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Narendra Modi as Prime Minister? The divisive politics - Part II

By: Bandyopadhyay Arindam
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Narendra Modi and divisive politics

In a country plagued by religion, caste and creed based politics, which dates back from the British era and which is faithfully nurtured by most political parties, Modi stands apart. "I"m a living example of casteless politics. I am an OBC and I come from a most backward caste.. The fact that I have no caste base helps me because no one says I take decisions based on caste."

Narendra Modi as Prime Minister? Why Not? - Part I
Narendra Modi as Prime Minister? The divisive politics - Part II
Narendra Modi - Why do we need him as PM for India? - Part III

In a country where most politicians gladly put on the mask of secularism and practice minority appeasement for vote bank politics, Modi stays indifferent, letting his performance, rather than token gimmicks and unsubstantiated claims, speak for itself. "I"m sending every child to school, I"m providing healthcare to every citizen, I"m giving everyone a share of the fruits of development. The Sachar Committee report, you"ll be surprised to learn, says that Muslims in Gujarat are better educated than Hindus. I always address my people as my five-and-a-half crore Gujarati brothers-the entire population of the state."

In a country with 80% Hindu majority, where asserting one"s identity as a Hindu is deemed "unsophisticated" and claiming one"s right as a Hindu is equated with "communalism", Modi infuses a fresh and notable exception. The lies and accusations hurled by the so called perverted, secular elite, to the so called poster - boy of Hindutva has actually helped Hindus, not only in Gujarat but all over India and even the Indian Diaspora abroad, to identify him as an icon, a role model, unwavering to his faith and commitments. For a large part of the Hindu community, he had instilled a sense of pride in a Hindu identity, sadly missing even in post Independent India, because of and pseudo secular politics of religious divide and minority appeasement.

Modi himself claims that he does not believe in communal politics and abhors majority-minority politics. His vision of a model governance is one that is "inclusive" wherein the last person in the chain should derive benefits from it. "I work for five and half crore Gujaratis. I work for their welfare. The talks of majority-minority, has destroyed the country. I strongly oppose minoritysm".

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."

Gujarat"s 45 lakh Muslims form just over 9 per cent of the state"s population, according to the 2001 Census. The literacy rate is 73 per cent, higher than the national average of 65 per cent for all citizens. On most other counts, including sex ratio and work participation, they fare better than the national average for all religions. "If pockets are empty, there will be violence. If people are jobless, there will be violence. Now that everyone is getting jobs, why should there be riots," asked Ali Asghar Attarwala, an architect in Jamnagar town.

"Many Muslims are realizing that the only truth is development," said Hatim Modi, a Muslim who works as a defense contractor. "We have been used by others. We won"t ever forget the riots - but the reality is about development."

"Yes, there were communal problems in 2002, but in last five years, there is not a single such incident, our community leaders have now become BJP leaders here.. We have reasons to support BJP and Modi," said A T Attarwala, industrialist and a resident of Sikka, which is a port town, with about 70 per cent Muslim and whose all 19 municipality seats are held by the BJP with 14 of them being Muslim members. "For 40 years we were voting for Congress but no development in our town. They have cheated us .It"s not necessary that Muslims are anti-BJP. We look forward to development which is here all over now in the last five years. We are happy with this government," said Mahmood Musa Sumbhadiya, Chairman, Sikka Municipality.

Just a few days back on Republic day, a large number of Muslims, holding the national tricolour, greeted the Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to the densely populated Polan Bazaar in Godhra town, an area that was affected in the 2002 riots, attesting once again that the Muslim community has also started to see through the design of fake promises of vote bank politics and are embracing the benefits of Gujarat model of development as well as its architect.

It is poetic justice that the recently concluded fourth Vibrant Gujarat Global Investors" Summit 2009 drew a huge participation from Islamic countries, as well as those which are predominantly Muslim, including Representative of Arab League, Brunei, Abu Dhabi, Oman, Maldives, and Indonesia, much to the ire of Indian Muslim organizations.

The other area where this minority politics are active is in terrorism which is the recent menace that is tearing the country apart. The chain of serial bomb blasts in various cities and finally the numbing experience of the Mumbai massacre, have left the nation speechless. Many feel that our nation"s response has been utterly disappointing. Many would agree with Modi that terrorism is a war on the country, that there should be zero tolerance to terrorism. India needs to respond adequately to terrorism by modernization of its security forces and with appropriate laws. Modi believes, "Only fools can send messages to terrorists. One should take action against them. They should be paid back in the same coin" Acknowledging modern terrorism as a high tech phenomenon, he had asked, "How we are going to fight "high tech" terrorism of 21st century with the help of laws passed in 19th century" Modi"s view that "Terrorism is worse than a war. A terrorist has no rules. A terrorist decides when, how, where and whom to kill.
India has lost more people in terror attacks than in its wars" recently found support from a Supreme Court Judge who said, "Those who violate the rights of society and have no respect for human rights are not humans but animals. And people fighting for terrorists are actually supporting "animal rights...It is important to have special laws to deal with terrorists and we need to give enough time to our investigators and prosecutors to prepare the case with strong evidence".

In this context, one can recall how efficiently the Gujarat police handed the recent Ahmedabad blasts and solved it within three weeks. Not only that, Modi immediately conceived a Gujarat Forensic Science University (FSU) that is projected to start functioning from 1st of January, 2010 with a Rs. 38 crore budget in Gandhinagar.

Clearly signs of a person who believes in action rather than pondering with sweet talk.

Narendra Modi and prosperity of Gujrat

Gujarat has always been prosperous compared to the rest of the country thanks to the enterprising traditions of its residents for centuries. Over the last few years, Gujarat has made excellent progress on all fronts and had received various awards. Be it infrastructure building or water distribution, economic freedom or environmental protection, e-Governance or energy conservation, health accessibility or heritage protection and sanitation or software development, the state has made amazing progress in a short time. The agencies conferring these awards include International bodies like the United Nations (Sasakawa Award for outstanding reconstruction work in disaster risk reduction), World Bank (Green Awards for excellence in environment consciousness during post earthquake rehabilitation), UNESCO (Asia Pacific Heritage Award for reconstruction of a Gurudwara damaged during the earthquake) and various Ministries / agencies of Government of India like Ministry of power, Ministry of non-conventional energy services and institutions like India Tech Excellence Foundation (2005, for the most progressive and dynamic state in power sector reforms) and Computer Society of India (and Nihilant Technology Citizen Facilitation Award for the Best e-Governed State).

Gujarat ranks number one 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 its geographical area, but its contribution to India in terms of "Value of Output" is 16.10%; in terms of exports it is 16% and in terms of stock market capitalization it is 30%.

Gujarat is one of the most industrialized states of India. Gujarat has a 16.2% share in India"s industrial production whereas the percentage of man-days lost in Gujarat due to labor strife is just 0.52% - the lowest in the country.

Gujarat surpassed the target of 10.2% set by the Planning commission for the 10th five-year plan compared to the average of 8.2% for the entire country, achieving a growth rate of 15% in the first 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 and 60% of India"s total crude oil import facility. Modi"s vision for a need of an institution for energy research and studies lead to the birth of GERMI - Gujarat Energy Research and Management Institute.

Gujarat today has one of the best infrastructures in the country comprising of 11 airports, 1 international airport, an extensive rail network and a robust road network of over 74,000 km. A total of 17,763 out of the 18,028 villages (98.53%) of Gujarat are connected with pucca roads (concrete roads), the best in the country.

Gujarat coastline of over 1600 km, the longest in the country, is dotted with 41 ports, which handle over 25% of India"s total cargo.

Not only limited to industry development and productivity, Modi"s Gujarat is able to boast of meeting the basic requirements of its population in terms of education and health accessibility, clean drinking water and electricity. On the education front there have been 11 new universities, 400 new colleges, 1.25 lakh new teachers, 38,000 new schoolrooms and a doubling of seats for technical courses. Campaigns for universal education, emphasis on girl child education, total enrollment and maximum retention of children in the schools has resulted in a massive reduction in the drop out rate at all primary levels. The Gujarat government has set 2010 as the deadline to ensure a 100 per cent enrolment and zero per cent drop out rate.

Thanks to a systematic approach to different health issues like rural and urban health, school health, maternal and child health, mental health, preventable diseases and a wide variety of innovative program with Public-Private Collaborations, Gujarat is now emerging as a global medical tourism destination. The WHO has appreciated Gujarat"s school health program, under which 10 million primary school children are medically examined every year. Another scheme involving private gynecologists in providing services related to safe delivery of pregnant women primarily from socio-economically weaker sections, called the Chiranjeevi Yojana, recently bagged international recognition in the form of Asian Innovation Award at Singapore from Wall Street Journal and the Financial Express and was appreciated in UNICEF"s report " State of World Children 2009.

Water management has been Gujarat"s one of the best success stories. Modi"s mission of "Water for all" has been a revolution. Agriculture sector has been hugely boosted through harnessing of rain water and scientific management of water, interlinking of 21 rivers of the states, linking the villages with a State Wide Water Grid and introduction of Micro-Irrigation Techniques. The Sardar Sarovar Narmada Project, making the waters of Narmada river flow all across the state through canals and water transmission lines, due to be completed will further add by providing the benefits of water and electricity up to 500km away from the dam.

A statewide drinking water grid is also being established for providing drinking water to more than 14,000 villages and 154 towns. The result is that earlier about 4,000 villages needed to be provided water through tankers which has now reduced to less than 185.

The Jyoti Gram Yojana to provide 3-phase, 24-hour, uninterrupted power supply to all the 18,065 villages and also to the 9,680 suburbs attached to these villages has been described as the single initiative that has brought a revolutionary change in the life-pattern and economic activities of rural Gujarat, promoting development of small scale industries and generation of additional employment. Implemented in a record time of 30 months, the Jyoti Gram Yojana has enabled Gujarat to become the first state in India to achieve 100% electrification of villages.

On the judiciary front, there are now 22 lakh cases pending against 45 lakh cases in 2005. By 2010, Gujarat"s golden jubilee year, the state aims to achieve zero pendency of cases. Part of this success has been the functioning of 67 Evening Courts, which have enabled the common man to seek justice without wasting his working hours during the day. Similar success has been achieved with the experiments of Lok Adalat (People"s Court) and Nari Adalat (Female Court). In the latter, women groups have organized themselves into informal judicial forums in order to address the grievances and cases of women through consultation and negotiation.

Gujarat ranks first in the country in the implementation of 20 point program for poverty abolition for the last four years in a row. The government has already provided Housing to 46,263 below poverty line families at the cost of Rs. 13672.94 lakhs.

Gujarat is the first state in the country to have made e-Governance functional in all its municipalities and municipal corporations and also the first state to have framed a comprehensive urban health policy. Gujarat is the only state in Asia to have an e-connectivity network in all 590 village councils. Around 207 village community centers have started operations. So far, 13,693 panchayats or village councils have computers and sarpanch and village secretaries are trained to operate computers.

Modi and his government have proved once again the age old proverb, where there is a will there is a way. Imagine all these things happening in the same country where Rajiv Gandhi, as Prime Minister of India, once lamented helplessly that out of every rupee spent for development only 17 per cent actually reached the poor. There has to be some difference and it is this difference of vision, commitment and conviction that distinguishes Modi from other politicians.

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 (toshakhana) for the cause of girl child education (Kanya Kelavani). He has deposited Rs.287.37 lacs in a period of 5 years and started the movement where people, being touched by his commitment for the cause of female education, instead of felicitating him by gifts or souvenirs have started donating checks for Kanya Kelavani Nidhi. For this benevolent cause, they have voluntarily handed over more than Rs.11 crores to their beloved leader. This only vindicates the fact that when the intentions are noble and the commitment total, support flows from all directions.

Since 2003, every year in scorching summer heat of the month of June, the Chief Minister along with his team travels to remote villages to encourage parents to enroll their children in schools. It is a three day long statewide drive covering all the villages and the urban areas in where an atmosphere of festivity and celebration is created to attract young children who now wait keenly to get themselves enrolled into schools. To ensure higher retention rates, another initiative is Vidyalaxmi scheme, introduced in villages where female literacy rate is lower than 35% and in the urban areas for the girls belonging to the below-poverty-line families, where the Vidyalaxmi bond of Rs. 1000/- is given to girl students who take admission to the 1st std and 8th std, to be received with interest on completion of std 7th and 10th respectively.

The vision, concept and implementation of such programs make Narendra Modi unique. While other politicians think about the next elections, Modi thinks of the next generation. Thus said industrialist Anil Ambani "If Gujarat was a separate country, it would stand in a different league among some of world"s most flourishing and prosperous countries"

It is no wonder that he 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 CM in the country.


Bandyopadhyay Arindam

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