A. M. Naik is an Indian industrialist, philanthropist and the Group Chairman of Larsen & Toubro Limited. He is also the Chairman of the National Skill Development Corporation. He is a recipient of the Padma Bhushan as well as the Padma Vibhushan awards. Naik also received the ‘Economic Times – Business Leader of the Year Award, for the year 2008’. He was conferred the Danish Knighthood by Her Majesty Queen Margrethe in 2008 and further the Order of the Dannebrog – Knight First Class in 2015. He is currently based in Mumbai.
Steering the world’s largest democracy towards a new vision of itself is a challenge that can be taken up only by a leader with fortitude, resolve and unshakeable belief in his ability to rally an entire country around a cause. This is the bold agenda to which Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi committed himself when he took over the mantle of national leadership in 2014, and reaffirmed when he returned to power in 2019.
I have had the privilege of knowing Shri Modi since the days when he was Chief Minister of Gujarat. He stood out among his peers and assiduously built a reputation as a leader who could galvanize the state and transform it into the No. 1 destination for manufacturing in India. His ‘big picture’ vision for Gujarat, along with his capacity for attention to detail, made the state comparable with the best countries in the world for ease of doing business. In 2014, the canvas before Shri Modi expanded manifold, the challenges rose exponentially, and the consequences of failure more glaring. But we had a prime minister who did not flinch. I had envied Shri Modi’s courage, strength of purpose and energy levels when I first got to know him, and I admire them even more today as he discharges far more onerous responsibilities with the same unrelenting drive and passion.
Every decisive step that he has taken since he took over as Prime Minister are milestones on the high road towards ‘Naya Bharat’. Currently, the country faces challenges on multiple fronts. We are grappling with a raging global pandemic while simultaneously endeavouring to revive and rebuild the economy. To compound matters, we need to contend with the expansionist ambitions of one neighbour and the unremitting efforts of another to fuel insurgency. In this hour of uncertainty and self-doubt, came our Prime Minister’s reassuring, rallying call for ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’.
We at Larsen & Toubro have long been championing the cause of self-reliance in vital sectors – defence, aerospace, nuclear power, infrastructure and oil & gas. It was the PM himself who inaugurated and dedicated to the nation our Armoured Systems Complex at Hazira, Surat. We have developed indigenous capability for design and manufacture of a range of weapons and missile systems. Our submarines-to-space missions capability should facilitate the government’s push towards greater indigenisation in critical sectors. Given the prevailing anti-China sentiment across the globe, the government has acted speedily in proposing alternatives to sourcing from China. As always, L&T is ready to step up and meet what it regards as a national responsibility.
Moving beyond economics and politics, I have found it heartening that our Prime Minister’s vision extends to transforming other and equally important aspects of life. The ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan’ and the ‘Saubhagya Scheme’ are prime examples of doing what was needed, and deftly converting policy into practice on the ground. The stance he adopted of eliminating all single-use plastic in India by 2022 will go a long way in reducing the toxic effects of plastic on the global environment.
India is not a country easily malleable to change. Wide disparities, a tendency to view every issue through a partisan lens, and nagging scepticism can sap public morale and decelerate the pace of progress. It is to Shri Modi’s credit that he has gone ahead and taken the hard decisions that are essential for national resurgence. He has given the traditionally underserved sections of society the opportunity to participate in the journey of nation-building. He has also corrected historical anomalies, unveiled path-breaking policies in different fields, and refused to be swayed by the paralysing fear of criticism.
India today is no doubt far short of the ideal that Shri Modi would have set for himself. There are many challenges still unresolved. These include eliminating corruption from all walks of life, accelerating digital India transformation in service of the ordinary citizen, creating a robust common market, and burnishing the country’s reputation in the global community. This is the unfinished agenda before our Prime Minister.
Every crisis throws up the seeds of unexpected opportunity. I believe this is the opportune moment for the Government, industry and all sections of society to pull together. Under Shri Modi, we have a leader who can set the compass and follow it up with the iron resolve to lead us into the future. That’s the way to go for a prosperous and vibrant Naya Bharat – the India of a billion dreams.