The scale, depth and breadth of PM Modi’s achievements in the past eight years have been but his political rivals and dissenters won’t concede.
Eight years of Modi government have been transformational in many ways. They evoke both awe from objective observers and derision from those who feel left out on the margin after enjoying entitlements for decades. From his pioneering work, he emerges tall as a risk taker, a pragmatic and resolute leader, someone who dares to dream big and delivers them, has intense belief in India’s civilizational greatness, plans and gets projects executed on a massive scale and never loses sight of his humble background which prompts him to launch initiatives for the less privileged.
His Kashmir policy never had any ambiguity that J&K is an integral part of India and those sponsoring and backing terror attacks must pay a very heavy price. He risked his reputation by going impromptu to Lahore to wish Nawaz Sharif on his birthday to discover thaw in bilateral relations but when Pathankot air base, Uri and Pulwama were attacked by terrorists from Pakistan, he did the unthinkable. Ground forces carried out multiple strike at different locations across the border and destroyed terrorists’ camps deep inside Pakistan while Airforce struck terrorists’ training facilities at Balakot. Finally, he made Islamabad and its surrogates in the valley irrelevant by abrogating Article 370 and 35A and dividing state into separate union territories of J&K and Ladakh.
Chinese also misjudged him completely. Modi’s directive that status quo at LAC shall not be allowed to be changed was followed by defense forces in letter and spirit. They forced and punished PLA to withdraw when they tried to extend road at Chumar (2014), encroach across Ladakh, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim (2015), construct (2017) road through Doklam plateau, close to India-Bhutan-China tri-junction and occupy (2020) areas on Indian side of the border along eastern Ladakh.
The newly-found confidence to take on enemies headlong did not come overnight. Defense budget was doubled, One Rank One Pension was sanctioned, defense procurement procedures simplified and streamlined, infrastructure in bordering areas was vastly improved – 23000 roads, 149 bridges and 61 military airfields – and everything forces urgently needed were bought from all over the world. As part of an ambitious Atmanirbhar programme, FDI was increased to 71%, government agencies, foreign companies, industrial houses and start ups were roped in to locally manufacture weapons, tanks, ships, guns, drones, aircrafts, missiles etc., 41 ordinance factories corporatized and 52 DRDO labs, manned by young scientists, created to develop next generation defense equipment.
Modi’s crisis management skill was tested severely when Corona pandemic struck. Given India’s size and population, no knowledge of its treatment and acute shortage of testing labs, masks, PPE kits, ventilators, hospital beds, medical oxygen, keeping deaths under control was going to be a herculean task. But leading from the front, he ensured that in record time, 3000 testing labs were set up, N95 masks and PPE kits flooded market, 50,000 ventilators were either bought or manufactured, capacity to supply 15000 MT medical oxygen was built supplement, makeshift facilities to shortage of beds created and world’s largest vaccination drive, covering 145 crore people was undertaken in record time with indigenously produced vaccines. Alongside, 68 days of lockdown was enforced to prevent spread of infection, Vande Bharat mission was launched to repatriate 7 million Indians from abroad, 21 thousand trains ferried stranded immigrants to their homes, free ration to 80 crore poor was provided, cash was transferred directly to 20 crore women and collateral free loan was given to 31. 9 lakh street vendors to mitigate their sufferings.
PM Modi’s achievement in social and financial sectors is phenomenal – 6 lakh open defecation free villages with 112 million toilets, 3 crore houses for families with no roof over their head, electricity connection to 2.6 crore households, tap water connection to 9.5 crore households, 9.17 crore gas connections to women, free treatment upto 5 lakh for 3.28 crore people, 11.78 crore subsidy to poor farmers, 45 crore Jandhan accounts (55% of women) in which 20.23 lakh crore have so far been directly transferred under 320 welfare schemes, construction of 73,000 klms roads, modernization of Railways, simplification of filing of tax return, massive expansion of Digital Bank Transactions (DBT) resulting in transfer of 5.52 trillion by 2021, 53% growth in internet users of rural areas, enactment of GST – a single integrated Goods and Services Tax for the country to eliminate scope of corruption and tax evasion and bringing North East states closer to the mainland by investing mas sively in their infrastructure projects. The list is endless.
Modi’s foreign policy mirrors the strength he derives from his economic reforms, handling of Corona, his courage to take on India’s neighbor nuclear nuclear powers, his commitment to a greener environment, his quest for economic inclusiveness and his dependability. No wonder, he has been able to connect with almost every world leader on a personal basis. This was amply evident during Russia-Ukraine war when he could effectively ward off threats of sanctions from US, UK and EU and even make them appreciate India’s situation.
However, his political rivals, intellectual dissidents and left liberals find fault with all his initiative – be it Kashmir, defense, foreign relations, handling of Corona and economy, human rights, CAA, NRC, or use of ED in clamping down on corruption. The him of destroying every institution, attacking federalism and religious harmony and being intolerant to criticism. Two years from now, Modi voters will decide whether Narendra should continue with his reformist and development agenda or detractors be given a chance to pull India back to the pre-2014 model of governance.
Amar Bhushan worked with the Research and Analysis Wing for 24 years after briefly serving in the BSF intelligence, State Special Branch and Intelligence Bureau. He served as the Special Secretary in the Cabinet Secretariat before he retired in 2005.
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Story first published: Monday, May 30, 2022, 16:02 [IST]