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Modi still has a long way to go to meet the country’s needs and expectations in full measure. However, the fact that the present state is a case of work in progress is clearly evident.
(Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the nationwide Covid-19 vaccination drive on Saturday. Photo: PTI)

For the last nineteen years, when Narendra Modi has been the Chief Minister of Gujarat and later on as Prime Minister of India, he has been receiving bouquets and brickbats from a cross-section of countrymen.

Modi’s ardent admirers have recognized every aspect of his personal life, public life, and committed administrative capability. At the same time, his sworn critics have been trying hard to find negatives in him and have not hesitated to use the most abusive language against Modi, with the specific objective of tarnishing his fair image in the country. When Modi was Chief Minister of Gujarat, he was described as a “merchant of death” by an opposition party leader. As Prime Minister, he has been constantly abused with various unsavory terms such as “thief”, “liar”, and now as “coward” by sections of opposition parties. A lady chief Minister of a state went to the extent of stating that Modi should be slapped on his face.

Nevertheless, Modi has been winning election after election and as of now, he remains as an unchallenged national leader of India for all practical purposes.

What is remarkable about Modi is that he has ignored his critics with what looks like an element of contempt and has not changed his path and style of functioning.

Now, many people believe that Modi would win the next parliamentary election also with a thumping majority, and Modi can be replaced only by Modi voluntarily quitting.

It is high time that the ardent admirers of Modi and his bitter critics dispassionately examine his attributes.

Certainly, one of the biggest trump cards for Modi is the discipline that he maintains in his personal life, clean image as a non corruptible person as well as the impression that he is a determined achiever and hard taskmaster. Many people believe that these are the qualities that an Indian leader needs and none of his predecessors had such attributes to the extent that Modi has. Certainly, Indians respect an honest and benevolent, and strong leader, even if, sometimes, he is dictatorial with honest intentions.

Of course, Modi is a staunch Hindu and he cherishes the ethos of the Hindu religion and has not concealed this. The fact that he participates in traditional Hindu rituals in temples indicates his courage of conviction. He has not bothered even after knowing that his critics would call such practice an “anti secular stance” and even describe him as a Hindu extremist. Somehow, some activists in India seem to think that participating in rituals of the Muslim religion or Christian religion means one being non-secular, and participating in Hindu rituals means one is anti-secular.

Coming from a very poor family and having seen poverty in his younger days, Modi clearly understands the need of the poor people and their aspirations.

Clearly realizing the urgency to lift millions of poor people from poverty and negative conditions in life, Modi is trying to solve the problems of the poor people as early as possible. He has given considerable importance to construct millions of toilets for poor families, distribute free LPG connection to the poor, introduce free housing schemes for lower-income groups, to enable poor people to open zero bank accounts, so that the welfare benefits would be transferred to the poor people directly by avoiding middlemen. etc. Further, his health insurance scheme for the poor is an extraordinary measure of far-reaching significance to the poor families. All such welfare schemes are meant to give immediate relief to the poor people, as they cannot wait endlessly for better conditions.

Realizing that corruption is deep-rooted in the country and corruption cannot be eliminated without strong government policies, he introduced Binami Act and other measures and even resorted to demonetization in a desperate attempt to check the black money circulation.

Further, realizing that personal discipline is the utmost priority, he focused on promoting yoga culture, which has now caught the imagination of a considerable section of countrymen. His Clean India campaign is a priority measure much needed.

While knowing that any move to promote the private sector and privatization of public enterprises would be viewed by a section of critics as an anti-poor strategy, Modi correctly thinks that the government should focus on governance and to the extent possible, leave the business and industries in the hands of the private sector. He recognizes the fact that private sector enterprises need not be suspected and they can be as loyal to the country’s cause as anyone else. He aptly and boldly calls them as wealth creators and inevitably such created wealth would dissipate to every strata of society in the course of time. He believes that this is the only way to promote rapid economic growth, which would inevitably help in lifting the poor section of people out of poverty.

There are several schemes of the past government such as Aadhar, MNREGA, and agricultural reform measures, which Modi has recognized and implemented with much greater speed and dynamism.

Of course, the political parties which earlier wanted these measures to be implemented are now opposing the same and Modi remains undisturbed by such motivated criticism.

Modi’s Atmanirbhar scheme and Make in India campaign are very sound strategies that provide an opportunity to the countrymen at various levels in building a resurgent India.

Today, Modi is challenged on several fronts.

A section of farmers in two states with active support from some activists and separatist groups are creating problems, for whatever reasons. COVID 19 crisis has uprooted several of his development plans. The collusion between Pakistan and China are posing a great threat to India’s security. A section of media and some opposition parties and a section of activists are leaving no stone unturned to derail the development plans of Modi by constantly criticizing all his moves. The animosity of critics towards Modi is to such an extent that when Modi applauded the outgoing leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha and praised him in an emotional manner, the critics find ulterior motive and even have said that Hitler and Mussolini too have shed tears on certain occasions as a political tactic.

All said and done, it is a fact that Modi has not eradicated corruption totally in India, has not eliminated poverty to any appreciable level and the performance of the government machinery, particularly in the state level has not improved to the desirable extent. The streets in the country are still not adequately clean in spite of his Clean India campaign.

The criticism that Modi sometimes relaxes his approach for political reasons and to win elections could also be partly true.

Certainly, Modi still has a long way to go to meet the country’s needs and expectations in full measure. However, the fact that the present state is a case of work in progress is clearly evident.

Alleviating poverty in India is not a quick fix job and requires steady and forward-looking policy measures.

A large section of countrymen seems to realize that the way forward is not to replace Modi and his stewardship but support him in his endeavors in all possible ways and cooperate with his strategies.

The personal credibility of Modi is still intact. A large section of countrymen do not have an iota of doubt about the commitment of Modi for India’s short-term and long-term progress and the countrymen also clearly see that there is no other political leader in India today who measures up to Modi’s standards.

It is true that no leader is really indispensable in any country. However, the person would become indispensable, only if a better person would emerge as a political leader. Where is the better leader on the horizon?

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