Dr. Sangita Reddy is an Indian businessperson. She is Joint Managing Director of Apollo Hospitals Enterprises and The President of Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industries.
“Dreams are not visions in your sleep, but powerful images that don’t let you sleep!” It is this very ethos of our Prime Minister, that has been ushering transformational change to the fabric of India. A man who works tirelessly and stands tall as an icon of courage, perseverance and determination, turns 70 this year. India is hopeful that this birthday blesses him with even greater fortitude in making our nation, a model for the world.
Since 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has continuously demonstrated that he is not one to shy away from taking bold decisions — be it demonetization, Ayushman Bharat, implementation of the Goods and Services Tax, the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, annulment of Article 370, criminalizing triple talaq, the post-Uri surgical strikes, strengthening of anti-terror laws, and bank mergers among many others.
However, none of these difficult decisions would have prepared him to face the curveballs that the novel coronavirus pandemic threw across to humanity. The sweeping decision to lockdown 1.3 billion people for three weeks was initially derided, but it soon became obvious, that, had Modiji not been brave enough to take that step, India could have seen a dramatic escalation in the number of COVID-19 cases and we would have lost millions of precious lives.
The growing numbers of cases continues to be a big concern, but India stands with their leadership. The fact that Indians supported their Prime Minister’s decision to lockdown, despite the difficulties that they faced is another acknowledgement of the citizens’ belief in his leadership and willingness to back his clarion calls. The proactive response, a combination of fiscal and non-fiscal initiatives with a thrust on self-reliance, shaped a bold narrative.
The Atmanirbhar Bharat campaign has a targeted focus on the defence, pharmaceuticals, electronics and labor-intensive industries. It is also a testament of our Prime Minister’s ability to think of the long-term, as India looks to build on its strengths in the post-coronavirus world.
The Modi government’s Rs 3 lakh crore collateral-free scheme called Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme has extended support to COVID-hit MSMEs, while the Prime Minister in June launched the Rs 50,000 crore Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyan to offer employment opportunities to migrant workers who were forced to return to their villages because of the lockdowns. In August, over eight crore farmers received Rs 6,000 each under the Centre’s PM-KISAN scheme. These steps will eventually help the battered Indian economy recover gradually from the COVID-induced coma.
Mr. Modi’s flagship schemes like the Swachh Bharat Mission, PM Kisan Samman Nidhi, PM Ujjwala Yojana, Smart Cities Mission, Jan Dhan-Aadhaar-Mobile, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao and Digital India Mission, have also helped boost the economy and bridge the social divide. Ayushman Bharat, which articulates two strategies in parallel – coverage of ~500 million of India’s vulnerable population against unplanned health expenses; and strengthening of primary health care through establishment of 150,000 “Health & Wellness Centres” across the country, is a potential game changer and has the ability to transform the healthcare of the country.
His astute communication skills, crisis management skills, vision, patriotism and charisma have endeared him to citizens across rural and urban India, and international community as well. The Indian diaspora was excited to see him, as was evidenced by the ‘Howdy, Modi!’ event in Houston on September 22, 2019, that was attended by about 50,000 people of Indian origin from across the US.
Looking at the challenges of his early life, I think of our Prime Minister and imagine the kind of journey he must have travelled to get to where he is. One begins to understand his devotion to Yoga, which has helped him not only to meditate but to keep his body supple, and ready for long hard hours at continuous work, which might destroy any normal person. Then again, his wonderful devotion to his mother, which shows when he goes to meet her and is shown touching her feet. What extraordinary love and affection she must have given him in his childhood to make him the man he has become today!
It is no surprise that Modiji harks back to Vallabhbhai Patel or Mahatma Gandhi, whose qualities he has imbibed. The character of the Iron Man of India is already there for all of us to see. It is said that the Mahatma could move the hearts and minds of millions of people with the power of an idea. Modiji is already doing that at this time in history.
As he turns 70, the Prime Minister and India face challenges in the form of a post-COVID, economically battered world and the ambition of being a $5 trillion economy by 2024, but if there is one man who can steer the country towards this target despite innumerable challenges, it is our Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modiji!