Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation

Raja Rishi of Bharat: Shri Narendra Damodardas Modi

Let me start this article referring to an editorial – “India: Another Tryst with Destiny,” the piece is more than 9 years by John Crace for The Guardian. On 18th May 2014, John Crace wrote “Today, 18 May 2014, may well go down in history as the day when Britain finally left India. Narendra Modi’s victory in the elections marks the end of a long era in which the structures of power did not differ greatly from those through which Britain ruled the subcontinent. India under the Congress party was in many ways a continuation of the British Raj by other means.” Well, the editorial is a profound piece of truth and one that has stood the test of time – close to a decade. After close to 10 years one can safely say Bharat has been undergoing a complete decolonization of sorts on various parameters and is still an ongoing process cleaning up the colonial mindset. Mindset is a framework, a set template of rigid notions and a big country like ours cannot be governed by archaic western constructs.

A Nation Awaits

A leader with understanding of the diverse nature of this great land was missing in the ruling class at the highest level. “One size fit all” policy making does not really work for such a huge population with varying diversity. As India grew coalition governments started becoming the norm with fragmented mandates. Lack of leadership does not instil confidence to the voter and leads to a fragmented mandate, paving way for parties with vested interests to come together and eventually governance, policy making and delivery suffers and corruption thrives.

India in 2013 was no different.

A nation marred by monumental scams was cynical and yet hopeful of a new dawn when Shri Narendra Modi was announced as the Prime Ministerial candidate on 13th September 2013. Real Leaders always rise and make places powerful around them by making structural changes filled with conviction and transform lives.

A Decade of Transforming India

Starting June 2014 India that is Bharat under Shri Narendra Modi had undertaken rapid reforms on a wide spectrum of governance areas which have a common thread tied to one another – Atmanirbharta (meaning self-reliance).

The farsighted financial inclusion program Jan Dhan Accounts (using Jan Dhan bank accounts, Aadhaar, and Mobile) – banking for the unbanked was the first mega initiative by the Modi government. It looked trivial for many but it was a mega step towards initiating savings and corruption free delivery to the masses. Many economists failed to see the huge impact Jan Dhan could bring about – as we write this piece 51.42 Crore (514 million) beneficiaries banked so far with Rs 213,798.10 Crore (25 Billion USD) balance in beneficiary accounts. The Mudra loan scheme too has been a great game changer providing loans up to Rs 10 lakh (1 million) to the non-corporate, non-farm small/micro enterprises.

The “Swachh Bharat Abhiyan” has led to significant progress in improving sanitation and  hygiene across the country. Millions of toilets have been built, reducing open defecation, and  improving public health. A staggering 109 million Toilets were built in rural India since the  launch of Swachh Bharat in October 2014. The programme led to the construction of over 10  crore individual household toilets, taking sanitation coverage from 39% in 2014 to 100% in 2019 when around 6 lakh villages declared themselves Open Defecation Free (ODF). While studies indicate that the SBM-G campaign led to significant economic, environmental and health impacts, contributing to the empowerment of women, it also led to the achievement of SDG 6.2 (Sanitation and Hygiene), 11 years ahead of the stipulated timeline. This should be global case study on how to implement mass programs for social welfare.

Bridging the digital divide – Digital India was aimed at democratising internet, 4G rollout was  being done at a scorching pace with per GB data in India costing just Rs 13 (0.16 USD) – one of the cheapest in the world, governance delivery took a new leap. The most impending Tax reform – Goods & Services tax was courageously brought forward and implemented on 1st July 2017 and ensured One Nation One Tax and ease of moment of goods with minimum delays and processes leading to improved ease of business.

Foreign policy too stood out with Prime Minister connecting with ease with Indian diaspora in every country he would visit in his first term, it was logical for world governments to forge a friendly relationship with India under Narendra Modi. So many successful missions over the past years – Operation Ganga, Operation Dev Shakti, Operation Raahat, Operation Maitri and notably Vande Bharat Mission in which India brought back 6.76 million stranded passengers with the help of special international flights. This was apparently India’s biggest evacuation  mission since 1990, when it rescued 170,000 civilians from Kuwait during the Gulf War.

India First on all parameters, every Indian abroad in distress was just a tweet or call away from help from the Indian administration – unseen and unheard in Indian history.

Infra Push has been stellar with massive investments in building roads, railways, ports, and airports. The “Smart Cities” initiative aims to create modern urban centres that offer a high quality of life for citizens. Highway construction is happening at a scorching pace of around 40Km / day as compared to around 3 Km / day in earlier regimes. Railways has been greatly transformed with 41 semi-high-speed Vande Bharat trains being introduced, not only reducing travel time between cities but also offering passengers greater comfort and experience Bharat’s diverse country side through expansive glass windows.

Covid Response

Adversity brings the best out of a great leader – as the world was grappling in hopelessness,  India under the able leadership of Prime Minister Modi stood out as a ray of hope – with the Digital connect and Jan Dhan Accounts, the fund transfers were eased up ensuring last mile delivery. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Modi’s leadership was evident in the swift  implementation of measures to protect public health. Initiatives like “Aatmanirbhar Bharat”  supported the economy during these challenging times. Vaccine rollout through Co-Win – a real-time digital framework for vaccine delivery has been applauded and implemented by many countries across the world. As you read this article the live vaccination data in the country would have crossed 2,20,67,56,592 doses – a staggering achievement considering how once black marketing and hoarding featured governance delivery.

Cultural Nationalism

Prime Minister Narendra Modi understands Bharat like no other leader in recent memory has, from celebrating every Diwali with our armed forces in the border to renovation of age old temples like Kashi Vishwanath temple with the grand Kashi corridor, Somnath, Kedarnath, Ujjain, Chardham project, Ayodhya PM Modi has celebrated what the common man of Bharat has held close to his heart always.

Kashi Tamil Sangamam needs a special mention for the cultural integration efforts meant to  revive the age old civilizational connect between the two states of Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Similarly Saurashtra Tamil Sangamam brought in integration between Gujarat and Tamil Nadu. Special trains with devotees traveled both the states and all arrangements taken care off, proved to be a spiritual sojourn with national unity.

National Education Policy in 2020 was a much needed reform in the school education sector

preparing young India for jobs of tomorrow. The National Education Policy aims at an education

system rooted in Indian ethos that contributes directly to transforming India, that is Bharat,  sustainably into an equitable and vibrant knowledge society, by providing high quality education  to all children. Learning in mother tongue and emphasis on holistic education have made the  policy a truly transformative vision in action for New India.

National security too has been a top priority – one can safely say that since Modi has assumes the Prime Minister’s office there has not been a single terror attack on any civilian in the country. From revoking article 370 to the Citizenship Amendment Act the thread remains India First policy.

India’s G20 Presidency witnessed the largest ever in-person participation with over 100,000  participants, from 135 nationalities attended our G20. Organised under the theme “One Earth, One Family, One Future,” drawing upon our age-old belief of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” India’s Presidency was the most inclusive of sorts representing 85% of global GDP, 75% of world trade and 2/3rd of world population, it witnessed the highest profile international gathering in the history of independent India.

From International Day of Yoga to the successful Chandrayaan 3 landing and solar mission, India has shown it has all the right ingredients of the making of a super power.

Some of the key measures, schemes, governance methods have been highlighted above, but what does it translate for the nation – the common man?

The recent NITI Aayog discussion paper has many answers and will leave many spell-bound for what an efficient Government is capable off.

As many as 24.82 (248.2 million) crore people moved out of multidimensional poverty in  nine years to 2022-23, with Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh registering the largest decline according to the NITI discussion paper, multidimensional poverty in India declined from 29.17 per cent in 2013-14 to 11.28 per cent in 2022-23, showing a reduction of 17.89 percentage points, with about 24.82 crore people moving out of the bracket during this period.

In Artha Sastra Kautilya has clearly specified the rules for an Ideal King or ruler. Such ideal  kings were called Raja Rishis meaning Sage like King. On 28th May 2023 Prime Minister  installed the Sengol or the Raja Dhanda in the new Parliament – a reminder to the ruler that  Dharma needs to be upheld on all accounts. This is when we start to understand Modi as a  whole, a towering world leader, leading as a socio – economic reformer to a cultural  ambassador of Bharat, to a whole new dimension of a Dharmic Leader – a true Raja Rishi.

[ For those whose Western influenced thoughts need a western confirmation, Plato, slightly later than Kautilya, also talked about the concept of a philosopher king in his “Republic”. It may interest these “western” people that the US Army War College in Pennsylvania has a full course on Kautilya’s Artha Sastra for very senior military personnel, covering military intelligence, ruling conquered lands, etc.].

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is indeed the Ideal Philosopher King or Raja Rishi.

Pinnacle of Bharatiya Civilization

As the nation of 140 crore (1.4 billion) celebrated the Prana Pratishta (grand opening) of the Ram temple in Ayodhya on 22nd January 2024, we are but compelled to draw an analogy to the

emotion and jubilation that is perhaps closest to the moment when Lord Rama returned to  Ayodhya after Vanavaas. Prime Minister Modi’s speech during the Prana Pratishta – “Ram is not

fire, Ram is energy. Ram is not a dispute, Ram is the solution. Ram is not only ours, Ram is for  everyone. Ram is not just the present, Ram is eternal”, needs to be internalized for it encompasses Bharatiya ethos and true inclusivity.

Temple economy and cultural renaissance have been gelled beautifully with development for all which Prime Minister often says – “Sabka Saath – Sabka Vikas.” It is probably the first time in our history we have a leader who represents our civilization proudly and yet delivers on governance parameters.

This is a moment for Bharat under the sun, thanks to some heavy lifting by Prime Minister on policy making, structural economic reforms, development for all and all of this has happened in less than 10 years of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

One can only be awe inspired by the modern Raja Rishi Shri Narendra Damodardas Modi.

||Dharmo Rakshati Rakshitah||