Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the Captain Cool of Team New India, who sticks to his plan for the country without being distracted by whatever is hurled at him by the opposition parties and the ideological baiters. There is much to learn from the personality of PM Modi, for his image remains that of a well-composed person even in the face of crises of unprecedented scales. The youth in the country will find many virtues in studying PM Modi’s personality and they would find that staying calm and composed even in the eyes of adversities is the true hallmark of leadership.
Modi has been in public life for decades. His social life as the ‘Pracharak’ of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the political works thereafter in the Bharatiya Janata Party spanned several decades before he assumed the office of the chief minister of Gujarat over two decades ago. His socio-political life made him steady in his life that he brought in the office, while heading Gujarat and thereafter the country as Prime Minister.
Modi has been hurled the most vitriolic personal attacks during election campaigns by the top leadership of the opposition parties, principally Congress. ‘Maut ka Saudagar’, ‘Zeher ki kheti’ are some of the well-documented abuses that were aimed at PM Modi from none other than the working president of Congress Sonia Gandhi.
A section of the civil society ran a campaign against PM Modi, while a few media persons became willing partners. He has been the biggest victim of the media trials. While the media and a section of the civil society sought to look at PM Modi solely from the Godhra lens, he as the chief minister of Gujarat steadily busied himself in qualitative turnaround in the socio-economic fortunes of the state.
Away from the spotlight, he was busy laying the tunnel-size water pipelines that soon flowed into the parched Kutch and other parts of Gujarat, which were perennially water deficient. Farmers in such regions struggled to raise one crop. But soon, Modi as the chief minister of the state had laid a grid of water pipelines, network of dams, facilities to lift waters by several meters to take them to places where people reacted with disbelief after seeing water in that form. Not only had the people of Gujarat, but even in the neighbouring Rajasthan gained from the works done by Modi in addressing the scarcity of waters.
In fact, Modi faced many hurdles as an adversarial government in New Delhi led by Manmohan Singh, which always created hurdles. Now the world is becoming alive to the crisis of water scarcity, but Modi had been farsighted to accept the challenge and stayed focused to work on the solutions.
This gives a lot of lessons in leadership. Modi was responding to the low-level of personal attacks only during the election campaigns, while he stayed focused on the development works, and never let any emotions betray in public. This is remarkable since the youth or we may dare say the people in Delhi are on a short fuse if someone scratches their vehicles on the roads. The depth of patience in PM Modi is remarkable, and truly a sign of a great leader.
It will not be out of place to say that virtues such as patience, tolerance and focus as if one has blinkers on, are now too rare when people are mostly reactive, combative and quarrelsome.
PM Modi was again the subject of the vilest and most vitriolic personal attacks in the wake of the decision of demonetization. That was a bold decision, which required courage to do, and PM Modi stayed firm and steadfast on the objectives of the move despite the opposition parties running canard against him on a daily basis. Only a few years have gone by, and India is now the world leader in a digital financial transactions. The scale of digital financial operations in the country is astounding.
Now, the RuPay card is also internationally accepted. The JAM trinity has scripted the highest ever inclusion of the people in the banking operations, with most of the beneficiaries being people eking out their livelihoods in the informal sector. With one click of the mouse, crores of farmers receive their Pradhan Mantri Kisan Nidhi installment after every four months. They don’t have to pay bribes to the middlemen or spend their precious time sitting with the Gram Pradhan. Digital architecture has done wonders.
The Covid-19 pandemic was once a century crisis for the country and the world. There was no know-how on ways to deal with a pandemic of such a scale. The developed countries shut themselves out. They were not forthcoming to share their knowledge and expertise. The crisis was overwhelming. India the second largest population in the world had a huge challenge on its hands.
But PM Modi stayed steadfast. He was calm and composed. He exhibited rare patience as he sat out for marathon meetings with the scientists. He was listening to them. He trusted the best brains in the country. With the leadership at the top exhibiting unfathomable tolerance and patience, the scientific community had the maximum confidence to put forth their views and thus lay the roadmap to deal with the pandemic.
The principal job of a leader is to communicate. PM Modi held a number of meetings with the chief ministers, listening to their views and concerns, and enlisting them in the national response against the pandemic. Team India was out in the middle against the ferocious foe in the Covid-19 that was disguising more often, changing shape and patterns. Yet, PM Modi led India with poise and equanimity to deal with the crisis, and not only carried India out of the deep challenge but the country became the call away to respond to the SOS of several countries.
The vaccine and medicine inequity are the sad realities of the pandemic-affected world, as the developed countries resorted to stock-piling. They were least bothered about the fate of the people in the poor countries in Africa and Asia. But PM Modi thought for them, and even the Caribbean countries with a population of a few lakh received the medicines and vaccines on the lines of Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and others.
The Indian-made medicines and vaccines saved the lives of millions of people across the world. That was possible because India was being led in such a crisis time of grave proportion by Captain Cool whose eyes were set only on the aim that India’s national interests must be guarded by all means.
If PM Modi is seen in angrier frames, people would recall him wearing black clothes in the wake of the Pulwama terror attack, and that was also to send the loud message that his patience and tolerance cannot be tested when India is attacked.
(Article is courtesy The Pioneer: The author is Director, Public Policy Research Centre)