challenges posed by the debt crisis in low-income and middle-income countries.

We have been diligently advocating for the interests of the Global South in this crisis. We are working on strengthening multilateral coordination to facilitate coordinated debt treatment for debt-distressed countries.

At a meeting of G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors, it was acknowledged that good progress has been made in the debt treatment of both countries covered under the Common Framework and outside the Common Framework.

Additionally, to accelerate debt restructuring efforts, the Global Sovereign Debt Roundtable (GSDR), a joint initiative of the IMF, World Bank, and the Presidency, was launched earlier this year. This will strengthen communication and foster a common understanding among key stakeholders, both within and outside the Common Framework, for facilitating effective debt treatments.

However, there is a larger movement that is happening beyond all these institutional mechanisms. In this information age, news about the debt crisis in one country is travelling to many other countries. People are analysing the situation and awareness is spreading. This is helpful for other countries to take precautionary steps to avoid a similar situation in their own countries, with the people’s support.

In our own country too, on multiple platforms, I have spoken about the need to be alert against financially irresponsible policies. The long-term implications of such policies destroy not only the economy but also society. The poor pay a heavy price. Yet again, the good thing is that people are becoming increasingly aware of the problem.

Q: India has been a pioneer in creating and deploying digital public infrastructure at a scale never seen before. Whether it is UPI or Aadhaar or ONDC, the applications that are being built on top of this infrastructure are having a multiplier effect on the economy. On a global scale, how do you see India’s contribution making a difference?

A: For a long time, India was globally known for its tech talent. Today, it is known for both its tech talent and tech prowess, especially in digital public infrastructure. As you mentioned, a number of initiatives and platforms that took off over the last 9 years are having a multiplier effect on the economy. However, India’s tech revolution has not only had an economic impact but also a deep social impact.

The human-centric model that I was speaking about earlier in our discussion is clearly visible in the way we have used technology. For us, technology is a means to empower people, reach the unreached and take growth and welfare to the last mile.

Today, due to the Jan Dhan – Aadhaar – Mobile (JAM) Trinity, even the poorest and the most vulnerable are feeling empowered because no one can snatch their rights away. The way technology helped us reach crores of people during the pandemic with assistance will always be remembered.

Today, when foreign delegates visit India, they are amazed to see street vendors asking customers to pay through a QR code through UPI. No wonder, India accounted for almost half of the real-time digital transactions that happened in the world! Even other countries are keen on associating with the UPI, so much so that Indians find themselves having the option of paying through UPI even outside India!

Today, lakhs of small entrepreneurs are getting the benefit of having a level playing field in becoming a part of public procurement through the Government e-Marketplace.

During the pandemic, it was a tech platform COWIN which helped us take over 200 crore vaccine doses to the people, free of cost. We also made the platform open-source for the whole world to use.

The ONDC is a futuristic initiative that will revolutionise the tech field by creating a level playing field on digital platforms for a number of different stakeholders.

Drones empowering people with property rights through SWAMITVA scheme, our surge to over a century of unicorns – there are a number of other such achievements that we can discuss. But the important thing is the impact this is having on the world.

Looking at India, countries of the Global South are excited about the opportunity of empowering the poor at a much faster rate, without any leakages, due to technology. This will give momentum to their growth.

Further, having been recognised for our abilities in the tech domain, India’s vision for the future of global technology is being welcomed at various global platforms.

For example, during our G20 Presidency, a framework to govern digital public infrastructure has been adopted by the Digital Economy Ministers, laying the foundations for the One Future Alliance.

Further, whether it is crypto or cyber terrorism, India’s call for global cooperation on approaching tech-related issues is seen as credible. Because we are a nation that has a deep experience in innovation and adoption of technology in the public domain.

Q: Inflation is a major problem for most countries, including India. Easy monetary and fiscal policies during Covid and the Ukraine war have made inflation the most pressing global economic issue. Is there scope for a better response by rich G20 nations, now and in the future, so that developing countries do not bear the brunt of inflation that is imported into their economies?

A: Inflation is a key issue that the world faces. First, the pandemic and then the conflict have changed the global inflation dynamics. As a result, both advanced countries and emerging economies are facing high inflation. This is a global issue that needs close cooperation.

During our G20 Presidency, there was a meeting of G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors. This forum has recognised that there is a need to ensure that policies taken by each country to combat inflation do not lead to negative repercussions in other countries. Further, for this, there is an understanding that timely and clear communication of policy stances by Central Banks is crucial.

As far as India is concerned, we have taken a number of steps to control inflation. Even in the face of adversities and global dynamics, India’s inflation was two percentage points lower than the global average inflation rate in 2022. Yet, we are not resting at that and are continuing to make pro-people decisions to boost ease of living. For example, recently on Raksha Bandhan, you saw how we reduced the prices of LPG for all consumers.

Q: India is currently the fifth-largest economy in the world. We are projected to become the third-largest economy in 2027. What are the implications for G20 and for the rest of the world of a stronger and more prosperous India?

A: India became the fifth-largest economy and it is indeed something that is important. But the way our country did it, I think, is as important. It is a feat achieved because there is a government that is trusted by the people and in turn, the government too trusts the capabilities of the people.

It is a privilege and honour for us that the people have placed unprecedented trust in us. They gave us a majority mandate not just once, but twice. The first mandate was about promises. The second, even bigger mandate, was about both performance and the future plan we had for the country. Due to this political stability, every other sector could see deep structural reforms. The economy, education, social empowerment, welfare delivery, infrastructure – I can keep on mentioning sectors that have seen reforms.

As a result, foreign direct investment into India is breaking records year after year, export records are being broken in both services and goods, Make in India has taken off with great success across sectors, startups and mobile manufacturing have done wonders, infrastructure creation is happening at a pace never seen before and all of these adding up to a huge number of job opportunities for our youth. The benefits of growth are being taken to the last mile. A comprehensive social security net protects our poor while the government is assisting them at every step in their battle against poverty. With over 13.5 crore of our people coming out of multidimensional poverty in just 5 years, an aspirational neo-middle class is taking shape and this section of society is poised to push growth even further.

It must specifically be noted that women are emerging as the driving force of our growth journey. Many development initiatives are seeing them come to the forefront, be it financial inclusion, entrepreneurship or cleanliness. From space to sports, start-ups to self-help groups, every sector that is on an upswing is seeing women taking the lead. With the G20, now, the message of women-led development is making waves all over the world – this is the power of Indian women. The cumulative momentum building up from the empowerment of the poor, youth, women and farmers will certainly make India one of the top 3 economies of the world in the near future.

India’s growth is not only good for Indians but also for the world. India’s growth is clean and green growth. India’s growth is being achieved with a human-centric approach that can be replicated in other countries too. India’s growth helps further the interests of the Global South. India’s growth helps bring a sense of reliability and resilience to the global supply chain. India’s growth is for the global good.

Q: Prime Minister, you are 72 years old, but your energy levels will put much younger people to shame. What keeps you hungry and active?

A: There are many people across the world who make complete use of their energy, time and resources towards a mission. It is not that I am alone or exceptional in this respect.

For many decades before I entered politics, I was actively working with society at the grassroots level, amidst the people. One of the benefits of this experience was that I came across many deeply inspiring people who dedicated themselves completely to a cause. I learnt from them.

A second aspect is the difference between ambition and mission. When someone works due to ambition, any ups and downs that they encounter can unsettle them. Because ambition comes from attachment to position, power, comforts, etc.

But when someone works for a mission, then there is nothing to gain personally and therefore, ups and downs cannot affect them. Being devoted to a mission is a constant source of unending optimism and energy. Further, a sense of mission is also accompanied by a sense of detachment from unnecessary matters which helps focus energy fully on the important things.

My mission is to work for the development of my country and my people. This gives me great energy, especially because there is a long way to go for us.

I had mentioned earlier as well that even before I became the Chief Minister of Gujarat, I had visited and stayed in almost every district in India like a common man. I have seen first-hand, lakhs of examples of people living hard lives. I have seen their determined spirit and strong self-belief in the face of great adversities. We have a great history and all the ingredients for greatness are still there in our people.

I have firm faith that our country has a lot of untapped potential and has a lot more to offer to the world. All our people need is a platform from which they can do wonders. The creation of such a strong platform is my mission. It keeps me motivated all the time.Apart from this, of course, when one is devoted to a mission, at a personal level, it takes discipline and daily habits to maintain a healthy body and mind, which I certainly take care of.

Source: Moneycontrol