As India celebrates 75 years of independence, it is time to remember the father of our Constitution, Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar, who gave wings to the dreams and aspirations of the weakest and poorest sections of our society. Although governments have contributed to nation building since independence, it was the Narendra Modi government that fulfilled the unfulfilled dreams of Babasaheb Ambedkar.
Today is also the birthday of our dear Prime Minister, with whom I have had a long and memorable association. I have seen him work as an organization man, chief minister and now as Prime Minister of India. Prime Minister Modi’s zeal and monumental work for uplifting the most oppressed and weak sections of our society – his concern for Dalits, Adivasis and women – impressed me the most. As a true disciple of Babasaheb, he endeavored to make India an egalitarian society.
Ambedkar’s influence on Modi is clearly visible in all his actions, programs and policies. He has always followed the path traced by Babasaheb. In the form of ‘Panchteerth’, PM Modi gave a gift to the nation and the world. It was Modi who not only decided to celebrate Babasaheb’s birth anniversary as ‘Samrasta Diwas’ but also gave India its Constitution Day on November 26. It was on the initiative of Prime Minister Modi that the United Nations celebrated the 125th anniversary of the birth of Babasaheb.
Two important actions of the Narendra Modi government which realize the unfulfilled missions of Babasaheb Ambedkar are the abolition of Article 370 and the establishment of Atmanirbhar Bharat.
Despite Ambedkar’s strong objections, Article 370 became part of our Constitution which blocked the integration of Jammu and Kashmir into India. It was through the commitment and willpower of Prime Minister Modi that Article 370 was repealed, which led to the unification of Jammu and Kashmir with India.
Prime Minister Modi has been working on a mission mode to create a strong and self-reliant India. Ambedkar knew that only an ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ can be a developed nation. Previous governments lacked the will and commitment to lead India on the path to self-reliance. It was PM Modi who started this course correction and showcased India’s prowess to the world. Today, the world recognizes our strength.
As President of India, whenever I used to interact with Prime Minister Modi regarding social issues and governance, it was the deep-rooted corruption in our system that worried him the most. . He used to say that it is the poor who suffer the most. Over the past eight years, we have seen Prime Minister Modi fight a decisive battle against corruption and ensure that the fruits of all government programs reach the poorest of the poor. Today, beneficiaries of government schemes receive money directly transferred to their accounts. All plans of the Narendra Modi government reflect compassion for the poorest of the poor.
Another area of deep concern for Prime Minister Modi is the control of our democratic system by dynasty politics. He always expressed how the politics of the dynasty usurped the rights of genuine political workers and workers. First as an organizer, later as Chief Minister of Gujarat and now as Prime Minister, Narendra Modi has always promoted leaders and workers based on merit. The war he waged against dynastic politics has already begun to show its impact. Politics based on merit – not DNA – will make our democracy more vibrant and stronger.
The democratization of the Padma Awards characterizes the Modi style of governance. From being awards that looked like ‘foreign considerations’ for the wealthy class, the Padma awards have now regained their lost connection to the ‘aam aadmi’. These awards are now specifically dedicated to those who are grounded and down to earth.
I would also like to mention two of the important initiatives of the Narendra Modi government which have written a new chapter of growth and development in the most backward areas and impacted the lives of those at the bottom of the pyramid – the Aspirational District program and the Adarsh Gram Yojna. It is PM Modi’s unique quality of thinking outside the box, his impeccable planning and flawless execution has brought about tangible change in the lives of the poorest. Several social protection schemes are good examples. Most important, perhaps, is the Pradhanmantri Gareeb Kalyan Anna Yojna, the world’s largest free ration program which benefited over 80 million people as Indians valiantly fought the Covid-19 pandemic.
I have seen firsthand how Prime Minister Modi has led India’s fight against the deadly virus from the front lines. It was through his leadership and encouragement that our scientists and doctors managed to develop not one but two made in India vaccines which not only gave us safety blanket but also helped several others nations. The Prime Minister undertook the colossal task of vaccinating over 100 million Indians when the pandemic was at its peak, launching the largest and fastest vaccination program in the world. When Covid crippled developed countries, PM Modi strengthened and expanded our health infrastructure. Through his timely policy initiatives, the Prime Minister has also ensured that our economic growth is not stifled.
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The last eight years under Prime Minister Modi have been remarkable. He draws inspiration from several leaders, but the imprint of Babasaheb Ambedkar on his style of governance is omnipresent. I see PM Modi as a true follower of Bharat Ratna Ambedkar who used to say that Indianness is our true identity and to build a strong nation we must all rise above caste, belief and religion. Like BR Ambedkar, our Prime Minister has made “Nation First” his motto, while good governance, social cohesion and discipline are the watchwords of his government.
The writer is the former President of India