Sunday, October 11, 2015

NaMo NaMo

I had the honor of visiting Narendra Modi's lecture in person at the SAP center yesterday. While there's enough controversy surrounding him, something now makes me think that Modi becoming PM was one of the best things to happen to India.

There's been enough talk about two things - one being his past, and one being if he delivers on his promises. Lot of people still speak about Gujarat riots, and there is an equal amount of emphasis on whether foreign trips are going to solve India's problem.

But the whole point of hearing him yesterday - was that the fundamental attitude of India should change.  We elect a leader , he gets a salary and amazing benefits from our taxes, he gets to decide on what we should or should not do, he is responsible for ensuring our security and freedom. Personally, I have always felt that religion, caste, economic status is really not the criteria. Even the fact that Narendra Modi is Gujju should only be perceived as him having a true Gujju business mindset.

There are many opinions, but two sections of population  have really caught by eye.

The first is obviously, people who blindly believe in him and can't hear a single wrong thim about him. I don't fall in that category - I am sure he is human, and in the wake of political ambitions or otherwise, I don't agree with some of his actions

The second is the people who bring Gujarat 2002 to every debate and discussion. They might have some arguments to back it , but given that the supreme court has exonerated him, I personally believe we should give him a break.

There's a third set of people - mostly who are highly educated (techies, NRIs, MNC employees, professors) who kind of look more objectively , the kind of people who don't believe anything till it is proved. I feel I fall among them, and obviously I see some fallacies in the Modi mania (like was the Gujarat model really as successful as advertised).

But over the last year or so, I would think Modi is the best thing to happen to India given the times. Why? Here's why:

1. A Leader, finally

Having stayed in the US for many years, one thing I have liked is the importance of the President when it comes to Govt elections. It's about the man, maybe the Vice President as well, but you know whom you are voting from. For far long, India had not had that opportunity. If an opinion poll was conducted when Deve Gowda was PM, asking how many people wanted him to be PM when they voted , a heat map would have strongly proved this point. I am sure the same thing would have applied to the likes of Manmohan Singh, and IK Gujral for that matter. In Modi, we've seen a leader, someone who speaks for himself (unlike Manmohan Singh's favorite "theek hai" comment). Also he knows what concerns people have and brings it up in his speeches. For an educated audience, he brought some important points (like the PIO/OCI card issue in NY)

2. Reputation

No, I am not talking about the Gujarat model. Although there might be rights in that, there are a lot of people questioning it , and I don't have substantive proof to defend it (although I would love to believe it). But here's a CM who ran a state like Gujarat for 12+ years, in spite of opposition,controversy. This should give him extra points on a lot of people, esp Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi, Arvind Kejriwal (who I think resigned as Delhi CM way too soon), In the US, every person who stands for elections is asked about "what have you done before?". If all candidates were asked this, I am sure Modi would have won hands down

3. Feedback

I can't believe that a huge party like Congress never had strong PR people telling Manmohan Singh and Rahul Gandhi what and what not to do. Even in corporate America, people have speech writers, debate helpers, personality makeovers. Every keynote in Silicon Valley is conducted so that it appears as if the speaker is speaking to the public and not merely reading out of slides. Modi achieved this. He probably had a team that gathered information about the Gadar party/ Bhagat Singh/ what do desis in the silicon valley like or not. Educated or not, the truth is people like leaders who speak what they want to hear. End the speech with the announcement of a non-stop flight from SF to India was really something the people wanted to hear. Making the PIO process easier was what desis at Madison Square garden wanted to hear. It's almost basic intelligence and wisdom that a leader should have. And Modi does.

4. CEO material

I have always felt, that India needs not a politician but a CEO. Let's accept it , the 'Nayak' style Anil Kapoor is ideal but not practical. If someone suspends his entire government for being corrupt, it might look great to begin with, but will not solve the problem. We need someone to systematically clean the system, have tougher measures, take a lead but not go into every minute detail. Another factor of Modi is his fearlessness, not afraid to take a stand on certain issues.

5. Ability to Turn Around things.

To be frank, I wasn't a fan of Modi. Like a lot of people, I had thought that he was communal in some sense. The US categorically denied him a visa inspite of he being the democratically elected Chief Minister of a state of almost 60 million people. The media had not been his best friend. From such a point, to actually win an election with absolute majority, turn around the US attitude (Obama coming to the Indian republic day) and meeting Modi thrice in a year, to changing people's attitude towards him (me included), he has shown that he can achieve what very few Indian politicians have been able to achieve

I personally believe, that people who are opposed to him should give him the chance. After a long time, India has had a leader whom people truly believe in - and this is Modi's biggest strength. I haven't seen an Indian leader in my lifetime who has so much of popularity among the people. And his agenda of growth , with a combination of good administration and people participation might be our biggest strength !

Here are some pictures of the event

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