Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s interview on Times Now news channel recently was an eye opener. Mr Arnab Goswami asked wide ranging questions in the scheduled 90 minutes covering a wide range of subjects from foreign policy, government’s economic agenda, terrorism and border issues with Pakistan, exit of RBI governor, conduct of senior BJP leader Mr Subramanian Swamy and last but not the least the irresponsible statements of some lower order functionaries in the BJP from time to time. To the Prime Minister’s credit he did not duck any question, instead he gave straight and simple answers on all issues. Mr Modi’s vision and sincerity of purpose reflected in each word he spoke and left one with no doubt regarding his commitment, backed by sustained effort over the last two years, to take the nation forward on a path of development and progress that without a doubt was based on the principle of ‘all inclusive development with empowerment of the weaker sections of the society.’ The approach of NDA government under Mr Modi is to ensure a strong foundation for development with full participation of the people of India instead of the freebie culture practiced hitherto before by Congress led governments in the past.
Most citizens have no clue on the actual impact of the Prime Minister’s Jan Dhan Yojna where over 200 million bank accounts have been opened across the nation. For many this appeared to be just a gimmick. However a deeper understanding of the scheme brings out some startling facts. Most of these accounts were opened with an amount ranging from zero to about Rs 500. Today the average deposit amount has risen appreciably in majority of these accounts and zero deposit accounts have shown a marked decrease. It will surprise many that today these accounts have helped boost the bank deposits by over Rs 400,000 million and that amount is in circulation today. Over 60% of these accounts are in the rural areas. Most of these new account holders had never even entered a bank premises earlier. However today a large number of these new bank holders are transacting through the banks for sending money back home apart from trying to add small amounts to their savings or even paying their creditors through their bank accounts. In addition many of these account holders are now wiser and seeking small loans and advances from the bank for boosting their small businesses or for purchasing essential items for their households. Such numbers may be small today but have all the potential to increase rapidly thereby empowering the account holders to benefit from the whole concept and becoming part of the overall banking fraternity of the nation. If a small business man flourishes, he is likely to employ another one or more personnel to assist him in his work. That should add to job creation in rural and semi rural parts of the country. One has to look at this cycle in a little longer time frame of 5 to 10 years and without a doubt it has a potential to be a significant game changer for the better among the weaker sections of the society in the future. Similarly a deeper analysis of other schemes like Swacchh Bharat Abhiyan, Make in India, Start Up India too will throw some very interesting facts.
India’s failed bid to gain an entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) has left most Modi critics smirking and saying – we told you it will not go through. Unfortunately most of these critics cannot see beyond their noses and fail to appreciate the gains from the whole exercise. The kind of support the government solicited where nearly every nation, barring China, was drumming for India. Nations like New Zealand and Ireland could easily have been brought on board if the Chinese were not so obstinate in their approach since they had to show solidarity with Pakistan. Such appreciation of India’s position and belief in India’s potential by nations across the world has never been seen ever before. It may not be wrong to say that China did seem to be isolated on this issue and that is no mean feat for the diplomatic initiatives of the government. Diplomacy is a tough game where success cannot be measured by just looking at the final outcome. The fact that most nations who matter were behind India is an achievement by itself. It may also be true to say that it is not the end of the road for India if it did not succeed this time. The future still looks bright, irrespective of what sceptics may say. Nations like Australia and Mexico have taken on the mantle on their shoulders to solicit support for India before the next NSG meeting. The other important result that emerges from the whole episode is that fact that India’s stated position on its nuclear programme is now accepted by all nations without any reservation. If China did not go along, it had nothing to do with India’s credibility of a responsible nuclear nation. The reasons for China’s opposition were entirely different as we all know. It has also clearly emerged that henceforth India and Pakistan would not be equated (or as someone said hyphenated) as far as their credibility and status of nuclear programmes were concerned. While India is accepted as a responsible nation with a nuclear programme directed towards peace, progress and development, no nation believes the same is true for Pakistan. As the Prime Minister said in his interview, we do not have to make a case for India being a responsible nuclear power any more, that is an accepted article of faith now with most nations.
The Prime Minister’s remarks on corruption, in particular the Augusta Westland Helicopter deal, raised many heckles in the Congress camp. He said that the whole episode smacked of a very deliberate attempt to defraud the nation by people who were not only very experienced in carrying out such frauds but also seemed to enjoy political patronage. Congress and other political parties immediately locked horns with the government and charged the government with failure to complete the investigation despite being in office for two years and failing to produce substantial evidence to pin point those who were involved. It is no secret that in its ten year rule from 2004 to 2014 the UPA government led by Congress deliberately destroyed evidence and initiated various steps to cover their tracks. This has obviously created substantial difficulties for the investigation to proceed at a rapid pace. It is also well known that the UPA government deliberately adopted an uncooperative mode and offered to assistance to the Italian authorities in investigation of this deal while it was in power. This changed once the NDA government came to power and thereby the verdict of the Italian court on the whole deal where bribe givers have been identified and convicted. It is only a matter of time before the bribe receivers in India too will have to face trial for their misconduct and financial loss caused to the nation. UPA may have made it difficult for the present government to investigate the case, but one should have no doubt that the guilty will be brought to the book.
Good for nothing politicians like Mr Gaurav Bhatia of the Smajwadi Party (SP) had the audacity to even question Mr Arnab Goswami as to why he respectfully referred to Mr Modi as Mr Prime Minister during the interview instead of being brusque as he normally is with most other politicians. By asking such a base question, Mr Bhatia just showed how devoid he is of class, propriety and a decent upbringing. But then what can one expect from someone who is part of the SP for over a decade but has no achievements to boast of barring an acquired affluent life style, possibly an outcome of extreme political sycophancy towards the SP chief. Mr Pawan Verma of the Janta Dal (U) wanted to know from Mr Arnab Goswami as to why he did not question Mr Modi on some scandals in the BJP led states of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. He conveniently forgot his own state of Bihar where corruption, misappropriation and scandals are the prime attributes for a politician to succeed. It would do Mr Verma a lot of good to understand that his own leader Mr Nitish Kumar probably perpetuated the biggest scam in political corruption in the history of India when he joined forces with the convicted Mr Lalu Prasad Yadav of RJD. But then when a Rajya Sabha seat in New Delhi is the prize, even educated and articulate people like Mr Verma will bend over backwards to please their masters back home in Bihar. Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad of Congress opined that it would have been better if he had done a press conference so that other journalists could also have asked questions. Wonder what difference that would have made since to the credit of Times Now nearly all issues of national importance were covered in the interview. Mr Azad felt that the Prime minister was defensive in his approach as also in his body language. Probably Mr Azad has no idea of what poise and grace is all about. As far as being defensive is concerned, the Prime Minister’s remarks on Augusta Westland scam, Pakistan’s different power centres, Congress party’s role in holding up GST bill among others were both candid and as straight forward as they could possibly be.
Most political parties in opposition as well as many pseudo intellectuals have deliberately failed to appreciate the long term impact of the many initiatives that the current government has undertaken. In their fixation to run down anything and everything that has anything to do with Mr Modi, these people have taken leave of some attributes like objectivity, understanding and reasoning. Many are without work today and most have lost their exalted positions in the power circles of Lutyens zone in New Delhi and that irks them to no end. It is obvious all the initiatives may not succeed, but it is equally true that even if some of these schemes flourish in years to come, the common man will certainly benefit. Jan Dhan is an all inclusive scheme without any caste or religious bias. The same is true for all other schemes. If some sections of the society still do not benefit from them, the fault does not lie with the central government or Mr Modi. The onus for such a state of affairs will lie on the local political, social and religious leaders who fail to educate their people since it suits their vested interests to keep them uninformed and poor. For most such petty leaders an educated and informed citizen is seen as a threat instead of an asset.
It will be foolish to assume that it is the task of the central government in general and Mr Modi in particular to ensure that the benefits of such schemes reach the last man in the remotest part of the nation. The need of the hour is for the state governments and their administrative machineries to gear up and join hands with the central authorities to ensure that the initiatives taken benefit maximum citizens of the country. For this to happen the opposition and regional parties will have change their mindset and get out of the Modi phobia that seems to have engulfed them over the last two years. Criticism for the sake of criticism is invariably counterproductive. It is time the detractors of the NDA government and Mr Modi follow the principle of ‘healthy criticism’ and honour the trust reposed in them by their electorate by shouldering their responsibilities sincerely instead of furthering their personal agendas of Modi bashing, cost to the nation notwithstanding. It may be advisable for all opposition parties to try and beat Modi led NDA government in the next elections by focussing on development and placing the nation first at all times, instead of just trying to push Mr Modi one down at all times. It is time they realise that Modi bashing will not bring them to power next time. The Indian voter may be unpredictable but he certainly is not stupid. History shows that this is particularly true when it comes to national elections.