The trickle-down of five shaktis

Pradip Shah | Updated on March 23, 2011

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Across industry, services and agriculture, Gujarat's year-on-year growth for five years in a row has been over 11 per cent. 

The greatest achievement of Mr Narendra Modi is that he has revived the wilted hopes of Gujaratis, and all Indians everywhere, that the government can do good; and he has shown how it should be done.

He has also shown other leaders in India that development can trickle down to the people and those people will express their support in the elections.

We see Mr Nitish Kumar in Bihar following the development plank successfully, and even Ms Mayawati seems to be taking that line now. The talk on development has to be followed up with action that reaches and benefits the people — the way it has in Gujarat.

Mr Modi started with economic development, but today he speaks only of the Human Development Index and of the environment. That is the progress we wish to see from economic development. He has successfully combined the finesse of a politician to communicate with the masses and the reality of governance. Let us look at how his five-point programme turned into action and made Gujarat truly vibrant.

Gyan Shakti: When he spoke of the power of knowledge, in addition to schools, education and infrastructure, he also took the initiative to make his own employees aware of the fact that governance needs to serve, starting from the peon to the Chief Minister.

Urja Shakti: Without power, not just growing the economy would be impossible, but life in its entirety would get affected. How would children study at home without light? How would farmers improve yields without electricity? He went out and got electricity into 18,128 villages in three years.

Jal Shakti: Harnessing and management of water is a key issue. Mr Modi walked the talk, and over 2 lakh water bodies were created. The gap was identified, and then was pursued into action with characteristic aggression. The Gujarat government didn't lose sight of the fact that the ultimate salvation for our 6 lakh villages is through minor irrigation projects.

Jan Shakti: This was about empowering the people through the responsiveness of the Government. Starting with computerisation of village panchayats and going all the way up to evening courts and online redressal; he set up Lok Adalats for an alternative redress system that settled a million cases in one year.

Raksha Shakti: This didn't just deal with physical security, but sought to ensure social and economic security. Gujarat has built a formidable capacity to manage disasters. Mr Modi was exposed to this in his early days in office as Chief Minister, through the rebuilding efforts that followed the earthquake in the State.

The five-point programme sounded like a politician's speech when announced. Yes, it was a politician speaking, but also one who backed it with action. These were not just statements. From environmental issues such as use of minimum natural resources to maximise output, to issues such as maternal mortality and school dropout rate, there has been a tangible improvement in the State.

The school dropout rate for girl children in Gujarat dropped from 49 per cent to about 3 per cent in five years. He's on a mission to ensure that the rural masses get 100 per cent electricity.

Across industry, services and agriculture, Gujarat's year-on-year growth for five years in a row has been over 11 per cent. Those are results for all to see.

At the end of the day, what Mr Modi has achieved in Gujarat revives the hope that an elected, democratic government can empower people, improve life, while riding the wave of development.

Gujarat has always been a progressive State, so all the credit for its success story should not perhaps go to Mr Modi alone. But his principles-based system of governance has ensured that while the State continues on its growth path — with a greater sense of vibrancy — the burden of governance on the poor is reduced. More than all the numbers, he can be a role model for leaders in India and across the world.

(As told to Gokul Krishnamurthy by the author, who is founder of IndAsia, a Corporate Finance and Private Equity Advisory. He was the only member from the private sector on the Gujarat State Finance Commission when it was set up in 1992, and was associated with some Committees set up by the Gujarat Government under Mr Narendra Modi.)

Published on March 23, 2011

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