Why do we believe the worst about ourselves and our government? Our problems will increase even more rapidly if we wallow in negativeness of the kind we see among those who are supposed to mould our minds. Let us instead try being positive about ourselves and our country.
Why must breaking news be mainly about all that is wrong? Is there nothing positive about my country that we can at least talk about, if not boast or be proud of? Politics and political antics are not something that engage the farmer or the common man in other parts of the country as fervently as they engage Delhi’s power elite. For decades, we have pursued schemes to help the poor, yet succeeded in keeping them poor.
Modi’s budget speeches in both the houses have been remarkable in their content and delivery. Never has a budget speech been so interesting as this one. There was none of the dryness of statistics, jargon and vague promises. Here was a man laying down the future in simple terms. Pic/PTI
65% of India’s population is under 35 years. In other words, most of young India is seeing a majority government for the first time. It is their hope that this stability improves their prospects in life instead of quibbling politicians playing populism. It would not have the compulsions of coalition politics but it has the shortcomings of an absent cohesive opposition that will only resort to negativism and obstructive politics. Democracy is more than winning seats or casting one’s vote.
The country is in its most crucial decade where it has a chance to catch up on the missed opportunities of the previous decades or centuries. The expectations are high and the disappointment, especially among the young will be devastating if we fail to deliver. Failure is therefore not an option. If there is any one in the Cabinet who understands this most, it is the Prime Minister. His recent speech to Nasscom showed he knows that India needs to short cut the process of revolutions and move directly to the technological, cyber and software revolution. The Age of Entitlements is over and the Age of Endeavour has begun.
Modi’s acceptance speech, his first speech in Parliament and now the budget speeches in both the houses have been remarkable in their content and delivery. Never has a budget speech been so interesting as this one. There was none of the dryness of statistics, jargon and vague promises. Here was a man laying down the future in simple, if you may call it, non-intellectual terminology. But definitely more understandable and comprehensive. The Railway Minister’s speech two days earlier and the Finance Minister’s Budget speech were impressive as well. The ideas of monetisation of gold, the thrust for the port infrastructure, change of direction of MNREGA, stern steps for tax evasion can hardly be faulted nor the Railway Minister’s desire to first consolidate and improve before introducing the other schemes.
Last week, Narendra Modi spoke to the young as they prepared for their annual examinations in his Mann ki Baat programme. It was a talk that was well timed, thoughtful and would have touched many hearts, inspired others. Obviously Modi has understood the immense power of the radio in India in a country where the English news channels beamed from Delhi touch only a few hearts and minds in the country.
That the BJP is a Hindu Nationalist Party, is a description that the West has given this party, and some of us revel in this as a pejorative. Since when was being a Hindu or being nationalist a bad word. Not since the British left and that was 67 years ago. Let it be said that the BJP is as Hindu as the Conservative Party in the UK or the Republican Party in the US are Christian. Time and again, including during his budget speech, Modi spoke of his belief in One India, the sanctity of the Constitution and Sabka Vikas Sabke Saath. A speech in Parliament is for the record in perpetuity and let us accept his word.
One of the frequently heard allegations against Modi is that he has made the BJP and the current government a one-man show. The Nehru-Gandhi dynasty still survives. The one week old AAP government is already being accused of having developed a Kejriwal cult. None of other prominent parties can survive without their larger than life autocratic leaders.
Modi’s other problem is that for Delhi’s old established power elites, he is not to the manor born. He has, according to this bunch, no divine right to rule, administer and lead like our argumentative Chancellor of Nalanda University. As the years roll by, we will all learn to accept that the rules of the game have changed, perhaps forever and hopefully, for the better in which democracy becomes participatory.
The writer is a former chief of Research and Analysis Wing (RAW)