There have been noises from both sides about the claims on development (or the lack of it). In the midst of all this, sometimes it becomes difficult for an average citizen to see the change happening around. I want to share two experiences and use them as reference to see what actually has changed in these last 5 years.
First, back in 2013, I was travelling with a friend of mine from Czech Republic to Bangalore. We were looking for an auto but as is the case in Bangalore, no one wanted to go by meter. So we waited and waited. After 5-6 rejections, we decided to board one despite him charging Rs.20 over the meter. My friend, being the quintessential foreigner, asked the auto driver “Charging extra is like asking for bribe. Why don’t you go by meter?”. The reply from the auto driver not only stunned me but also made me hang my head in shame. He replied (translated from colloquial Hindi) “Madam, we are just asking for 10-20 rs. extra, we are not taking bribes of 1000s of crore ruppees!”
Fast forward to 2019, after the Balakot Air strikes, the mood in the nation was of celebration. Everyone was trying to express their happiness in their small modest ways, whether it was through discounts on the restaurants or through writing or by participating in the marches that were taken out in support of the strikes. In the middle of all this, I boarded an auto in Hyderabad. In Hyderabad, there are hardly any meters in the autos because of the concept of shared autos being followed to a large extent. So if you want to board an individual auto, you haggle for the price before and they mostly remain the same for particular destinations. So while talking to the auto driver over the price, he said “Bhaiya, I am offering 50% discount to all passengers to celebrate the bravery of the army (air force). I cannot go and fight along with them but this is something that is in my hands.”
This change in the mindset and the mood is real victory and achievement of this Govt. In 2013, the mood was of despair and everyone had assumed that “Is Desh ka kuch nahi ho sakta (Nothing can change in this country)”. Politicians were widely regarded as nothing but selfish, corrupt individuals who remember citizens only at the time of elections. The corruption had seeped so much into our society and mindset that even the families were not untouched by this evil disease. Our bureaucracy was regarded as the most inefficient and corrupt one and the sufferers were not people who were well-to-do but the most needy ones whose whole sustenance depended on Govt. schemes. Everybody who could, was trying to move to some other country in the name of better quality of life and infrastructure. Even something as basic as cleanliness was seen as someone else’s responsibility so everyone used to throw their garbage out in the open.
In the middle of all this, Narendra Modi rose on the national scene as an able administrator with a proven record in Gujarat. However, many like me, had only heard about his administrative style and of his developmental work in Gujarat. We had not experienced it ourselves. So he was still an “unknown entity” for most of the people like me, to such an extent that one of my friend said to me in 2014 “I am going to vote for Congress because a known Monster is better than an unknown one”. That was the level of distrust in politicians and that was the level of hate campaign against him by the Congress and the media.
Narendra Modi gave a peek into his administrative style in multiple speeches in 2014 – PPPP – Public, Private, People Partnership. He clearly included People as one of the stakeholders in development projects along with Govt. and Private sector.
And boy oh boy, has he lived up to his word!
Whether it is Demonitisation, GST, Swacchta Abhiyan, Giving up LPG subsidy, and multiple other small-big schemes, he has made sure people are always involved one way or the other. You can criticize him or praise him, but you just cannot not ignore the impact he has had on every single citizen.
In corporate circles, it is often said “Leadership is the key”. And often, examples are cited from the corporate world to drive this point. Whether it is of Microsoft, which rose from the ashes after Satya Nadella became the CEO with the same employees, same processes, similar products, only difference being the mindset, or of Satyam Comupters which fell from grace because of the corrupt acts of their top leadership.
Not everyone is an expert in understanding the specific things that changed in the functioning of bureaucracy, judiciary, governance, and others but we all could see the change in the behavior of that Govt. employee relative of ours in these 5 years.
Not a single charge of corruption on any of the ministers in 5 years! That must be a record for any govt. India has had in the last 70+ years. There is a joke doing the rounds in which the ministers when asked why did you not indulge in corruption in last 5 years, they reply “Modiji ne kaam itna de dia tha, upar se strict deadline, rishwat or chori ke baare me sochne ka time hi nahi mila (There was so much work given by Modiji, with strict deadlines, that there was no time for corruption and theft)”.
With no laws targeting any particular community or caste (remember the communal violence bill during UPA years), with no appeasement or special treatment to any person or segment of society, with no corruption and honest efforts to solve the long list of issues plaguing this country, with yesteryear billionaires are filing for bankruptcy and facing the law of the land, with no genocide or mass murders as predicted by the opposition and intellectuals in 2014, as a voter, I find it difficult to identify with the opposition’s narrative of “increase in hatred, democracy in danger, institutions destroyed”.
I ask to all opposition parties and their supporters, please explain to me “How Democracy is in danger?” If democracy is in danger, should not the first victims of that be the ruling state governments, but I do not see Left Govt. in Kerala, TRS Govt. in Telangana, JDS-Congress Govt. in Karnataka, BJD Govt. in Odisha, Congress governments in MP, Rajasthan, Chattisgarh, Amrinder Singh’s Govt. in Punjab, and multiple other coalition governments in North-East, Bihar etc., shouting on top of their voices. I did not hear even a murmur or allegation of bias against this Govt. in last 5 years! That itself is a big change given the constant charges of bias leveled against UPA govt. by BJD, BJP, AIADMK, TMC, and many others.
I do not find the ongoing tussle in many institutions anymore graver than what Congress govts. did to all the institutions over the course of 70 years. There are no companies or private citizens who are crying “Income tax officer Raj” despite the increase in the raids and actions on tax evaders. I do not see SC quipping “caged parrot” for any investigative agency. I do not see any interference in Judiciary or any sort of face off with any of the SC judges. (This must be the first time when private lawyers are facing the wrath of the SC rather than the govt).
There have been no major riots in the country in last 5 years. There have been no major terrorist attacks in mainland India in last 5 years. There was no judicial overpowering on Ram Mandir issue. There were no mass protests by any minority group claiming any sort of injustice to them or any sort of fear. So where is the increase in Hatred?
Just on Social Media which has seen a more than 300% growth in active users in India. Social Media is a platform that provides voices to people from different mindset, background, age, thought process, living standards, etc. In that sense, it is a great leveler. The threats, shouting, accusations, intimidation on social media is same for everyone. Every person has faced some sort of intimidation and abuse on social media. But that does not mean, people are killing each other on the streets. If you switch off from social media for a couple of days, you will realize how imaginary the “increase in hatred” argument is. Strangers shouting on strangers in the garb of anonymity does not reflect the reality of the society. If you cannot handle the opposing views, sometimes in harsh language, you can still live your life without social media, you know!
Yes, people are becoming more opinionated. They don’t want to repeat the mistakes of their ancestors by handing over their problems to their future ones. But that does not mean there is a lack of different opinions.
Yes, people are becoming more nationalistic. But how is it a bad thing, I am unable to understand. This country has decided that it will not be considered “freedom of speech” when you shout “Bharat tere tukde honge” or support terrorists by claiming “judicial murder” or open SC in the middle of the night to stop hanging of a terrorist or when you keep the violence going in the form of naxalism, extremism for your personal interests or political and ideological goals.
That is what has changed in last 5 years. Earlier governments used to come back to power with just a single major decision like nuclear deal or farm loan waiver or increase in the number of subsidized cylinders. This government has changed all that. It has taken major decisions every single day. It has changed the foundations of the system that had been corroded over the years.
Perhaps, the media, intellectuals, opposition, just could not keep pace with the decision making of this govt. They seem to be stuck in their old ways when India has taken a completely different turn.
If I have to sum up the change in one line, I would say “Adharma has given way to Dharma”.
And its all because of the change in Leadership!