Allow me to congratulate you on all the right things you have done thus far to raise the mood of optimism within the country and the stock of this nation on global stage. But, as things have since turned, I am reminded of the corporate adage : Success is Failure … reserved for those who celebrate prematurely.
Mr Modi, it will be a mistake on your part to beleive that 1.25 billion Indians are your ‘ fan,’ your ‘bhakta’ as the mainstream media derisively addresses. We are not. We idolise the vision and goals you have set for the country going forward, the quality of governance you have promised. But that does not make us hero-worshippers by any stretch of imagination, as you may soon discover to your Party’s peril. We are waiting for you (and your Government) to deliver on those specific counts that you have shared with us through the electoral campaign, and since. But there are reasons for us to be alarmed, in the way things have begun to lapse…
One : Gandhi may be a Gujarati elder of yours but he is not, I repeat, not the ‘ Father of Our Nation ‘ to most of us. The way you have gone about selling Gandhi to us in India, I see the need for extreme caution. We respect Gandhi for some of the things he has done for the country; but there are many more reasons for us to be critical of : both his conduct and his ideological underpinnings. Far from being a saint, he is not even a man of knowledge in our book. A man of action, yes, but not someone who could be looked upon to set our moral compass. Much of our country’s problems can be traced back to Jawaharlal Nehru, and thence to Gandhi himself.
If you must declare a Father Of The Nation personality, Chanakya — Emperor Chandragupta’s mentor — would better suit the epithet. Or, Sri Ramachandra … Sri Krishna … Choose them, both for their appropriateness and for their wider acceptance.
Two : There is no reason for you to take yourself too seriously. We take the vision and goals you have shared with us seriously enough. They each are a tall order in themselves. We wish you the very best in leading your government’s endeavour to working at realising them for our people, especially the weakest and the most marginalised amongst us. But talking incessantly or prematurely would do liitle to further our effort. As it is, the fans and ‘bhaktas’ do not automatically acquire the necessary qualifications for executing and managing the governance processes. On top of it, the hint of basking in glory at this stage would more likely derail the momentum even before the steam has picked up in the set direction. You have spoken enough for an entire 5 – year term, I would suggest. And there would be occassions of State when you would be called upon to share further or reiterate some of the themes that have already broached from time to time. Which brings up the third matter.
Three : I guess symbolism has a place in a democratic polity. But considering that we have had a surfeit of it during the last 66 years, and nothing else, it would be nice to give it a rest for a decade or two. Symbolism is for paper tigers and propaganda personality build up, for the most part. Is that how you seek to position yourself ? I think not. The advisory then is a reasonable one : Desist from symbolic gestures and mere photo sessions. Because, even if you are not in that mould, your followers would end up using the opportunity for a public relations exercise for themselves.
The ” Clean India ” drive is the need of the hour. The way forward however is to restructure our muncipalities, redesign our infrastructure, and set executive and monitoring processes in place. We all keep our homes clean enough. The pile up happens because the the garbage handling is neither proper, timely, nor appropriately disposed. Poverty alleviation and beauty appreciation courses and enhancement programmes will go a long way in this regard, as will landscaping guidelines in rural and urban management agencies, state-of-the-art equipments, and training of manpower. These are amongst those not-so-easy part of what we have to do to keep India clean.
Mr Prime Minister, I hope this little well-meaning piece is not taken amiss. We all have supported you whole-heartedly and continue to hold heaps of good wishes for you and your government’s success at all those people-centric goals and nation-centred vision you have shared with us. It is because we wish to see you succeed that I am compelled to address this letter to you. For, I have a sense that few will or dare to be seen as kind of a spoilsport.
And, Sir, because the big ticket and well-publicised deeds of yours will mean little to the man in the street if the delivered values he receives from goods and service providers, in both private and public sectors, remain as before … in cost and quality of cereals and vegetables he buys, the house he obtains, the justice he is meted, the water he drinks, the electricity he consumes, the utility gadgets he needs, and the air he breathes. None of which can be improved by mere symbolism.
The need is to establish a convergence and define our agreed social values and to ground an organisation appropriate to each, both executive and regulatory. The processes for each primary, secondary and tertiary deliverables need to be defined and monitored; infrastructure needs to be put in place; equipments and training needs to be provided.
We have all along believed that these are the matters uppermost in your concerns. There would be ample opportunities for public relation exercises, once we have moved some distance along delivering those goals.