Hindu Nationalist Leader “Modi” Captivates Youth and Business Community in India

modi_patna20131027Narendra Modi, the self-made man”s rise from a tea-stall operator to the highest office in Gujarat, has captivate media and business community. Modi offers lot of hope to young voters and businesses who are tired of old political talk and Modi is the first politician to put economic progress first.

Parliament elections are in full swings in India where 60% of eligible voters are expected to cast ballots in a month long election that is scheduled to end on May 14.

This is the second in a three-article series created with the help of staff at 123jump.com and Ticker.com.

India’s national elections always draw worldwide media attention simply because of the sheer complexity but these time three leading candidates are also making headlines.

India has 81.5 crore or 815 million registered voters and nearly 10 crore or 100 million are eligible to vote for the first time.

For more than six decades people in India cast their votes but rarely managed to get much in return when it came to governance, development and access to basic utilities.

Though India remains one of the poorest nations in the world, voters in India are not shy in throwing out governments when they fail to deliver. India has gone through several change of governments in the last three decades and all brought about through peaceful election process.

Voters appear to be in a mood for another change this time in Lok Sabha election.

Analysts have been quick to link the current voter mood to the slowing economy and on the growing dysfunction in the ruling coalition led by the Congress Party. However, there are other reasons that are bubbling up in the maturing democracy that is now sixty seven years old.

For decades, people in India were told that the vast and diverse nation’s economy can’t grow faster than 3% and its large population is a burden to economic development. Voters accepted for decades the slow infrastructure development and virtually no support for healthcare, education and high unemployment rates.

But in the current election three distinct group of leaders are offering different visions of India – village development, rapid urbanization and anti-corruption.

BJP Wants Rapid Urbanization

Bhartiya Janata Party, the only other national party, last governed India for a full-term of five years that ended in 2004 and was voted out of power. BJP lost seats and suffered a surprise and humiliating defeat in the Lok Sabha election despite delivering sustained annual economic growth of more than 7%.

The party in its previous incarnations was a part of a governing coalition two times in the late seventies and nineties. The party has significantly changed its economic policy in the last three decades and the BJP remains tightly organized and enjoys a strong support of the middle and upper class families and business community.

Unlike Congress, the BJP also has several well-run organizations focused on students, women and the party is allied with the Hindu religion based social organizations RSS and VHP.

BJP leadership has evolved from its early focus on village development in its previous political incarnation to inter-state competition and then to inviting foreign investment to drive economic growth. This sharp reversal in policy outlook was not welcomed by the grass-root party operators. BJP led government under the leadership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee between 1999 and 2004 focused on attracting much needed foreign investment and ratcheted up infrastructure development.

Big projects like new four-lane highways, power plants, airports and railroad expansion drove the economic growth during those five years. The country also saw rapid urbanization and several states controlled by the party also rolled back labor law controls.

During the last BJP led government, the business community was ecstatic and talks of India emerging as the world power was rampant in media while villages received little attention in infrastructure development.

Only one state Gujarat, where Narendra Modi led BJP government continued to govern uninterrupted since 2002, saw not only large development projects but also witnessed improvement in smaller villages. Electricity for the first time reached all villages and a vast network of man-made lakes provided relief from the persistent drought in the state.

Development in Gujarat is far from perfect, but the state stands out when compared to the progress in the rest of the nation. Policy makers around the nation first and then in the world began to take notice.

Modi has sharp focus on development and puts a strong emphasis on implementing large projects with a speed that is unheard of India and his administrative success has attracted large businesses to shift manufacturing operations to Gujarat.

Modi led the revitalization of Kutch region that was devastated in 2001 earthquake, which was largely ignored by the national media. In fact, Modi was never given credit for his ground-breaking role in aligning the state machinery with the private enterprises and community organizations to rebuild a vast region.

Modi focused early on in his first term as Chief Minister in restoring Kutch where 20,000 people died and 400,000 homes were destroyed. His organizational abilities shined in how he galvanized local community organizations and individuals with a clear focus on rebuilding efforts with minimum bureaucratic interference.

His fresh approach to governance in working with local faith based or business community based organizations worked wonders. Modi went on to win three successive state elections.

Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal are known to suffer frequent natural disasters as well. But not one leader of these states has managed to do what Modi accomplished after the 2001 earthquake.

However, Modi’s handling of media during the Hindu-Muslim riots that originated in Godhra and spread across the state and killed at least 1,000 people in three days continues to haunt him. Many human rights organization, most never visited the state long after the riots, continue to blame Modi and the state machinery for his handling of riots.

The Supreme Court of India cleared Modi of any wrongdoing but he remains the focus of select media in India, and liberal newspapers; The New York Times and The Guardian in London, U.K.

These publications continue to selectively highlight Godhra riots but rarely comment of how Hindus are treated in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Middle East and how 400,000 Hindus were terrorized and then driven out of Muslim Kashmir.

The New York Times and The Guardian have yet to write a single article on these oppressions and violence against Hindus. Nearly 75,000 Gujaratis and Hindus were driven out of Uganda in 1972, yet these publications never cared to write about atrocities committed against Hindus.

The U.S. Department of State under pressure from the so called human rights organization canceled Modi’s travel visa in 2005 and cited “severe violation of religious freedom” in Gujarat and held him responsible for the 2002 riots.

By the same standards, most countries should not issues visas to the former U.S. President George W. Bush and former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair for killing more than one million innocent Iraqis.

U.S. officials have subsequently backtracked on the travel ban but the U.S. has never officially apologized to India, Gujarat or Narendra Modi for denying visas to a publicly elected Chief Minister of a democratic state with a population of 60 million.

Young voters in India and other state officials are fascinated by Modi’s sheer stamina and efficiency in government administration and the rise of the self-made man. And, despite the intense media pressure and distraction, Modi continues to win elections.

Modi’s message of hope, optimism and can-do attitude resonates well with younger voters in India.

In the current election, young and first time voters are expected to vote in increasing numbers, not because of Rahul Gandhi’s youth but are attracted to Narendra Modi’s track record in job creation.

In the last twelve years, when India delivered spotty growth and lackluster annual economic growth of 6%, one can witness dramatic changes in Gujarat with annual 11% growth.

Despite the shortcomings of Gujarat development, the state has catapulted once dominating Maharashtra and Punjab in just one decade. Gujarat model may not be worth copying but many people including Muslims are migrating to Gujarat searching for jobs.

Modi’s laser focus on development, infrastructure and reputation with investors has earned him rave reviews among business communities in the U.S., Japan, Germany, China, Switzerland, Singapore, South Korea and U.K.

In the globalized world, Modi does not have to travel to the U.S. Most American and world business leaders travel to Gujarat to meet Modi.

BJP and Modi’s vision of India focuses on governance, urban development, economic growth and stronger defense.

However, there are sharp differences between the former BJP leader Vajpayee and Modi. Vajpayee preferred a consensus in his cabinet and a balance between economic growth poverty programs and believed in stronger defense. Though Vajpayee was liked and respected by people across party lines, he was never an administrator.

Modi is a proven administrator and does not have much time for debate, discussion and talks. He prefers to act and demands action. He is not easily ruffled and cares little about opinion in the mass media. Modi’s sole focus is to accelerate India’s growth.

Modi is driven by a palpable passion and has spent life-time perfecting his growth vision. His confident demeanor and pride in Indian identity is strikingly different from the meek and beggarly approach of Congress leaders.

Under Modi’s leadership, the governments will be measured on one yardstick – economic development. Ties with Japan will be tighter and Modi will encourage manufacturing industry to compete on a global scale and rival neighboring China.

And similar to Vajpayee, Modi is less likely to yield to the unilateral demands from the U.S. and take a tougher line with Pakistan for sponsoring terrorism.

Modi may put sanctions on Pakistan for sponsoring terrorism in India, and nations collaborating and selling arms to Pakistan including the U.S., U.K. and France, will be forced to take their own medicine.

Source: 123jump.com