Narendra Modi has scripted a new paradigm for the largest democracy in the world. There has never been such a feel-good factor in India for a long time. Ever since his coming to power as Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi has not stopped surprising and stunning the world. His strong political and diplomatic strategy clout has kept everyone in wonder.
And this week he mesmerized the most powerful man of the globe: Barack Obama, President of USA, another great democracy of the world. That Barack Obama was the first US President to be the Chief Guest at India’s spectacular Republic Day Parade for the 66th Republic Day Celebrations at Raj Ghat was political history indeed. But above all, the chemistry that clearly flowed and showed between the two great leaders could be visible beyond words. The bonhomie, the casual walks and talks, the proverbial Indian cup of chai offered by Modi, once a railway station tea seller himself, to his friend Barack spoke louder than political theories and diplomacy.
As Obama himself said so aptly: “What’s another speech between friends?” To the extent that it set both neighbours of India anxious and on the defensive. The expressions, the body language of both men showed an incredible ease. After the CEO Economic Forum, where both leaders addressed for two long hours the participants, the message was clear. They meant business. Not only the top-most American business and trade CEOs but Indian Americans as Obama calls them, that is the NRIs, formed part of the American delegation. They met and interacted with the local Indian big guns of the Mittal and Ambani mettle. Narendra Modi made it clear: this new bonding and branding of India would ensure not only the ease of doing business – he also gave the assurance that India is clearly destined to be the easiest business environment in the world.
India’s Power Push could be felt through the spectacular display showcasing its armorial pageantry. The institutionalised display of its military might and millennia-old cultural heritage and civilisational ethos, with the phenomenal display by its young women and girl contingents – nari Shakti – in India’s three forces clearly kept the American President and charming Michelle Obama wonderstruck throughout. This was indeed far from the image that has circulated in the western world not so long ago – that of the land of snake charmers and beggars.
Besides the series of bilateral agreements at the 25th January summit and the Nuclear Deal revisited, it was clear and obvious that the stage was set for an enduring partnership between the two big powers – USA, a developed nation and India the image of an emerging developing power set to dominate the future with its vast market, huge middle class and vibrant skilled intelligentsia, and the largest reserve of youth in the world.
It should not be forgotten that it is the presence of India’s brilliant and skilled young scientists and technocrats in the US that contributed hugely to the creation of the -Silicon Valley miracle, leading too to the new Silicon Valley of India – Bangalore. What used to be signaled distressfully sometime back as a brain drain is being proudly acclaimed now as a brain gain. The US has over three million NRIs and PIOs who form one of the largest pools of the 30-million strong influential and affluent diasporic Indians.
Some people have been talking of Narendra Modi’s development mantras as mere slogans that are part of a politician’s rhetoric. But India’s new Prime Minister is no ordinary politician. He is a Karma Yogi as defined in the Bhagavad Gita and India’s ancient scriptures. He ha s followed staunch grassroots voluntary service training of the formidable Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) – an almost para-military training with robust and disciplined leadership foundation based on India’s ancient value system and civilisational ethos.
Rare are those with such intrepid training who go astray, so deeply entrenched and embedded is the trainee in moral and human values. After decades of being a grassroots volunteer worker, Narendra Modi’s heart and soul are definitely tuned and geared to the welfare of the people. He is a Desh Bhakta – a patriot above board, with Bharatiyata in every pore of his being.
I met Narendra Modi years back when he came to Mauritius for Gandhi Day on 2nd October. Later I met him as Chief Minister of Gujarat, several times with the thousands of Diasporic NRIs and PIO delegates from world over who flocked to halls packed to capacity too listen to his vibrant oratory. As he said it himself, he had been repeatedly urging the previous Government of India to hold the next Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in Gujarat. He wanted the world to see and discover the vibrant Gujarat the cradle of Mahatma Gandhi and a state whose womb has produced millions of successful Gujarati NRIs all over the world. But it never happened. Now that he was Prime Minister, he saw to it that the 13th PBD be held in Gandhi’s Ahmedabad: “The city that shaped India’s soul.”
Indeed arriving in Ahmedabad, I was struck by the cleanliness that prevailed everywhere. The roads, the footpaths and pavements, even the pavement slum dwellers’ little shanties were absolutely clean. Not a drop of rubbish. This was visible throughout. And of course, the Sabarmati Ashram on the River Sabarmati dominated the whole atmosphere. It was the perfect and most excellent venue for a PBD meet. This was not only an excellent opportunity to pay homage to the first and distinguished Pravasi that Gandhiji was but celebrate in a dignified and honourable manner the 100 years of his return. Each delegate was gifted a little emblematic Charkha. Gandhiji created a fashion trend with his Andolan of Khadi – a brand in textile today. Gandhiji in fact changed the fashion of the nation and made ‘Khadi’ the national textile.
But what was striking in Modi’s address and the whole set up of this year’s PBD was the style and departure from previous ones in themes, content, approach and philosophy. The dominating backdrop to the whole PBD 2015 was Gandhiji’s saying: “Be The Change You Want To See In The World”. The focus was laid on Bharat ko Jano or Bharat ko Mano or on “Gandhian Thought in the Context of the 21st Century – A Youth Perspective.”
The plenary sessions that followed Modi’s striking address on the 8th January focused on Opportunities for Investment in India, with thrusts on important initiatives, cleanliness, clean Ganga around the Namami Ganga Scheme, creation of Smart Cities, Skills Development and E Visas and Digital India, Climatic Change and Tourism Development. These same themes were again apparent in his address during President Obama’s visit this week. Which means they are his leitmotif. He is set to reinvent India as a major economic power in a short span of time: As he said it on the 26th January – “India is an important anchor of Stability for Global Economy.” He made sure this week that India is prepared to do away with red tapism, and bureaucratic hassles.
President Obama highlighted the genius of the Diaspora Indians particularly those who are now Indian Americans. Their contribution back in India as this new brand is being forged is built not only on the chemistry between two charismatic world leaders but also on many years of preciously nurtured understanding strengthened by previous Indian leaders, including former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Narendra Modi at PBD in Gandhinagar’s sprawling state of the art mega conference hall was very particular in his reference to Mauritius too. He did not forget the PIO countries too. Indeed in one session which saw the intervention of Vice-Prime Minister of Mauritius Showkutally Soodhun, chaired by Shrimati Sushma Swaraj (eloquent both in Hindi and English), he made reference three times to Mauritius. It is good news that Narendra Modi is coming to Mauritius as Chief Guest for 12th March 2015, for the 47th Independence Day Celebrations upon the Invitation of the Mauritian government. This great little country, but huge Ocean State has also a lesson to give in democracy.
Prime Minister Modi was happy at his proposal to UN to inscribe Annual Yoga Day on UN’s agenda of celebrating each day of the year around a particular global theme. This normally takes months and years sometimes to be accepted. That it was accepted within 100 days itself is a remarkable achievement, he said.
Narendra Modi’s transformation mission for India and his vision for a stable world is an innovative mantra. The focus is on “felt aspirations” of the future. His statement that India sees the world as one family – ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ – dates back to ancient Indian wisdom. And if India is stable, then the message of stability and peace will spread globally. This is the Index of change that Modi stands for.
* Published in print edition on 30 January 2015