15 August 2014: The Speech

Good speech, great oration, with a touch of humor (“chaiwallah” reference was a cracker)… NaMo speaks from a place committed to service (“Pradhan Sevak not Pradhan Mantri!”), and conveys a conviction that is not ordinary… no doubt. NaMo spoke about inclusive governance and working across the aisle, he insisted on transformation in work ethic – seems fanatical about raising the bar and keeping the elected representatives accountable… to service! NaMo reached out directly to the people of the country on the topics of rape, cleanliness, poverty, individual enterprise and the promise of youth – NaMo is making sure people understand that they have a part to play in the country’s future, their job is not done by voting alone. NaMo demonstrated the qualities of a tough corporate boss with an understanding of the global landscape and markets, an understanding of the country’s strengths and areas for growth… I liked how he threw out a challenge to the people in making India the destination for manufacturing and tourism. NaMo is obviously well advised on what could differentiate us over other countries with talk of zero-defect and zero-environmental impact as underlying themes for manufacturing… NaMo talked about energy independence, the importance of education and a vision for a “Digital India”… His emphasis on non-violence and added focus on “violence begets violence” was refreshing to hear, and demonstrates that he may have moved beyond 2002, and may even, without explicitly stating it, be admitting to having learned that it was not the Godhra counter-attack but the focus on development and growth for all, that was the true cornerstone for Gujarat’s progress and his exponential growth in stature (it humbled him, I think…) … he emoted well to bring out his new found fascination and appreciation of non-violence when he said “marna, maarna chhodkar…”

Another great quality for a leader is his ability to learn, and NaMo has definitely demonstrated that he is observant, aware and willing to learn; a lot of his inclusiveness rhetoric and putting the onus back of the people comes from the work that Anna Hazare and AAP have done to make the common man more involved in the political process and in the work of nation building. No issues there…

One notable change in recent months is the number of times, Modi quotes Gandhiji and calls upon some of his work… I think he recognizes that Gandhiji was a marketing genius and Modi has adopted that… every new program coming out of his office has a catchy, marketing ring to it… I am not discrediting this approach, but noting that Modi is one smart cookie who knows what can get people going… only hope, it does not stop at talk, and the execution machinery with the party and the bureaucracy can follow through on all fronts.

Having been wary of his communal and RSS past, I have been reluctant to accept his leadership to be the change India needs, but am beginning to get comfortable with that idea… sort of… but, …. am I (as a lot of us), then pinning our hopes once again on a charismatic leader (this one, however, has a track record) like we did in the USA in 2008? Is he a lone ranger with less than a handful of competent people sitting in the center, and then running into traffic in the aisles of Sansad? I am still wary of his partners (RSS, VHP, Shiv Sena) and what roadblocks they might throw his way… will he be able to move the dialogue beyond moral policing, and Hindu nationalism to what matters most? How come he did not speak about corruption? We all know it cannot be eliminated, but has he resigned to its pervasiveness? Is this a taboo word in his dictionary, or did he consciously circumvent it in order to avoid giving AAP political mileage out of it? Anyway, many questions remain and the future will unfold in its time… meanwhile, it only seems fair, after the mandate, to give Namo’s vigor a chance, stay positive and look forward to a progressive evolution of Indian politics with all, the ruling party and the opposition parties staying focused on constructive dialogue towards positive development versus irrational rhetoric.


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