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Modi is also India’s Social Reformer-in-Chief

By The SATimes News Service

By Jagdish Sewhani

President, American India Public Affairs Committee
Narendra Damodardas Modi, the 14th Prime Minister of India, will go into the annals of India’s history as a leader who laid the foundation of a “Sarva Shaktimaan Bharat,” an India that is respected by all, feared by none except for the demons.

At the crux of this India is the social reforms he has quietly unleashed in the last six years of his reign. These critical reforms have been implemented at a scale and speed unmatched in India for hundreds of years.

Be it the triple talaq issue, women’s empowerment, girl education, the nationwide cleanliness drive or poverty alleviation, Narendra Bhai, as we fondly call him, is the first PM in independent India who has carried out such large-scale social reforms. Unlike several of his predecessors  whose social reforms were merely driven by slogans like “Garibi Hatao” or “Roti, Kapda aur Makan,” or politicization of reservation, Modiji has let his actions and policies do most of the talking.

Not many leaders would have the courage to talk about building toilets from the the Red Fort on the very first I-Day address to the nation. Every step of his term as PM shows how much he cares about the common man in India and his dedication to their livelihood. The results of opening bank accounts for the poor in a matter of months are  there for all to see. They are not only receiving money directly into their bank accounts, but are also saving money and using it judiciously to better the lot of their families. The endemic corruption in the distribution of subsidies is now a thing of the past.

I have had the privilege of knowing Narendra Bhai from the time when he was a BJP leader and used to visit America. What struck me the most was his passion for the common man and his care for the poor. He was always curious about Americans’ living standards and societal structures, probing for answers to improve the lives of the poorest of the poor in his beloved country.

Modiji understood the importance of cleanliness— “Swachhata” —both inside and outside. This was the genesis of Swachh Bharat Mission. Millions of toilets were built in his first term as PM. Yes, India has a long way to go, but the mission has reached a level that would have been unimaginable before 2014.

The Modi government has prioritized providing subsidized gas cylinders in rural areas and access to electricity around the clock across India. Because of him, millions of lives are better every single day. His next mission is providing housing and clean drinking water to all. These initiatives, along with access to skilled education, employment opportunities and fiber optics internet is going to propel India’s growth story for decades to come.

His health care plan, the largest ever in the world, is a cornerstone of his social reforms. And as we all know there is no wealth without health.

By all standards, Modiji has transformed India for the better. For example, a huge swath of women in India were suffering for decades because of triple talaq. But no more. They have now been given the dignity and respect they deserve.

At a time when India’s economy is experiencing a record contraction due to Covid-19  pandemic, the social reforms put into motion by the popular prime minister would have a multiple impact on the country’s economic growth. Narendra Bhai, who considers the 1.3 billion people of India as his family, is not only a social reformer, but also a protector -in-chief.

As someone who is based in New York, the global financial capital and home to the United Nations, I know India is blessed to have finally a decisive leader like Modi. India is safe and secure under his leadership. I believe this decade and century belongs to India. Under his leadership India will emerge as a global power – Vishwa Guru. And in this his socio-economic reforms would play a big role.

Jagdish Sewhani
President, American India Public Affairs Committee 

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