Gopichand Parmanand Hinduja is the co-Chairman of the Hinduja Group. The Indo-European Business Forum, at a ceremony in the House of Lords, honoured him and his brother with a Lifetime Achievement Award in Business. He currently lives in London with his family.
Mr Narendra Modi’s 70th birthday is an appropriate occasion to celebrate his rise from a humble background to the position of Prime Minister, and celebrate at the same time India’s democracy that allows any citizen with drive and ability to rise to the top.
PM Modi has exceptional leadership qualities. He inspired the stellar electoral victory in 2014 that gave the BJP a single-party majority after years of coalition governments. In 2019, the public was wiser than the political pundits and Mr Modi successfully steered the BJP to an even bigger electoral victory, in effect a brilliant nation-wide win of a confidence motion.
Armed with the biggest mandate in the history of democratic elections anywhere ever, PM Modi is translating into reality his vision of transforming India. In an India of huge regional, linguistic, cultural, ethnic and religious diversity marking its 1.3 billion people, a young aspirational population, not as yet fully tapped human capital and entrepreneurial talent, poverty that still exists, the challenges are multiple.
India needs a leader who understands the country at the grassroots level and above and the working of its political and administrative machinery. A leader who is ready to remove the dead weight of the past and open up new horizons in mental thinking and ambition. One who can infuse optimism and give a new sense of direction to the country. PM Modi is demonstrably equipped to do all this.
As Chief Minister of a major Indian state for twelve and a half years he knows India’s developmental challenges at the ground level, understands what is needed for business and investment promotion in prevailing conditions, as well as practical ways to foster optimal cooperation between the Centre and the States under India’s federal system.
His understanding of what is needed to transform India into a more modern state with a more confident citizenry living under improved conditions is reflected in the various campaigns he has launched, be it Digital India, Make in India, Smart Cities Mission, Start-up India, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan or Skill India. These flagship programmes are aimed at building a knowledge economy, providing good governance, creating jobs and enhancing skills in 25 economic sectors, developing and modernising 100 cities, promoting bank financing for start-up ventures to encourage entrepreneurship, and cleaning the streets, roads and infrastructure of the 4,041 urban spaces in India.
PM Modi has initiated several social welfare schemes aimed at the poor, the farmers, financial inclusion with provision of banking services to all households, social and financial self-reliance of girls through education, providing a universal pension scheme for the unorganised sector and launching the largest government-funded healthcare programme in the world with 500 million beneficiaries.
A notable achievement of the Modi government is the massive leap India has made in World Bank’s ranking of countries in ease of doing business from 140th position in 2014 to 63rd in 2019. The Atmanirbhar Bharat or Self-Reliant India campaign launched by the Prime Minister with the motto “Vocal for Local” is intended both to remedy the weaknesses in the national economy exposed by the pandemic and position India favourably in the post-Covid-19 world by creating a globally competitive economy. Make in India, including in defence manufacturing, is being given a decisive policy push.
Mr Modi’s has been exceptionally energetic at the international level and is now widely acknowledged as a world leader. During his 6 years in power, he has visited 60 countries and more than 180 world leaders have visited India. Stronger ties have been forged with new partners and relations with old ones preserved, giving India the ability to engage all. Particular attention has been paid to maritime security. The International Solar Alliance and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure are PM Modi’s initiatives in the context of Climate Change. He has relentlessly drawn attention to the issue of international terrorism.
Mr Modi has focused on India’s civilisational heritage at home and abroad as a form of national revival. The International Day of Yoga proclaimed by the UN in 2014 was a great achievement. No other Prime Minister has engaged the Indian diaspora as intensively as Mr Modi, communicating to them with his remarkable oratory a new vision of a changing India on the march, and giving them confidence and pride in their Indian links in the process.
With the brilliant track record that I have enumerated above of last 6 years as PM, he is in a position to unleash the final round of economic reforms to release the entrepreneurial spirits of India by breaking the bureaucratic and other shackles that hold back implementation. We sincerely pray that his entire team and the bureaucracy work towards realising PM Modi’s vision of the new resurgent India. The successful Indian Diaspora is waiting for opportunities to work shoulder to shoulder with resident Indian entrepreneurs given equal opportunity to bring in the much needed overseas investments.
The Hinduja family extends to Shri Modi on his 70th birthday many more years of selfless service to the nation and all success in realising his vision of making India a leading nation of the world.