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Just as in 2004, Modi will have to make a choice

By Gautam Rakshit
February 20, 2015 14:45 IST
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I do not understand Narendra Modi's mantra of  'development'. Specifically, I do not see many of his models as indicators of development that are relevant to me, says Gautam Rakshit.

In my opinion, the civil rights movement led by Anna Hazare, along with Arvind Kejriwal etc, gave the people of Delhi their first taste of what a powerful force they could become, if they came forward together, to fight for a just cause.

Since then, they had been waiting for a better alternative to the age-old parties that ruled, neglected and exploited Delhi for decades.

A better alternative that truly identified with their concerns wrt their daily lives, along with demonstrating a sincere willingness to address them.

I believe that the Aam Aadmi Party’s success is due to its efforts at awakening the citizenry of Delhi that a better alternative was indeed possible, indeed realisable even in the short term, if they only united to overthrow the corrupt and the glib. 

Thousands of young volunteers, working selflessly at the grass-root level -- inspired the residents of each mohalla to believe, that they and their children deserved a better quality of life today -- with cleaner non-corrupt administration, with safer streets, with easier commutes, with more down-to-earth prices, with greater fairness and transparency, with greater respect for law and order, and greater fellow feeling each other.

These volunteers also succeeded in reigniting the belief that the mohalla, the city, the state... indeed the nation, belonged to the ordinary citizen, and not to the arrogant powers that be, of the political, industrial, business, and mafia worlds.

They successfully conveyed their heartfelt belief, that the AAP led by Kejriwal was indeed the change vehicle that the citizens of Delhi, indeed the whole nation, was waiting for.

And in the process, they led the citizens of Delhi to a peaceful revolution, with the ballot as ammunition.

Indeed, I do believe that the Delhi election was nothing short of a people's revolution, waiting to happen. 

It succeeded because it was a tiny city-state -- easier to reach out to -- in comparison to the mega states of India. But having tasted success in the capital, I am convinced that the citizens of other states are just waiting for their turn.

With regard to the Bharatiya Janata Party, I admire Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his vision. I consider him to be wise, to be a man of utmost integrity. I agree with many of his goals -- every Indian should have a roof, a toilet, an education, a secure job. 

However, I do not agree with his path to achieve those goals. I do not understand his mantra of  'development'. Specifically, I do not see many of his models as indicators of development that are relevant to me. For example:

I do not want my town to become another soul less Singapore. (I'd be happy if it retains its vibrant diversity...if it were just better administered; with cleaner roads, parks, and beaches; with better lighting; with better and safer public transport; without thoughtless digging up of roads; without lawless development). 

I do not need or want a bullet train for my daily commute. (I want more and more punctual trains, cleaner toilets, and a place to sit or stand, without being pushed around). 

I do not need or want a Wal-Mart to sell me bananas from Bahamas. (I want the local produce economically transported to the market -- a market without the grime and the filth, where I can take my grandson, and get him to experience the banter and the vivacity of our local tradesmen and women).

I do not want to once again 'Make in India' for a greedy new set of neo-colonisers, just because we have cheap labour to offer -- as we so naively did for the British, who used us to grow their cotton, dig their mines, add value to their companies, and line their own coffers. (I want to develop my own home-grown technologies, relevant for my own people who are 1/6th of the world's population; organise my own capital; create value for the multitude of our citizens. So that we retain the 'added value' wealth that we create. So that we cease to see ourselves as 'indentured' labour -- manual or intellectual -- for the rest of the world).

I do not want our foreign exchange reserves to cross $300 billion due to higher and higher exports of our mangoes, prawns and pomfrets. (I would rather they be available to us at reasonable prices, so that our children can have them once a month. Our parents had them once a week!)

I do not want that my neighbourhood, my city, my country be taken over by the richie-rich, who think nothing of spending my month's earnings on one night out on the town, or of wearing a signature suit costing lakhs of rupees. (I want that our nation belong to the other 1.19 billion of us, who are less endowed with wealth or opportunities, than the elite 1.0 million who are with total impunity, lording it over us).

I do not want to see India shining. (I want to see Bharat rejuvenated.)

After the Delhi results, just as in 2004, Modi will have to make a choice. Whether he wants a 'Shining India' or a 'Rejuvenated Bharat'.

The people have already decided that they have had enough of 'Shining India'.

Image: Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Photograph: Kamal Singh/PTI Photo.

Gautam Rakshit runs an advertising agency and is past-president of Advertising Agencies Association of India.


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