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Narendra Modi – India’s unheralded agent of social change

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Hemendra Kishore Varma is an alumni of IIT, Kharagpur and IIM, Ahmedabad. Has close to 45 years of working experience of which the first 15 years were spent in the industry with Voltas G. Claridge, and finally with Jenson & Nicholson as GM – Manufacturing. In 1987, started his management consultancy activities in the areas of Operations Management, MIS and Organisation & Human Resources Development. Has a number of published articles in newspapers and journals like Economic Times, Financial Express, Business Standard, Indian Management, Indian Express, Management Review, Himmat, HRD Newsletter etc. Founded The 5S Institute in January 2005. This is India’s (and, indeed, the world’s) first institute dedicated to providing training and implementation assistance in 5S. Has conducted over 50 Certification Programmes and there are close to 1100 Certified 5S Practitioners in India, today.

Narendra Modi is being commonly and widely portrayed as a very clever, astute, sometimes scheming, politician who has mastered the art of winning elections. What a pity that those learned Lutyenite and free-loader commentators who engage in such shallow and biased analysis are not able to see beyond their twisted, forked and snooty nose.

The truth is that PM Modi has initiated and seen through some of the most important and beneficial changes for Indian Society.

Let us start with his very first one – the removal (or drastically narrowing down) of the RED LIGHT (Laal Batti) Culture and privilege. While everyone before 2014 was complaining about it and writing learned tomes on it, Modi came and did it. It requires courage, a sense of priority and a willingness to “face the consequences, come what may”. Is this not a huge cultural and social change in our Society where we are still awed by rank, aristocracy, hierarchy, dynasty and lineage ?

He then proceeded to delete and remove from the statute books all old and archaic laws that no longer made any sense as they had become irrelevant in the changed context. This was also a courageous change from the old mindset where we were conditioned to believe that whatever the British had done should not be touched, modified, and most certainly, not deleted. Once again a courageous act that brought about a change in India’s social fabric by giving it the strength to do “what it felt was right for it and discarding what was not”.

He then did away with pernicious practice of getting each and every document copy certified by Notaries before it was accepted by the authorities. Not only it meant a cost to the common man but also involve huge effort and harassment and delay as Notaries are not available everywhere. Trust is what has replaced this practice by accepting self-attestation as equivalent to Notary Certification with the Authorities having right to verify with Original whenever required.

Ayushman Bharat

गरीबों के लिए वरदान साबित हो रही मोदी सरकार की महत्वाकांक्षी ‘आयुष्मान भारत योजना’। ✓8.90 करोड़ से अधिक ई-कार्ड्स जारी किए गए। ✓ 32.11 लाख से अधिक मरीज योजना का ले चुके हैं लाभ। ✓ 16,001 अस्पताल पैनल में हो चुके हैं शामिल।

Just look at the numbers-  8.93 crores registered, 32 lakh beneficiaries and over 16000 Hospitals (Private & Government) empaneled and wiling to provide services to such patients.

This is a gigantic leap in providing health services to the economically and socially backward members of our huge population who were condemned to live with (till God’s mercy) major diseases like cancer, kidney failure, tuberculosis, weakened knees and back, simply because they had no recourse to affordable health support.

A healthier rural and semi – urban population will change the social equations on the ground giving this suffering segment much hope and relief which, in turn, will strengthen to fight life’s battles on their own terms and with renewed vigour.

Not the least of the changes we will see because of the Ayushmaan Bharat Yojana is that fleecing doctors in the urban areas will see a fall in rural footfalls as will the quacks in the villages and semi-urban areas.

Internet reach in the villages

A report from The Economic Times of  March 6, 2019,  tells it all.


Internet usage in the country has exceeded half a billion people for first time, pegged at 566 million, driven by rural internet growth and usage.

PTI Mar 06, 2019, 05.56 PM IST

  • India’s internet users expected to register double digit growth to reach 627 million in 2019, driven by rapid internet growth in rural areas, market research agency Kantar IMRB Wednesday said.
  • Nearly 293 million active internet users reside in urban India, while there are 200 million active users in rural India, it said.
  • While internet users grew by 7 percent in urban India, reaching 315 million users in 2018, digital adoption is now being propelled by rural India, registering a 35 percent growth in internet users over the past year.
  • Because of “Increased availability of bandwidth, cheap data plans and increased awareness, the penetration in rural India has increased from 9 per cent in 2015 to 25 percent in 2018,”, a 177% increase on 3 years!
  • Bihar registered the highest growth in internet users across both urban and rural areas, registering a growth of 35 percent over last year.
  • The report also noted that the internet usage is more gender balanced than ever before with women comprising 42 percent of total internet users.

The following are important points to note about the above assessment on  Internet Reach in the country.

  1. Rural users are 2/3rd of the Urban users and are growing at 35% as compared to Urban growth rate of 7% Just a couple of years and there will be as many internet users in rural/semi-urban areas as compared to India’s urban areas– can you even fathom the huge “power shift” this means in terms of access to information instantly– a privilege that, till today, only the educated, English– speaking elite comprising mainly the Khan Market, Lutyenite and Award Waapasi gangs enjoyed till date? No wonder, NONE of them, EVER have praised this development in India.
  2. The government’s rural reach effort has been hugely successful with 177% growth in 3 years.
  3. Not only rural areas are catching up with urban ones, but backward states like Bihar are catching up with the developed areas of the country. IF “information is the next Oil” then clearly the government is highly successful in spreading “equality” very determinedly.
  4. Finally, just as many women are part of this process as are men, which is a great boost for gender equality.

All in all, the above will lead to a huge churning of social equations across regional imbalance, gender bias and urban–rural divide. All credit for this must go the Narendra Modi who has single-mindedly pursued this “digitization of the country” through the past 5 years.

Electricity in ALL villages

Source :

Debobrat Ghose Apr 30, 2018 20:45:36 IST

With Leisang village in Manipur getting connected to the national power grid on 28 April, all Indian villages now have access to electricity.

After coming to power in 2014, the NDA government, through its rural electrification programme Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojna (DDUGJY), stepped up efforts to reach out to villages without electricity.

According to government data, all of the 597,464 census villages in India have been electrified. When the NDA government came to power in 2014, there were 18,452 un-electrified census villages. One may recall that Narendra Modi had promised to electrify all un-electrified villages within 1,000 days on his Independence Day address on 15 August 2015.

ODF India

Source :

9.16 cr toilets built, 5.5 lakh villages declared ODF since 2014: Govt.

By PTI | Feb 07, 2019, 06.24 PM IST

NEW DELHI: More than nine crore toilets have been constructed across the country till

February 5 this year under the Swachh Bharat Mission-Gramin (SBM-G) launched in 2014,  increasing the sanitation coverage in rural areas to over 98 per cent, the government said  Thursday.

Giving out the details of toilets constructed under the mission, Minister of State for Drinking Water and Sanitation Ramesh Chandappa Jigajinagi said so far 27 states and 5.5 lakh villages have been declared open defecation free (ODF).

“Under SBM(G), 9.16 crore toilets have been constructed till February 5, 2019. As a result, sanitation coverage in the rural areas of the country, which was 38.7 per cent on October 2, 2014, has increased to more than 98 per cent.

“Twenty-seven states, 601 districts, 5,934 blocks, 2,46,116 gram panchayats and 5,50,151 villages have been declared ODF,” he told the Lok Sabha on Thursday.

Just  try to fathom the stupendous impact this accomplishment will have on the entire social fabric of the country. First of all India enters a distinctly different genre of development with this achievement. Admittedly there are still many gaps- many toilets do not have water, some do not have doors, some are choked whilst others are not getting cleaned regularly. Nonetheless, it is still a fact that almost the entire country now has access to closed toilets and need not resort to “open defecation” for lack of another option.

Amongst its many impact, dignity to women and infection-free sanitation option to children must surely count as its biggest achievement. This will do away with the mushrooming of roadside Romeos wanting to have cheap thrills by troubling women in the fields.

The remarkable thing about this development is not, merely, its achievement but that someone in the highest echelons of the Government thought about it and took it up as a priority task for implementation. The number of people who had ridiculed Narendra Modi for talking of something so mundane and lowly as toilets in his first  Independence Day speech must surely be squirming at this achievement which is being applauded the world over.

It has clearly been a “match – winner” as witnessed  by  the  high  rural support that the NDA secured in the 2019 elections, cutting across caste, community and religious lines. It is notable that not a single PM before this ever took up this issue in the public domain, never deigned himself/herself to stoop down to tackle this “embarrassing situation” and, of course, never put this on a Mission mode.

Smokeless Cooking

The Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) is a scheme by the Government of India to provide subsidized LPG gas connections to female members who fall below the poverty line. The scheme has been a huge success since its launch on May 1, 2016 and is set to meet the next big milestone of achieving 8 crore household connections within the first hundred days of the government. Till date, the scheme has garnered 7.2 crore connections. In other words, about 93 to 94 per cent households now have access to cooking gas.

(Source : By: ZeeBiz WebTeam  Edited By: Harish Dugh Updated: Wed, Jul 17, 2019,  01:02 pm –

What does this mean for the common citizen? It means

  1. a) Huge amount of convenience for the rural ladies.
  2. b) Freedom from the drudgery of gathering firewood and stoking up the chulha
  3. c) Freedom from Smoke and associated ill-health
  4. d) Tremendous amount of reduction in cooking time as there is no “chulha revving up time” involved any more

Does this not count as  huge social and cultural change? Many women in rural and semi-urban areas are reported to have started small, wage– earning work because of time saved from cooking and thus improve their economic status.

Housing for All

The Housing for All by 2022 initiative was launched by the Modi government within five months of assuming office. As many as 1.53 cr houses have been constructed under the flagship housing scheme Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, interim Finance Minister Piyush Goyal said in his Budget speech on Feb 1, 2019.

Till now over 93,000 people from this income group (MIG) have availed the Rs 1,960 crore interest subsidy from the Centre, which has been disbursed through banks.

Overall, until December 30 this year, around 3.39 lakh beneficiaries have availed the CLSS under the PMAY (Urban) and the total subsidy released was Rs 7543 crore.

(Source :

Does this not signal a huge shift in the way people are going to now live in the rural and semi-urban areas as compared to the past ? Earlier,  a huge majority just did not have houses of their own and those that did, did not have pucca house – just a hut or an enclosure with make-shift walls and roof that were always victim to the vagaries of nature.

Can you imagine the huge personal uplift it gives to the spirit and morale of a family which begins to live in a proper brick and mortar house  as compared a temporary or weak cottage/hut ?

Does this not count for a social change and a subtle shift in the social power equation with the urban and semi-urban fortunate that were born into wealth and “pucca” housing ?

Modi Govt. has cancelled registration of 14,800 NGOs in last 5 yrs for FCRA violations

Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai responding to a written question in Lok Sabha said the registrations were cancelled because NGOs committed violations of the provisions of the FCRA.

What does this mean ? It means that the privileged and connected few who were rampantly looting the government and, therefore, the country by sucking up funds under the NGO umbrella for all kinds of activities – many (the most innocent of them) for personal gain, several for various nefarious activities, many of which having an anti-national tilt – will no longer enjoy this easy money loot.  No wonder the entire Khan Market gang is up in arms against PM Modi.

Govt. servants all trooping to office before 0930 hours, including  Maharaja IAS Officers

This is one of the biggest and most visible social change we are seeing since 2014 when NDA 1 first came to power– everybody in Government Offices, particularly Central Government Offices– is on their desk on or before 0930. And nobody leaves before 1730 hours.

NO political leader or government in the past has been able to instill this discipline and fear in them. It must surely count as one of the biggest social changes of our times which is having a far – reaching impact. Consider these changes:

  1. a) Routines at lakhs of homes have changed– getting up time, tea-time, breakfast time and the like
  2. b) Traffic patterns and rush hour have subtly changed
  3. c) Golf Clubs & corner tea-shop business has changed/ dropped.

True, as the naysayers are itching to rebut,  this does not mean or ensure that these Government servants are working better or more– they be coming and leaving on time but they don’t do any work while they are there.

Yes, certainly possible but increasingly improbable because of another initiative of Narendra Modi –sacking people for inefficiency! Since 2014, over a 1000 lower level employees have been sacked form Central Government service on grounds of inefficiency and/or corruption.

In the last 2 months i.e. June onwards, 12 Income Tax Officers, 15 Officers from CBIT and CBIC and 17 Senior Officers from various Central Ministries, Departments and PSUs who had attained the age of 50 years and above, have been compulsorily retired, under Fundamental Rules 56(j) on grounds of inefficiency and/or corruption. Can you imagine what kind of strong message it has sent to all the remaining Government employees?

For the first time in the history of Independent India, Senior Government officials have been sacked for “inefficiency” apart from corruption. Earlier they merrily carried on with both. This has hugely impacted the leviathan Government bureaucracy  who are certainly going to be a little more alert, a little more speedy and a little more correct which doing their jobs instead of the “laid-back, couldn’t care less attitude that they have displayed for decades.

Clearly things are changing and the “impregnable halo” that people who were in Government Service “cannot be touched till they retire”  has now been pierced. This in itself is a major social change which will also change the culture of work and working in Government service– hopefully, for the better.

True,  this is just a beginning and a small one at that, but it is a positive one and in the right direction and will, over a period of time, bring about the desired change to make our babudom more responsive, more responsible and more productive.

These powers were always available to each of the previous Governments and Prime Minsters but it is only Narendra Modi who has taken the bull by the horns and has had the courage to take action where he has judged it to be so necessary.

Does this not amount a huge social change?

35.5 Crore Jan Dhan Accounts opened having total deposit of over Rs. 1 Lakh crores

When Modi talked of Direct Benefit Transfer, self-appointed experts like P. Chidambaram laughed and said where are the Bank Accounts? When Modi got these Jan Dhan Bank Accounts with Zero balance facility, experts like P. Chidambaram mocked and said where is the money– there are no balances ? When the Accounts now have over Rs. 1 lakh crore, experts like P. Chidambaram have started claiming that the UPA had also opened such Accounts!

Can you imagine the huge impact the opening of such Accounts has had in changing the “money management habits” of people in the rural and semi-urban areas? First and foremost there are far less slippages and leakage to middlemen who were collecting huge amounts of “grease money” when government scheme payments were made in Cash.

Secondly, these account holders now have a sense of pride that they also have a Bank Account which has a balance and earns interest for them. This is a big, big social and cultural change.  

The only people not happy with this development are the hoity –toity, high and mighty PLUs (People Like Us) who, now, do not have exclusivity of access to the banking system; even the hoi polloi, the looked down upon PLTs (People Like Them) are having access to the Banking System.

Cash thefts from homes have dramatically dropped simple because there are no large cache of cash to steal!  Money transfer has become much easier, quicker and safer through the banking system. The reduction in use of cash also means a reduction in fake currency rackets.

Speaking in Hindi in all Public and Official Inter-actions abroad

What a boost this has given to National Pride that our Prime Minster speaks in an Indian Language without any hesitation or awkwardness as do leaders of various other countries in their own language when they go abroad!

It has raised India’s stature and, indeed, when you travel abroad these days to popular tourist sites, you will find many guides greeting you with a “Namaste” and attempting to say a few words in broken Hindi. I myself experienced this in Venice and Rome. This is a huge morale booster for all Indians.

This is also another nail in the coffin of the “English – speaking elite” who had created an eco– system whereby not knowing English made you an automatic “discard” while not knowing proper English made you an “outcast” and not knowing proper English pronunciation made you a “criminal”!

The Introduction and operationalizing of the IBC (Insolvency and bankruptcy Code)

For the first time it has become “actually” punishable if you garner public money in the name of investment but “steal” it for your private pleasures.

No one is,  now, exempt from the reaches of the law – if you have stolen you will pay. How many owners have lost their companies– did it ever happen before? Money is no longer everything– of course, it can still buy you some time, some favours, but it is no longer a guarantee that you will never be touched.

This has had a major impact on our Social Fabric as the rich are no longer exempt from being apprehended and punished if they have stolen public money as compared to the pas when with this same stolen money and their connections they could buy their way out of any difficulties – witness how the founders are being cornered and being held accountable for their financial misdeeds – be it Mallya, Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi, Ruia brothers (of Essar), Singhals (of Bhushan Steel), Naresh Goyal (of Jet Airways) and countless others (many of whom have coughed up large amounts of money to settle their cases which has given partial relief to various creditors including Public Sector Banks and small vendors.

This change has given the common and the not-so-well-to-do citizen hope that their funds are better protected and the scales of Justice are no longer as uneven as they were before.

Padma Awards to the Unknown & the Lowly

This is one of the biggest social changes introduced by Narendra Modi– the seeking of national opinion from all and sundry for the prestigious National Awards. As is well known,  in the earlier system instituted and perpetuated by the Congress, UPA and the English-speaking PLUs in the bureaucracy, not only the selection and finalisation of names for the awards was the preserve of the privileged few, the likely recipients only came from a blessed minority who were either related, connected or known to these decision-makers.

Modi has democratized the entire process now. First and foremost, by inviting nominations from the whole nation he has ensured that the net is cast, far and wide. The taking away of this exclusive preserve form the hands of the privileged few has led to tremendous heart-burns and is one of the many reasons for the hatred that the Lutyens and Khan Market Gangs harbour towards Modi.

Because the net is cast, far and wide (Anyone can nominate persons for this award, simply by logging in on  and following the process enumerated at we now get to know about and, therefore, recognize and award so many silent heroes and toilers that have been giving yeoman service to nation and society by their devoted work.

Can you ever imagine a traditional “Dai” (midwife) getting awarded for her role in delivering babies at home – In 1940, when  Narasamma was only 20 years old when she helped bring the first baby into the world. ‘Sulagatti’ Narasammahas been delivering babies for 70 years in backward areas of Tumkur district in Karnataka. And her life-long services to women whose children she helped deliver  without taking a penny were finally recognised– she was honoured with a Padma Shri on January 25, 2018. And how was she recognised– through the innovative (and privileged coterie-breaking) step of PM Modi to throw open the Nominations for Padma Awards to the whole nation and every citizen.

Here are a few more such cases from the hundreds who have benefited so far.

Chewang Norphel, a 79-year-old civil engineer, put his engineering skills to a better use and created artificial glaciers to provide water in the cold and dry mountainous region of Ladakh. (Padma Shri – 2015)

Jadav Payeng saw an increasing number of reptile deaths in Assam and started planting Bamboo in an area that had been washed away by floods. Today, that same land hosts 1,360 acres of verdant jungle called Molai Forest, named after Jadav “Molai” Payeng, the man who made this possible single-handedly!  (Padma Shri – 2015)

Arunima Sinha, a former national level volleyball player from Uttar Pradesh, lost her leg when some robbers pushed her out of a moving train. Two years later she became the first woman amputee to climb the Mount Everest. (Padma Shri – 2015).

Manjula Anagani is an Indian gynecologist and obstetrician specializing in minimally invasive surgeries. She has several innovations to her name in minimally invasive surgeries on neo-vagina formation. She pioneered the art of Laparoscopy in late 1990s, at a time when Laparoscopy was still an emerging technology and it was primarily still a man’s world wherein all the techniques and equipment that came about were designed to suit the ergonomics of the male surgeon (NOTE  that she pioneered Laparascopy in late 1990s but it was only 17-18 years later that the Modi Government’s invitation to the nation to pick Padma Award winners brought this talented doctor to the eyes of the Authorities) (Padma Shri – 2015).

Sarungbam Bimola Kumari Devi is Chief Medical Officer of Imphal west region in Manipur. She has been working in the strife-ridden state and giving her valuable contribution since 1979. She mostly works in rural areas. (NOTE, again that she has been working since 1979 but got recognised only 35 years later because of the Modi Government’s invitation to the nation to pick Padma Award winners) (Padma Shri – 2015).

Uddhab Bharali, the innovator invented 24 machines between the years 1990 and 2005.

In 2006, Uddhab invented a pomegranate seed peeling machine which can de-seed approximately 55 kgs of pomegranates in an hour. This machine actually helped him in building his identity as an innovator.

However, it was only in 2015 that Modi’s Open Nomination Scheme for Padma Awards brought him to the forefront and he was awarded a richly deserved Padma Shri.

Saalumarada Thimmakka, 106-years-old  Padma Shri Winner

When she was unable to give birth to a child, Saalumarada  Thimmakka started planting banyan trees. She planted around 385 banyan trees between Hulikal and Kudur in Magadi Taluk of Ramnagar district at her own expense and then took care of them as her own children. The Open Nomination Scheme identified her and she was awarded the Padma Shri in 2019.

Chinna Pillai – Madurai’s Iron Lady

Chinna Pillai was married at the age of 12, and soon took to toiling on the fields of Alagar Kovil, a village in the Madurai district.

Thanks to her consistent efforts to drag the community out of its misery, Pullucheri, has become a model of self-sufficiency.It has its own banking system—Kalanjiam—a microcredit movement, which has empowered hundreds of women and their families in the last three decades now.

But it took more than 20 years after her State recognition for her work to be recognised, nationally, when the Modi Government conferred her, most recently in 2019, the Padma Shri Award for her service to the country. This clearly happened only because Narendra Modi  opened up the Padma Nominations to the entire country instead of  a coterie that shamelessly engaged in incestuous engagement for picking award winners.

Is this not a huge social equation change that PM Modi has brought about by the single, simple and yet hugely innovative step of opening the Padma Award Nominations all the citizens of the entire country?

The Lutyens and Khan Market brigade continue to live in their dream world,  believing that Modi is just an aberration in their “Zamindari Raj” and a strong whiff of verbal diarrhea by their Knight in Shining Armour, delivered in clipped British accented English will drown him away.

Actually, it is good for the country that they think so because it means they are never going to look at actually “delivering something to and for the people” and the people are, therefore going to return the compliment by never voting them back to power.

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Hemendra Kishore Varma is an alumni of IIT, Kharagpur and IIM, Ahmedabad. Has close to 45 years of working experience of which the first 15 years were spent in the industry with Voltas G. Claridge, and finally with Jenson & Nicholson as GM – Manufacturing. In 1987, started his management consultancy activities in the areas of Operations Management, MIS and Organisation & Human Resources Development. Has a number of published articles in newspapers and journals like Economic Times, Financial Express, Business Standard, Indian Management, Indian Express, Management Review, Himmat, HRD Newsletter etc. Founded The 5S Institute in January 2005. This is India’s (and, indeed, the world’s) first institute dedicated to providing training and implementation assistance in 5S. Has conducted over 50 Certification Programmes and there are close to 1100 Certified 5S Practitioners in India, today.
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