Rajiv Memani is the Chairman and Regional Managing Partner of EY India. He is also a member of EY’s Global Executive Board and Chairman of EY’s Global Emerging Markets Committee.
“Arise, awake and do not stop until the goal is reached” – these eternal words by Swami Vivekananda embody our Prime Minister, Mr Narendra Modi, who lives this dictum daily. On his 70th birthday, my heartiest wishes and congratulations to Mr Modi.
I have been observing Mr Modi for several years and have been influenced by his patriotism and a deep desire to make India strong and vibrant not just for a few but for all. His personal integrity, ability to patiently listen, unwavering focus and strong work ethic are an inspiration for many.
As a follower of Swami Vivekananda, I find many reflections of his teachings on Mr Modi’s leadership and have made a humble attempt to present a few parallels.
“The 21st century is India’s century”
About 125 years ago, Swami Vivekananda told a group of journalists in America, “This is your century right now, but the 21st century is India’s century”. Mr Modi is transforming India into a resurgent, confident nation. I travel extensively during the course of my work and hear words of admiration for Mr Modi in conversations across the globe.
Mr Modi takes immense pride in our history, but he does not rest on laurels and is ceaselessly working on ideas to improve our country in all areas including the economy, social development, defence, science, technology and foreign policy. Given my background and experience, I will talk mostly about the economy.
One of his key strategies to own the 21st century is to build the country’s strength digging deep into its capabilities, resources and skills. His rallying call for ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ to make India self-reliant has struck a chord with the new mantra of ‘Make for the world’ to accompany the motto of ‘Make in India.’
Take up one idea; make that one idea your own; dream of it; think of it; live on that one idea
A true visionary, Mr Modi has ushered the most path-breaking and bold reforms. Most notable is the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), a historic reform which several earlier governments had also attempted to launch. It also reflects his steadfast focus on creating a fairer and a cleaner society enabled by technology, a philosophy that underpins many of his policy decisions.
Another major reform is the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC). IBC seeks to address the massive problem of long-pending non-performing assets of banks by providing a timebound framework for resolution.
Notably, PM Modi has personally championed steps to curb corruption and also taken other measures to enhance ease of doing business. He has tirelessly engaged with his counterparts around the world to strengthen business and trade ties. It has been under his leadership that the country has seen the highest FDI inflows in the past five years.
“The awakening of the masses must come first, and then only can any real good come about for India”
Mr Modi has also given due attention to financial inclusion and welfare. I specifically want to mention the Jan Dhan Yojana for providing financial services to the less privileged and the linkage with Aadhaar for addressing implementation challenges of schemes and government benefit transfers. Other welfare-oriented initiatives like providing rural housing and cooking gas connections, health insurance and rural electricity also bear the stamp of his vision for a more equitable India.
More recently, his fresh thinking and the emphasis on moving with the times was visible in the National Education Policy (NEP 2020). With the objective of transforming India into a vibrant knowledge hub, the NEP 2020 rightly focuses on inclusion, holistic development and learning of children through shifts towards vocational education, flexibility in completing education, establishment of a single regulator, among others.
Whatever you think, that you will be. If you think yourselves weak, weak you will be; if you think yourselves strong, strong you will be.
Time and again, Mr Modi has shown that he is the strong leader who will above all, secure India’s interests. His boldness and courage are palpable in several decisions impacting both internal matters and relationships with other nations, where he has dealt with issues directly and firmly.
I wish him all the best in his continuing endeavours to both guide and serve our nation. May he continue to inspire every Indian with his selfless ideals. Once again, my heartiest wishes on his 70th birthday and many more years of good health, success and contentment.