I appreciate the Modi mode of governance of statecraft for three reasons. (1) As, an administrator, he has given primacy to formulate policies and to design programs to meet the basic needs of the poor and marginalized sections of the society. (2) He could generate confidence among the people that, corruption-free and transparent governance is possible in democracy. (3) He envisions all-inclusive and sustainable development policies and implement programs to enhance the standard of living of every section of people in our society. The establishment of Corruption-free governance, the designing of the pro-poor policies, the implementation of the programs to meet all the basic needs of the poor and all-inclusive and sustainable development were the Gandhian priorities as part of his constructive programs during the period of freedom struggle. Probably, Gandhi might have been the only political leader, during the period of freedom struggles against the colony masters, who perceived removal of untouchability and unity religions in a multi-religious society as part of struggle for independence. Unfortunately, Nehru, the first prime minister of India, being an unconditional admirer of euro-centric ideology, could not entertain Gandhian modes of thought and action In administration. Hence, Gandhi and his ideas of constructive programs have been systematically sidelined by the men in power after the independence.
Mahatma Gandhi categorically declared many times that, by development he meant that of a state of affair which, provides the facilities to meet the basic human needs- food, shelter, cloths, medicine, and education- of one and all. He could not imagine of a society in which the poorer sections of a society have been denied of the basic needs, providing more than enough to the affluent sections of the society to satisfy their greed. Gandhi preached Anthyodaya, the upliftment of the last in the row as the basic condition to be fulfilled to achieve Sarvodaya, the upliftment of all. Both Anthyodaya and Sarvodaya are the terms pregnant with more and more subtle and finer connotations in the Gandhian thought. In the spiritual sense, Anthyodaya means the enlightenment of the most micro-elements in the universe and Sarvodaya means the enlightenment of the macro-cosmos. These terms propose the possibility of indivisible physical and spiritual development of one and many in society because, he never believed in the philosophical binaries like body-mind, God-Satan, heaven-hell etc. He perceived man as an integrate whole who functions as the part and parcel of the universe as an indivisible entity. Hence, he argued: if, it is possible to meet all the basic needs of the last in the row then, it need not be elaborated that, everyone of that society must be provided with the basic needs. Narendra Damodardas Modi is the first prime minister, in the history of independent India, who followed the footsteps of Gandhi in the path of implementation of social and economic development maintaining administrative transparency. He converged his energy to formulate programs for the upliftment of the destitute in our society as the first step to ensure the total development of the society.
Modiji envisaged many paradigm-shifts in the mode of governance. His mode of administration itself is a paradigm-shift from rhetoric to deliverance. Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of India set a paradigm which believed in rhetoric than deliverance. Nehru kept eloquence in giving promises to the people using dignified and well-decorated words, but he was least concerned of the promises being fulfilled. The accumulated quantity of unfulfilled promises of the rulers, right from the time of Nehru, generated a sense of loss of faith in the words of the rulers in the minds of laymen in the street. It has been observed by the experts that, the most important characteristic feature of the celebrated five-year plans, in India, was the non-implementation of the designed programs and projected promises. The plan documents for the economic and social developments, produced by the policy makers, remained in the textual form and nobody cared of the actualization of the policies. Therefore, the policy document of the five-year plans remained as the monument of the unfulfilled promises of the rulers and it caused the loss of faith in the words of the rulers.
The first five-year plan (1951-1956) which, aimed at the development of agriculture and the basic infrastructure, imitating the USSR model of economic planning, could not achieve the desired target. Our progress in agricultural sector, despite all our efforts, was far away from the expected growth rate. We shifted our focus of attention to industry from agriculture, in the second five-year plan, without making proper assessment of our performance in the first five-year plan. Nehru, being an ardent admirer of the soviet model of socialism, was reluctant to accept the role of private sector in the generation of wealth of a nation. So, he wanted to encourage state owned industries, forgetting the simple fact that income generation is a creative activity and private sector could play a role in generating income. He reluctantly favored the role of private sector in the mixed economy model of economic practice, a unique model seen nowhere else, to pacify the conservatives, in the words of Nehru, to recognize the role of private sector in the process of income generation. The Nehru fans claimed that mixed economy was a unique model of economic practice mixing the good aspects of both Soviet socialism and western capitalism. Unfortunately, it was a utopian model which was incapable to fulfill the purposes of either socialism or capitalism and it produced the effects of the bad aspects of socialism and capitalism in social and economic sector.
A paradigm-shift in the economic model has been initiated by the Narasimha Rao government adopting programs to implement the liberal economic policies in 1991 which, paved the way for the economic growth of our country in a different way. Though, Narasimha Rao was a congress man, he was not a Nehru fan in economic activities. There was an immanent conflict between the liberal economic policies and the five-year plan model of economic practices. Hence, in 2015 Modi government replaced the planning commission with National Institution for Transforming India, popularly known as NITI Aayog, for the betterment of the economic prospects and social welfare of Indians. NITI Aayog is a body consisting of all the chief ministers of Indian states, the lieutenant governors of Union Territories, a vice chairman nominated by the PM and the PM as the chairman. Its functions are based on seven pillars- Pro-people, Pro-activity, Participation, Empowering, Inclusion of all, Equality, and Transparency- of effective governance to achieve the rapid economic growth and welfare of the people. It ensures the all-inclusive participation of both the state and the central governments in the resource-sharing and income generating activity.
The Swachh Bharath Mission,(SBM) which has been envisioned and introduced by the prime minister, is the result of a paradigm-shift in the social, cultural, and economic empowerment of the marginalized sections in our society. The important feature of the welfare programs designed by the Modi mode of governance, for the poorer sections of our society is that, such programs aim at the direct delivery of the benefits to the needy. It wants to eliminate the intermediaries who have been acting as the link between the government and beneficiaries as, the clergy men who have been acting between god and human beings. The SBM primarily intends to identify the beneficiary person and ensures the effective delivery of the benefits to the deserving person, eliminating the interferences of the intermediaries. Some intellectuals belonging to the middle class and upper class who, ridiculed the prime minister for the SBM, conveniently forgot the simple fact that, Gandhiji was the first SBM leader in India. Gandhiji encouraged the establishment of toilets to keep up the hygienic conditions of Indian villages in general. Gandhiji could foresee the enhancement of the self-respect and dignity of the rural women when she gets a toilet. Hence he introduced the construction of toilets as an essential part of political activity during the period of freedom struggle. Interestingly, Gandhiji started his first SBMission in one of the early AICC sessions in which he was a participant. Unfortunately, Gandhi and his ideology of state craft have been ignored by the persons in power after independence. Modiji revived the Gandhian program of SBM as a tool to infuse self-confidence and self-respect among the down trodden people of India especially, among the women who, constitute the worst affected group for the lack of toilets. The SBM has already provided more than ten crores of toilets to the poor people who could not afford to construct toilets otherwise.
Pradhanmanthri Ujjwal Yojana, a pioneering project envisioned, designed, and implemented by Modi government to provide cooking gas connections to the under privileged sections of our society. This project also has not been appreciated by the ‘doubting Toms’ among the social scientists in India. They argued that, providing gas connections to the poorer sections in our society is not an effective step to eliminate poverty. Incidentally, most of the ‘doubting toms’ are the subscribers of the euro-centric economic doctrine of socialism who are still unaware of the impracticality of the doctrine. The intellectual enslavement to euro-centrism made them incapable to think of alternative practical solutions to the hard-hitting economic issues. But the fact remains is that, it is the premier effort of an Indian administrator, to minimize the untold miseries endured by the rural women who, have been depending on coal or wood as the medium of cooking, sacrificing their health conditions. Unfortunately, this fact has been either ignored or snubbed by his critics due to reasons only known to them.
Again, it was Gandhi who envisaged policies and programs for the welfare of women who lived in miserable conditions in rural India. But the well-known followers and disciples of Gandhi who came to power after independence systematically ignored Gandhi and his vision in state craft for the reasons better known to them. Nobody thought of medical insurance scheme for the poor before Modi. The policy makers who ignored Gandhi silently admitted the prescription of death as the better medicine for the diseases of the rural poor because they cannot afford to the cost of medical treatment. The policy makers, before Modiji government, generously used well-chiseled words to describe the destiny of the poor, doing nothing, to minimize their misery. Modern health sector has been complicated by the emergence of new modes of diseases which need costly medical attention which is unaffordable to the poorest of the poor in India. Hence, the poor folk silently thought that death was the best medicine for their disease.
Modiji designed programs to provided health and wellness for all and he introduced medical insurance assistance to the under privileged sections of our society empaneling more than 20000 hospitals in India, under PM Jan Arogya Yojana, apart from the hospitals empaneled under the Ayushman scheme. No sensible person can criticize Modi for the welfare measures he introduced for the last in the row. But the blind hate against Modi prevented the Modi-biters to appreciate even the progressive welfare programs he introduced for the poor people. It is very difficult to understand the reasons for the commitment of the intellectuals to the euro-centric concepts which really imprisoned them and made them incapable to think of alternative systems suitable to Indian context. They might be unconsciously enjoying the enslavement to euro-centric concepts and the resultant imprisonment. Modiji reminds them, through his performance of dharma as the prime minister of India, that there are other ways of thought and action than the euro-centric mode of thinking to envisage policies and design programs to effect socio-economic changes in society in a progressive manner. Even the hard-hitting Modi biter could not ignore the practical results of the policies and programs of the Modi-mode of governance.
We heard a lot of appreciation in words about the sacrifices rendered by the agriculturalists for the welfare of the Indian people without doing anything to safeguard their interests. Though the first five year plan focused its attention on the agricultural sector we could not do any meaningful action to ensure welfare measures to the agriculturalists and the agricultural labors. Since, the Indian agriculture was a gambling with the monsoons, the agriculturalists and the agricultural labors were always at the receiving end, due to the disorder in the rhythm of the climate change. Modi government designed comprehensive programs to redress the grievances of the farmers. There should be effective and efficient marketing system to ensure the minimum price for the agricultural products as the first step to safeguard the economic interest of the agriculturalists. Modiji envisaged PM Kissan Yojana to provide financial assistance to the agriculturalists and earmarked rupees 15 lakh crores to increase the production of agricultural goods. He designed a marketing strategy through Kisan rail and Krishi Udan connecting railway and civil aviation for timely transportation of agricultural products to the markets to ensure maximum price for the products.
This program is helpful to the farmers in general, especially those who, produce perishables, to ensure effective marketing. The village storage scheme is another creative step to enhance the dignity of the agricultural work and to make it attractive to the younger generations. This scheme is designed to build up technologically competent warehouses under PPP mode, to store the agricultural products in every possible village. It would definitely help the farmers to store their products in secure places to avoid great financial loss. No doubt, it is the most effective developmental scheme in the history of agriculture in India. Alternative energy generation schemes have been introduced to ensure the availability of power supply for the farmers. The farmer-trader linkage is a new scheme which aims at connecting 1.65 crores farmers to 1.25 lakh trade centers which guarantees effective, useful, and profitable marketing scheme for both farmers and traders. PM Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana has been introduced to minimize the suffering of the agriculturalists and agricultural labors by depositing rupees six thousand in three instalments per annum to their accounts. More than five crore farmers have already been benefited by this scheme apart from providing crop insurance coverage at a very low premium to 5.5 crore farmers.
Gandhiji opined that India lives in the villages. The life of the rural people has been horrible because, they were deprived of the basic human needs due to many reasons. Modi mode of governance turned its attention to the most deserving people of India and introduced specific schemes for the rural people to enhance their standard of living. The formation of the self-help group for women, with the specific intention of empowering the rural women, as part of the implementation of the policies for the upliftment of the poor in our society. The self-group is being provided with financial assistance from the government sources which in turn disburses the amount to women to start small scale cottage industries. This is an effective economic empowerment program which would enhance the gravity of self confidence in the rural women. Only a society that enhances the economic empowerment of women would ensure the economic growth of the country. More than 6.6 crore women have already joined the group. The empowerment of the rural women had been the serious concern of Gandhi. He defined Charka as the friend and solace to women and introduced it to use it as a tool to meet the economic needs of the rural women. Modi is the first prime minister of India who paid attention to the Gandhian concept of economic empowerment of the rural women.
The Modi government designed and introduced Pradhan Mantri Jandhan Yojana (PMJY), a unique economic empowerment program, for the rural poor, who have been systematically marginalized by the framers of economic policies and programs for the banking sector. The PMJY gives the opportunity to penniless Indians to open a bank account in banks for the first time and it designed programs to meet the account holder at his door step. It is a unique form of banking system which aims at the all-inclusive economic empowerment of both the haves and have nots together. Even though Indira Gandhi, in 1970, nationalized 14 private banks as a revolutionary step to impose more state control over the banking sector, the counters of the banks were not opened for the rural poor. No sensible person could understand the idea of economic development without having the active participation of the rural and urban people together. The economic empowerment in modern era cannot be achieved without ensuring the active participation of the people in the banking business. Therefore, PM Modi thought of providing opportunity to all the citizens of India to open a bank account and he could ensure the presence of 40.35 crores of bank account holders in banking sector. Of course, nobody can deny that it is the first of its kind in the history of India whatever be their criticism against Modi. Incidentally, the women in India secured 55% of the bank accounts and 63% goes to the rural people.
PM Modi launched a newly designed Jal Jeevan Mission mobile application on October 2, 2021, Gandhi Jayanthi, to provide tap water to all, in every part of rural India. Modiji celebrated the 152 Gandhi Jayanthi addressing 330000 members of Paani Samitis which have been specifically organized at the village level to ensure the effective implementation of the scheme. He made it clear in his speech that, the scheme envisages to provide quality drinking water to every citizen, after releasing the guide for Gram Panchayaths to safe guard the defect-free implementation of the scheme. He is the first prime minister of India who, realized the basic fact that, the ruler has the responsibility to provide quality drinking water to all people of the land. He might have recollected the story of a legendary king named Bhageeratha who, brought the Deva Ganga from heaven to earth to rescue his kingdom from the curse of drought after enduring immeasurable pain and surmounting unimaginable obstacles in the prolonged struggle with the destiny. The Modi mode of governance designed programs to provide shelter to all and introduced schemes to provide home for the homeless. There is specific scheme to provide financial assistance to construct a pucca house to those who own land and the landless will be provided with a piece of land and house.
The Modi mode of administration has already focused its attention on education with an intention to provide quality education to all at school level as part of the policies and programs to enhance the development of skills of the young India. It is not practically possible to tap the full potentiality of Indian youth without providing effective education to them. Apart from giving importance to provide primary education to all children between the age of 5 to 14 by restructuring the 10+2 system into 5+3+3+4 system, as part of the New Education Policy (NEP). The NEP intends to reduce the student-teacher ratio to make class room education more effective and student friendly. Moreover, the NEP aims at a paradigm-shift from the euro-centric mode of education to Indian context centric education. The colonial Europe introduced the euro-centric education to fulfill the white man’s burden in all the colonies, replacing the contextual knowledge systems of the colonies by the European wisdom. The rulers of the independent India retained the euro-centric education, ignoring the vehement objection raised by Gandhi in the Hind Swaraj. Gandhi has made it clear that the euro-centric mode of education is unfit to Indian context and it would destroy the creativity of Indians. He also pointed out that, the euro-centric system of education used to present the distorted version of Indian wisdom which was capable to create contempt against the Indian knowledge systems in the minds of the students.
Despite, Gandhi’s argument against euro-centrism and his conclusion that euro-centric mode of education was fatal to Indian knowledge systems, the Nehru mode of governance refused to listen to Gandhi and wholeheartedly they embraced euro-centrism. Naturally, Gandhi and his thoughts along with the Indian cultural traditions had been declared as academic untouchables. The NEP, introduced by the Modi governance, revisits Gandhian thought to revamp the system of education to make it more contextual both in the formation of the academic contents and imparting them to students. One of the most important achievement of the Modi government is that it could reduce the dropout rate of girl students from the schools and could increase the gross enrolment ratio of girl students in education, especially in higher education from 39% to 52%. At present, we set up two colleges every day and establish one university in every week. The number of colleges in India during the academic year2013-2014 was 36634 and the number increased to 42343 during the academic year 2019-2020. There were 723 universities in 2013-14 academic year and we could increase the number to1043 in the academic year2019-2020. The number of IITs has been increased from 16 to23 and IIMs to 13 to 20. The tremendous achievement of the present government is the large-scale increase of the general enrolment rate at the higher education level. It is to be noted that, more than 3.85 crores of students have been enrolled for higher education. There is 80% increase in post graduate seats and 55% increase in MBBS seats.
After Gandhi, nobody, in the political administration of India, was concerned of Swadeshi and Swasraya, the two unique concepts defined by Gandhi for the welfare of India. For Gandhi swadeshi was not Charka alone. By swadeshi he meant of nurturing the internal resources of every Indian as well as the external resources of this great land to meet the demands of development of this nation. By swasraya he meant of relying on the internal energy sources of every Indian and the resources available in India for the development. Being an internationalist and a socialist, Nehru wanted to depend on the international resources rather than the swadeshi and swasraya movements. Modiji, on the contrary wants to stick on Atmanirbhar Bharath as the primary aim to achieve developments. He coined the term Atmanirbhar Bharath conjoining the Gandhian connotations of Swadeshi and Swasraya. Hence, we could manufacture vaccines against the corona virus and we could export the vaccines to the other countries.
Modiji is a different prime minister. I am very happy to see a prime minister who is proud of his Indian culture and the one who believes in the intellectual and the spiritual traditions of India, the country that shed light to the entire world when the other side of the world was groping in the dark. He performs his dharma as the prime minister like a Sanyasin and works for the welfare of the country day and night. Such a person is to be appreciated.
(The author is an academic, writer and orator)