Hemant Kanoria is the chairman of Srei Infrastructure Finance Limited and the Chairman of India Power Corporation Ltd.(IPCL) and on the Board of Trustees for Kanoria Foundation. He also serves as a Board Member of the Indian Institute of Information Technology, Guwahati, the Neotia University and the New Delhi Institute of Management.
As the first Indian Prime Minister to be born after India became a sovereign democratic republic, Mr. Narendra Modi represents a new confident India. A nationalist at heart, Mr. Modi is patriotic, uncompromising, bold and a mesmerizing orator. His journey of 70 years has mirrored India’s 70-year rise at the global stage. His phenomenal rise, from a humble economic and educational background from a little known town in Gujarat, to the post of Chief Minister of his state and then to the high chair of country’s Prime Minister is inspirational for crores of Indians and provides them the courage to dream big despite adversities.
I have followed very closely Modi-ji’s stint as Prime Minister. Mr. Modi is undoubtedly the most popular leader, both in India and amongst the Indian diaspora around the world. According to me, what has led to this meteoric rise in his popularity is his relentless drive to deliver on his ideas. All his decisions may not have achieved the desired results, but there has never been a dearth of sincere effort from his end. In him, the masses see someone who takes great pride in upkeeping India’s greatest traditions and who tries to follow the path of one its greatest leaders – Swami Vivekandanda and his philosophy of Karmayog. They realize that those who actually work, are bound to falter at times, and they are willing to take on their stride any honest error by a leader. They accept that Modi-ji is only human, not infallible, but his intention for India is above reproach. It is perhaps this quality of Modi-ji that endears him to the public and has cemented a trust between Modi-ji and the populace which was reflected in the record mandate with which he got re-elected to the PM’s chair in 2019.
In his more than three decades of public life, Modi-ji has never allowed any negative publicity against him to act as a speed-breaker. Be it as Chief Minister of Gujarat or as Prime Minister of India, Modi-ji’s guiding mantra-s have been ‘development’ and ‘welfare’. A true Karmyogi, he has allowed his actions to do the talking on his behalf. Bringing 40 crore Indians into the formal banking system through Jan Dhan bank accounts, making 20 crore people eligible for collateral-free business loans, enabling better housing for 2 crore families, uplifting the condition of women through multiple initiatives, making One Rank One Pension (OROP) a reality thus benefitting over 20 lakh Indian soldiers, and now, leading the world in digital direct benefit transfers, are only some of the highlights of Modi-ji’s tenure as PM. Bringing the Ayodhya issue to a logical end and the abrogation of Article 370 were some of the other promises fulfilled by Modi-ji. At the global level, Modi-ji has taken a leadership role in bringing back the criticality of climate change in mass consciousness and has forged the International Solar Alliance to harness the potential of solar energy. At the same time, by promoting Yoga as a mean for natural well being, he has converted Yoga into a global movement.
Presently, Modi-ji is fighting an invisible enemy, something which none of his predecessors have had to deal with. The COVID-19 pandemic came on the backdrop of a decelerating economy, making his challenge even more daunting. While Modi-ji’s leadership skills have been put to ultimate test in the year of his 70th birthday, thanks to his proactive decision-making, India has attracted praise from the global community in managing to restrict the impact of the pandemic. In fact, India has fared relatively better in pandemic management than many of the developed economies.
I sincerely believe that this situation presents Modi-ji a unique opportunity to chart out a new growth path for India. The pandemic has caused severe disruption on both demand and supply sides. Modi-ji has rightly stated that the route to recovery is through stepping up the pace of infrastructure creation and by supporting the MSMEs. His clarion call for Atmanirbhar Bharat is indeed a step in the right direction – to make our home-grown businesses more robust and efficient, and ready to stake a claim in new global value chains. There is also growing recognition, that for this to materialize, there needs to be a more conducive business and investment environment that enables speedy business formation through streamlined processes and regulations, and equally speedy resolution of disputes – an environment that strives to build trust between business houses and the government, through a steady and even keeled policy and regulatory environment, and his recent steps and announcements indicate this.
I feel this is the right time for Modi-ji to intervene and build that fabric of trust so that the economic activity can resume at a time when fear and uncertainty have pervaded businesses and households alike. After all, who is better placed than Modi-ji to understand the value of trust! He has earned the trust of 130 crore Indians. If he succeeds, India can once again get back on a high growth trajectory. That, I believe, would be Modi-ji’s biggest service to the nation, and his contribution to India’s ascendance would be written in letters of gold.
I wish Modi-ji a long and healthy life on his 70th birthday. May he continue to take India to greater heights.