February 22, 2008

Narendra Modi’s Chennai speech - Offstumped Commentary


Very interesting speech by Mr. Modi at the Tughlaq Magazine’s annual reader’s event.

Cho Ramaswamy’s introduction of Narendra Modi was an interesting twist to Sonia Gandhi’s Merchant of Death remark much to the pleasure of a cheering audience.

It was a speech that Modi delivered largely extempore without any prepared notes and interspersed with anecdotes and wisecracks at the Congress.

Few highlights that stood out worth commenting upon in Mr. Modi’s speech.

- He opened his remarks with a tribute to democracy and what makes Cho a true democrat. For someone who has been routinely bandied as a Hitler in the making it should strike even the most ardent Modi critic as important that he should have chosen to open his speech with a reference to democracy and not to Hindutva, not to BJP not to mundane politics but with a reference to that which is most paramount - a commitment to democracy.

- The next subject that Modi chose to comment on again was very interesting when he chose to highlight the importance of conviction and courage in being open to criticism not by those who despise you but especially those who are most dearest to you.

- A little known aspect of Mr. Modi’s work ethic also surfaces as well with an oblique dig at the mainstream media and its antipathy towards Modi for its praise of Manmohan Singh not taking a vacation in 3 years.

- Modi then went on to sound all the right notes on how he views the recent win in Gujarat as a burden and responsibility rather than as a trophy to be relished and enjoyed.

- More digs at the Congress on how “poor its arithmetic was” in its allegation that Modi had 250 pairs of clothes.

The most important aspect of his speech surfaces a full 15minutes into the meeting when Modi goes on to exude why the Nation must adopt a Positive Attitude towards Change. Very important given the overwhelming mindset of negativism that dominates the public discource that seeks to justify entitlements in the name of social justice. Modi makes a great example of his life story and backward origins to defy this mindset that seeks entitlements by making the point that with convictions, courage and commitment anything was possible.

- Modi then goes on to talk about his social commitment for education to the girl child to improve Gujarat’s performance in this area and how over a span of 4 years Gujarat was close to 100% enrollment from a situation of 49% dropout with a target of 0% dropout by 2010.

Point to be noted, the ease with which Modi references social performance indicators in his extempore speech and the mindset which is performance oriented and metrics driven. A stark contrast with the typical Indian Politician who is high on rhetoric and emotion and low on substance.

- Modi then goes on to talk about the poor village to gynaecologist ratio and the high rate of mortality in below poverty line pregnant women and how his public-private partnership for pregnant women, along the lines of the Milton Friedman Voucher System for education, benefitted 1.58 lakh women and how atleast 6000 maternal/infant mortalities were prevented.

- Interesting tid-bit on how the entire bureaucracy opposed his Jyotigram scheme to fix rural electricity problems and how usolicited advise from the Congress conveyed the impossibility of making the scheme work. Modi then goes on to talk about how he borrowed 10 crores from the Co-operative sector to pilot the scheme in 45 villages to then go onto make it a success across the state in 1000 days - 23 lakh electricity poles, 56,000 transformed, 75,000kms of cable Modi reels off statistics to make the point that if it wills the creaking State Machinery can deliver. A snide jab at Karunanidhi’s extended and unaccounted for family follows

- Another great example follows on how technology can be used to eliminate corruption with toll gates and cross border checkposts between Gujarat and Maharashtra with another Modiquet - “if you have the will you can win… against corruption”

- Some media bashing follows on how cliched the allegations of communalism had become and the ever changing definition of secularism.

Modi gives an interesting spin to the secualrism debate saying his model of development was inherently secular for it benefitted all making no distinction or discrimination of none.

- Another anecdote follows on how illegal immigration from Bangladesh in Assam was distorting the local labor market.

Modi makes a point of fiscal discpline on how Gujarat went from a revenue deficit to a revenue surplus and how he was not a tax and spend liberal with his track record of not introducing new taxes. Point to note for all those to the right of center on economic issues.

- Another anecdote on the profitibaility of the electricity board

Modi takes entitlements head on how Karunanidhi was doling out free color televisions in Tami Nadu and the Congress made a similar promise in Gujarat with his counter promise to crack down on tax evasion.

- Modi goes on to praise the maturity of the people of Gujarat for their rejection of entitlements and their faith in a government that stood for upholding the rule of law while taking a dig at the media for its rubbish on structural polarisation in Gujarat.

- Reference to a world bank study on recovery in Kutch after the earthquake with parallels to the Indian Ocean Tsunami

- More anecdotes on taking hard decisions in the financial sector even at the risk of taking tough action against partymen.

- Some chest thumping follows on rural broadband connectivity and a dig at the United States on denying him a visa. Modi elaborates on distant education using the broadband network.

Modi goes on to eulogise on how he intends to develop Gujarat with a scientific temper leveraging technology.

Very important point follows on role of Government in Wealth Creation. Modi articulates a clear philosophy of “Minimum Government and Maximum Governance”. Leave wealth creation to the Enterprenuer who is most capable of creating wealth, focus on Governance and make sure the opportunities to benefit from wealth are maximized.

Offstumped Bottomline: A lot of debate has ensued on this blog, INI and elsewhere on what Right of Center means and which political entity in India stands for Right of Center values and principles. This speech by Narendra Modi must rank as one of the most clear articulation of a Right of Center philosophy premised on “Minimum Government and Maximum Governance” that rejects subsidies, denies entitlements, stands up for National Security while being fiscally responsible and letting Enterprises the freedom to create wealth.


Vibhash Prakash Awasthi said...

of all the people of different states i have met, anyone with the slightest of gujrat connection wud b all praises for the man.....nt even a single gujrat connection guy i have found complaing against the govt...sth extremely rare.....wish thr were more in politics like him

Anonymous said...

Open Z.
You are so very right Vibhash. To keep things in perspective , Modi definately is a politician but with the vision and keeping betterment of nation in mind first.

I was reading about his life and was amazed to find that none of his relatives were ever benefitted by his post.

His brother still works at govt job where people did not recognize him for a while that he is Gujarat CM's brother.

His other brothers still lives in the same old house and travel by public transportation.

He auctions all the gifts he recieved and give those money for a girl child education.

I think his actions speaks louder than words that for him nation,state is above his own family.

I will say if not more like him, atlease India needs him at national level.

Anonymous said...

Wow, truly amazing speech! a clarity in vision and unmatched performance that delivers. I swear to God I was apprehensive of NaMo until a few days ago, due to the bullcrap that mainstream media doles out in the form of news, and then I am beginning to follow his words and action. he is indeed incorruptible in thought and indomitable in spirit and action and he believes he is **accountable to every gujarati**... after the scores of netas and babus i have seen, I cannot believe our nation's good fortune... i now know why this hate propaganda, everyone else running the central government are dust in front of this man, his vision and action. I see it clearly now, all they are capable of is trying to bring him down by hook or crook.

I now believe SC has given a good judgement. Others could term it as benefit-of-doubt, but from his straightforwardness and sincerity, I now believe he truly is not a "merchant of death" as portrayed by media.

Anyone else by now would have given up after the concerted bombardment of false propaganda, but he has stood and responded in the way only he can.. Please India - vote for this man.. He will die fighting for India's growth, prosperity and honor...

Anonymous said...

We have launched a petition to request President Obama to reconsider US Administration’s stand on Mr. Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister of the State of Gujarat, India.

Please visit http://www.modi360.com to review and sign this petition.