December 9, 2022

The Professional Times

Excellence in Every Word

2019 Will Be The Turning Point for India – PM Narendra Modi’s View Point

Narendra Modi said, “For me, our work and our vision ahead are the prime focus. The Opposition, which has a galaxy of PM aspirants but a total bankruptcy of vision, plan and agenda is taking to abusing Modi, using caste and communal politics.”

Modi, very positive about winning a second term in office, began by explaining the importance of the 2019 mandate. He said, “The 2019 elections are very special because, it is the first time that those born in 21st century are voting.”
“These youngsters are not burdened by the past, they are in pursuits of a better future. These youngsters do not want to be bogged down by dynastic shenanigans, they want a nation where merit is recognised.”
“They do not want old school cast policies, they want a new age development agenda.”
When asked about how he changed since 2014, when he led Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) to a majority on its own, Modi replied, “My digestion powers have increased, and now I can digest insults more easily.”

Mr Prime Minister, you’ve been campaigning across the length and breadth of the country. How do you see the mood, particularly in comparison to 2014?
The mood is quite evident for all to see. Every day, I attend on an average of three rallies across the nation. Every rally is drawing huge crowds as if they are competing with the previous rallies.
People usually rally behind political parties when they are voting against an opposite party. But we are witnessing an unprecedented reverse trend where people are rallying together to re-elect a government because they know it is transforming their lives and assuring a vibrant future.
2014 was about hope for change. 2019 is about the confidence that change has happened and the expectation that more good work will happen. Prior to 2014, people were fed up with corruption. There was hope that corruption would reduce. We showed a corruption-free government is possible.
We have moved our nation from ‘fragile five’ to the fastest-growing major economy. Now, from the fastest growing major economy, we want to be a 5 trillion-dollar economy by 2025. People have appreciated what we have achieved so far. They are with us.
Is there a message in the party’s decision to field almost all the ministers, including a few from the Rajya Sabha, in the elections?
For the past five years, all the ministers have been working as Team India. We have delivered a corruption-free, efficient and effective government. Now, together as Team India we are going to the people, conveying to them the good work we have done and seeking their blessings.
We were in the government as a team, we are accountable to the people as a team and we are facing the elections as a team.
What are the big issues in this election?
Three issues are there. One development. Two, inclusive development. Three, development in all directions.
In 2022, India will mark 75 years of Independence. It is up to us to create an India that will make our freedom fighters proud. The 2019 elections are special because it is the first time that those born in the 21st century are voting. These youngsters are not burdened by the past, they are in pursuit of a better future. These youngsters do not want to be bogged down by dynastic shenanigans, they want a nation where merit is recognised. They do not want old-school caste politics, they want a new age development agenda.
Hence, in these elections, people will vote for those who they feel can build a better nation and lay the foundations of a strong and inclusive India. People will see our exemplary track record of 60 months, contrasting it with inertia of those who got the opportunity to rule for almost 60 years.

Will the recent election results in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh have any bearing on the BJP’s seats tally?
Yes, it will have a bearing. The Congress governments which came to power in these states by making many promises have got exposed before the people.
None of the promises have been met properly. There are power cuts, corruption, crime, apathy and other issues, typical of Congress regimes. What happened to their loan waiver promise to farmers? In less than 3-4 months, Congress has turned some of these states into an ATM for their own party.
It is shameful that the funds meant for the nutrition of young ones are being stolen for their party activities. They are playing with the future of the country by stealing the food meant for children. People of these states have already realised that Congress’ DNA will never change.
This anger against the Congress will show up in the Lok Sabha polls where the people of these states will reject them.
Your government has been focusing on Bengal and the Northeast. But two issues, NRC and the Citizenship Amendment Bill, have angered the people in the region.
Be it the north, east, west or south, people today are aspirational and they want the government to deliver. There was a misinformation campaign against the BJP that ours is a party of one particular region. We have successfully countered that misinformation by winning the hearts of people across India and I would like to remind that ours is a party which has MPs from Jammu & Kashmir to Kanyakumari.
The Opposition’s main poll plank is lack of job opportunities for the youth. What do you have to say?
The same group of people who spread this false narrative against the (A B) Vajpayee government is trying to spread a fake narrative around jobs today. But remember their track record on this issue and how they tried to mislead the nation against Vajpayeeji, in whose era job creation was among the best.
There are so many complaints being made to the Election Commission these days; and the whole thing has become controversial.
The Congress and its durbaaris have decided not to allow the EC to do its job well. Therefore, everywhere, they have people, professionals, who e-mail complaints, making sure the EC can’t do anything else.
The other thing is that in our country, courts never interfered in elections. These days, unfortunately, the court has also been pulled into it (with cases on the EC’s actions being filed before it).
The third thing is that before the great loss in the elections, just like a student who hasn’t done well makes excuses, they (the opposition) are pointing fingers at EVMs {electronic voting machines}, EC. Irrespective of whether there are elections or not, we have to respect institutions.
About the Masood Azhar listing as a global terrorist by the UN’s 1267 Sanctions Committee, does it mean we are now in a good place with China?
We have always said ‘India First’. When foreign policy of a government is clear in what it wants, the results happen as a by-product. Throughout the last five years, we have reached out and made new friends, we have strengthened relationships with old friends and more importantly, we have brought about a fundamental paradigm shift in the way we are perceived. We are now seen and respected as a nation that will leave no stone unturned to ensure the safety and security of its citizens.
This is the reason major nations of the world stood with our decision of surgical strikes and air strikes. This is also the reason why the long-pending listing of Masood Azhar as a global terrorist has happened. But the Azhar issue isn’t about China. Why do we keep making it so? It is a global terrorism issue.

International reports say that poverty is declining at a very fast pace in India. Is this possible without job creation? FDI inflows in India are at a record high. Is this possible without job creation? Roads, highways, railways and houses are being built at more than double the previous speed. Is it possible to create this infrastructure without jobs?
India is one of the largest start-up hubs in the world. We have a booming start-up economy with various app-based businesses thriving. Would this be possible without jobs?
West Bengal, Karnataka and Odisha are saying they are creating a good number of jobs. Is it possible that the states are creating jobs but the Centre is not?
Is there a new and more friendly India-China dynamic brewing?
India and China are both leading power centres, with an important say in today’s geopolitics. It is important for our nations to work together for the greater global good. Our history shows that there was a time when both our nations controlled a lion’s share of the world’s GDP.
I think both our countries understand that there is a lot more common ground between us. Both our countries realise and accept that we have disagreements but we are also conscious of the fact that we will not let these disagreements become disputes.
There is a great deal of respect that our countries have for each other and it is out of this mutual respect that even if there is a disagreement, we resolve it through high-level negotiations.
Which are the most important: Bijli, sadak, paani, naukri. On bijli and sadak your government has done well. On water, there are huge water shortages in many parts of the country. There’s drought in parts of Tamil Nadu, Andhra, Maharashtra. What is the long-term solution to this?
Good to see that you are acknowledging bijli and sadak are among our big achievements. On a related note, you may have observed an interesting phenomenon in this election.
Earlier, the pet issues of any Opposition were bijli, sadak, paani and mehangai. Incumbent governments have been routed on these issues. Today, the situation is the exact opposite.
The incumbent government has much to talk about on our track record in these areas whereas the Opposition is silent. They have nothing to talk on these issues of national importance.
Coming to the question of paani, we have also put in a lot of work on this front but it is just that the work has not hit the headlines of newspapers as it should have.
Our priorities are to ensure adequate water for farms and clean drinking water in the cities and villages. For example, take the micro-irrigation programme.
When I say “Per Drop More Crop”, what I mean is that we must look to manage water better using micro-irrigation techniques so that our farmers can produce more crops.

Your manifesto talks of a ministry of water. This is an interesting idea. What will this ministry do?
Water scarcity is not merely a national challenge but also a major global challenge. As a leading member of the global community, is it not high time we put our best foot forward and contribute to mitigating this challenge?
In line with our vision of working towards solutions instead of silos, we have proposed the setting up of a separate ministry for jal shakti, a one-stop place to handle all issues relating to water resources. This includes water conservation, water access, new techniques, irrigation patterns, crop patterns, desalination in coastal areas and more such endeavours.
We understand how critical water is for the future of the country. So, we want to bring an integrated and focused approach for its preservation and management. Its management is currently spread across various departments and ministries. This new ministry of water brings a holistic and all-encompassing focus.
Take for example, the idea of river linking that has been spoken of for decades. Atal Ji made a promising start but we all know what happened after his government was replaced by the UPA. This new ministry would take care of something as ambitious as that and ensure a solution to the problems of drinking water and irrigation.
The way cleanliness has become a mass movement, there is a need for water management to also become a mass movement. We owe this to our country and more importantly, for the future generations.
There’s a feeling that politics these days is more personalised while issues have taken a back seat. Why is this so?
If you analyse my speeches, it will be evident that development is at the core when I speak. I would like neutral people to bring the truth out for the people. We have given houses to the poor. We have constructed the toilets. We made robust arrangements for the distribution of urea for the farmers. We are focusing on development-oriented subjects.
Your government has allowed private sector specialists to enter the domain of policy-making through lateral entry. What impact will it have on governance and is there scope for more reforms in the bureaucracy?
We do not believe that politicians and bureaucracy have a solution for all issues. We believe in harnessing the best talent to solve issues. We are a country where there is no dearth of talent. There is a big talent pool working in the vibrant private sector. Why shouldn’t we tap that talent pool for the betterment of the country?
The issue of lateral entry was being discussed for a long time, but no one wanted to let go of their monopoly on decision-making.
There are bright and passionate individuals in the private sector who have ample experience. They should be given an opportunity to work for the government and bring ideas inspired by their outstanding careers. Remember that these people have not just domestic but also international exposure.

What’s the one thing you would like to do most in the event of the NDA retaining power?
For me each aspect of the Sankalp Patra (election agenda) is important. For me, one commitment is no less than the other. Besides, allow some secrecy for what we could be doing after May 23.
Which would you consider your governments most significant policy campaigns and why? Swachh Bharat? Ayushmani Bharat? The PMAY? The farm insurance scheme? Ujjwala?
Each of these schemes you have mentioned, have been unique in their speed and scale. With Swachh Bharat, a women’s dignity was made the focal point of social governance. Over 9 crore toilets built in 5 years ensured that women are not forced to defecate in open and the sanitation coverage of India went up from just 38% in 2014 to 99% in 2019.
With Ujjwala, again, more than 7 crore women and especially their children were freed from the choking life that they were subjected to for so long due to cooking with firewood.
Take Ayushman Bharat, the world’s largest healthcare insurance programme is transforming the entire healthcare system in the country. It has made quality healthcare accessible and affordable for the poorest. Same with Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, which is fulfilling the dream of owning a house for all Indians, irrespective of which class, caste, region they belong to. PM Fasal Bima Yojana has brought immense relief to a farmer’s family who no longer fear impoverishment due to crop damage.
Each of these initiatives has fundamentally changed people’s lives, in a way that they have been freed from the fear and uncertainty that poverty, sickness, and homelessness bring in people’s lives. These fears had tied down generations of Indians and trapped them in a cycle of poverty. But that feeling of fear, anxiety and helplessness is being driven away now. This helplessness is giving way to hope and the anxiety is giving way to aspirations.
After five years, do you have any regret at not being able to finish any work?
There are some who do a few things and draw satisfaction from them. There are others who after doing work sow the seeds for new work. Naya, phir naya, aur naya (new, again new and more new). My strength is that I am not satisfied with anything. Aspirations remain alive all the time in me. I would like the energy to remain strong within me to complete my dream for the country.

My digestion powers have increased. I can digest insults more easily.

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