Modi Covers Head and Opens Heart
Modi speaking from Heart
Sporting a fiery crimson headgear and an air of nonchalance, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke from the heart and delivered an extempore speech on the occasion of the Independence Day celebrations on 15 August 2014. This was very unlike his illustrious predecessors who spoke neither from the heart nor from the head but from sheets of paper containing copious speeches written down for them by professional speech writers. Few listened to those speeches without shifting or squirming in their seat lest their limbs should become numb out of unmitigated boredom or they should fall altogether off their seat in a dazed state of stupor. So stupefactive was the effect, in the previous years, of the Prime Ministerial speeches which were as hollow from within as were intended to sound lofty, that they warmed the cockles of no one's heart! To make not too fine a point, the Independence Day speeches were traditionally a part of the shenanigans of our political leaders to impress upon the hapless listeners as to how seriously they took their role as zealous guardians of the country's hard-earned independence while, in reality, they hardly took effective measures to strengthen the defence forces, empower women and youth, guard vulnerable sections of the society like children and senior citizens from a worsening-by-the-day law and order situation, provide suitable measures to protect farmers from penury and the perils of an vocation much dependant on the vagaries of the weather as well as dwindling water resources, or shield the general public from sudden but frequent cloudbursts of rising prices and askew inflation. The responses of the public to such a hollow gesture in the past ranged from a simple "pshaw" to a more colourful and rich "balderdash and poppycock"!
Narendra Modi is arguably the country's best orator in Hindi. He did not miss the occasion, as is his won't, this time too, to engage the people in his address. Swaying gently in his inimitable180 degree oscillatory movement, he called himself the chief public servant and spoke accordingly. In an illustration of his ingenuity, he made the following points:
● Governance and development are key areas of his government.
● He does not believe in running the country on the basis of the sheer majority of numbers bestowed on his party by the people. He would like to govern by consensus among the ruling and Opposition parties.
● He strongly appealed for cessation of violence in politics and public life on the lines of communalism or casteism and suggested that a moratorium be observed for a ten year period, to begin with, to ensure a smooth development process possible.
Simple and Endearing
Things Simple and Basic
He spoke of simple and basic things like the following:
● need to build toilets in every school, separate ones for girls and boys;
● launching of a drive to clean streets, public places and surroundings;
● stopping of female foeticide;
● parents taking up the responsibility of bringing up their sons as strictly and particularly as daughters to make them feel responsible and accountable for gender crimes.
Mr.Modi's predecessors would have been aghast at the very thought of including these topics in their national day speeches. No such inhibitions for Mr.Modi! Having come from a poor family and started his career as a teaboy, he said he appreciated the problems faced by the poor and downtrodden people of the country and the need to ameliorate their conditions.
Modi Inspecting Armed Forces
It was not simple and basic issues all the way. He spoke of major policy decisions too:
● Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana which envisages every poor family having a bank account and a debit card and linking of a Rs.1 lakh insurance available to the family in case of crisis/distress.
● Abolition of the Planning Commission and it's replacement by a more suitable and viable machinery.
●Launching of a Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana. Under this scheme, every Member of Parliament is exhorted to select a village in his constituency and convert it into a model village by 2016, using his constituency development fund. Under the Yojana, more and more villages would gradually be converted into model villages. S
tate governments would also be involved in the exercise.
Boost to Manufacturing Sector
Mr.Modi appealed to the youth of the country to work for bringing about developments in the manufacturing sector - every one should take personal interest in working for manufacturing defect-free goods for export abroad.
He exhorted foreign investors to invest in the manufacturing sector in India and helping it become an international manufacturing hub.
Kudos to Nepal
He paid kudos to the youth of Nepal for eschewing violence and taking to democratic ways of governance. He exhorted India's youth to take a leaf from the book of their Nepal counterparts and shun violence. This was with reference to the disturbing trend of violence in public life practised by misguided youth joining the Maoists and other terrorists.
SAARC Leaders at Modi's Inauguration
Joint Fight by SAARC
He recalled that leaders of all SAARC countries had attended his inauguration and expressed confidence in the ability of this group of countries in eradicating poverty in the region if they come together and fight poverty jointly.
Respect and Reverence
He gave ample evidence in his speech for the respect and reverence he has for the rishis, sages, and saints of the days of yore, religious and spiritual figures like Buddha, Swami Vivekananda, and Aurabindo and the heroes of India's independence movement like Mahatma Gandhi and Patel and the later day leaders like Laleham Bahamas Shastri by alluding to them in his speech.
How Was It?
Mr.Narendra Modi's speech was far from being perfect. Nor was it tailor-made for the occasion. Nevertheless, it came as a breath of fresh air. He proved yet again that he is truly a people's leader, capable of thinking out of the box. Full marks for the path-breaking prowess of the man of the hour who had the listeners eating out of his hand.
Moment Under the Sun
His detractors would, however, deride his speech for being too simplistic or mediocre for the occasion and for containing too much of "toilets" and "filth" and, above all, for containing the dark and infamous decision on abolition of the Planning Commission, the holiest of the holy, Nehruvian institution of economic planning in favour of a nebulous and nondescript outfit. One can carry on along these lines till the cows return home. But, why not give the man in charge a chance? After all, the people had voted for a change while voting him to power, didn't they? So, why expect him to plod along the beaten track and not find his own way to development? We are already closer by a couple of days to the next Independence Day celebrations, when we could assess his performance and see how much it is along his maiden Independence Day speech. Till then, let us leave it be and let Mr.Modi enjoy his moment under the sun!
© 2014 Kalyanaraman Raman