Vallabh Bhanshali is a leading investment banker, investor, venture capitalist and Capital Markets expert in India. He is the co-founder and Chairman of ENAM group. He is a Trustee of the Bombay Stock Exchange and serves on various Committees of the Stock Exchange, SEBI and other bodies. He received many awards and honours including the citation of Veteran Economist of the Capital Markets from the Indian Council of Business. He currently lives in Mumbai.
Narendra bhai was a creation designed for the times. Truly a destiny’s child.
No wonder, he is the longest serving political figure of India, six years as the Prime Minister and 12 as the CM of Gujarat with four more to go, at the least! Most of that period has been marked by determined action and rising popularity.
Modi ji selected himself as the man to bet on in 2014. We needed a shrewd, knowledgeable, confident, hardworking, creative, communicative, committed to integrity person to lead us. He checked all boxes. And has lived up to those qualities. His roots in poor India and lack of formal education did not foretell what we are seeing today.
Managing India is a complex affair. Reforming it while taking real development to the deprived was a tall order. A section of the businessmen had got used to living off the system and banks. Pride in core Indian thought and viewing Bharat from the deprived man’s point of view had been conspicuously absent; lost as these values were in entrenched political sloganeering and shenanigans. We needed someone whose pain was greater than the sense of shame in talking about toilets from the Red Fort! The poor needed a real voice and a messiah. Over the last six years Modiji has worked tirelessly to fulfil the dreams of large sections of the country.
I can summarise his approach as: simplify the system so that corruption can not hide in it. Two, be determined to do the right thing ignoring politics as the common man always sees the correctness of it sooner rather than later.
Taking road, power, gas, bandwidth, banking, health and crop insurance, pension and loans to the rural brethren has been a phenomenal achievement. Shunting out all the thieves from the huge subsidy system has meant achieving more with less. The recently announced Agri reforms are amongst the toughest since Independence and give a big hope of improving incomes of rural India- HLL and Maruti will confirm -that is the ultimate demand engine . Similarly, Aadhar, GST, IBC, UPI, RERA, change in Income Tax assessments, cleansing the bank NPAs are all designed to simplify the system. The reforms in railways, power, infrastructure, health, education sectors have all been path breaking. He knows well that all system based corruption had political and bureaucratic patronage but he has acted without fear. All the strident noise against him is largely motivated by the pain of ‘dhandha bund’. Auctioning of well known business houses was unthinkable ! The iron will didn’t care.
The payoffs from such reform often take 5-7 years and the risk of political backlash hovers in the interim. The greats, Narsimha Rao and Vajpayee ji had lost re-elections after bold reforms. But Modiji got re-elected, as they say in Hindi- Jaako rakhe Saiyan, maar sake na koi!
While bringing everyone to the book has not been as easy as once thought, there is no doubt that the fear of being caught is geometrically higher today then it has ever been except during the draconian emergency.
Settling issues such as Article 370 and Ram Janm – bhoomi were also a decades old outstanding aspiration of the people. Even tougher than reforms. Faith in the fundamental correctness and sheer acumen enabled him to resolve both and win massive public support instead of riots that many feared or threatened! Only a well studied person like him could have brought out the reality in stark simplicity- ‘Kashmir is either a part of India or it is not- not both at the same time!’
Mistakes and slippages are bound to occur when decades’ work compresses into years’ work but they pale in front of the achievements. All big achievers need a lucky break too. Except the low oil prices for a short period he has not got any windfalls. On the contrary, Pak and China, droughts, frequent elections, Covid-19, have all slowed his progress.
The economy can not sprint without credit and credit can not flow unless the business climate is positive and stable. The last six years have been burdened by the past sins of poor fiscal policies and the banking system, many deep reforms and clean up and exigencies such as Covid 19. These have extended the NPA cycle unduly. I know that once sentiment changes, the current grim statistics will be junked.
The number one leader of the world status awaits you once COVID lifts and the benefits of all the reforms start accruing.
On your birthday, Narendra Bhai, our hard working Prime Minister, fighting against the big enemies -corruption and weak political will, we wish you get some lucky breaks. You need them to restore India to the Glorious Bharat- rich and benevolent to all mankind.