The central theme of Modi’s governance - both as Chief Minister of Gujarat and Prime Minister of India - is his undiluted focus on poverty alleviation, industrial and economic development and social progress
More than Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a large section of the Indian population and his admirers abroad must be celebrating his birthday with considerable satisfaction and with a sense of pride on Friday, September 17. Having held public office in India for more than twenty years - as Chief Minister of Gujarat state for over 12 and a half years and now as Prime Minister of India for seven-plus years - it is remarkable that Modi’s personal integrity and courage of conviction have not been questioned or doubted.
This is a record of sorts in India, where most of the top political leaders since the country’s independence in 1947, have faced charges of corruption or nepotism, or favoritism towards friends and families. No one can miss the fact that Modi has ensured that even his close family members do not have any influence on his method and actions. He is known to love and respect his mother which is as it should be. But even his mother is not known to have asked for any favors from him which speaks highly of this worthy mother of a worthy son.
Again, this is extremely significant that both as Chief Minister of Gujarat and Prime Minister of India, Modi has firmly ensured that his ministers and top bureaucrats remain corruption-free. He has been trying his best to maintain high standards of administration by himself putting forth long hours of work every day and without availing of leave or going on holidays and acting like a tough taskmaster.
In the last twenty years or so, Modi’s critics have been extremely harsh towards him. One opposition leader went to the extent of calling him “merchant of death”. He has also been ridiculed by some opposition leaders for being a "chaiwala" (tea vendor) as a youngster when his family was faced with poverty.
What is remarkable here is that Modi has not reacted to such observations with any sort of visible anger and has largely ignored them with the contempt that they deserve.
Welfare schemes, foreign policy
The central theme of Modi’s governance - both as Chief Minister of Gujarat and Prime Minister of India - is his undiluted focus on poverty alleviation, industrial and economic development and social progress.
Some of the highly significant socio-economic schemes and measures that Modi has introduced as Prime Minister include opening zero bank account for poor people, free LPG connection to those belonging to lower-income groups, construction of toilets for poor households, free housing scheme for the poor, promotion of yoga practices and so many others. He has ensured that the benefits of all such schemes directly reach the people, particularly poor families. Such schemes are now too many to be exhaustively covered in one article.
Modi’s foreign policy is very well-balanced and he has refused to overreact to the situations, notwithstanding provocations from neighboring countries and kept India’s interests firmly above all else.
It is well-known that both China and Pakistan consider India as an adversary and are, directly or indirectly, targeting Modi’s leadership. There are speculations that both the countries are trying to foment internal troubles in India through subtle and nefarious steps to destabilize the Modi government. The prime minister is dealing with such grave issues and ensuring that the country remains largely unaffected.
A proud Hindu
Modi has not concealed the fact that he is devoted to the Hindu religion and proud of India’s traditional practices and the Hindu way of life. At the same time, he has been repeatedly emphasizing that all religions in India be respected.
Taking advantage of India’s democratic structure and practices and free speech, religious extremists have been stoking controversies, and religious conversions with overseas support are also happening in India. Modi is tackling these issues as per the provisions of the law.
Modi’s clean India campaign accepts the ground reality that Indian streets are not clean and environmental cleanliness has to be improved. His clean India scheme is still a work in progress stage and steadily forging ahead.
Pro-active economic policies
While recognizing India’s urgent need to promote industrial and economic development and considering the constraints in technology and investment capability in the country, Modi has framed pragmatic and proactive policy measures to encourage overseas investments in India, which would inevitably lead to the introduction of modern technologies and scientific practices and create global outlook and mindset among Indians.
To cut the long story short, any discerning observer can clearly see that Modi is tackling the complex problems of India with clarity in thoughts and actions and firmness in implementation.
The very fact that he won two parliamentary elections convincingly and his party has also won several state elections in recent times clearly indicates that majority of Indian's acclaim and approve of Modi’s leadership.
Certainly, Prime Minister Modi’s governance is on the right track. He has initiated several schemes of far-reaching importance, which need considerable gestation time to reach the ultimate goal and objective. Obviously, this points to the fact that Modi’s stewardship of India should continue for several more years to come.
Modi is the tallest political leader in the country today and India is bound to stay tall with him.
(The writer is a Trustee, NGO Nandini Voice for the Deprived, Chennai. The views expressed are personal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)