The kind of reception accorded to the Indian prime minister at Madison Square Garden (MSG) is generally reserved for rock stars. He was able to captivate the minds and hearts of millions of Indians, both in India and abroad, especially in the US. Mr Modi’s oratorical skills are often compared with those of President Barack Obama. His speech at the UN General Assembly was that of a statesman. He skilfully avoided his talk becoming Pakistan-centric, as he wanted to present himself as a statesman rather than a politician. Mr Nawaz Sharif’s speech, on the other hand, was India-centric. He, unfortunately, completely failed to make an impact on the audience.
However, notwithstanding the brouhaha created at MSG, Mr Modi has a task cut out for himself as the Indian economy lags far, far behind that of China. When we compare the progress made by India and China, stark realities stare us in the face. In 1950, India had a distinct edge over China in terms of economic development. Now, China has far outstripped India in terms of economic growth and has become a force to be reckoned with. Today, countries like India need aggressive measures and policies to steer them into becoming economic superpowers, something many people believe can only be achieved through decisive leadership. However, change has to come from the bottom and not just in the government, which can only be achieved when voting is done based on pure merit and not on other factors such as caste and religion. I feel that Indian voters have matured a lot during the last 56 years and will vote for the candidate who can deliver rather than his ethnic, caste and religious background. Over 800 million voters exercised their franchise in this election. They had the power to bring the best party into power.
Indians are betting on the leadership of Mr Narendra Modi to rescue the country from the economic morass it finds itself in today. The groundswell of support for Mr Narendra Modi is largely due to his able administrative capability that was seen by the way he transformed Gujarat into a high growth economy.
Unfortunately, Mr Modi has many detractors who feel that he will destroy the social fabric of India by his non-inclusive policies. The unfortunate riots of 2002, where hundreds of people belonging to the minority Muslim community were killed, are claimed by many as being state-sponsored. The ruling Congress Party had instilled fear in the minds of this minority with their propaganda that Mr Modi is a divisive leader and would pursue anti-minority policies. The people belonging to the minority community are apprehensive of his leadership but, at the same time, are hopeful that he will adopt an inclusive policy that will take all people, irrespective of their religious dispensation, along with him.
Having closely watched his leadership, I feel that he will not only transform the Indian economy by improving infrastructure like roads, power plants and transportation but will take initiatives in setting up manufacturing facilities in India. He will engage with countries like China to forge better relations and mutual cooperation. The warm welcome accorded to the Chinese president reflects his desire to build good neighbourly relations with China, Myanmar, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. He will take all steps possible to improve ties with Pakistan. His approach has already yielded rich dividends as countries like Japan and China have promised over $ 60 billion investment in various developmental projects like roads, transportation, power plants and other similar projects. Mr Modi is assiduously trying to find out-of-the-box solutions to end the border conflict through meaningful dialogue with China. This is a great opportunity for Pakistan to settle its border disputes with India. The problem of Kashmir can be taken up once the trust deficit between the countries is overcome. In this regard, the Pakistan army should support Mr Sharif’s efforts towards building good relations with India, as such relations can prove to be mutually beneficial to the people of both countries.