As Mr. Narendra Modi has almost completed five years as Prime Minister of India and the next parliament election is just around one hundred days away, the present time is the appropriate period to take a fair and holistic view of Mr. Modi’s stewardship and assess his contribution to the national governance in India.
This has been five years of total and active leadership role of Mr. Modi. One thing that cannot be missed even by the pledged critic of Mr. Modi is his, blemishless personal life style and personal discipline, which enable him to keep a healthy life style and in this respect , he has emerged as a role model for all the country men.
While not a day has passed without country men hearing about one action or the other initiated by the Modi government ,there are many bold and risky initiatives such as demonetization, which he announced with characteristic courage of conviction. While his economic and foreign policies have been much discussed , the central theme of Mr. Modi’s leadership during the last five years are his efforts to bring about fundamental changes for the better in India’s landscape by enhancing the national character and self esteem of the country men.
Need for holistic solution
Mr. Modi has clearly understood and has convinced himself that India’s problems need holistic solution, for which the fundamental change in the national character for better is the primary requirement.
Most of Mr. Modi’s initiatives revolve around his aim to improve the national character, personal discipline and self esteem of the people, particularly belonging to lower income group, which are viewed by him as the primary national requirement.
Yoga Movement – a great initiative
Mr. Modi’s yoga programmes have caught the imagination of citizens all over the world and now there is an ongoing vigorous yoga movement in India. It is well recognized that yoga enhances the mental and physical health of the individuals. While it is true that not all Indians have taken to yoga, there is no doubt that the number of yoga enthusiasts are rapidly multiplying, which indicates that yoga movement is work in progress.
Construction of toilets for poor people
Another initiative of extraordinary significance is the great efforts initiated to improve the self esteem of the poor people, particularly women , by constructing thousands of toilets in urban and rural areas all over the country, which have not been available for poor people until Mr. Modi came to power. In around four and half years of Modi’s governance 90 million toilets have been constructed so far in the urban and rural areas and the efforts are continuing.
A number of critics have sought to dismiss such “toilet movement” as not significant policy measure, which shows their ignorance or insensitivity to the basic need of the poor people, particularly women folk. It has taken around 65 years for the country to get a Prime Minister to recognize this fundamental need of the impoverished people. There are still complaints that in some areas, the toilets are not being maintained properly due to lack of water, inadequate commitment of local civic authorities or misuse of the facility . These issues are real and need corrective steps. The “toilet initiative” of Mr. Modi is a case of work in progress, which needs further focused efforts and management with close follow up at the level of Prime Minister.
Clean India campaign
In the past, many tourists and overseas visitors have complained and expressed disappointment about the lack of cleanliness in public places in India. Mr. Modi recognized the seriousness of this problem and realized that cleanliness in private homes and public areas are a matter of mental attitude of the people .He stressed that consciousness about the need and significance of cleanliness have to be injected deep in the mindset of the individuals. Mr. Modi launched massive Clean India Movement and started sweeping the road himself to set an example to the people. Critics uncharitably dismissed such steps, saying that it is not the job of the Prime Minister to clean the roads.
While cleanliness needs commitment in the mind of individual citizens, strategies and technologies are also required to collect the waste and dispose them in safe and useful manner. While the cleanliness campaign is continuing in several ways and strategies to dispose the waste material are being evolved and projects are implemented, India still have a long way to go. This is again a case of work in progress of a lofty initiative.
Anti corruption campaign
India ranks poorly as far as corruption index is concerned amongst various countries in the world. Many people believe that corruption amongst cross section of people have become the order of the day in India. Mr. Modi inherited a government which was steeped in corruption making many people suspect whether a corruption free government would be possible at all in India in future. Mr. Modi restored confidence in people to some extent by ensuring that the central government under him at the top level remains corruption free. However, the ground reality is that corruption is still prevalent at various levels across the country not only in government departments but also in educational institutions , hospitals etc. and even in judiciary.
Mr. Modi recognized that corruption can be eliminated in India only by making systemic changes and modifying government procedures to make it difficult for corrupt practices to prevail. He introduced digital transactions in a big way, brought in GST and took other measures to promote transparency. He also gave a shock treatment to the country by announcing demonetization. Several other measure such as Bankruptcy and Insolvency code to avoid defaults in bank loan repayment, opening of zero bank account to millions of poor people to directly deposit the welfare fund in their account to eliminate middlemen and siphoning away of money by corrupt officials, have also been introduced. In this issue also, India still has a long way to go and the anti corruption measures are work in progress.
Need to sustain work in progress
Most of the problems discussed above are deep rooted and several decades old and they require extraordinary and sustained efforts with great determination and commitment to eradicate them. Mr. Modi has started the process. which have not been done by earlier Prime Ministers and five years of his governance is too short a period to make a significant dent. The fact that Mr. Modi has recognized these problems and started initiatives to overcome them requires deep appreciation.
Given the fact that several governments in the past, particularly weak governments with unstable coalition have been corruption ridden, it calls for a very competent and committed Prime Minister to complete these work in progress.
It will be extremely tragic and against the short term and long term interests of the country, if the work in progress would be disrupted by a weak government or unprincipled coalition of political parties, who have nothing in common between them except deep personal hatred for Mr. Modi and family ownership of these parties.