“So, who will you vote for this time?” is the most common question that gets thrown at me of late. I am sure, your experience is no different either.
To contribute my bit to this democracy, I aim to select a leader who will do away with the temptation to pander to divisive identities and drive all the 130 crore of us towards a common and greater purpose.
And, currently, the only name that comes to my mind who can help us get there is Narendra Damodardas Modi. I will give you 10 reasons ‘why’.
1. GDP and Inflation
One cannot deny that the NaMo government places economic development very high on the priority list. But naysayers are always skeptical of the progress made by this government, so we let the numbers do the talking instead.
India’s growth rate was pegged at 4.7% towards the end of the UPA-2 government. In the year 2015-16, this rate jumped to 7.6%. The inflation rate, that was at 10.92% in 2013, went down to 6% by 2016. Trading Economics suggests a 2.05 % decline in the annual consumer inflation till January 2019.
2. Stronger army, secure borders
With the kind of neighbours we have, border security becomes critical. Cross-border terrorism and illegal infiltration have infested India for seven decades. The only one who comes to protect us from these threats are our armed forces. It is commendable how the Modi government is investing in strengthening all the wings of our armed forces with modern equipment of warfare. The OROP (one rank, one pension) scheme introduced after waiting for over 40 years, bullet-proof jackets ordered for soldiers, et cetera are all part of fortifying the forces. Firm steps have been taken to guard against infiltration with corrective action against those who are living illegally in our land. This was necessary.
3. World relations
Prime Minister Modi may appear to be someone with a penchant for overseas travel, but none of his flights have returned without a diplomatic win. Astute diplomatic moves by the prime minister have brought countries like the United States, Israel, Japan and others closer to India, while our nemesis stands isolated.
France has expressed its solidarity for India against terrorism; global powers like the US and regions like the Middle East exerted pressure on Pakistan to return Wg Cdr Abhinandan Varthaman. We procured weapons from Russia, while keeping our equation with the US unscathed. All these don’t get done by just any run of the mill leader.
4. Schemes for women
Be it Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman or External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj or Textiles Minister Smriti Irani, the Modi government has created icons of women empowerment by trusting them in some of the most crucial positions in his government. Schemes like Ujjwala, Beti Bachao, Sukanya, Poshan, increasing quantum of maternity leave, Saubhagya, et cetera were designed with welfare of women central to the entire theme.
5. Schemes for the economically backward
On the eve of Independence Day in 2014, Modi announced the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna that resulted in the opening of over 29 crore bank accounts by the poor and the unbanked. Ayushman Bharat is an affordable insurance for the economically challenged classes. Ten million rural houses are targetted to be constructed by March 2019, under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna. Introduced in May 2015, Atal Pension Yojna aims at providing steady pension to people from the unorganised sector.
The recently introduced 10% reservation for the economically weak will take the mission of uplifting less under-privileged a step further.
6. Clean India & toilets
A long overdue change that was desperately needed in this part of the subcontinent is the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. Not the kind of thing that a regular prime minister of 130 crore population would take notice of, but things like these differentiate Modi from the rest. Actors, sports personalities and regular citizens started taking great interest in this mission. For 70 years, we had walls with signs exhorting people not to relieve themselves in public, etc. Finally, now toilets have replaced the writing on the wall. Who doesn’t love to take a stroll down a clean, spruced-up road? By the way, did you hear, Dolphins have been spotted in the Ganga waters?
7. Make in India and Mudra Yojna
The present government emphasises on business, self-sufficiency and entrepreneurship. While Make in India brought companies like Apple and Samsung to set up manufacturing units in Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh, thereby creating employment opportunities for many, Mudra Yojna encouraged young entrepreneurs to avail loans without security and discover new avenues of occupation and produce employment opportunities for others also.
8. Economic reforms
India, with Modi at the Prime Minister’s Office, has seen unprecedented economic reforms. Demonetisation, regardless of the doubts surrounding its viability, has helped eradicate black money; again, introduction of GST (Goods and Services Tax) and the ease of doing business, etc. Benefits stemming from this have encouraged investors to look at India in a new light.
9. Infrastructure reforms
Infrastructure development has been taken several notches up in the past five years. Even the remotest village has electricity today. Dams, bridges and railway lines that were pending for years have been completed; Bogibeel Bridge, for instance. Connectivity has improved, even the far northeastern states have been linked to the mainland. Fast tracking of metro rail construction and highways, streamers afloat in the heart of Ganga, Vande Bharat Express, evolution of 100 smart cities — all aimed at overall development.
10. Sense of pride
Last but not the least, under Prime Minister Modi, our sense of pride and of self-worth have swelled: this is also evident from the growing value of the Indian passport. The Statue of Unity, standing tall at 182 meters, and the superb organisation of the Kumbh Mela – both holding world records of their own – add to the pride. Only the Bharatiya Janata Party could have made it happen, and it did.
This Lok Sabha has witnessed a disturbingly high number of disruptions caused by the Opposition; yet, this Lok Sabha was one of the most productive one in recent times. Many Bills were presented, debated, passed or rejected. Members with maximum attendance are from the ruling party; that they accept accountability of their work is strong assurance that the country is in safe hands. And it should continue to be in able hands.
We are sailing just fine, guys. Just don’t rock the boat now.