This is a response to Shekhar Gupta’s National Interest column titled ‘3 questions for those dreaming of beating Narendra Modi, but answer the third first’.
I read your recent article with great interest. In your popular column, National Interest, you posed three questions for those dreaming of defeating Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
As one of the most eminent journalists with years of experience, you would agree that at the end of the day, in a vibrant democracy, it is the people who elect or remove a leader based on their performance.
So the government is formed of the people, by the people and for the people.
At the same time, people judge the role of the Opposition too.
You have invited your readership to answer the three questions on how Modi can be defeated.
I will take a more positive view in trying to answer your questions as to why Modi is so successful and why people are happy with his performance.
We are living in India during the most exciting and historic time. After a few years, when history is written, the present will be recorded as one which has seen generational changes, elevating India to a different level.
When I presented the railway budget in 2012, I had mentioned that my objective was to take the railways to the next generation of development. I wanted a generational change, but unfortunately, the Manmohan Singh government at that point was more interested in protecting their seat of power than modernising the Indian railways. I am happy that the Narendra Modi government has taken the railways to a different level.
In the past seven years, India, under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi, has emerged as one of the most powerful nations. India’s image in the world is no longer that of a country that can be browbeaten. This is because, besides the fundamental developments, now the world knows that India is under a strong and decisive leadership that can’t be taken for granted. The leadership has proved its intent during the Balakot incident and again during the recent Chinese aggression.
Reasons behind India’s current confidence and strength are not far to seek. The basic well-being of the people of any country rests on four pillars — food security, health, military and economic power. Each of these four pillars is now stronger and taller than they have ever been in the past, and indeed this makes one proud.
Strengthening of food, dignity and defence
Today, India’s buffer food stock is three times more than required, thanks to the policies of the Modi government and our farmers. In a true sense, the slogan “jai jawan, jai kisan”, the dream of the late Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, is being fulfilled by the Modi government.
In a democracy, a common man wants dignity. PM Modi has touched upon the very basics of it all, starting with the Swachh Bharat mission, cooking gas facilities for the poor, Jan Dhan Yojana and now embarking on Jal Jeevan mission to provide piped water supply and tap connections to all households.
It is a matter of shame that post-independence, these basic issues were neglected.
Numerous fresh policy initiatives, structural and organisational changes, economic as well as material resource planning, and, to top off everything else, insistence on self-reliance, have all added to the strength and reliability of India’s defences and military power and preparedness under the Modi government.
The appointment of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) for closer coordination between the three Services, induction of Rafale, Apache, Chinook & S-400 in the air force, promotion of indigenous manufacturing in the defence sector and launching defence acquisition procedure 2020, enhancing foreign direct investment limit in defence manufacturing under automatic route to 74 per cent and setting up of Rashtriya Raksha University are all examples of Modi government’s result-oriented approach.
Modi’s initiatives on health and the economy
In matters of public health and welfare too, steps taken by the Modi government have been transformative.
Where the Ayushman Bharat programme has begun a new era in public health, measures have been taken to make healthcare cheaper. Adding 15 more All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) and over 30,000 seats in medical colleges since 2014 is augmenting healthcare. The Modi government’s foresight and forward planning to improve healthcare in the country are evident in these measures. Implementation of the world’s largest vaccination programme and that too, largely with vaccines developed and manufactured indigenously, is yet another proof of this government’s determination and result-oriented approach for ensuring sustainable improvements in standards of healthcare in India.
While most large economies in the world, devastated by the raging pandemic, are recovering, the Indian economy’s rate of recovery is probably the highest, made possible because of the strength, resilience and inclusion of masses built into it since 2014. Export growth adds to foreign exchange reserves, which are now close to 650 billion and rising. India’s ranking in the ease of doing business index is currently 63, up from 142, exemplifying the growing strength of the economy. The Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana, Startup India and Direct Benefit Transfer programmes speak loudly of the Modi government’s deep concerns for the economic betterment of economically disadvantaged communities. In the past seven years, economic policies have always been tailored to the needs of the time as well as the ever-changing geopolitical situations. There can be no better proof of this than the 2021 Budget and the policies that have followed. Recent decisions of the government to exit Public Sector Undertakings, monetisation of assets and kickstarting economic growth through massive investments in infrastructure are steps that will answer the Prime Minister’s call for turning India into an atma nirbhar $5 trillion economy.
The equity market is at its record high, which indicates the global investor’s confidence in the Indian economy.
The Digital India programme proved to be a boon during this period of the pandemic. Startup India has put India as one of the foremost countries in technological development and innovation.
All this, and many more such schemes, will see India emerging as a strong atma nirbhar country. The world is watching closely. It is a matter of pride that India is now treated much differently than before.
The Indian prime minister, now, for the first time, has a rightful place on the high table of world leaders with a prominent and decisive role. Common people in India don’t go to television studios to argue, but they know what and who is good for the country.
Unfortunately, the Opposition has only played a negative role both inside and outside Parliament. People will not forget the recent ugly scenes in Parliament, where even the presiding officers including the Chairman and Speaker were not spared. All this and more add to the reasons for PM Modi’s popularity and that’s why perhaps this also answers your questions as to why Modi can’t be defeated by the Opposition. The people are with him.
The author is a former Union Minister for Railways and the former Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare. Views are personal.