“Modi @ 20, Dreams Meet Delivery“, Editor: Akhilesh Mishra, Publisher: Roopa Publications, New Delhi, Pp 440, Rs 895
It has been eight years since the Modi Government came to the Centre. Two anniversaries of the Government have gone by in the second term, 2022 being the third. After two years of pandemic crisis, this anniversary comes as a milestone of sorts.
It can be safely said that the Government has done highly satisfactory work during this period in terms of welfare schemes, policies and programme initiatives. Besides this, the Government’s emphasis on cultural values and national integration has provided a much-needed direction to the journey of national reconstruction. There have been no corruption charges against the Government or any of its members, which is a major achievement, given the grand scale of development, policies and projects implemented.
The Corona pandemic came as a major and unprecedented challenge before the Government during this period. From understanding the constantly mutating virus to development of a vaccine, from administration of shots to relief for all affected sectors, the multiple theatres of this crisis were fended by the Government that showed alacrity, responsiveness and initiative in the face of death, devastation and despondency. Importantly, those at the bottom of the pyramid received unquestioned primacy in relief and support work. It was the result of these efforts that despite the crippling effects of successive lockdowns, the economy quickly jumped back to its feet and is back on track now.
The foundation of the work done by the Modi Government at the Centre was laid during the 13 years of his tenure as the Chief Minister of Gujarat. During these years, he used Gujarat as a lab to test and streamline various schemes and programmes. He tapped the business potential and cultural richness of the State to develop an entrepreneur-friendly vibrant Gujarat. Prospective investors were seen lining up to the State. Less developed areas like Kutch and Bhuj were also brought under development. Development of women and tribals was prioritised and the education sector was brought under the spotlight. As a result, Gujarat saw a growth rate in double digit for all the time of his tenure. Today, Modi’s years of experience and experiment in Gujarat reflects clearly in the smooth running of the Central Government over the past eight years.
Modi’s years of experience and experiment in Gujarat reflects clearly in the smooth running of the Central Government over the past eight years
Modi @ 20, Dreams Meet Delivery is a recently released book that gives a full account of the two decades of Prime Minister Narendra Modi being in power. This book is a collection of articles written by people who either worked closely with Modiji (like Amit Shah, Nripendra Mishra, Ajit Doval, S Jaishankar) or domain experts who have witnessed growth in their respective sectors (such as PV Sidhu, Amish Tripathi, Anupam Kher and Devi Shetty).
The essays are grouped into five segments, the first of which is rightly titled ‘People First’. The Government in the past eight years has brought people to the forefront of all planning, strategising and implementing. Rightly then the slogan of the Government from the start has been Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas and as was later extended to Sabka Vishwas and Sabka Prayas. Actively engaged in policy making and feedback mechanisms, people are no longer the last leg of Government functioning. The questions – which demographic is the target and how will it be reached – are foregrounded in any policy discussion. It is the outcome of this approach, that women, poor and youth have become primary beneficiaries of several Government schemes leading to cascading effect in terms of empowerment. Among the articles in this section, is one by PV Sidhu who represents youth and women – both segments that have been prioritised by the government policy makers.
The second section titled Politics of Unity and Development talks about the efforts made towards unity and integrity of the country. The Government has consistently raised the slogan of Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat to focus on both unity in diversity and diversity in unity. The prized essay in this section is by Home Minister Amit Shah who has been a long time associate of Modiji. Shri Amit Shahji has not only seen Modi’s policies and programmes come to fruition, but he also comes with a unique understanding of Modiji’s political and social vision. Shah writes, “Many of his programs in Gujarat – the bringing of the Narmada’s waters from south Gujarat to Saurashtra, for instance – were conceptualised with a long view. Their gestation period ran into more than one electoral cycle. Modi worked for not just the next election, but the Gujarat of the next decade and next generation. Expectedly the BJP also became the political vehicle of Gujarat’s development and aspirations for the next decade and the next generation.”
Jan Dhan and Economy for Everyone is the next section where Modi’s economic perspective is explored. For economic resurgence the focus has been on skill, scale, and speed. Uday Kotak in his essay talks about how businesses and the corporate sector can contribute to nation building. Shamika Ravi’s essay dwells on five key ‘micro-revolutions’ that improved the life of ordinary people.
The fourth section turns towards the appearance of new paradigms in governance. Here the articles discuss different ways in which governance has been redefined over the last few years bringing about a paradigm shift. Devi Shetty talks about the recent pandemic scenario and the approach of the Government to tackle the challenges it threw up, while Nandan Nilekani discusses how technology has been used systematically and persistently over the last eight years to assist in achieving governance goals. Ashok Gulati takes a view of the agricultural sector and while he appreciates the initiatives, he points out that much more remains to be done. Nipendra Mishra, who worked as the Principal Secretary with PM Modi, writes, “As a statesman and an exceptional leader, Prime Minister Modi not only had a vision for the people, but also displayed the ability to translate that vision into reality. Within and overarching grand plan, he created small programmes – steps with viable linkages.”
The final segment titled Vasudhaiv Kutumbkam also features some excellent thought provoking write-ups. Over the last eight years, India has repositioned itself in the world. Brotherhood and coexistence have been old precepts of Indian thought and the world looks to India for guidance in times of pandemic and war. In this context, Ajit Doval writes how national security has taken precedence during this time. The idea of Nation First and no compromise on borders and soldiers has found acceptance. Manoj Ladva and Bharat Barai have discussed India as an emerging global phenomenon. In the final article, S Jaishankar gives a first-hand account of landmark foreign policy initiatives.
The book sets out with the objective of understanding the ‘Modi phenomenon’ and it rightly takes the route of an anthology. Writers from different fields bring a unique objectivity to the book providing a comprehensive view of constituent parts that contribute to the said phenomenon. Instead of focussing on the cult of Modi, this book takes a reasoned approach and discusses Modi’s impact on different segments. The book is successful in carrying out the mammoth task it undertakes—decoding the twenty years that transformed India into a young energetic nation ready to lead the world.
Assistant Professor, Political Science, Satyawati College, Delhi University, Delhi