Sept. 16, 2020, 3:05 a.m.
The first forty years of our life provide the text, the next thirty provide the commentary, writes Arthur Schopenhauer, a 19th-century German philosopher known for his essays on the role of human will in creating the world we experience in a sense. . , a kind of European derivative of our concept of the veil of Maya. The sum of this experience, at 70 years old, allows us to understand rightly the true meaning and the link of the text with its moral and its beauties that it gives us the panoramic view from the top.
This is an important perspective. Prime Minister Narendra Modi turns 70 on Thursday, at a time when the pace of change, both a source of risk and opportunity, appears to be accelerating on all fronts. His simple and straightforward style is well known. His memory for facts big and small is legendary. This is also true of its acuteness at filtering through noise with its legendary abilities to implement while micromanaging a loophole, many examples of which are Project Narmada pumping water against gravity to relieve the deprived parts of it. Kutch water; and, also, the construction of the iconic Statue of Unity.
Yet it is also clear that now is not the time for him to rest and assume that the hard-earned understanding of the present will allow wisdom to sail into the future, the peak on the horizon. Those who look at the past turn their backs on the future, it is said. Our complex world has forks in the road, not just swings around a stable center. The change is not linear. Interconnection and interdependence are a fact of life. The next peak will therefore be different from the previous peaks.
Prime Minister Modi has demonstrated his ability to adopt a strategic and forward-looking vision on several occasions over the years. Mission Swachh Bharat and Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, for example, have taken a creative and strategic approach to improving the health and productivity of our nations by directly addressing issues such as ODF and sanitary napkins. True to its faith in fiscal correctness, the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana and the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code were introduced to tackle the two difficult frontiers of the banking system, expanding access to financial services and strengthening the foundations of bank solvency.
Looking to the future, Prime Minister Modi is aware of the need to face three new complex and evolving realities, rapid environmental changes; shift the power dynamic between regions, actors, individuals and sectors; and the digital revolution of the fourth industrial revolution to the opening of new areas of intelligence. The land we once thought to be beyond our influence is now very clearly on the new Anthropocene course. This has implications for temperature, precipitation, food and water security, and biodiversity, among others. The rapid pace at which we are now able to analyze and influence a myriad of aspects of society, environment, economy, infrastructure and even individual life has offered insight into the powers that we can use to rise to the occasion. Modi is committed to harnessing the digital revolution in a global sense and building greater collective security. And how do we adapt to a new world where cybersecurity threats can come from anywhere? These two trends are unfolding within and influencing a period of great changes in the relationships that structure and reshape our collaboration. Modis’ belief in the PRAGATI (Proactive Governance and Timely Implementation) platform is part of these efforts.
At the risk of submitting a birthday request rather than a birthday congratulation, in what ways can he really use the prospect of his 70s in the decades to 80s and beyond? He will recognize the need for three qualities of leadership in the years to come. First, the ability to remember the past, but to see the present very clearly. We are entering a delicate era of changing geopolitical sands. Our past alliances and interactions matter, friends are friends, but navigating new partnerships and initiatives that help us meet emerging global challenges will require a clear vision. This is true in internal affairs as much as in external affairs: we need new forms of collaborative partnership between the Center, states and local governments.
A leader of his stature knows how to work within the constraints of fiscal, chemical or biological reality and, at the same time, inspire others to unite to make the best of the difficult choices that these constraints dictate. We are on the brink of one of the biggest economic upheavals the world has seen in recent times, as COVID-19 and our efforts to stop the pandemic have accelerated existing trends to the point of hindering and exposing hidden vulnerabilities. Prime Minister Modi cannot wish this reality to disappear and must strengthen support for an innovative strategy that can reflect the hopes and wishes of his compatriots.
Finally, we need a visionary with the energy and freshness of perspective to move forward in a world that offers both opportunities and risks. The Prime Minister will be the first to recognize that, in retrospect, joy, beauty and common humanity underlie everything we have tried to do as a nation over the centuries. The horizon is ahead.
The writer is president of the 15th Finance Committee
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