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A shamelessly propagated myth is that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s relations with the Muslim community are frosty at best, bitter at worst. Any contrary opinion is treated with disdain and ridicule. Having followed this subject closely for 20 years, I am convinced that this is the right time to break free from the shackles of false narratives.

The project of portraying Modi as anti-Muslim fails the test of facts. At every step in his political and administrative career, PM Modi has done everything he can for the welfare of the community. Yes, his style of working does not fit the conventional approach — it provides a refreshing alternative to how empowerment can be done without appeasement and tokenism.

It is not widely known that Modi’s house in Vadnagar was situated in an area where there were many Muslims. Some of his first and long-lasting friends are Muslims. When he was the chief minister of Gujarat, the two districts whose development indices shot up were Kutch and Bharuch. These are districts with high Muslim populations.

In Bharuch, the problem was law and order. Previous Congress governments and top Congress leaders allowed Bharuch to deteriorate. Children who grew up in the 1980s and ’90s in Bharuch can never forget the curfews there. Such a scenario prevented wide-scale development.

Friends in Gujarat, both Hindus and Muslims, often tell me about the efforts Modi made to develop key spots linked with the Muslim community. The Sarkhej Roza in Ahmedabad witnessed massive rejuvenation and restoration works under Modi as the CM. Modi visited the Sarkhej Roza on a few occasions, including once with former President APJ Abdul Kalam. Working closely with the ASI, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation worked hard to make the Roza and its surrounding areas better. Heritage festivals were initiated, making the Roza a vibrant cultural landmark in Ahmedabad. The Sidi Saiyyed Mosque also got a facelift. As PM, Modi also took the then prime minister of Japan Shinzo Abe to the mosque.Kutch is home to the Hajipir Dargah. Like all parts of Kutch, it faced massive infrastructure-related problems. Modi improved local road networks, enabling devotees to visit the Dargah.

As our PM, Modi has time and again showed that he is a leader of the entire nation. I can never forget PM Modi’s words at the Islamic Heritage Conference, organised in Delhi. He said (young) Muslims should be well-versed with the Holy Quran and the computer. His words have resonated across the community.

At the core of his leadership is respect for human dignity. PM Modi’s single step of abolishing the triple talaq has ensured that generations of Muslim women lead a better life. Likewise, the decision to allow women to proceed on Haj without mehram has been hailed a major step towards their empowerment.

PM Modi has also developed a close bond with the Dargah Ajmer Sharif. The 188 toilets constructed there have helped devotees, particularly women. There has been an extensive beautification process at the Dargah, which includes the construction of “Silver Katahra” at Astana Sharif, a new fountain and renovation of the Nizam Gate and Akbari Masjid. Cleaning machines have been placed at the “jhalra” at the iconic palace and a water tank with a capacity of three lakh litres has been constructed. Besides, PM Modi has been offering “chadar” at the dargah of the Sufi saint Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti in Ajmer Sharif for the last six years. This is a clear reflection of his respect and obeisance to all deities and Sufi saints.

For the last many years, it has become fashionable among some sections to hate Narendra Modi. My humble question to them is: When will you stop?

After 2002, the Supreme Court of India took over most of the probes. The Nanavati Commission was formed, there was an SIT in front of which Modi himself deposed for hours. The findings of the Commission and the SIT are in the public domain. Yet, there is a refusal to believe any of these findings.

There have been many analyses of the Modi-led foreign policy but one facet that stands out is the excellent relations with the Muslim world. Bahrain, the UAE, Palestine, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan have conferred on him their top honour. The crown princes of the UAE as well as Saudi Arabia have strong personal friendships with the PM. Can anyone forget PM Modi’s special visit to the grand mosque in the UAE? Can we forget the PM paying obeisance at Bahadur Shah Zafar’s mazar?

Today’s Muslims, especially the younger ones among them, are fed-up with vote-bank politics. Vested interests took away their votes and scared them but delivered nothing. The community wants prosperity and opportunity. It is high time the old “shopkeepers” of vote-bank politics shut shop. In a new India, it is aspiration and inclusion that will speak. Modi has made a start. It is up to us to support him and nurture this great nation that has given us so much.

Pariksha Pe Charcha with PM Modi
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Why the PM commands an audience
April 09, 2021
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His core remains rooted in ground realities. His practical knowledge emanates from the earthy wisdom that forms the bedrock of Indian civilisation.

One wonders how one of the most powerful men in the world, dealing with numerous important decisions at any given point of time, still finds time to share a piece of his life’s collected wisdom with children. He has, in the truest sense, been a guide and a mentor, giving booster shots of confidence, year after year, to students preparing for exams.

Pariksha Pe Charcha has become a breath of fresh air for students. With everyone around them in a deep frenzy about exams, results, and a career, Prime Minister Narendra Modi comes across as a man with a sense of balance and farsightedness. The life lessons he distils for children come from his lived experiences.

Be it the PM’s memory hack of involving, internalising, associating and visualising a lesson than just trying to memorise it, or his formula for parents to not only stay young but also reduce the generation gap — these are things he has observed in his vast experience of living all across India. It seems simple but is actually the result of a lifetime spent observing human behaviour. The way Modi is able to observe routine interactions and bring out such insightful lessons from them is extraordinary.

During Pariksha Pe Charcha 2021, in order to allay the fear of a student regarding difficult subjects or questions during exams, PM Modi took a leaf out of his own book. He said instead of running away from tough topics, why not take them head-on first thing in the morning? As chief minister of Gujarat and now as prime minister, he applies the same principle to his daily routine, he said. Anything that requires extra effort or seems complicated, he picks up first thing in the morning with a fresh mind. What he finds easy and has a marginal scope of error, he leaves for later. This goes against our usual instinct of picking up what is easy first and then moving on to difficult parts. But it could be because we are instinctively scared to deal with hard tasks and are more likely to procrastinate or sit on them indefinitely.

The examples he quotes give an insight into a man who has risen to the top, but only after going through his fair share of struggles and disappointments and eventually finding a way through. This is the reason there is an instant connect people feel with him as he dissects human behaviour and motivations at a deeper level.

Take, for instance, his answer when a seemingly distressed parent from Punjab asked PM Modi how to ensure that kids do what is expected of them without having to run behind him. This is, in fact, a common refrain among parents, often leading to children withdrawing into their shell or acting out in a way that bewilders parents. But the PM’s reply to the question gave enough food for thought to parents regarding where the problem emanates from.

Instead of realising a child’s unique potential, parents try to box them into pre-existing societal norms and structures. He rightly pointed out that we tend to neglect an extremely important step — training the mind towards self-motivated action. Training cannot take place in isolation. It is part of a child’s daily experience at home. By introducing children to the benefits of inculcating a habit in creative ways instead of constant nagging, parents can lay the ground for moulding their mind in a certain way. This opens up the possibility of a child feeling motivated enough to make it a part of his routine. This would not only save parents’ energy but also create a positive, more open environment for children to engage with parents without feeling stressed or threatened.

Often, to have such insights into a child’s mind, one has to be a child psychologist or someone who has children of his or her own. But PM Modi does not belong to either of these two categories. Yet, his knowledge is not derived from books, but is earned through a lifetime of lived experience, especially from his pre-CM days, when he travelled extensively all across his state and the country. His discernment of human behaviour is reflective of having spent a considerable amount of time studying families closely.

Despite holding the highest office in the country and enjoying wide-scale popularity that is achieved once in a century, PM Modi does not indulge in impractical grandstanding or complicated jargon. Even after being at the centre of the most powerful circle of people, he has a rare ability to think like a person who’s a part of every family in India.

His core remains rooted in ground realities. His voice is the voice of a common man. His values are reflective of the best values of any average Indian family. His practical knowledge emanates from the earthy wisdom that forms the bedrock of Indian civilisation.