Twenty years of leadership
October 07, 2020
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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.

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.