Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not only carved a niche for himself but has rewritten the rules of the game in the world polity today. How could he manage to do that, that too in such a short span of time? Till a few years ago, Modi was just another name. Now it has become a brand. If you closely look, it is becoming clearer that he is not an individual anymore but has acquired the status of an icon. When an individual becomes an icon, he acquires an inherent strength to get into something which is unknown. A normal person, when he has to cross a water channel, thinks hundred times. Before venturing into the water, he fears so many things, most importantly he fears the unknown. But here is a man who never hesitates to jump into a deep well, without exactly knowing how deep it is and without fearing the consequences, a trait is never seen before in the history of the Indian polity since independence.
Demonetization was not an easy decision to make for Modi. I would like to recall an instance very honestly, when a junior colleague, who works in Mumbai, telephoned me in June orJuly last year and said, “Sir, there is a buzz in the share market that high value notes of Rs500 and 1000 denomination are going to be scrapped very soon.” I chastised him for making such a nonsense remark and said that people will come on roads to protest against such a foolish move. India is a cash-loving country and our economy runs on cash. But on 8 November, when I heard the address of the Prime Minister to the nation, I felt he has needlessly invited a big trouble for himself. But as the time passed and new set of rules were announced, the decision of demonetization proved to be a masterstroke. The way Prime Minister monitored the situation arising out of demonetization on daily basis and paid attention to even the minutest of details, proved how astute and incisive he was at executing such a big and risky decision that was not possible for other prime ministers in the past. He was like a CEO (Chief Executive Officer) of a multinational company working round the clock to ensure that the decision is implemented fully in letter and spirit. High-value currency notes became pieces of paper overnight. The entire opposition started crying foul and vehemently opposed the move to demonetise high-value currency notes, citing numerous reasons, more importantly, large-scale inconvenience to the general public. There was murmur even within the ranks of the BJP against the decision but eventually PM prevailed and the world saw that it was a successful execution of a very complicated decision pulled off by the sheer confidence and will power of Modi.
I must here mention that Venezuelan government had to take back the decision to demonetize higher notes after hue and cry from the public. But here in India there was not a single protest and demonstration all across the country against the decision to demonetize Rs500 and Rs1000 notes. It proved to be such a popular move that a small section of people who voiced their anger against the inconvenience were taught a lesson by the public themselves. The successful implementation of the demonetisation and later remonetisation has made Modi in the eyes of the public a driver of change.
It also established him in the minds of the people as a leader who could take the boldest of decision in the larger interest of masses. This was reaffirmed in the state of Uttar Pradesh where BJP achieved such an astounding victory that even the poll pundits had least expected. People reaffirmed their faith in Modi as the biggest decision maker of the century. The way Modi unleashed a battle against black-money and corruption catapulted him into a world leader who has mastered the art of disruptive innovation to capture the imagination of the masses. The way different agencies of the government worked during demonetisation and are working now without fear or favour, is a result of the policies and programmes initiated by the Modi government. As we know in Mahabharata, Lord Krishna had said that it is an individual who brings a revolution and the society follows it.
Now the Prime Minister, by his ability to take bold decision and stick to it, has shown that he is the individual who can bring in a revolution, who does not worry about the criticism and opposition that comes his way. Modi is experiencing the same impediments that once Mustafa Kamal Pasha, the reformist leader of Turkey, had experienced during the rebuilding of nation. When Pasha, after taking over the reins, said that he has a vision to rebuild Turkey, he was vehemently opposed, but that was only a small section of people. The masses were with him. When Pasha introduced educational reforms and decided to remove Arabic and Persian language, then in vogue, asked his ministers how long it will take to replace the two languages with the Roman one, most of the ministers said 5 to 10 years. Then Pasha said he is going to introduce Roman script from right now. The quick and stunning decision of Pasha surprised everyone just like Modi’s decision to demonetise high-value notes.
Pasha shook Turkey again by another decision that nobody in the country would sport long hair and beard. Those with long hair and beard seen on the road were subjected to haircut. Those who opposed the move were penalised. This decision was also criticised but the public was with him. But on the whole Kamal Pasha’s reformist agenda created a new Turkey. It is the only Muslim country in the world which remained with Europe and is even today an ally against the fight with Islamic State. The way our Prime Minister has initiated reforms to rebuild new India, reminds us of the reforms introduced by Turkey’s Pasha. He is redefining the rules of the game with innovative ideas which clearly establishes him as a brand Modi. He is heading a government which is in full majority in parliament, but still he keeps fighting everyday to make his point across to everyone. Sometimes it seems he is sitting in opposition, but he is the government. He draws a bigger line each time to set a new goal for himself and the others to achieve. Rules of the game are broken or challenged everyday and replaced with new sets of rules creating uncomfortable situation for those who hitherto took things for granted or are not ready to adapt to the new normal.
It is well known that the new values introduced by the Prime Minister have definitely caused serious heartburn to those with puritanical views and are not ready to embrace new ideas. Making a surprise visit to Pakistan on way from Kabul to New Delhi; not hesitating to visit Paris even after the terror attack; holding a road show in Varanasi defying the security apparatus; addressing rallies in many countries including US, Australia and UAE; talking for hours on radio and television without any script clearly distinguishes him from his predecessors. This also shows his energy level and ability to work harder, which is unmatched in Indian polity today. This is why he has become a brand on which not only India but the whole world believes in.