Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Narendra Modi- A different picture

The Indian general elections are just round the corner making this a good time to write about this topic.

First of all, let me tell you that as far as I am concerned, I am a completely 'a-political' person. I cannot understand politics; just like Amitabh Bachchan confesses. And that's why I myself am surprised that I am writing on something related to Politics which I could never have thought!
I don't particularly care for politicians either, whom I consider to be a different species altogether. But still there are a few people in there who do seem to be different from the rest and do seem to be nice people indeed!

Without talking about too many other things, I will come back to the topic that I want to actually write about, but before that a few interesting things about this.............

-India will hold general elections to the 15th Lok Sabha in 5 phases in April & May 2009, starting from 16 April upto 13 May. The results of the election will be announced in single phase on May 16, 2009.

-714 million people are eligible to vote in 2009, up 6.4% (43 million) from 2004.

-This time, there are many who are vying for the post of Prime Minister, as Bal Thackeray has said- "People should enjoy 'Grand show' for PM's post. The Prime Minister candidate for Congress being Dr. Manmohan Singh and for the BJP being Lal Krishna Advani and many others like Sharad Pawar, Ram Vilas Paswan, Lalu Prasad Yadav, Mulayam Singh, Mayawati etc are interested; though some are now denying it.

- The Congress party has bought the rights for the Oscar winning soundtrack 'Jai Ho' from the movie Slumdog Millionaire and this song will be used as the official campaign tune by the party. To counter this, the BJP coined the phrase Kushal Neta, Nirnayak Sarkaar which translates to 'Able leader, decisive government' specially using Advani as their main leader and trying to brand Manmohan Singh as a weak P.M.

I could not help but notice the use of internet as a medium for L.K.Advani. His blog page, the websites, the advertisements everywhere on the internet etc. This is a conscious effort and a Marketing strategy I feel to reach out to the youth and to project the image as someone moving with the times and to give a youthful feel which many feel is their answer to the challenge from the young Rahul Gandhi with even pictures of Advani lifting weights in a gym! No doubt that Advani seems to have taken a cue from Obama's highly successful campaign using technology and internet and having various IT related things in their vision including 10 million laptops at Rs 10000!

As I have already said that I am not a political person so I don't understand it too much and I will not be taking the side of any political party. I just like a few individuals in this political scene and one of them is certainly Narendra Modi. He is one person about whom I felt it was absolutely necessary to write about to create awareness because I have seen that most of the people specially outside Gujarat have a certain negative image about him. It is because they have only one way of knowing about him and that is through media and from what I have seen, even a blind person can tell that the media is always against him, no matter what. I am not saying that he is the best or flawless person but because it has been onesided so far from media and overall, thus here I will focus on the other half and concentrate only on the positive side of him to balance or even things out. So please don't write to me accusing me of taking his side or some other arguments as I have already mentioned my purpose clearly. However I will do this with valid points and honest opinion.

Now I will not go into his past or his background but focus more on some important events and milestones in time.

No discussion can happen on Mr. Modi without talking about the Gujarat riots of 2002 for which Modi has been the villian in everyone's eyes. Communal riots are not new to Gujarat or even India and this wasn't the largest in history either, with more extensive and prolonged violence with higher death tolls happened in 1969 and 1985 under the rule of Congress Government and even the cause of Gujarat riots is conveniently downplayed or misrepresented. It wasn't a few stones thrown at a procession or some petty quarrel but a terrible Godhra carnage where bogies of Sabarmati Express were set on fire!

Certain facts do stand out, even from accounts in the English media, not particularly known to be generous to Narendra Modi :

a) The Congress Union Minister of State for Home, ShriPrakash Jaiswal, in Parliament on 11 May 2005, said 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus were killed - hardly consistent with a Muslim genocide. And the figures in Delhi massacres in 1984 were: Sikhs: 2733 killed in Delhi alone. as per Ahuja Committee, which submitted the report in August 1987

b) The entire police force of 70,000 was deployed in Gujarat on 27th Feb in apprehension of riots, police fired more than 4000 rounds, "shoot-at-sight" orders in Godhra, 827 preventive arrests, immediate deployment of Rapid Action Force and CRPF hardly agrees with the accusation of a deliberately inactive police force.

c) As early as 5th March 2002, out of the 98 relief/refugee camps set up in Gujarat, 85 were for the Muslims and 13 were for the Hindus and as on 25 April, out of 1 lakh 40 thousand refugees, 1 lakh were Muslims and 40 thousand were Hindus which is not consistent with the unilateral Muslim sufferings that has been portrayed.

His biggest challenge when he took over as the C.M was the reconstruction of the earthquake affected areas. Bhuj was a city of rubble with people living in temporary shelters without basic infrastructure. Earthquake recovery became his first priority. His dynamic vision and quick decisions have put Gujarat Reconstruction Program as one of the best on global map and set a benchmark for reconstruction and disaster recovery, not only in India, but also in entire Asia, for which he achieved global recognition.

He is perceived as an honest, capable man who has taken Gujarat to greater heights of prosperity since then. He was re-elected for the third time in 2007, after a hard fought battle of ballots where he single handedly fought not only the Congress lead opposition but also the biased and prejudiced media and his own disgruntled party members. With a reputation revolving around his incorruptible image and ascetic style of living, he is a workaholic, with a no-nonsense attitude who is unafraid to call a spade a spade. A person who cares less for political correctness and social connections whose vision is to make Gujarat at par with developed nations.

On being asked whether it hurt him not getting a US visa, he responded' "I take this as an opportunity. I want my India to be so strong and prosperous that Americans will queue up to come to India. A day will come when Americans will yearn to come to Gujarat."

Perhaps the best compliment comes from Mr. Anil Dhirubhai Ambani- " If Gujarat was a separate country, it would stand in a different league among some of world's most flourishing and prosperous countries."

Modi remains untouched and unfazed by all the filth and accusations. "Do you think the Centre would have left me like this if they had any proof against me? I have a Goverment that is unfavourable at the Centre and their quietness says it all." He once shot back at an Interviewer.

"We have a vibrant media, an active judiciary and global human rights groups working in the country. If there was even the slightest evidence that I had committed a crime, I would have been hanged long since." he said to another.

Mr. Advani said, " I can think of no other example in Indian politics of a leader who, after being subjected to a malicious and prolonged campaign of vilification, has been able to impress even his critics with his determination, single-minded focus, integrity and a wide array of achievements in a relatively short time."

Asked once by the Sachar Committee about what steps his Government has taken for Muslims, Modi bluntly replied," I have done nothing...I have done nothing for the Hindus too...Through river linking, we brought the Narmada river to the Sabarmati. Now am I going to find out which community is drinking how much of this water? That is divisive politics."

Honestly speaking, the achievements are so many that if I list down all of them, you will get bored even just going through them. But still here are a few achievements:

- In the past few years, Gujarat has made excellent progress and received various awards for infrastructure building, water distribution, economic freedom, environmental protection, e-Governance, energy conservation, health accessibility, heritage protection, sanitation, software development. The agencies conferring these awards include International Bodies like The United Nations, World Bank, UNESCO, various ministries/agencies of Government of India etc.

-Gujarat ranks number 1 in The Economic Freedom Index as per the research conducted by none other than The Rajiv Gandhi Foundation.
-Gujarat has only 5% of India's population and 6% of Geographical area but its contribution to India in terms of "Value of Output"is 16.10%
-Gujarat is one of the most Industrialized states of India with 16.2 % share in India's Industrial production and percentage of man-days lost due to labor strife is 0.52% lowest in country
-Gujarat surpassed the target of 10.2 % set by Planning Commission for 10th Five year plan compared to the average of 8.2% for entire country, achieving growth rate of 15% in 1st year itself.
-Gujarat accounts for 54% of India's onshore crude oil production, 50% of India's natural gas production, 46% of India's installed refining capacity, 60% of India's total crude oil import facility
-Gujarat today has one of the best infrastructures in the country comprising of 11 airports, 1 international airport, extensive rail network and a robust road network of over 74,000 km. A total of 17, 763 out of 18,028 villages (98.53 %) are connected with pucca (concrete) roads, the best in the country.
-Gujarat coastline of over 1600 kms , longest in the country, is dotted with 41 ports, which handle over 25% of India's total cargo.
-On Education front, there have been 11 new Universities, 400 new colleges, 1.25 lakhs new teachers, 38,000 new school rooms and the Government has set a deadline of 2010 to ensure a 100% enrolment and 0% drop out rate at primary level.
-Gujarat is now an emerging Global Medical Tourism destination. WHO has appreciated Gujarat's school health program and the Chiranjeevi program bagged International recognition and was appreciated in UNICEF's report.
-Modi's mission of "Water for All" has been a revolution. There has been interlinking of 21 rivers of the state, state wide Water Grid.
- The Jyoti-Gram Yojana to provide 3-phase, 24-hour, uninterrupted power supply to all villages has enabled Gujarat to become the first state in India to achieve 100% electrification of villages.-When other chief ministers accumulate crores of personal wealth as birthday gifts, Modi deposits each and every gift/souvenir received by him in the Government treasury for the cause of "Girl Child Education" and has deposited Rs 287.37 lacs in a period of 5 years. Touched by this, people have directly started donating and have given more than Rs. 11 crores for this.
-Gujarat has brought Broadband Connectivity to all village bodies so that "every household can avail the advantages of information technology".

In the last two years many bomb blasts have occured in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Jaipur. None of the cases were solved. The only case that was solved is that of Gujarat. Why? Because Modi and his establishment took it up as a major endeavor and a challenge. They made sure no riots occured, and even if they would have, the order to the 11 or so investigation teams was to ignore it and keep working. He gave to the investigating teams complete authority and full support - they had money, resources, people and also a chartered plane to pursue whatever they wanted.
For almost 3 weeks the team members did not sleep. They worked round the clock to get to the bottom of the case.
-More than 11 teams were formed within the first few hours of the blasts. One team was asked to handle the investigations into the material used in the bombs. Another team was asked to investigate the use of bicycles. Another team was formed to thoroughly check all the phone calls made in Ahmedabad from certain areas just before and after the blasts. Another team was set up to reach out to all the police informers and gather their opinions on and information of the blasts. One team followed the cyber crime aspect of the case. The overall investigation of the case was assigned to the crime branch of Ahmedabad where more than 100 people started following whatever little leads that were available, from the midnight of July 26.
What has happened and what was uncovered is nothing short of amazing given those three weeks.
Yes, the administration failed the residents in not preventing the attacks, but thankfully this administration did not wallow and start finger-pointing in its aftermath. It went into action from get go. Also, and importantly, it prevented any reactions and went about their work professionally

It is no wonder that Modi has been recognized as No. 1 Chief Minister by the people, thrice in last five years in India Today- ORG MARG Survey, a unique recognition ever achieved by any C.M in the country.

The recent drama that evolved was when Anil Ambani, Sunil Bharti Mittal, Ratan Tata and other industrialists lauded Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi at the investors" summit in Gujarat, claiming his leadership as "national level material" and wishing that "person like him should be the next leader of the country".
The ever increasing list of his public supporters and admirers now include in addition to above 3 mentioned- Mukesh Ambani, Kumarmangalam Birla, Politicians from completely different ideology CPM Muslim MP from Kerala Mr. Abdullakutti and Trinamool Congress leader Ms. Mamta Banerjee
And the latest addition from Bollywood- PREITY ZINTA! who has said- "Till last year, I didn’t support Modi but today I support him with all my heart. He should be India’s Prime Minister. Look at how he has administered Gujarat. Every politician has something bad to his name but Modi is one politician who also has something good to his name. If we have five states like Gujarat, India will shine.”

* Below are the results so far of a Poll on Orkut for the person people want to see as P.M and Modi gets the highest 40% votes and growing even though he isn't a Prime Ministerial candidate this time! :

Perhaps this small joke best sums it up:
BJP: 100% electricity in rural areas only in Gujarat; revolution in rural economy - 12000 villages covered under Jyotigram Yojna. UPA: But Modi is communal
BJP:Gujarat was awarded Gold and Silver shields for outstanding performance in the energy sector by the Central Government. UPA: But Modi is communal
BJP:The Rajiv Gandhi Foundation has adjudged Gujarat as the best governed state. UPA: But Modi is communal
BJP: Modi created 7,316 kms of rural road network, the best in the country.UPA: But Modi is communal
BJP: For the third successive time, Gujarat's Narendra Modi was voted as India's No. 1 CM in an AC Nielson's ORG MARG survey.UPA: But Modi is communal
BJP: In Gujarat , Housing provided to 46,263 Below Poverty Line families at the cost of Rs. 13672.94 lakhs.UPA: But Modi is communal
BJP: In Gujarat,To ensure that no girl child remains illiterate, three lakh students have been enrolled under Kanya Kelavani Rath Yatra and Praveshotsav Abhiyaan.UPA: But Modi is communal
BJP: In Gujarat,Rs. 94,357 crores of industrial investment, the highest in the country.UPA: But Modi is communal
BJP: With gas reserves of Rs. 2 lakh crores, in the Krishna-Godavari basin, Gujarat has become the Petrocapital of the nation.UPA: But Modi is communal
BJP:Gujarat has touched the benchmark of 15% growth rate.UPA: But Modi is communal
BJP: 2200 kilometres of gas grid in Gujarat - longest in the country.UPA: But Modi is communal. How Long will we say this.......... Surely we need a leader who performs.

* References-
1. Narendra Modi as Prime Minister? Why Not? PART - I
By: Bandyopadhyay Arindam
2).Narendra Modi for Prime Minister- Desh's Blog

Interesting Fact - The CEC also announced that the polling station in Banej village in the Una segment of Junagadh Lok Sabha constituency, Gujarat has the unique claim to being the only polling station in the country that caters to only one elector - Guru Shree Bharatdasji Bapu, a priest of a Shiva temple in the middle of the Gir Forest!
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