In An Interview With Dhara Vasavada Of The Namoleague Times, The `Common Man’, Shri Narendra Modi, Shared His Views About Gujarat, Its Growth Strategies And Some Of His Experiences On What It Was Like To Be The Chief Minister Of A Progressive And Enviable State.

In October of this year, you will complete a decade in office as the CM of Gujarat. What has the journey been like, so far, as a CM and as a Common Man?

It will not be appropriate if I analyze myself. It would be better if people analyze my work. If winning elections is a measure of success, we are continuously receiving the support of people and winning the elections. If we measure success in terms of various other parameters, Gujarat is progressing on all the parameters – be it revenue, financial discipline, GDP, agricultural growth, industrial investment, youth employment, welfare of poor etc. Gujarat is achieving remarkable success in all the sectors. On the other hand, when I came to power, Gujarat was covered amidst the black shadow of an earthquake. It was our priority to work for the earthquake victims. According to a World Bank report, even developed countries require 7 years to recover from the havoc created by an earthquake. But, Gujarat was a state which re-established itself within 3 years. Today that very earthquake struck Kutch district is one of the fastest developing districts of India So, in a way this government is dedicated to progress. I am satisfied that we have been successful in fulfilling all the promises that we had made.

In October of this year, you will complete a decade in office as the CM of Gujarat. What has the journey been like, so far, as a CM and as a Common Man?

It will not be appropriate if I analyze myself. It would be better if people analyze my work. If winning elections is a measure of success, we are continuously receiving the support of people and winning the elections. If we measure success in terms of various other parameters, Gujarat is progressing on all the parameters – be it revenue, financial discipline, GDP, agricultural growth, industrial investment, youth employment, welfare of poor etc. Gujarat is achieving remarkable success in all the sectors.

On the other hand, when I came to power, Gujarat was covered amidst the black shadow of an earthquake. It was our priority to work for the earthquake victims. According to a World Bank report, even developed countries require 7 years to recover from the havoc created by an earthquake. But, Gujarat was a state which re-established itself within 3 years. Today that very earthquake struck Kutch district is one of the fastest developing districts of India So, in a way this government is dedicated to progress. I am satisfied that we have been successful in fulfilling all the promises that we had made.

Gujarat’s high growth has often invited comparisons with the world’s fastest growing nation, China. It must be a matter of great satisfaction that the state has grown at more than 10% in the last decade (2001-02 to 2010-11). What according to you are the reasons behind this success?

It is a fact, that moving upwards is not difficult. When you are standing down, you can easily look up. But, when you are already running around 10% then it is very difficult to maintain the position. But, Gujarat has done it and the reason is our development model which is divided into three parts:
– 1/3rd Agricultural sector
– 1/3rd service sector
– 1/3rd industrial sector
The balance between all the three sectors is attracting growth.
Secondly, the state government is very proactive and this has created an investor friendly environment. The Global Summit has also attracted the world. However, there are several other examples that speak about the success of Gujarat.

The Panchamrut Programme began in 2001 immediately after you became the CM of Gujarat. What was the inspiration and objective behind the initiative?
There are various sectors that help in the development of a region. I have articulated those sectors in the form of Panchamrut philosophy like:

– Gyan Shakti
– Jal Shakti
– Jan Shakti
– Urja Shakti
– Raksha Shakti

There is nothing that is beyond these five shaktis. If things are well defined, it becomes easy for the team to work. I believe that a true leader is the one who visualizes and executes things with clarity. This is how it becomes helpful for the team to work hand in hand.

Over the years, the Vibrant Gujarat Summit has emerged as a premier global business meet, attracting huge investments to Gujarat and is becoming a role model for other progressive states. What was the thinking behind such a grand vision?

There was a weird system going on in our country that gave rise to negative competition among states. The states competed for incentives. There was a time when one state said that we would provide a relaxation for 5 incentives; the other would say that we would give for 7, whereas some would give tax benefits. The `relaxation’ competition started in India. We decided that we would not provide any relaxation but we would provide a development friendly environment. I asked people to visit Gujarat and work here if they found it fit.
Secondly, we focused on peaceful and skilled labor. We found ways where we could lower the cost of production and provide better infrastructure. We thought of all such things as transportation, water, electricity etc. and worked out a strategy. We told people that we would not provide any relaxations, they could come here and work if they deemed it fit. Our strategy became successful. People understood the logic that they would get a development friendly environment, hurdles would reduce and time saved.
Over and above, I also brought changes in agriculture. Earlier, agriculture led to a fight for electricity. Every farmer used to ask for it. I said that a farmer needs water and not electricity. I shifted their focus from electricity to water. The unnecessary fights ended and ultimately it helped agriculture. I believe that it is the work of a leader, to visualize things, find out flaws and make people walk with you.

Gujarat was made the SEZ capital of India, what was the idea behind that? Infrastructure has always been Gujarat’s strong point. How does SIR (Special Investment Regions) help in overall growth and development?

SEZ laws were made by the central government. It was made for export purposes. Later, things changed and SEZs became irrelevant. Gujarat was the first state that made laws for SEZ. But now, Gujarat has moved ahead of SEZ. Its focus now is SIR (Special Investment Region). We are focusing on 6 SIRs and are going to create 6 modern and industrial SIR cities like Dholera and Dahej.
For development and overall growth by SEZs and SIRs, I would like to give an example of Korea. South Korea was considered to be a poor and undeveloped country. It got independence after India. The ruler of Korea decided to construct a road in the middle of the country. It was surprising that a poor country was spending crores just to build a road. But, the vision behind that road changed the entire country. Today, it is one of the most developed countries. So, infrastructure is one of the reasons of development. Hence, with a futuristic approach one should give priority to infrastructure. Infrastructure is neither dead investment nor is it a foe of the poor. Development with a vision is always good for the economy.

A vision is required for development. Gujarat started to work on electricity and we are creating a surplus in electricity. Like infrastructure during olden days, we do not stop at constructing bus stops, roads, ports etc. We keep in mind the development of 21st century. For eg. optical fiber network is a very big facet of development. Gujarat is the 2nd largest in the world in terms of optical fiber. In the same way, we are the only state in the world with a 2200 kms gas grid. All these are new faces of infrastructure. We use satellites for connectivity these days which wasn’t developed in the olden days. All these are new areas of infrastructure that we are working upon.

What do you have to say about Public-Private Participation (PPP) in infrastructure?

If the policy is clear and if the investors feel that the policies will sustain, they will get ready to take risks. I would like to mention a recent incident where a road was constructed and the government got a profit of 1600 crores apart from the construction of the road. The company filed the tender saying that they would build the road and share their profits with the government. It happened for the first time in our country that the road was being constructed by a private company and government was getting paid for the same.

Even though a superpower, America is facing an economic meltdown. Can Gujarat take steps to insulate itself from such global economic shocks?

The world has already seen a phase of recession from 2007 to 2009. It affected all states except Gujarat. The main reason was the strategy of Gujarat. Gujarat used the model of low cost and high efficiency. We felt that we could give good results if we had low cost of labor, high efficiency and zero defects. Our strategy worked and even during recession Gujarat is growing.

Gujarat has been a top level performer in the Centre’s 20-point programme for the poor and backward. Can Gujarat’s model of all inclusive development be an inspiration for other states?

The Central government started the 20-point programme. It is reviewed every three months. I am happy to announce that Gujarat is giving more than 100% and is considered one of the best states in this regard. Moreover, in the entire country, NDA regulated states only are doing well when it comes to 20-point programme.

Innovative schemes like Chiranjivi Yojna, Jyotigram Yojna etc. have been commended at both national and international levels. How do you encourage such out-of-the-box thinking for social change?

I am a person attached to the land. I am attached with the sorrows and happiness of people. I do not belong to a royal family, nor am I a son of some minister or a Sarpanch. I belong to an ordinary family and hence I know the sorrows of people. When you know their problems, you automatically get the solutions. It is my passion to solve the problems of the poor. That’s how new programmes are made. I try to institutionalize them and try to attach more and more people to them, be it Chiranjivi Yojna, Jyotigram Yojna, 108, battle for cattle etc. Gujarat has been able to eradicate 112 cattle diseases by taking up continuous health camp for the cattle.

Besides economic growth and social transformation, Gujarat has taken great strides in environment and climate change. Could you comment on your development model of combining government intervention with community participation?

Gujarat is the 4th government in the world and the 1st in India to have a climate change department. We have been continuously working for environmental friendly development and that’s how we became the solar capital of the country. We are also leading in renewable energy. Gujarat has done a commendable job in water conservation and tree plantation. We have brought a change in transportation in no time by introducing CNG service. Ahmedabad, which was one of the most polluted cities, is now being considered amongst the top three cities. Hence, tough decisions and healthy environment do make things possible.
I strongly believe that the government can prosper only if it gets the co-operation of people. Make development a movement. Environment is not made by laws. We should feel for the conservation of nature and take steps for that.

The Swarnim Gujarat (Golden Jubilee of Gujarat’s formation) celebrations ended with a bang this year. How do you foresee Gujarat in the next five years?

Gujarat has rapidly progressed in the past ten years. The speed, with which it has grown over the past years, will increase during the coming years. Last decade has seen a variety of changes, the coming years will see even more. Earlier, it was difficult to get the trust of people, whereas in the coming years the people will have full trust hence they will work for progress in coming years. Earlier, it was difficult to promote girl child education, now in every household people feel that girls should be educated. Such changes will benefit a lot.

Young people tend to get disillusioned by politics. What are your views on the youth getting into politics? Can the political process be improved to encourage grassroot excellence and attract the talented?

In our country, the current model of politics is not fit for the youth. It is a model where the son of a minister enters politics. The country needs someone from a non political family only then development will strengthen. New families should enter politics. The young generation should enter, only then we will get a new atmosphere and new thoughts for development. For that purpose, we need to encourage people. Youth from political families do not help much because he they enter with the same thought process. But if fresh blood comes with an aim to do something for the country, then they can make a great difference.

You have been voicing your support for the anti-corruption movement of recent times. What can we as ordinary individuals and citizens do to further it?

There is a saying in Sanskrit, “Rashtrayam Jagrayam Vayam” (Eternal Vigilance is the price of liberty.) The matter of corruption is also the same. Hatred of corruption should take root in the minds of the people. Corruption should be abhorred. The easy going way of getting work done through bribes should be abolished. If such hatred is created, the one who gives and the one who takes, both will be put to shame. Such an environment should be brought in, only then corruption can be abolished.

You engaged in social service from a very early age. Could you throw some light on those days? How important is the spirit of social service for someone entering politics?

I have always had the honor to work for the people. I used to reach wherever the need was felt. Actually, I used to read Shri Vivekanandji during my childhood. Hence, I have always felt that I should live for the country and should do something for the society.

Regarding the spirit, it is not necessary for everyone to have the same kind of spirit. Even the degree of spirit varies from person to person. But, atleast a feeling for the nation and society is very important. Each and everyone should have a dedication for the country. The greatest inspiration is to feel the pain of others.
“लेना, पाना, बनना, यह अगर प्रेरणा है तो वो लोगों का काम नहीं कर सकता है. वो खुद का ही करता है. ” (If to take, to achieve and to be is the inspiration, then one can never work for the people. He works for himself.) People who come with such mentality do not help in the betterment of the country. We need people who believe in giving.

As a youth, you faced many odds and obstacles. Can you talk a little about them? How did you convert them into opportunities and positive actions?

I have never counted challenges and have never dreamt of happiness. For a person who has a habit of staying hungry, won’t find it difficult if he does not get food for a day. For him, it’s a routine. My life was also the same. I have faced a lot of hardships. But all these are the troubles in the eyes of others. People like me, are brought up amidst this, so these are not challenges for us. We face them and easily live them.

Could you please narrate the incident when you unfurled the national flag at Lal Chowk in Kashmir around 1990?

During those days, the terrorists used to burn and tear our national flag. It had become their routine to walk on our national flag and insult our country. BJP decided to speak against this insult by unfurling the national flag at Lal Chowk. Dr. Murlimanohar Joshi, the national leader of BJP during those days, took charge of the movement. It was decided that I would organize the entire journey. I got the opportunity to carry the national flag from Kanyakumari to Kashmir. The flag that we carried was given by the family members of Bhagatsingh, Rajguru and Sukhdev. We unfurled the national flag at Lal Chowk in Srinagar. At that moment, the terrorists were showering missiles and bullets. I told the press that earlier when we used to unfurl the national flag on August 15, the Indian arms and army used to respect the national flag, but today the Pakistani arms are respecting our national Flag.

What message would you give to the namoleague team?

I am thankful to all the members of namoleague for staying in touch, indirectly though. You all care for my problems and happiness. You congratulate me for all good things and pray during my trials and tribulations. I will try to fulfill all your dreams and expectations. I pray to God to provide me enough strength so that I can work for Gujarat and 6 crore Gujaratis.

– Shree Narendra Modi, Chief Minister, Gujarat.

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