In an unprecedented event in the afternoon of April 15 2015, Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper flew with Prime Minister Modi from Ottawa to Toronto in a replacement plane sent by Air India. Mr Stephen Harper, along with his wife Laureen Harper dressed in a full sari, introduced Modi to 10,000 fans chanting Mo-di, Mo-di at the Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto. In his brief introductory comments, Prime Minister Harper said his government noticed leadership qualities of Mr Modi when he was the chief minister of Gujarat and has been partnering with him long before other national governments and leaders.
At the outset Modi begun with the same lecture notes and popular rhetoric that he used at Madison Square in New York and Allphones Arena in Sydney. His popular punches included India’s sound democracy, demographic dividend in the form of youth, massive consumer power, skilled workforce, and the genius of Mangalyaan mission. However, as he made progress in his speech, Modi gave updates on his current trip, highlighted key achievements by his government so far, and perhaps first time he elaborated on his development vision for India.
Secured access to nuclear technology and material: India begged for advanced nuclear technology and material for the last four decades but it did not yield any significant outcome. After the Pokhara-1 testing for development of nuclear weapons in 1974, all developed countries suspected India’s capacity and intention to use nuclear technology for peace and development. Modi taunted world leaders, indirectly pointing towards the Canadian Prime Minister sitting on the platform, and reassured the world that there is no reason to suspect the nation founded on Mahatma Gandhi’s values of peace and non-violence. India has never provoked any war or colonized any nation in the world in its history. Modi achieved two important milestones during this three nation’s visit. First, he signed a technology transfer agreement with the French President Francois Hollande that will help India to make a nuclear reactor. Second, he signed an agreement with the Government of Canada that will ensure steady supply of uranium, at least for the next five years. These two significant bilateral agreements will help India achieve its goal of becoming self-reliant in clean energy and reducing greenhouse gasses.
Positive shift in Jan-man: Most of the achievements which Mr Modi highlighted were in the form of either launching new schemes or removing old acts of license raj. However, later he provided details of his Jan-Dhan Yojna (People Money Scheme) where he promised to provide banking services to poor who cannot even afford the deposit for opening a bank account. Modi announced Jan-Dhan scheme in his landmark speech on August 15 from the Red Fort and promised to implement it within 100 days. Despite initial cynicism of experts from the Reserve Bank of India, Ministry of Finance, and his own office for his ambitious timeline of 100 days for implementing the scheme, Modi firmly mobilized public, cooperative, and private banks to go door-to-door and offer banking services to the poor. Modi attributed this spectacular success of opening bank accounts for 14 million poor in 3 months to positive change in the people’s attitude (Jan-Man) in India. He said, in May 2014 when he took the oath as a Prime Minister, only the government was changed. After 10 months of his leadership, Jan-Man has changed across every sector of the government and society, be it rich or poor. These newly enrolled 14 million beneficiaries or clients of the bank services are not required to deposit a penny for opening their bank accounts. He thundered, “even the disempowered poor have displayed great confidence in his government by depositing 140 billion rupees in their bank accounts that were officially classified as “zero deposit accounts” in the bank system.”
Modi’s Development philosophy: Modi described his development vision, beyond his usual anti-Malthusian rhetoric of Yuva-dhan and focus on their skills development, comprised of four specific revolutions: Saffron, Green, White and Blue. Symbolically, each revolution represents one of the four colours found in India’s national flag. First, the Saffron revolution is about becoming self-reliant in the energy sector by producing clean and renewable energy from wind, solar, hydro, and nuclear sources. Second, Modi described as the green revolution, especially focused in Eastern India where agricultural productivity is very low. Unlike the first-generation or older version of chemical intensive green revolution, this will be judged on its ability to produce crop per drop of water used. Third, increasing productivity of dairy animals and making each rural household self reliant in their nutrition requirements, especially milk and protein. Fourth, he mentioned keeping blue sky and ocean pristine, by controlling air pollution and unsustainable use of marine resources. The Make in India campaign has to ensure that it has zero defects and zero negative effects on the environment. Interestingly, instead of simply emphasizing productivity in each sector, Modi specifically highlighted sustainability of natural resources and the environment; including soil fertility and health, sustainability of marine resources and renewable resources. He also highlighted Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), with initial fund of 1.5 billion rupees (150 crore), announced in the last budget (2015-16) for supporting innovations and entrepreneurship in India.
Towards the end of his speech, Modi cautioned that the country is vast and the dirt has been gathered for decades, it will take time to clean (Desh vishal hai, Gandaki Bahut Hai and Purani Hai, Vakta lagega). Of course, people may ask how long? In the last 10 months, Modi visited 17 nations and is expected to visit at least China and Russia in the next couple of months. Would the change in Jan-man be enough for people to see the Achhe Din (good days) he promised? Maybe the time has come for Modi to take a break from foreign visits and focus on implementing his vision of the four revolutions on ground through the Niti Aayog (reformed planning commission).