The seemingly innocuous date of October 7, 2001, is a milestone in Indian political history. That was the day Narendra Modi was sworn in as Chief Minister of Gujarat for the first time. Since then, he has never lost an election as the head of a government and taken on a national role as Prime Minister. As a result, on October 7, 2020, Narendra Modi enters his 20th year as the head of a government. It speaks volumes about his ability to win the people’s confidence over and over again, in greater magnitude every time.

However, the electoral victories and massive popularity are the effects that get noticed often. The tireless work and peerless vision that are behind these victories are the traits that make Modi what he is.

Right from his days as Chief Minister of Gujarat, Modi stood out among his peers. At a time when power reforms meant political suicide, he took farmers into confidence, reformed Gujarat’s power sector, took electricity to every Gujarati village and made it a power surplus state. As PM, he took electricity to every village and every household.

When even national-level investor summits were rare, Modi started the Vibrant Gujarat investor summit in 2003. Since then, both the summit and state have become well-known globally among investors. Similarly, as prime minister, he has ensured record FDI inflows.

The famed Gujarat model needs no introduction. The state saw bumper growth in agriculture despite having semi-arid regions and rapid growth in infrastructure. Modi has ensured freedom for farmers after decades as Prime Minister and India’s infrastructure, which has already grown massively under Modi, is poised to grow even more.

Modi’s emphasis upon saving the girl child and educating her through Beti Bachao Beti Padhao has been widely appreciated. However, this was a logical extension of his Kanya Kelavani programme in Gujarat for girl child education, where the whole government, led by the chief minister, used to stay in villages and encourage the school enrollment of girls.

The reason for Modi’s longevity as an elected leader is his ability to challenge himself continuously, more aggressively than any outside challenger would try to. He takes the risk of setting targets openly and audaciously. Despite inheriting an administration known for policy paralysis, Modi set specific targets for each of his flagship schemes, be it sanitation, rural electrification, housing for all, potable water for all or doubling farmers’ incomes.

His governance — both at the state level and the national level — has been efficient, effective and reformist. However, while it is tempting to go on and on about governance, Modi, since his ascendance in 2001 to the chief minister’s post, needs to be celebrated for a different reason.

Modi represents values that are beyond governance and politics. He appeals to the best in India and Indians, and manages to bring out the best from them. He brought out the best in people and they made cleanliness a mass movement. In a nation where the prevalent political culture was about giving more and more subsidies, he inspired people to give up their subsidies so that the poor could get free gas connections.

India is a diverse and accepting civilisation that, at its best, knows how to transcend identities. Modi, a Gujarati, representing a constituency from Uttar Pradesh, does not pander to any partisan caste, community, class or regional considerations. His appeal transcends these divisions and unites people across the nation towards one purpose — India’s greatness.

The best of Indian tradition teaches stoic dignity in the face of hatred and calumny. It also teaches that such silent, steely and dignified determination powered by the truth eventually outlasts all negativity. That has also been the story of Modi’s rise. A whole ecosystem made him a marked man and has been out to damage his reputation for two decades. Even a small indiscretion would have meant the end of his political journey. In the face of such intense — mostly unfair — scrutiny, he has gone about working towards achieving his goals for his state and later, the nation. His composure and focus made him unstoppable.

Often, those who are “big picture” people are grand visionaries but cannot translate that vision into the relentless action necessary for achieving it. Then there are those who are good at achieving pre-set targets but cannot grasp the larger picture. However, Modi combines both in himself. He is both a visionary and a workhorse. He has the necessary mindset to come up with a grand vision as well as the precision and persistence to handle the dryness of quotidian tasks that act as steps to achieve the vision.

As he enters his 20th year as the head of a government, staggering as his past achievements may already have been, his best is yet to come and it will be the making of an Atmanirbhar Bharat.


Author Name: J. P. Nadda


This article was first published in The Indian Express

It is part of an endeavour to collect stories which narrate or recount people’s anecdotes/opinion/analysis on Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi & his impact on lives of people

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Swachhata and governance reforms will shape Modi's legacy: Hardeep Singh Puri
October 17, 2021

On October 7, 2021, Prime Minister Narendra Modi completed 20 successful years in high public office. First, as chief minister of Gujarat, and then as Prime Minister, his two tenures as chief executive have redefined leadership. Nowhere is this more visible than in the historic Swachhata campaign.

The first accomplishment is the massive rejuvenation of water bodies in Gujarat. From acute scarcity to water adequacy in a mere two decades, the turnaround for a state that was perennially short of water is astounding. Not only did Modi as CM oversee the construction of the Narmada canal, he also led the augmentation of all canal systems and water sources in the state. It led to the state government spending more than Rs 1 lakh crore in the last two decades to build 184,000 check dams and 327,000 farm ponds while deepening 31,500 ponds and reviving 1,000 abandoned step-wells. These measures have resulted in a 77% increase in irrigable area and 55% increase in ground water recharge today.

As PM, his focus on rejuvenating water systems-especially in our cities-is now bearing fruit. His aim: to make the country 'water secure' through the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation 2.0 (AMRUT 2.0) and Jal Jeevan Mission.

The guiding philosophy is based on the Gandhian principles of Sarvodaya and self-sufficiency. Gandhiji was the first proponent of Swachhata - he highlighted the importance of cleanliness, saying "sanitation is more important than Independence" at the Banaras Hindu University in 1916.

On October 2, 2005, Modi launched the Gujarat Urban Development Year-the 'Nirmal Gujarat' programme was the thread that connected Gandhiji's unfulfilled dream to Modi's belief that universal sanitation was the fulcrum on which development would stand. The programme introduced many innovative features such as community involvement, women-led implementation, and focus on behavioural change, demand-driven approach, and financial incentives.

The strides made in Gujarat informed his idea of the Swachh Bharat Mission to convert Gandhiji's dream into a reality. A few cynics thought it would be impossible to become an Open Defecation Free (ODF) country. We have gone from a meagre 38% ODF status in 2014 to almost 100% today, the notable exception being the state of West Bengal.

Under the Swachh Bharat Mission - Urban (SBM-U), this government has built more than 73 lakh toilets and increased the solid waste management processing capability of urban areas from 18% in 2014 to more than 70% today. Taking it to the next level, the Centre launched the SBM-U 2.0 to capitalise on this momentum, and go from being an 'ODF India' to a 'Garbage-free India'.

The PM is reimagining cities by undertaking the most comprehensive planned urbanisation exercise in the world. We have unlocked the trapped potential of our cities by making a quantum leap in urban investments. In the last six years alone, the Modi government has spent Rs 11.83 lakh crore-a seven-fold increase over the Rs 1.57 lakh crores that was spent between 2004 and 2014-on upgrading critical urban infrastructure while mainstreaming climate change, gender, heritage, and equity.

Under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana - Urban (PMAY-U) - this government has sanctioned almost 1.14 crore houses, with beneficiaries already moving into more than 51 lakh housing units. The AMRUT Mission has addressed the needs of basic civic infrastructure in 500 cities with populations of more than 1 lakh. This has now been followed by AMRUT 2.0 which envisages universal water supply with tap connection in all statutory towns in the country. The Smart Cities Mission has embedded a culture of innovation in urban development that all the 4,378 urban centres can replicate.

These initiatives reflect PM's coherent vision for the pyramid of urban development in India - right from the basic needs of sanitation and housing to advanced digital solutions and mobility.

I firmly believe that he has done more to reform governance than any past administration. One only needs to look at the sheer scope of reforms that he has effected: be it toilets, bank accounts, digital services, drinking water, electricity, defence, or cities, he has stamped his vision on the country.

Author Name: Hardeep Singh Puri


This article was first published in The Economic Times

It is part of an endeavour to collect stories which narrate or recount people’s anecdotes/opinion/analysis on Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi & his impact on lives of people.