Thursday, August 14, 2014


A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books

August 15th is India's Independence Day and the speech of the Prime Minister from the ramparts of the Red Fort in Delhi is a huge political statement. Successive Prime Ministers have used the grand backdrop of the Mughal splendour to bolster their political image and reinvent themselves as "leaders" by making rhetorical gestures that border on theatrics in order to pump up their sagging political fortunes and score points against real and imagined enemies. Narendar Modi's Independence Day speech was markedly different. It was delivered with passion and honesty and he used the "bully pulpit" offered to him to flag issues of real social and economic concern. There was  no Sabre rattling, tilting against the proverbial windmills in the form of Pakistan or any other hostile neighbour. The Prime Minister made a speech which emphasized inclusive governance within the framework of real and meaningful federalism. There was no attempt at throwing freebies to the people. On the contrary, the Prime Minister emphasized the importance of delivering good governance through a disciplined and honest bureaucracy. There is no doubt in my mind that this speech has touched all the right chords in a complex society like India and Modi's message of hope will not be dismissed with the usual cynicism with which Indians usually treat politi cal rhetoric.

The first point worth noting is that he packaged himself as the first servant of the people. In India where politicians claim to be above the law and are used to lording over the people at large and being treated with reverence, this statement of the Prime Minister  will certainly have the necessary effect. Further, he emphasized the fact that both the Central Government and the State governments must work in harmony to improve the quality of life in the country. He made the point that India is not known to be a clean country and he urged the people to keep their surroundings clean. Indians are not used to sermons like this from their political leaders and Prime Minister, Narendar Modi did not shy away from stating the pressing problems of the day. Such controversial issues that touch the very core of the Indian identity are generally avoided by political leaders. Narendar Modi has shown the courage to speak the truth from the most important platform available to a public figure in India

Narendar Modi bodly spoke of the declining sex ratio in India particularly in the under 10 years of age age and boldly said what no Indian Prime Minister has ever admitted in public: the skewed sex ratio was the result of sex selective feoticide, the consequence of western inspired notion that women must control their own bodies.I am sure that this will be followed with stringent measures to ensure that medical and scanning facilities are not used for sex determination tests. Modi also spoke of the violence against women and said that we in India have to hang our heads in shame due to the violence that women experience in India. I do not remember any politician making such a grim admission in public. He exhorted the parents to bring up their sons with the same diligence that they display toward their daughters. He has said in as many words that the solution to the problem of violence is to be found in ways in which boys are socialized in their domestic situations. A great solution to a pressing social danger.

The other points worth reporting are (1) the trimming of the role of the planning commission in India (2) the encouragement of entrepreneurship and (3) making Indian invstment friendly.

Narendar Modi delivered a  great speech and if he delivers on them during the course of the next 5 years he will remain the PM for anotherr twerm.

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