Billionaire investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala explains why he thinks Modi should be at the helm of India.
Syed Firdaus Ashraf listens in.
Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, the Big Bull of the Indian stock market, has put his weight behind Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi and wants him to occupy the PM's office once again in 2019.
"When you have a young society, you have the highest growth rate. America grew the most during the baby boomer period. It was a favourable period for America. And now, we have the same favourable period till 2050. Therefore, I feel it is very important that Prime Minister Narendra Modi gets re-elected in 2019," Jhunjhunwala told a gathering at the Indian Merchant Chambers in Mumbai on Wednesday, December 19.
Amid cheers and applause, Jhunjhunwala said, "Modiji and our late prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri are the only two PMs who have seen poverty. Modiji knows what it means for a woman to cook on a chullah and how it affects her lungs and eyes."
Without naming the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, Jhunjhunwala said, "And today, see the same woman cooks food on LPG. So I don't think our country is not progressing. Yes, you can say it is not progressing as it should be, but it is progressing."
PMUY, one of the Modi government's most ambitious projects, promises gas connections to 50 million homes across the country by 2019.
The scheme provides financial support of Rs 1,600 for each LPG connection to Below the Poverty Line households, interest free loans to buy a stove and refill.
The administrative cost of Rs 1,600 per connection -- which includes a cylinder, pressure regulator, booklet, safety hose, etc -- is borne by the government.
When asked about growing inequality in India society, the billionaire said, "Today my servant Ramu has a mobile phone through which he speaks daily to his wife. 10 years ago, he could not do that. 25 years ago there was no electricity in many households, but today there is."
"There were no toilets in many houses too, but today there are. No democratic society can survive if the poor does not flourish. We spend around Rs 2 lakh crore a year on social programmes."
"If between 1950 and 1960 we grew by 2%, between 1960 and 1970 we grew by 3% and between 1970 and 1980 we grew by 4%. What does this show? We are growing, but we can do much better,: Jhunjhunwala said.
"In 1967 we had to beg for wheat from America. Now we have plenty of food grain, vegetables and fruits in the country. So we are progressing."
Commenting on his own success, Jhunjhunwala said, "I started in the stock market with Rs 5,000 when I was 24 years old. I would never have made money if India as a country had not grown. My prosperity was not possible without India's prosperity."
Asked what worries him most about India, he said without missing a beat, "I see no dents in the India story. I don't think anything can dent the India story."
"The only thing that worries me is Pakistan's nuclear bomb. It is a failed State with nuclear weapons."
"The India story is based on skills. Societies grow because they consist of people with skills. We are a democratic country. Why does Africa does not grow? Because it has military rule with crony capitalism. We have a functioning democracy."