Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Great Modern Speeches: Modi at SRCC, Feb 6, 2013

Great Modern Speeches: Narendra Modi at SRCC, New Delhi, February 6, 2013

Translated into English and Commentary Provided by Dr. Seshadri Kumar, 13 February, 2013

Copyright © Dr. Seshadri Kumar.  All Rights Reserved.

For other articles by Dr. Seshadri Kumar, please visit

You can reach me on twitter @KumarSeshadri

Disclaimer: All the opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of Dr. Seshadri Kumar alone and should not be construed to mean the opinions of any other person or organization, unless explicitly stated otherwise in the article.



The Hon. Mr. Narendra Modi, Chief Minister of Gujarat, made a speech to the students of Shriram College of Commerce in Delhi on February 6th, 2013.  

Since the speech was made in Hindi, and not everyone in India speaks Hindi, even though it is nominally the national language of India, I am providing here a translation of this speech for the benefit of non-Hindi speakers who can understand English, as well as for the international audience.  

It is my personal belief that this speech is important enough that people read it in its entirety and not confine their understanding of it to a few sound bites that are reproduced in the newspapers and periodicals.  To reduce a speech of this calibre to a few sound bites is to do a huge disservice to it.  Before that, though, I give a brief background of Mr. Modi and the context in which this speech was made.

I consider this speech one of the best - certainly the best in recent memory - I have ever heard by an Indian politician.  It shows a master speaker in absolute command – of his environment, of the facts at his disposal, with a gift for oratory, a flair for the dramatic, a sense of humor and self-deprecation, albeit glowing with self-confidence – all resting on a bedrock of great achievement.

Mr. Modi has been a controversial politician.  On the one hand there are the infamous post-Godhra riots that happened in 2002, in which Mr. Modi was implicated for (at least) not doing enough to stop the anti-Muslim violence.  On the other hand, there is his impressive record as chief minister of Gujarat, where the state has made huge advances in public services and set a model for the entire nation to emulate in good governance.

Recently, Mr. Modi won a fourth term as chief minister of Gujarat with a resounding majority – an affirmation of the good works that he has done for his state and the goodwill that he has gained among the voters of his state.   This success in the polls, coupled with his impressive transformation of the economy of Gujarat, has led to a widespread clamour in the country that this is the man India needs, to transform its moribund economy, which appears to be plummeting to annual growth levels at 5%, the lowest in a decade.

For a nation frustrated by the poor governance of the ruling UPA party, which is beset not only by poor achievement on all major indicators but also by widespread allegations of corruption, Mr. Modi appears as a messiah who can help the nation achieve its promise based on its biggest asset – its demographic dividend.  The promise is underlined by a spectacular record of achievement in Mr. Modi’s home state of Gujarat.

In sharp contrast to what is seen as widespread looting by various officials of the ruling government, Mr. Modi has a reputation for being personally incorruptible.  This, coupled with his efficiency as an administrator, and his ability to bring in prosperity for his state, have prompted many to ask the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the party to which Mr. Modi belongs, to declare that were they to win the 2014 parliamentary elections, Mr. Modi would be their candidate for Prime Minister.  In effect, a vote for the BJP in 2014 would be a vote for Mr. Modi.

This speech as SRCC in New Delhi is widely seen as Mr. Modi, fresh off his latest electoral success in Gujarat, staking his claim to be the frontrunner for the post of the Prime Ministership should the BJP come to power.  In effect, it is at this event that he has thrown his hat in the ring.  It is, therefore, essentially a self-nomination, and so the ideas contained in it are very significant for anyone wishing to evaluate Mr. Modi’s credentials and his ideas.


But before we start, some mention must be made of the one single impediment to Mr. Modi’s widespread acceptance among the Indian public.  This is the event that happened in Gujarat in 2002, when Mr. Modi was in his first term as chief minister.

On 27 February, 2002, 58 Hindu pilgrims were travelling on the Sabarmati express back to Gujarat from Ayodhya were burnt by a group of Muslims at Godhra railway junction.  In response, right-wing Hindus orchestrated a widespread massacre of Muslims in the state of Gujarat.  Official estimates of the death toll were 1044 (including 254 Hindus); unofficially, the figure is as high as 2000 (consisting "mostly of Muslims" - see here for details.)

Mr. Modi, who was the chief minister at the time, is accused of, at the very least, not doing enough to stop the violence.  He has been accused of giving explicit instructions to the police not to stop the violence.  However, as of today, he still has not been convicted in any crime.

Regardless of that, the charges against him are extremely serious, and this remains for him a major obstacle in obtaining universal acceptance among Indians.  He has made conciliatory statements in public, almost amounting to an apology - but not quite.  Many people still suspect him of harbouring anti-Muslim tendencies and wonder how such a person will be appropriate for a pluralistic India.

However, when considering Mr. Modi’s case, it is instructive to look at him not in isolation but as one among many politicians in India.  In India it is almost impossible to find politicians who are really clean; who are not facing some serious charges that should, in other countries, disqualify them.  But Indian politicians seem to have a layer of Teflon around them, because nothing sticks to them.  One is forced, therefore, to look past these serious charges and ask how a person can, on balance, serve this country best.

The 1984 Anti-Sikh Riots

Nothing perhaps illustrates this better than the infamous 1984 anti-Sikh riots in New Delhi.  On October 31, 1984, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, the then-prime minister of India, was gunned down in cold blood by two of her own bodyguards, who belonged to the Sikh religion.

In response to this brutal act, a wave of violence, widely believed to have been orchestrated by key functionaries of the ruling Congress party as revenge for the killing of their party chief, swept New Delhi.  Sikhs all over the city were mercilessly butchered and burned alive.  The violence was not spontaneous or carried out by common people in anger against the Sikh community.  Instead, thugs were brought into Delhi from neighbouring Haryana and Uttar Pradesh and given the promise of loot and rape and asked to commit these crimes against the Sikhs.  (for details, see the excellent book, “History of the Sikhs – Part II” written by the eminent writer Khushwant Singh.) Many notable faces, people who were then ministers or later ministers in the Congress governments of then and even now, have been identified by eyewitnesses as having led mobs to specific homes with lists of people of the Sikh religion who were to be killed.

Yet not one person of significance in the Congress government has been indicted.  The accused include such men of prominence as HKL Bhagat, Jagdish Tytler, Sajjan Kumar, Lalit Maken, and Kamal Nath.  The last-named gentleman is, even today, a Union minister for urban development in the current UPA government headed by the Congress party, in spite of extremely serious charges against him.  The chief investigating agency of the government, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) gave a clean chit to Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar in 2009, saying there was no evidence against them.  This is in spite of the report of the Nanavati Commission, the commission headed by former Supreme Court of India Justice GT Nanavati, who investigated the 1984 riots, having indicted Tytler, Kumar, Bhagat, Nath, and many others.

When the violence finally died down, three days later, more than 3000 Sikhs had been brutally killed according to the official estimate (unofficial estimates are as high as 10,000).  According to eyewitnesses, in most places, the police just stood and watched, and some even helped the killers find their victims.  

To add insult to injury, when the son of Mrs. Indira Gandhi and the next prime minister, Mr. Rajiv Gandhi, was asked about the riots, he replied calmly, “When a great tree falls, the earth must shake.”  The callousness of a statement like this, and the reluctance to punish anyone responsible for the violence, has led to widespread speculation that Mr. Gandhi was himself complicit in the violence; that the reluctance of the Delhi Government, which was under the control of the Congress party, to stop any of the violence, implied that this was an act of state terrorism.

Yet Mr. Gandhi was voted to power in the elections that followed.  The Congress party today is headed by his widow, Sonia Gandhi, and the vice-president of that party is Mr. Rajiv Gandhi’s son, Mr. Rahul Gandhi.  This party has ruled India for the last 9 years as well.  Many party workers who were in command in 1984 and responsible for various acts of inhumanity remain unpunished and even in prominent positions (like Mr. Kamal Nath).

The Choice for the Indian Voter

Today, the Indian voter has essentially a choice between the two national parties – the Congress party and the BJP.  The media is portraying the 2014 elections as a fight between Mr. Modi and Mr. Rahul Gandhi.  If one were to disqualify a party or its individuals on the basis of involvement in mass murder (even murder targeted against a specific community), then both parties appear to be guilty.  It would follow that the Congress Party’s assumption of power for so many years since 1984 was illegitimate. 

It should also be clear from the history of the last 10 years in Gujarat that there has been no repeat of the violence (not that such events should ever be repeated) - so one can dismiss comparisons of Modi with genocidal politicians like Hitler, etc., as just the extremist nonsense it is.  The post-Godhra riots were a dark chapter in Gujarat's history, but they certainly were not a Kristallnacht (the violence against the Jews in Nazi Germany in 1938 that was the forebearer to the death camps of 1942) as some like to portray it.  One could, similarly, argue that the Congress does not harbour ill-will for the Sikhs in general - that it was a specific incident for which Congress politicians competed with each other to show their loyalty to the late Mrs. Gandhi by killing as many Sikhs as they could that was responsible for the carnage in 1984.

Who, then, should the Indian voter cast his ballot for?  It is very hard to argue that 10,000 Sikh lives are less valuable than 2000 Muslim lives unless one thinks purely cynically in terms of vote banks. (Muslims greatly outnumber Sikhs as a percentage of the population.)  

The decision on who is to govern India must, therefore, be made on other grounds. 

Currently, India is fast losing steam as an economic power.  Growth has slipped to an annual rate of 5%.  The common people are deluged by regular exposes of corruption in high-profile Government contracts such as the 2G telecom scam, the Coal scam, the Commonwealth Games scam, defense scams such as the Bofors scam and very recently the Augusta Westland helicopter scam, and many more that keep coming out like skeletons from the UPA closet.  There is no faith among the people either in the financial integrity of the government or its officers or in the ability of the government to generate prosperity for its citizens.

Manmohan Singh, the current prime minister, who was widely seen as the economist who propelled the reforms introduced by PV Narasimha Rao when he was prime minister, was widely expected to expand economic reforms in India.  In the UPA’s first term, his ability to do so was greatly circumscribed by his dependence on the Left parties, but when the UPA won a second term in office with a resounding mandate, most people cheered, thinking that this would free up Manmohan Singh to accelerate economic reforms in the country.

Instead, Mr. Singh has gone completely the other way, using economic sops and subsidies to try and garner vote banks instead of freeing up the economy and letting the energy of the people work.  The country has seen a complete policy paralysis and the general perception is that the present government does not care about making any policy – its only agenda appears to be survival – a survival that allows its ministers to use their position to illegally accumulate wealth through kickbacks.

In this context, the promise of Mr. Modi as a potential prime minister is his clarity of vision, his firmness of purpose, his perseverance, and his ability to get things done.  Of late, he has been endorsed as the future leader of India by as diverse groups of people as a congregation of sadhus at the Maha Kumbh religious festival and a conference of the highest-powered names in Indian business.  Most Indian middle-class people have a similar opinion.

What is the reason for this?  What do they see in Mr. Modi?  To understand that, nothing is a better introduction to Mr. Modi and his ideas than this speech, which I am reproducing here in English translation.  The translation is a liberal one; I have tried to keep the spirit of Mr. Modi’s words intact while making every effort to remain true to the letter.  I have punctuated the speech with headings (mine) in order to make the reading easier, since this is a transcript of a long, one-hour speech.  And occasionally, I have clarified what Mr. Modi has said with an editiorial comment in parantheses.  Where I heard applause or laughter from the audience in the video recording, I have faithfully reported those as well.

Now, on to the speech.

Translation of Narendra Modi’s Speech at SRCC


1.     Gujaratis as Leaders

Seated on the dais, Mr. Ajay, Mr. Jain, and all young friends:

I am coming from the land of Gujarat.  I am coming from the land of Mahatma Gandhi.  And I am coming from the land of Sardar Patel.

If you look at the Independence struggle, at that time there were two main streams that created this struggle.  One, under Mahatma Gandhi’s leadership, was the attempt to obtain freedom by nonviolent means; and the other was the violent struggle for freedom through revolutionary means.  

Friends, the leadership of both these streams rested with a Gujarati.  Shyamji Krishna Varma was regarded as the teacher of revolution, who established the India House in London; who started the work of teaching revolution to so many people; and Mahatma Gandhi was also from Gujarat, who gave India independence.

2.   Good Governance

Friends, many great people have sacrificed, spent their youth  in prison, done penance, given up their lives, so that our land may get freedom.  And because of their tireless efforts, this dream became reality.  But since swaraj (ed: lit., self governance), it has been more than six decades, but the nation is still waiting for su-raaj (ed: good governance).  They wonder when they will get it.

So, my friends, if we are to stake out our place on that path of progress that the world is travelling on, our first goal should be to see how we can strengthen su-raaj.  And when I say strengthen su-raaj - if I were to say how that is to be done in the language you are familiar with, then the right words are: good governance.

Now at the root of all problems is one sickness. 

Friends, today the whole world is talking about Gujarat’s progress.  Now if you were to examine this journey of Gujarat in some depth, then you will realize we have focused on good governance.  But we are one step ahead.  When I talk about good governance and I talk about my model, then I talk about P2-G2.  Pro-People, Good Governance. 

Normally, our administration in this country plays the role of a firefighter.  Problems arise, and then the administration follows them, tries to solve them.  Friends, the role of the administration is to visualize situations, anticipate problems, resolve to change the situation, and through them create new facilities and opportunities.  But we have been seeing for the last six decades that we have failed in such duties.  And the result of all this is that today, in the entire country, there is an environment of hopelessness.  The country is drowning in hopelessness.  Everyone feels, “what is the point of doing anything? Everyone is a thief.  Everything is worthless.  I don’t know what God’s plan was that he had me be born in this land.  No, I am thinking of finishing my studies and leaving this land – have to think of my career.”


This sound is being heard far and wide.  But I have a different thinking on this.  I have been governing Gujarat for a while now – this is my fourth term.  And I can tell you with that experience: that with these very laws, this very constitution, these very rules and regulations, these very employees, these same files, these offices, these very people - in spite of all these - we can forge ahead.  We can do a lot.  And I can say this on the basis of my experience with Gujarat.

Friends, all of you who are sitting here will have a different take on the same thing.  Now you see this (ed: lifts the glass that is half filled with water). Those of you who are optimists will say, “This glass is half full.” Those of you who are pessimists will say, “this glass is half empty.”  Friends, I am a person who doesn’t follow either of these thoughts.  I have a third view.  I say, “this glass is completely full; half with water, and half with air.” (applause).

Natural Resources and the Demographic Dividend

Friends, I am so very full of hope that we can change the situation in this country. 

An ambassador from a foreign country came to see me.  After a while, the conversation drifted to politics.  He asked me, “What do you think are the two main challenges for India?”  I told him clearly that the most important challenge for us is how we can use opportunities.  He asked me what I meant.  I told him that our nation is the youngest nation in the world.  65% of the population is below age 35.  All of Europe has gotten old.  China has gotten old.  This is the world’s youngest nation.  65% of the population is below 35.  And it is our great misfortune that this huge opportunity, this huge demographic dividend is not being used properly. 

“What about the other challenge?” he asked me.  I told him that my country is not poor.  We have so many natural resources.  Look at the whole of eastern India.  It is full of natural resources.  But we are not using those properly and moving towards prosperity.  And so we are constantly losing opportunities.  How to capture opportunities, channelize them, develop them, and transform them into wealth and development is a great challenge that we must meet.

3.   Agriculture

Friends, these days there is much talk of Gujarat.  But Gujarat has always kept one thing in mind in its journey of development.  We don’t try to put up our tent using a single pillar.  As a result, our entire model has been developed on three pillars.  One-third agriculture, one-third industry, and one-third service sector.  And our endeavour has been that the progress of these three sectors is uniform; and if ever one of these sectors lags behind the other two because of any difficulty, then the other two should support it.  And because of this, the state’s economy is never weak.

10% Agricultural Growth in a Desert

So, my friends, I can proudly tell you today, our nation’s agricultural growth – you people are students of this place – you are followers of the Google guru – so you have all the information on your fingertips – for 20 years running now, this nation has set a growth target of 4% in agriculture, but eventually sputtered to a growth rate of 2 to 2.5%.   Gujarat has never been an agricultural state.  Gujarat is essentially a desert.  And our sad state is such that here we have “Registan” (desert), and there we have Pakistan.  (laughter).

We are so dependent on the rain.  In spite of that, my friends, the state that used to experience water scarcity in 7 out of 10 years, that state has created a new history by achieving 10% agricultural growth in the past decade annually.

Annual Farm Fair

And this has not happened by chance.  We have had to work very hard for this.  You must have seen in the media that Modi’s Vibrant Gujarat summit was held, that it is very large, one was just held recently, and people from 121 countries attended it.  But my Vibrant Gujarat summit happens for only 2 days.  And it happens once in 2 years.  But every year, in May-June, when the temperature is 44 degrees, I conduct a Krishi Mahotsav (farm fair) for one month.  Along with me, 100,000 officials from my government go to the farmers, to the villages.  And they talk about how to conduct lab-to-land technology transfer, how to get new innovations to the land – they work hard to do that. 

Friends, in this country, a human doesn’t have a health card; but Gujarat is such a state that a farmer has a “soil health card.”  And because of that, he knows what strengths his land has, what its deficiencies are, what fertilizers it needs, what crop will grow well on it, which season to grow in – he knows all these very well.

We have conducted a great campaign for water conservation.  We have constructed more than 600,000 small structures (ed: check dams) to contain water - and now, Gujarat is the only exception in the country.  In the entire country, the water table is going down.  We are the only exceptional state where the water table going up. (applause)

Impact on Cotton Production

The result of all this is – friends, I remember when I first became chief minister of Gujarat, in 2001-2002.  We are a cotton-growing state.  At that time, our total cotton production was 23,00,000 bales of cotton.  Currently, our cotton production is 1,23,00,000 bales of cotton.  (applause)

But we if remain there, then, friends, the situation will arise that our farmer will not get what he should.  He will get desperate.  So the next step is how to add value.  So we have done something for value addition.  So we have brought out a new textile policy.  And the import of my textile policy is that I don’t want my cotton grower to run around to sell his cotton.  So I have a 5-F formula: Farm to fiber, fiber to fabric, fabric to fashion, and fashion to foreign. 

Where the cotton is grown is where the yarn will be made, where the yarn is made is where the cloth will be made, where the cloth is made is where the readymade garments will be made, and from there I will directly export it around the world, and my farmer’s income will grow.  And this is why, my friends, we should have an integrated approach.  And this is the industrial revolution path I am taking, the one that will make my farmer strong.  We are going on that path.  And one-third of my state’s economy is focused on agriculture.

Coupled with agriculture is animal husbandry.   I daresay there isn’t one among you who uses milk in his tea who isn’t consuming the milk of Gujarat.  The milk you people of Delhi drink comes from Gujarat.  Friends, if you go to Europe and eat okra, rest assured, that okra (ed: "bhindi," aka ladies finger) has come from Gujarat.  If you go to Singapore and ask for milk, mark my words, it has come from Gujarat.  Go to Afghanistan and eat tomatoes – you can write it down here, those tomatoes came from Gujarat.

Transformation in Agriculture

Friends, I will give you a small example of how transformation is achieved in agriculture.  Now at the limit of Maharashtra state – by the way, am I crossing any time limit here?  Can I depend on you to tell me?  You see, I have never been a teacher, so I don’t have a 45 minute... (laughter)  ... because there is a chip in a teacher’s computer, you see (ed: pointing to his head) – it has a 45 minute programming limit.  (laughter).

Friends, there is a tribal belt near the Maharashtra border.  Long ago, when I was not in politics, I used to frequent that tribal belt a lot.  The farmers of that tribal belt later once visited me.  They said, “Sir please do something for our roads.”  I said to them, “why, your roads are decent tar roads, what’s the problem?”  They said, “Sir, yes there are good roads, but we still need some improvement.”  I said, “what great improvement do you need in that jungle?”  They said, “Sir, we have signed an agreement with Finland; we are banana farmers, and we are exporting bananas to Finland.  With the current roads, when our bananas are transported in trucks, we lose 20% of the bananas because of crushing because the current roads are uneven in parts and the ride is jerky.  So we want a paver road.” 

Friends, even everywhere in Delhi you won’t have paver roads!!  Just reflect for a moment on the range of the thinking of the citizens of our country – think of how far ahead a simple tribal can think – he says that I want to sell my bananas in the world’s markets, and I don’t want any damage to my bananas, so I want a paver road!!  Friends, if my country’s citizens have this level of aspiration, then I can see clearly, the future of my country is bright!

Animal Husbandry, Cattle Camps, and Milk Production

Friends, let us turn to animal husbandry.  I was talking about good governance and you all wanted to hear about the Gujarat model, so I am telling you this.  We conduct a regular medical camp for cattle.  Every year we conduct 2500 to 3000 cattle camps. We do check-ups, operations on them – very detailed work.  And what is the result of this regular medical camp over the last 6 years?  Normally, the cattle used to get some disease when the heat increased, or when they ate something, or if there was too much rain. 

Today, after 6 years of constant effort, the result is that 120 cattle diseases have been totally eradicated.  And the result of this is that the total milk production has increased by 80% in this time period. (applause)

And when milk production increases, then the poor village farmer who keeps one cow - think of how much his income increases.  And when the village income rises, then their purchasing power goes up.  And when the village purchasing power goes up, only then does the state economy improve.  And so it has been our focus to see how to increase the farmer’s purchasing power.  Now the purchasing power only goes up only if our economic development, our growth chart, is sustained.  If it goes up and down, then it won’t help.  You need consistency in the growth, which is what we have been monitoring and doing for 10 years.

4.   Service Sector: Hospitality and Tourism

Friends, let us talk about the service sector.  We were not very well-known in the service sector.  One of the biggest sectors in the service sectors is the hospitality sector; another is tourism.  Gujaratis are the best tourists.  Go to any part of the world and you will find him – even in a five-star hotel, he will open his lunch box and eat his thepla. (laughter).

But Gujarat was never a tourist destination.  Friends, for the last 5 years we have been making constant efforts.  And today, for the last three years, the Gujarat tourism rate has been double that of the national tourism rate.  And now, even Amitabh Bachchan himself comes into your drawing rooms every day and tells you, “spend some time in Gujarat.”  And I am sure you will come there some day – and maybe you will even like to settle down there.

So my friends, even in the service sector, we have made a lot of efforts and it has produced results. 

5.    Education

Friends, let us turn to education.  During 2001-2, we had 11 universities in our state.  Today we have 42 universities.  And when I talk about universities, we are the first in the world to have a university on forensic science.  Today, in the whole world, crime has changed.  A kid sitting in Holland can swindle you of your entire bank balance through hacking.  Cyber crime is increasing.  Economic offenses are increasing.  If we want to stop these crimes, then forensic science is the only way.  And nowhere else in the world is there a forensic science university – we are the first in the world.  And today, Israel, who is well-known in the world for security – Israel, Australia, Canada – all the nations of the world have partnered with our forensic science university and are partners in its development.  And we have developed a global reputation.

Raksha Shakti University

Friends, Gujarat is the first state in this country to have set up a Raksha Shakti University (ed: Police Science and Internal Security).  Friends, you in Delhi are all very angry and concerned these days in Delhi about the law and order situation.  Everyone is concerned about it – and I have not come here to criticize - but can we search for solutions? 

What is the situation today?  How is the recruitment done today for police?  Based on body size.  If someone is 6 feet tall, he is enlisted.  They make him run for 6-8 months, then he is given a uniform and a gun.

Friends, this needs to change.  We have created a Raksha Shakti University.  Anyone who wants to pursue a security-related career- in police, army, wherever -  can join it after 10th standard, and he joins for a 3-year or 5-year course.  And there he is taught all the subjects for a proper education.  He is taught mob psychology, law, the constitution, and other subjects – and then he will be enlisted in the police force.  And so you have quality manpower in the force. 

Today, our Gujarat police force is the youngest police force in India.  We have enrolled 20-25 year olds in such a major way.  And we require that they also be techno-savvy.  So now even constable-level policemen are very techno-savvy.  So you can see how we bring about transformation.

Indian Institute of Teachers Education

Friends, we are the first to start a university like the IITE – the Indian Institute of Teachers Education.  Friends, today we have IIMs in this country.  IIM produces CEOs – and these CEOs go on to run companies around the world after campus interviews.  But ask any family today to tell you one wish of theirs and one only, he will tell you that he wants good education for his child.  No matter how rich someone is, what they want most is good education for their child, to have their child taught by good teachers.  Every father and mother wants good teachers for their kids.

Friends, why don’t we train teachers scientifically, set up a system to produce good teachers? 

So now, we are the first in India to start a training university for teachers, the Indian Institute of Teachers Education – after 12th standard, those who want to become teachers, their entire training will happen there for 5 years, and he will come out as a teacher. 

Friends, I have a dream.  The whole world needs millions and millions of teachers.  We have an army of young people.  We export everything – why not export teachers?  (applause)

And friends, I tell you this clearly.  If a businessman goes somewhere in the world to sell something, he gains dollars or pounds.  But if a teacher goes somewhere, he gains an entire generation!  This is power.  (applause)

6.   Industrial Development

Friends, India needs to think like this!!  We need to see things with this vision.  We don’t need to sit in a corner and trap ourselves there. 

In the same way, there is another thing to discuss, my friends, and that is industrial development.  The reason we are falling behind in this sector is that we are not paying attention to technology upgradation. 

There was a time when Ahmedabad in Gujarat was the Manchester of India.  There were cloth mills everywhere – you could see their chimneys everywhere.  That entire business was destroyed 30-40 years ago.  Why?  Didn’t people need clothes?  No, the market for clothes was very big.  It got destroyed because the change that was needed to remain competitive in this world by doing technology upgradation was not done.  Friends, if India has to secure her place in this changing world, then technology upgradation is a must.

Today, the eyes of the entire world are on India.  Why?  Because they think that India is a large bazaar.  The whole world thinks they can dump all their things in our markets.  They think they can sell easily in India.  It is time that we decide that we will lead the world in manufacturing and make the world our bazaar and dump our goods in their markets. (applause).


And for this, branding is essential.  You may not know this because most of you are too young, but if you were as old as Ajay is or I am, you could relate to what I am about to say.  When we were young, if you saw anything “Made in Japan” in the market, you bought it.  Even if it was as simple as a pen or anything else, no one asked which company made it, where it was made, or anything else, as long as it was “Made in Japan.”  Friends, why don’t we make “Made in India” famous around the world?

But to achieve this branding, it’s not just one thing or two – there are many places to do it.  Now, recently, I had gone to Japan at the invitation of the Japanese government, a bit before the elections, during August-September 2012.  I was amazed: look at the crockery in the hotel, and there is a slogan; if you get a biscuit, there is a slogan stamped on it; buy a travel ticket, there is a slogan on it.  There is no place there where this slogan is not there.  And what is that slogan?  8 years later, Japan will host the Olympics.  Eight years later, the Olympics will happen, and in preparing for that an environment is being created by posting slogans like “we are ready for the Olympics,” “we are waiting for the Olympics,” “be ready for the Olympics.”  What an environment they have created!  Meaning, when the Olympics come, they will come, of course, but using that fact what tremendous national sprit is being created!  And instead, what did we do?

South Korea and the Olympics

Friends, how does the world treat these events?!  I request all of you, whenever possible, to study the full history of South Korea.  A nation that obtained independence after us, one that was once among the lowest even among developing nations, hosted the Olympics.  And when South Korea hosted the Olympics, the whole world was amazed, and that was the turning point when the whole world acknowledged South Korea as a nation whose time had come – and then it was easy for them to gain entry everywhere.

Vibrant Gujarat

Friends, we hosted the Commonwealth games.  Why we did so, the organizers themselves did not know. (laughter and applause.)  Friends, a nation of 1 billion, with one event, can create such a branding of the nation!  And, when you think globally, you have do such branding!  And in this context, I would like to tell you about the Vibrant Gujarat Global investors summit.  When I came in, I was talking with Mr. Jain and asking him what all of you would want to listen to - and now I am going to talk about what he told me.  He said to me to talk about my global relevance.

Friends, you will be happy to know this.  I was busy until the end of December with the elections.  I was sworn in during the last week of December.  I had 10 days to prepare for the event on January 11.  And I am proud of my team and how this efficiency had been institutionalized in them – 121 countries were there – and the who’s who of Indian industry was there.  Put it another way, 50% of the GDP of the country was under one roof. (applause)

When the world sees this sight, they get faith.  They have faith in the mettle of this place.  They think, “we can partner with these people.”  And once we get that buy-in, it is unstoppable.  And friends, today Gujarat is benefiting from this, and Gujarat is that place of India that is serving India.  This benefit is not going into Gujarat’s pocket, it is going into the nation’s pocket.  If we produce salt, then there is probably none among you who hasn’t eaten Gujarat’s salt.  And anyway, that is our mantra: Gujarat’s development for India’s development.


Friends, there is another area which we have emphasized in Gujarat.  This is in the manufacturing sector.  We have emphasized two things.  One is, whatever we manufacture, we must have “zero defects” in manufacturing.  This is the first point of emphasis.  The second is packaging.  Friends, often very good things get ruined because of bad packaging.  Sometimes, by the time the package is delivered, the item is broken. 

Friends, you might be surprised to know that during Pandit Nehru’s time, there was a commission known as the “Hathi commission,” named after Jaisukhlal Hathi.  The job that was given to them was to determine how to popularize Ayurveda – our wonderful natural medicinal system.  Their recommendations are very interesting.  Today, in herbal medicine, China exports the most.  Today, in spite of this legacy that our forefathers have bequeathed to us, we are nowhere in the world of international herbal medicine. 

But the recommendations of the Hathi commission are very interesting.  They said that Ayurveda will not become popular until we don’t make the packaging attractive.  In the old days people used to carry powders with them in small, unattractive packets.  But now, after the packaging has become attractive, Ayurveda has started becoming popular even in India.

Friends, we must understand the psyche of a consumer, of a buyer, the world over, and develop our manufacturing sector.  And once we develop that, the whole world will be attracted to us. 

Swami Vivekananda and the Power of India’s Youth

Friends, this year is the 150th anniversary of Swami Vivekananda’s birth year.  The whole country is celebrating this year.  Gujarat is also doing so.  We have announced this as the “year of youth.”  

Friends, we have to decide how we look at the youth of this country.  Friends, I am concerned that many people in our current political system view these youth as simply “new age voters.”  If this is how things remain, then I doubt that we can change the state of our country.  Friends, I too am from the same political akhada (ed: wrestling school.)  But my thinking is different from the rest of them.  I wish that my country views these youth not only as “new age voters,” but accepts them as “new age powers.”  (applause) 

If you think of them as “new age powers,” then the way you will think of them will be different, the way you will use their strengths will be different.  Friends, Swami Vivekananda saw a dream – he said that “I see clearly that my Bharat mata will one day assume the role of the world teacher.  And then my Bharat mata will, in full measure, led the world.”  Friends, I have great belief in and respect for these words of Swami Vivekananda.  Friends, these words were uttered 125 years ago, when he was 25 years old.  

Does it not behove us, on this 150th birthday of Swami Vivekananda, to take an oath to make his words come true?  Is it not our responsibility to make true the words of this great man who has made India famous the world over, just by taking a little effort on our part? 

Friends, today we must, on this 150th birthday of Swami Vivekananda, on the basis of the strength of our youth, promise to create a prosperous, great India, and forge ahead.  But to forge ahead, we must focus on certain things.

A Land of Mouse-Charmers

The whole world says that the 21st century is India’s century.  Some say the 21st century is Asia’s century; some say it is China’s century.  Friends, why I feel the 21st century is India’s is that firstly, whenever humanity has entered an age of knowledge, then India has led the way.  And the 21st century is a century of knowledge.  So I am fully convinced that the 21st century can be India’s.

Secondly, friends, the capabilities to make this century India’s exists with our youth.  We are fortunate that in this century, we have the youngest workforce in the world. 

Thirdly, what is the identity of India?  Not now, but 10-15 years ago, India used to be known as a land of snakes and snake-charmers, a land of ghosts, spirits, and black magic.  Friends, our youngsters, 20, 22, 24 year old youngsters, have gone around the world and changed India’s image.  

15 years ago, I visited Taiwan.  At that time, I was not the chief minister.  In Taiwan, I had an interpreter.  On the last day of my tour, he had become quite familiar with me, and asked quite hesitantly, “Sir, if you don’t mind, I’d like to ask you a question.”  I said, “go ahead.”  He said, “Sir, do you still have snakes and snake charmers in your nation? Do you still live in a world of ghosts, spirits, and superstitions?”  The poor fellow only knew those things.  I said “No, these days we are not snake-charmers.  We have undergone a major devaluation.”  He said, “meaning?”  I said, “Our ancestors used to be snake charmers.  Our generation is not that good.  We have lost our abilities.  These days we are mouse-charmers.”  

And, my friends, today our youth moves the whole world by keeping their hands on the computer mouse. (applause)  This is the power of our youth.  This achievement of putting India’s stamp on the whole world has been done by India’s youth, not by any leader. (applause)  They have forced the world to look at India with new eyes.

Clinton’s Visit to Jaipur

Friends, you might know that when Clinton had come here as president, he had a program to go to a village in Jaipur. And in the village, he saw how ladies ran a computer centre.  There was constant live telecast of the event.  And even normally, when foreigners come to our country, our people go a bit overboard.  There was a lot of fuss, with people given i-cards and so on.

While this was going on, one fellow, a member of the village council, a Dalit man who was unread, suddenly went up to Clinton to talk to him.  Everyone in the village was shocked and angry – what is this fellow up to?  He is going to make us ashamed.  He cannot even speak English. Maybe he is looking for a job for his son?  Maybe he is asking for money for the village?  

And this fellow looked Clinton in the eye and talked to the leader of the free world, and asked him – and the whole world saw this on TV - “Mr. Clinton, do you still think of my country as backward?  Do you still think of it as drowned in poverty and superstition?”  When the interpreter translated this to Mr. Clinton, his face changed, and he replied, “No, I don’t believe this now, and wherever I go in the world now, I will tell the world what India really is.”

Skill Development

Friends, our youngsters are smart.  Whatever our skin colour is, we are not inferior to anyone in the world.  We need to have this self-confidence, and to take on the world looking them in the eye.  We need to concentrate on three things.  If we are to compete with China in the 21st century, if we have to seize the opportunity in this century, and compete with the rest of the world, then I believe we first have to concentrate on skill development.  Two, my friends, our scale must be large, and three, our speed must be fast. 

Skill, Scale, and Speed: we must excel in these three things.  

Our youngsters have enthusiasm, energy, and strength, but their skills are not suitably developed, and so they are not partners in the journey to development.

We have started a campaign for skill development in Gujarat.  Lakhs of people have been enrolled in skill development with a huge budget.  Nowhere in the country is this being done on a scale such as this.  And look at the way it is being done.  I told my officers, “Think of what a person needs from birth to death and make a list.”  It became clear that at least 1000 things are needed.  So I said start skill development training for all those areas.  Today we are developing skills in more and more areas, and that is having an effect.

Speed of Execution

Let us talk about speed.  We work in such a way in this country that we spend two years just in moving papers. 

Now, it is my firm opinion that Government has no business in doing business.  Minimum government, maximum governance – there is no alternative to this. 

Friends, you are all familiar with the story of the Tata Nano.  You must have studied this as a case study.  People say – even Ratan Tata says – “we went in there, and within minutes all our work was sorted out, and within no time we were in production” – all this is well-known.  I want to tell you a different story.

I hope I am not taking too much time.  You please tell me.  Shall I continue? Shall I? Sure? (Audience: Yes!! Yes! Yes!)

Friends, one day a young man came to my office.  He was not very presentable, and the communication was also very weak. Originally he was Indian, but he was born in Africa and later he had moved to Canada and grew up there. He was originally Gujarati.  For 5-6 minutes he was talking to me, but our chemistry was not matching.  I will be honest with you - I wasn’t interested.  I thought he was wasting my time.  I was waiting for him to leave. 

So I told him, whatever you want to do, go to Baroda and talk to my collector, and whatever you want to get done, you can do it there.  And if you still have problems, come to me.  I actually just wanted to be rid of him.  But just to observe a bit of professionalism, I informed the collector in Baroda and told him that there is this young person who needs something, please help him.  But I just wanted to see the back of him.

After 13 months, this person came again to my office, and my PA told me that a certain person wants to see me.  I had an instinct this was the same man - I have a certain gift from God in this regard – an instinct about such things - and told my PA: ask him if he has already come here.  And after he told me I told the PA, please send him away, don’t allow him in, this guy is a waste of time.  And my PA said, “No sir, he has come to give you an invitation.”  I said, “An invitation?" (smiles)  "Okay, send him in.”  (applause) 

He comes in and says, “Sir, I had met you earlier, and now my factory is ready, and so I want you to inaugurate it.”  Friends, I was astounded.  This person who had met me and whom I thought had no substance, he is now inviting me to the inauguration.  Friends, I was tremendously impressed.  I said, “My friend, of course I will come for the inauguration.”  He said, “Keep in mind, sir, in 6 months you will have to come again.”  I asked, why?  He said, “Now is just the inauguration.  In 6 months we will launch our first product, and you have to come for that as well.”  I said, “Twice in 6 months to the same place?  Okay, if you insist.”

My young friends, you will be amazed at all this.  A person who comes to meet me for the first time is, 13 months later, inaugurating his factory, and 6 months after that is launching his first product – and what product did I launch there?  The metro that you are so proud of in Delhi - I launched the coach of that metro train.  (loud applause).

Think of the speed – that an individual who is still looking at the map thinking of where to set up his business has, within 19 months, finished the first coach and delivered it to Delhi, and now every coach that is running on the metro in Delhi is built in Gujarat. (applause)

Friends, until we work at this speed –if we just hem and haw around, saying  “we will think about it,” “will do it”, “will see,” – the world will not wait for us – it will go ahead.  And so, our entire thinking has to change in our administration.

And scale, too – friends, small scale doesn’t work.  You must work at a very large scale.  If you ever have the opportunity, come visit Gandhinagar.  There I have built a Mahatma Mandir.  It is the largest convention center in India.  And I built it in 162 days.  The largest convention center in India.  Friends, scale must be as great as you can ever imagine. 

Concluding Thoughts

And so it is important that we lay emphasis on these things as we travel the journey of development.  For one thing is certain, my friends, that the solution to all problems is development.

There is no alternative to development.  The nation has been destroyed by vote-bank politics.  The nation needs development politics.  If the nation’s politics also is based on development, then there can be great changes in this nation.

Friends, I repeat, I am among those optimistic people for whom the glass is always completely full – half with water and half with air.  I can see very clearly that the dream that Swami Vivekananda saw will definitely come true – through this very youthful generation – and India will once again rise and lead the world. 

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be with all of you, to be able to talk to young people like you.  Thank you!

******END of SPEECH*****

My Concluding Thoughts

If you have read this speech in entirety, I think you will now understand why I felt it was necessary for me to do the painstaking work of accurately transcribing and translating it into English.  (I apologize for any mistakes and welcome corrections.)

What impressed me even more was that the entire speech appears to have been extempore.  Not once in the video (which you can see here: did Mr. Modi ever refer to a piece of paper – facts like the number of cotton bales at the time he first assumed the chief ministership and that number today seemed to be at his fingertips.  

He also spoke with tremendous passion.  Here was a man who believed in what he said.

Contrast all this with the man who is projected to be his rival in the 2014 elections, Mr. Rahul Gandhi.  Mr. Gandhi made a speech recently while accepting his nomination as his party’s vice-president - widely seen as a signal that he would be the frontrunner for the Congress in the 2014 elections, and the likely PM, should the Congress win.  

Even when recounting a rather personal anecdote, of a conversation between his mother and him two days before the speech, Mr. Gandhi felt it necessary to refer to his printed speech.  Mr. Modi did not even seem to need anything written during his entire 1 hour speech.

In addition, everything Mr. Modi spoke about had a reference in a deed he had already achieved, while Mr. Gandhi’s speech was full of an unjustified promise (which is even harder to justify when one considers that he has spent the last 9 years as an MP of his party with access to the highest levers of power).

One of the powerful impressions that Mr. Modi leaves a listener (or a reader) of this speech is his understanding of how the fine details contribute to the big picture.  His understanding as to how the prosperity of a banana farmer through the quality of rural roads or of a milk producer through the health of his cattle feeds up the chain and is the key to prosperity of the state and of the nation reveals a mind that keenly understands the interconnectedness of things.  Or, when he talked about the vertical integration needed from farm to fiber to fabric to fashion to foreign.  Indeed, he did say so explicitly, when he said that we need an integrated approach to everything in India.

Some detractors have made fun of his speech, saying that it was full of management-speak,with words like P2-G2, 5 Fs, and 3 Ss, but I for one welcome the idea of an educated prime minister of the country who can actually understand the language of business.  It is not enough to talk about India becoming an economic superpower - you have to understand how to transform it, and Mr. Modi clearly understands the need of the hour.  It is clear from the speech that he understands both the language of the farmer and that of the businessman.

About the only thing I disagreed with in the content of Mr. Modi’s speech was his statement that no leaders had anything to do with the software boom.  The software boom has been helped greatly by the economic liberalization policies launched by the Congress government headed by Mr. PV Narasimha Rao in 1991, so to say that all this growth in India happened just by dint of effort by young people is not accurate.  But that is an exaggeration of the kind that comes rather easily to politicians in political speeches, and one can pick a dozen inaccuracies daily from the statements of politicians.  The other thing to understand from that remark is to realize that liberalization is not so much “doing something” as “removing restrictions” and so Modi is correct when he implies that if the government and leaders did nothing actively and just stood out of the way, the youth of this country can make India great by dint of their effort.  We just need to remove the obstacles.

One could make the hypothesis that Mr. Rahul Gandhi actually helped Mr. Modi look even better than he already is.  But only time will tell whether Mr. Modi will be able to use his entrepreneurial brilliance to win over all the voters of India.  The state of Gujarat is a very dynamic one; its populace has a healthy respect for business, making money, and prosperity, and Mr. Modi sells rather easily to such people.

But there are many people in other parts of the country who are used to a culture of entitlement.  The capitalistic ethos of Mr. Modi, in which rewards are commensurate with achievement, would likely scare such people who are worried about accountability.  Thus, while Mr. Modi might deserve to lead the country based on his achievements in the past 10 years, the sinecure lives of many might be threatened by someone so dynamic.

The BJP is still not sure about whether it wants Mr. Modi as its prime ministerial candidate.  But one thing should be clear to them.  I, for one, have not seen oratory of this high standard in evidence among any other leader in India; and that, coupled with Mr. Modi's spectacular achievements, should more than wipe out any deficiency in perception that people may have about him.  If one were to compare his oratorical style and his ability to connect with the common man with that of other great world leaders, then I cannot think of anyone better than Ronald Reagan as a comparison - a man who was commonly referred to in the USA as "The Great Communicator."  Listen to some of Reagan's speeches (available on youtube) and you will see the similarity.

It is going to be an interesting run-up to the 2014 elections. 

But, for the first time in decades, India has a politician with a vision.