I may not be experiencing all the good or bad things happening in India directly but I can certainly judge how things are here in this “developed” country, United States, where I currently live and how things are changing in my beloved “developing” country. Here are the apparent changes I feel that NaMo and team should be applauded for:
(Note: NaMo is short for Narendra Modi, honorable Prime Minister of India)
1. A Confident India: If every Indian can see how much Americans (as well as Indians) are proud of America, they would understand how huge this is. NaMo’s pride for India and his confidence that India is destined to reach the heights is very evident in all his addresses to the Indian community in all the countries he has visited. And very recently “Bharat ki Baat” held in Town Hall, London. Can you beat that? He has ingeniously tapped into the emotional and economic potential of NRIs for India’s progress.
2. A Clean India: When a Prime Minister in his first Independence Day speech talks about building toilets and good hygiene for those underprivileged, please, take a moment to grasp this. I had no idea the sanitary situation in India was so bad that almost 50% did not have toilets in their houses; it’s my ignorance I accept. We Indians abuse India for being dirty and hail the west for its clean roads while forgetting one thing that the roads don’t clean themselves. Love him or hate him you have to give credit to NaMo for giving Swaccha Bharat Abhiyan to India on a nationwide scale.
3. An Efficient India: Passports are now renewed in 2-3 weeks (mine was done in 2), police verification 3 weeks; The social media presence of the MEA is widely known and they are ready not just to help Indians stranded abroad but also other foreign nationals as was evident in rescue operations in Yemen. Of course credit to Sushma Swaraj ji and Indian consulates in various countries.
4. A Tough India:
a. Surgical strikes: Gone are the days when India hesitated (for God knows what reasons) to retaliate to Pakistan. Surgical strikes in Myanmar and Pakistan, the way the Doklam issue was handled and public opposition to the OBOR initiative of China has proved that India will not cow down under international pressures anymore.
b. Internal security: The Maoist threat is the biggest hurdle in reaching development to the last person in the country. In 2017, the Maoist affected areas have reduced to 58 from 75 in 2015 reports TOI. And it is a big sigh of relief that no terrorist attack has happened in the civilian part of the country since 2014 (Touchwood!).
c. Demonetization: The best way to fight corruption is to trace the money and it doesn’t take an economist to know that cash is untraceable. Demonetization was a blunt attack on this unregistered cash and the inflated economy which is a bane for every society. It was a political gamble and NaMo played it. India is reaping its fruits by seeing increase in the number of tax payer base and digitization of economy. Here’s a link for details: Demonetization: Success or Failure.
(I have also stood in line in RBI to deposit money for 4 hrs only to know that I was missing some papers and incidentally lost some cash).
5. An Electrified India: Every village in India is now electrified just like every remotest part in the United States. This does not sound like a huge achievement until one realizes that there are still people in the 21st century who have not seen electricity. Makes me wonder why it took 70 years.
6. A Well Connected India: Everyone will agree that the most amazing thing about United States is its infrastructure. Massive highways and every nook and corner of the country connected with strong, high quality roads. In India along with roads this connectivity is achieved by the railways. Improvements are being made in Road and Railway connectivity across the country on rapid scale but connectivity to North-east India which had been ignored for long is being given a priority.
7. A Well Banked India: Jan Dhan accounts, meaning bank accounts to every citizen, is by far my favourite government scheme announced by NaMo. Having a bank account is a necessity in today’s world after roti, kapda and makan. Adhaar card linked to bank accounts have ensured that government can directly transfer funds to the right persons which leaves no room for fraud. In US such citizen identification number is called Social Security number.
8. A Healthy India: Maternity leave in US: 6 weeks; India: 6 months, need I say more? Government now provides health insurance coverage to the needy without collecting extra taxes (I have highlighted this because in US, people pay an extra medicare tax apart from federal tax whether you take its benefits or not, but all US citizens are supposed to get medical assistance).
TOI also reports that in India, stress is given in reducing overall medicinal costs for the poor.
A certificate of appreciation for Swaccha Bharat is the likely WHO report saying around 3 lakh deaths have been prevented due to diarrhea and other infectious diseases.
The world now celebrates Yoga Day by unanimously agreeing to the proposal by India for an all-round mental and physical health.
9. A Friendly India: India, being the second largest country in Asia, has a responsibility to extend a friendly hand to other Asian countries and stand up to the bullying of China. The historic visit of NaMo to Israel while still maintaining strong ties with Arab counties; buying defense equipment from Russia without affecting relations with United States shows the brilliant ability of balancing friendships. Afterall ‘vasudaiva kutumbakam’ is the Indian mantra.
10. A Promising India: All of the decisions of NaMo be it Demonetization, GST, Insolvency and Bankruptcy code or initiatives like Make in India, Swaccha Bharat, Ujjwala yojana, Ayushman Bharat and many more have been a fundamental shift in governance in India.
He is not just adding an extra coat of colour to the weathered house for everyone to see his work but also repairing the foundation which was destroyed because of years of neglect, only then the house will stand tall.
Does this mean that the Modi government has no faults, absolutely not.
• Education sector is probably the one needing a complete overhaul but is neglected.
• First half of NaMo’s promise of Maximum governance seems to be fulfilling but the other half, Minimum government has not even been evident even for the sake of it. Why should there be a separate women & child development ministry when already a human resource development ministry exists?
• The grip of the bureaucracy doesn’t seem to have softened even a bit to make matters worse.
I am sure there are many things yet to be fixed and I am not expecting him to do all those in just 5 years. NaMo has tremendous plans for India but they cannot be achieved without our participation because we live in a democracy and even though it is for and of the people; it is also ‘by’ the people.