By this time everyone knows what Modiji said at Madison Square. But let me concentrate on what he said and to what he alluded.
He said that India has been ruled by outsiders for over thousand years.
I think he alluded to the fact that we Indians have to make clean break from our such past and from our entrenched mindsets (of servitude) because it. While we must recognize some unsavory aspects of our past like our servitude to aggressors, caste system, and our isolationist attitude of middle ages, and our ignoring of science and technology we have been guilty of being apologetic of our great heritage of philosophy, spiritualism, Yoga, Ayurveda, and music to name a few. I think he is the first major Indian leader who recognizes our apologetic attitude and you find its echoes in many of his actions. Arun Shourie describes our apologetic attitude in his article “Macaulay’s Offspring”
He said that many great people sacrificed their lives for India in every era, but they were individual efforts. It was Mahatma Gandhi, who brought common people into the struggle for freedom, showing them ways to contribute through what they could do in their daily lives -for example, a teacher could teach well, a sweeper could do a good job and both could work for India’s freedom. Modiji’s method of development is the same. The PM said that if we could participate in India’s freedom struggle we can do the same for our development: which to him means that by 2022 no Indian family would be without a home.
Doing our jobs well is not a part of our national character, barring some honorable exceptions like the ISRO’s great success… But Modiji is telling us Indians to do our jobs well and contribute to India’s development. His actions as PM like http://mygov.nic.in and the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, and the Jan Dhan Yojana of universal banking access all point in this direction: “participate” as his government does its part.
No Indian leader in recent times had courage to tell us to do our jobs well. A family line of leaders had nearly perfected the art of throwing crumbs at people and buying their votes and letting them rot in their poor lives. They used all of those sixty years in developing an eco-system of favors and disfavors and for sharing the loot. Modiji is making a clean break from this shameful past.
He spoke of Swachha Bharat Abhiyan and ‘Cleaning Ganga’ initiatives and brilliantly linked them to what was close to Mahatma Gandhi’s heart and to the revival of economic activity. Cleanliness brings in more tourists and a clean river which touches lives of over 40% Indians can boost economy. It is also a clean break from our ‘filthy’ past.
He assured the Americans and the Indian Americans that India is breaking away from its dismal immediate past. We will change, we will progress, come be a part of this, he said. Modiji is not asking for grants and doles or endowments or favors. He is offering big opportunities to the Americans and to the world to do invest in India and reap benefits through a combination of democracy, demographic dividend, demand supported by clean and efficient governance. This is another huge break from our Nehruvian past of going around with a begging bowl.
His vision goes beyond the economic revival: what Indian civilization can offer to the world Yoga and a way of living well. He shows this by a personal example of frugal living and working tirelessly and diligently (for others). His fasting for nine days of Navaratri while he is on a whirlwind tour and his energetic speech which brought thousands of wealthy Indian Americans to their feet and drew admiration of American law makers is but a dramatic example of what he said about India’s offerings.
In a short span of just over four months, he has captured world’s imagination starting with India’s neighbors, Japan, China and now America. He offered peace to Pakistan saying that we should fight poverty together and not fight with each other. Pakistan squandered it. Without saying much he had made world realize how different India and Pakistan are. Until very recently the Americans, the British, and much of the developed world were always bracketing India and Pakistan together. This has changed.
In India his government has got cracking on actions urgently needed for economic revival and for India’s security.
He shows us about what from our past we should be grateful and proud and about the things we must discard. There is neither an apology nor any arrogance. He is drawing attention, winning support to his vision wherever he goes.
There is a tremendous credibility to all his statements because he has a fantastic track record. If you have read Madhu Kishwar’s ‘Modi, Muslims and Media’ you will find that his efforts in post earthquake reconstruction in Bhuj area and his other development efforts in Gujarat were done through participation of communities and people while his government provided support through transparent and fair administration. It did not exclude any community.
The Congress and its crony intellectuals and crony media are dumb struck and are trying to find faults with him where none exit. Not surprising. But I am surprised that some of Modiji’s supporters are saying that there are no ‘big enough reforms’. But let them say it.
We should applaud our new leader who is also new world leader. We should now get down to do what he has told us: to do our jobs well!