Rough Cut

Modi: Proud to be desi

Indian MOMmies and other thoughts from Narendra Modi.

 |  Rough Cut  |  3-minute read |   26-09-2014
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"Aaj Mangal ko MOM mil gayi."

The hallowed portals of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in Bangalore must have never heard such homespun witticisms before. But like much of the nation, they seemed to be delighted at the company they were in: with a name like MOM how could Mangalyaan fail, asked Modi.

All the space MOMmies at ISRO applauded in delight, which surely must have doubled when they saw pictures of themselves splashed across global newspapers the next day, as the world discovered (gasp!) that 20 per cent of ISRO scientists are women. (It's the same shock, horror, awe that is greeting stories about the ''badass"' woman Saudi fighter pilot, who CNN said this morning led the attack on ISIS.)

The prime minister has always been proud to be desi. He is desi in his inspirations and his aspirations. That was the theme of his speech in Bangalore and in Delhi Thursday, when he extolled the virtues of Make in India, calling for a new covenant between India and its industrialists. "We have suspected our own countrymen," he said, but now, "vishwas se shurun karenge", he assured them.And as he shouted out to Mukesh bhai from the podium (as in Mukesh Ambani, who had earlier run up to the stage to praise our beloved prime minister), it was clear that the ice of the first three months of Modi's government was melting.

After the initial show of star power at the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan, Modi has kept Indian industry at arm's length. There were rumours of ministers being upbraided for dining with titans, and all appointments were being said to be ruthlessly monitored by RSS-appointed officials in each minister's staff.

But finally, on the eve of his visit to USA, Modi decidedly changed the narrative of the last ten years. We need a new network, of the government, the job seeker, the academic and the industrialist, he told an assembly of powerful industrialists, ranging from Cyrus Mistry of Tata Group to Chanda Kochhar of ICICI.

Everything was designed to fire the desi pride - from the Ashok Chakra-inspired manufacturing wheel in the Make in India lion logo to the sari clad impresario of the entire event, our very own Super Mommy, Nirmala Sitharaman (another Super Mommy Smriti Irani was busy launching the Swachh Bharat Mission at a Kendriya Vidyalaya in Delhi).

There were other familiar tropes in the past two days:

1) There's no such thing as grand vision. There are big small changes, like self certification and cleanliness.

2) Democracy is not just the government's business. It's everyone's business: "sansad ke chaar diwaron se bahar, jan jan ke mann ko jagana hai."

3) FDI is necessary but so is First Develop India.

4) Effective governance is easy governance, where your entire knowledge can nestle in the palm of your hand.


Kaveree Bamzai Kaveree Bamzai @kavereeb

Consulting editor, India Today Group

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