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TIME TO DO WHAT SHOULD BE DONE

There is no denying the fact that Narendra Modi has done a lot of good work in Gujarat — so had Hitler in Germany — with their respective brands of focused approach and dictatorial style of working.

Hitler set in motion the juggernaut of his political rise by getting his ‘Brown Shirt’ goons to trash shops owned by Jews. Modi created a deep impact on the average Gujarati Hindu’s psyche by allegedly letting marauding crowds have a free run, killing hundreds of Muslims at Naroda Patiya, as revenge for the Godhra carnage.

While soon after World War I, Hitler scripted an unparalleled economic recovery, and forged the most awesome fighting machine to take over Europe, he ended up leading his country to a crushing defeat in World War II. But the rest of Modi’s story is yet to be scripted.

If he does become the prime minister, he may perhaps achieve wonders with his pragmatic no-nonsense approach and prod the economy to take off for a decade, if not more, or he may end up creating deeper religious, social and economic divisions, pushing the country into deep chaos.

However, with the unchecked population growth, which is at the root of most of the social unrest and conflicts between the haves and the have-nots (with family planning being considered politically incorrect), Modi’s priority has to be the creation of jobs — millions of them every year.

Ultimate risks

For that he needs to have all hands on the deck — private, public and, of course, foreign direct investments — which may cause some anxiety to local industries and involve the outflow of precious foreign exchange. But it would undoubtedly cause the local guys to become more competitive and to innovate. After all, the likes of Biyani and Reliance have already been in the retail business for years. Modi is expected to bring about a sea change in the way the country is run, sweeping away corruption, nepotism, inefficiency, ushering in an era of clean, transparent, honest administration; rewarding meritocracy, speeding up the delivery of his new bag of policies, bringing prosperity to one and all.

He may not only get the GDP growth to touch the magical figure of 10 per cent for the next five years, with an all-inclusive growth in which the minorities get a lion’s share, thereby helping Modi shed the anti-Muslim tag, he may also romp home once again in 2019 with a greater majority.

In this noble effort, he may have to tread on a lot of toes, and in the process alienate his party and, may be, even his colleagues. However he must bear in mind the words of Niccolò Machiavelli, who, in The Prince lays bare the moral world of politics, and the gulf between private conscience and the demands of public action.

As Michael Ignatieff has observed in his brilliant commentary: “Public necessity requires actions that private ethics and religious values might condemn as unjust and immoral.”

He further adds: “What he [Machiavelli] refuses to praise is people who value their conscience and their soul more than the interests of the state. What he will not pardon is public displays of indecision. We should not choose leaders who agonize, worrying about the moral hazards of the power they exercise in the people’s name. We should choose leaders who sleep soundly after taking ultimate risks with their own virtue. They are doing what must be done.”

Modi must simply do what is to be done — and that certainly does not include building a Ram temple at Ayodhya on the ruins of the Babri Masjid.