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Modi sells a Dream?

Forget the noise about the absence of bulletproof glass while speaking from the Red Fort. Narendra Modi is not the first man to do that and neither will he be the last. Forget also the noise about delivering an extempore talk. Let’s learn to make the distinction between an extempore speech and one delivered without a script. Modi, amongst India’s most street-smart prime ministers, is unlikely to have turned up unprepared for the second most important moment of his life. So let’s dismiss these for what they are: chest pumping.  Let’s look where it matters most, his speech.

1.    Pradhan Sevak:  Modi spoke of being the country’s Pradhan Sevak, than being the Pradhan Mantri. Yawn. Isn’t that just semantics? He also said that if all Indians would work for 12 hours, he would work for 13 and that if anyone worked for 14 hours, he would work for 15 hours.  Now, what’s this kind of one-upmanship from the second citizen of the country? But then this is trademark Modi.

2.    Power of Unity:  The prime minister stressed about walking together, thinking together, resolving together and marching forward. He accentuated that he was moving forward not on the power of majority but on consensus. It was nice to hear this from a man who has been amongst the most divisive politicians in this country, but who has in him the ability to lead us triumphantly forward.

3.    Ask your son where he is going:  I think Modi touched a vital chord by telling parents that they should ask their sons, rather than their daughters, as to what they were up to and who were their friends.  Well, both sons and daughters need to be on guard.  But days later, very sadly, one of his senior most ministers referred to the Delhi gang rape as a small incident.

4.    Rid of Mera Kya and Mujhe Kya:  His appeal to the nation to be selfless and work for betterment of the nation could not have come a day too soon.  Yes, he wanted people to inculcate the sentiment of national interest, instead of always thinking what I stand to gain. Very true.

5.    Come, Make in India:  Modi invited the world to come and explore the sub-continent. In order to boost employment and industrial activity, he solicited more investments and business houses to look at India for manufacturing.

6.    Zero Defect, Zero Effect Exports:  The prime minister called India’s young entrepreneurs to manufacture goods in such a way that they carry zero defect and with zero effect on the environment.  Well, business in India has all these last 68 years done well not because of the government, but in spite of it. Perhaps, the sole exception could be 1991.

7.    Made in India Tag:  Modi hoped that “Made in India” products would reach every corner of the world. He appealed to the country’s youth to develop indigenous alternatives to all the items, which are being imported. While the idea that Indian products should reach every part of the globe is welcome, to believe that we should have local alternatives to every import runs counter to the theory of comparative advantage.

8.    Digital India & Easy Governance: The prime minister spoke about the dream of Digital India. He talked of augmenting the standards of education, by enabling broadband connectivity of all the villages. He said, e-governance would take the dream of Digital India forward. Playing with words, in his atypical style, he remarked that E-governance is easy governance, effective governance and also economic governance. He couldn’t have said it better.

9.    Cleanliness is Godliness: To commemorate Gandhiji’s 150th anniversary in 2019, he outlined a 4-year “Clean India” plan. Modi promised that all the schools in India shall be equipped by separate toilets before next Independence Day.  This is an idea whose time has come.

10.The death of planning commission:  In one stroke the prime minister rightfully killed the Planning Commission and promised that it would be replaced by something new..

For far too long the people of India have been sold dreams. It’s time to walk the dream. The distance from thought to action is a long journey. If Narendra Modi can help walk the talk, he will have done a singular service to the nation.  And the good thing is that he has the ability to do it.


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