Why should a ruler have five major requisites to succeed in India? Does Modi embody these? An excerpt from ‘Centrestage’

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When it comes to governance today, one can’t form an honest assessment without looking back at history and the way things shaped in the pre-independence era. And when one does so, he will find that in order to provide an efficient administration to the people in keeping with the objectives of the Indian Constitution, a ruler has to have five prerequisites or what may be labelled as five golden attributes. Not many among those who have ruled so far have demonstrated adherence to all the five principles. But Modi seems to embody all of them in greater or smaller degree:

1. A sound knowledge of our medieval as well as recent history on the basis of which a ruler can gauge the strengths and weaknesses of the system. Understanding the need of his people and then based on this knowledge set forth his vision and goals. 2. Ability to create a sense of pride and nationalist spirit among the people by welding them in one big mantra based on the successes of the society and its achievers. The achiever could be the Muslim saint like Haji Pir in Kutch who forbade Muslims from slaughtering cows to respect the religious sentiments of their Hindu brethren, Kabir, Rana Pratap, Shivaji, Bhagat Singh, Akbar, Gandhi, a scientist like Dr Homi Bhabha or a martyr like Capt. Vikram Batra of the Kargil fame or Havaldar Hamid of the 1965 Indo-Pak war fame. 3. A firm commitment on the part of the ruler that he will not appease any section of the society, whether Hindus, Muslims, Yadavs, Jats, Kurmis, farmers, Government servants, the poor, or the rich. 4. Ability to demolish the transfer-appointment-posting industry in the bureaucracy in which jobs and postings are sold for a price at the behest of ruling politicians or corrupt senior bureaucrats. This in fact is the bane of the Indian system and there is hardly any State that is largely free from it except Gujarat and a couple of others. 5. The ability to implement decisions by establishing a firm grip over the administration.

No doubt Modi has made faux passes on medieval history in his public speeches by going as far as bringing Takshshila to Bihar but on the other hand he has shown great understanding in using history to generate pride in the new generation to rekindle their latent energy for the society’s common good. In fact on this Modi has done better than most rulers of the past. Then the transfer posting industry virtually stands demolished in Gujarat, from top to bottom. The average tenure of senior IAS officers including collectors is almost 3 years since Modi took over as CM which indicates a stability of tenure unknown in any other State in the country in recent times. This implies that all officers, good or bad, get a chance to prove their worth under Modi’s own watchful eyes once they are given a posting and assigned specific targets which are periodically reviewed. As Modi says: ‘We have to get results from the same system. So transferring officers is no remedy. The solution lies in getting work out of them.’ In 2011 as many as 10,000 Science school teachers were appointed without a single complaint of nepotism or corruption in the selection process, thanks to a full- proof selection system based on merit. When it comes to appeasement, there is not a single instance in his Chief Ministerial tenure when a particular group has been showered with benefits with a political eye, a rare feat in the 64-year-old history of appeasement-ridden Indian democracy. On the contrary there are shining examples of how he has refused to appease powerful sections at great political risk. The best example perhaps of this came in 2007 on the eve of the Gujarat State Assembly polls. In spite of it being an election year, the Gujarat power department continued with its drive against power theft in the State’s farm sector among others, thus giving cold feet to the BJP MLAs. As those farmers who had been caught stealing power started attacking power department officials, many MLAs thought they would lose out heavily on rural votes in the incoming poll. The MLAs therefore tried to put pressure on Modi to stop the drive but he refused to relent in the larger interest of the system. When the consternation among the jittery BJP MLAs became too intense on this account, I casually called Modi to have his view on the issue. His answer was bold and firm: ‘How can I allow power theft? If I put up with it then what is the difference between mine and the previous Governments? The farmers need power to draw groundwater for irrigation. I am trying my best to make surface water available to them and enhance the water table. In fact, I am having a dialogue with the farming community on the merits of ensuring quality power should they stop stealing power. Plus, it is my belief that when a transparent Government takes tough measures for improving the administration, these steps are appreciated by a majority of people, even those who are affected by it. Our MLAs have a very wrong take on it.’

It was indeed an act of bravery in an age when promising cheap or free power on the eve of polls has become a hallmark of rulers. And Modi was proved correct later when he won the 2007 polls convincingly, thus giving a clear message to the Indian political class that when the ruler’s cause is just, a majority of people back him in the larger interest of the society, even at the cost of overlooking their own immediate personal gains. In this the only condition is that the ruler should have the capacity to communicate the logic and sincerity of his aim. Thanks to Modi’s measures against power theft, the farmers of Gujarat today enjoy uninterrupted supply of power. Studies conducted by Government and independent agencies support Modi’s claims of good governance. In March 2014, the latest report of the National Sample Survey of the Union Government found that the Muslims of Gujarat including those below poverty line (BPL) had progressed the most in the country in terms of economic prosperity since 2007, leaving behind Muslims of most other States in terms of development. Interestingly enough, the survey pointed out that Muslims were woefully lagging behind in States where Muslim appeasement is practiced the most and where the community forms a large section of the population like in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. This conclusively proves that the appeasement-free Narendra Modi model harping on development without discrimination and communal peace is the best bet for Muslims if they refuse to fall prey to vote-bank politics and rather concentrate on their long-term economic progress. The figures were simply astounding. In Gujarat, the number of rural BPL Muslims had dropped from 31 percent to 7 percent and the urban BPL Muslims from 42 percent to 14.6 percent between 2004 and 2012 and their per capita expenditure had also gone up appreciably. Says an elated Zafar Sareshwala, a Deobandi businessman who has faced attacks from his community leaders for supporting the Modi model: ‘This survey vindicates that Narendra Modi’s policy of development without discrimination and minus the sops is the best bet for the country, including Muslims.’ Retired Major General Jagjeet Singh Daasma, who held important posts in Army Air Defence, has done a very revealing study on Modi’s administrative outlook. He has interesting insights to offer. He says that Modi’s biggest contribution as a ruler is that he has created a situation wherein people don’t look out for Government doles and he is one of the first politicians to do so since independence. Observes Singh: ‘As in the United States with Modi too there is no free lunch as they say. And he has backed this outlook with a strong focus on skilled development to help the people to stand on their feet. This is exactly the culture in the US where the emphasis of rulers is on enabling the people rather than sustaining them on Government largesse. In the US this has got translated into strong nationalist culture where individuals think about the nation first. In other words, this culture is behind the American cry of ‘Nation First’. In comparison there is a dole culture in Europe which has kept it behind the US when it comes to generating and conserving national energy. This is also the reason why America has more number of philanthropists. America looks towards the future. European countries look towards history. But Modi the visionary takes lessons from the past, builds on pride, and adds to it his modern ideas to carve out a better future.  His is a very fine blend of the old and the new.’

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This excerpt has been taken from ‘Centrestage: Inside The Narendra Modi Model of Governance: http://bit.ly/PblNDb

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About the author:

Uday Mahurkar is an Indian journalist and writer. He is a senior editor working at India Today Magazine. He has been a follower of Narendra Modi’s rise and transformation from his early days in the BJP from the RSS.

An alumnus of the Department of Indian History and Archaeology of the Maharaja Sayajirao University, Baroda, Mr. Mahurkar reads widely on national security and radical Islamic movements.

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