Working with Modi

I have seen the ability of Modi to pick and choose, empower able technocrats & bureaucrats. He has keen eye for that.

Aakar Patel July 06, 2013
The writer is a columnist. He is also a former editor of the Mumbai-based English newspaper Mid Day and the Gujarati paper Divya Bhaskar [email protected]

What is Narendra Modi’s style of governance? How, with no experience in government, has he run what many think to be India’s best governed state? His biographer Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay asked Modi how he handled the bureaucracy. Modi said he applies himself independently to issues and asks why things cannot work in the way that he has simplified them. He gives the example of providing 24-hour electricity to homes: “I asked my officers where the problem was. I used to be told that there is a lot of power theft ... that there is not enough power generation. So, I asked them, why don’t you segregate the feeders — let one go to the villages for the homes and another for the agricultural fields.” Modi says the officers laughed when he said this, but it worked so well that “we are getting kudos from the entire country because of this”.

Recently, I had an exchange with someone who has worked with Modi and observed his style of functioning. These observations are worth reproducing.

“ ... I have seen the workings of Gujarat from the inside (and) worked with governments at the state and the centre and there is a difference of cheese and chalk. I have seen the ability of Modi to pick and choose and empower able technocrats and bureaucrats. He has a keen eye for that. He himself does not have to be intellectually and technologically strong himself. But few have the talent to sniff out good people as he does. His biggest fault is that he brooks no criticism. But I do know some bureaucrats, who very mildly will show him the alternative view.

“I think there is a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde in him. Dr Jekyll is the statesman Modi. Quick thinker, understands issues that are complex quite fast. He is a bit too inclined towards the growth of all kinds of industry without sufficient application of the rigour required to see if they are good in the long-term, and is a little soft on environmental issues, but otherwise, his decisions have a strong, solid base. See the education sector for example. Despite what the media and NGOs will shout and scream regarding education in Gujarat, go to the centre and they will tell you that the institutional framework of school education in Gujarat is stronger than elsewhere and they learn lessons from Gujarat and implement them in the rest of the country. It is one of the few states where land under agriculture has increased over the past decade. We know about the power situation (that Gujarat is better off than other states)...”

Mr Hyde is the political Modi... (regarding the riots), I would give him a shade of benefit of doubt due to his relative inexperience as chief minister at that time.

“If he were to become prime minister, he will have an excellent set of technocrats and bureaucrats. I already can name some, who will be in Delhi. But were he to become PM, who would be his ministerial colleagues? I see the dismal state in Gujarat. I also see his contempt for his ministers. How they are bypassed and decisions taken by him and the bureaucrats of the department without the minister being involved. I have myself been a beneficiary of this efficiency... But that is autocratic, even if expedient, and good for the state in the short-run. That would not work at the centre. Would he complete his term as PM? I don’t know. His own party may destroy him. But even if he is there for three to four years, he will put governance and institutions in place, which I hope will not be easy to dismantle for the Congress. I hope, at least, that the Congress does not return for another two decades if India has to go forward.

“Modi is difficult to like, yes of course, but it is equally difficult to not admire so many things that he has put in place. And most of them are not those that he shouts about.”

Published in The Express Tribune, July 7th, 2013.

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Shazia | 8 years ago | Reply

OMG! Are you all for real?!! Why is ET letting such a writer praise the murderous Hindu extremist narendra modi, AKA butcher of thousands of innocent Muslims pollute this website? Have your editors finally sold out to SHIV SENNA and Thakeray, Modi, BJP? Shameful!

The truth shall set you free ET!

Let's see how " balanced " a website you really are if you have the guts to post this reply!

Shahjahan Bhatti | 8 years ago | Reply

Africa and Asia needs leaders like him. Bravo!

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