An Address with Empathy and Persuasion by Ashok Pandey

Many commentators have said that Modi’s address was a Narasimha Rao’s moment. It was a Modi’s Modi moment for the future leaders to emulate while in a crisis.

Written by May 14, 2020 12:57

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s fifth and the most extended address to the nation since the pandemic, hailed more for the infusion of INR 20 lakh crore stimuli in the economy, is inspiring for many reasons. A close look at the finer script goes beyond the economics. Lifting people out of gloom and hopelessness, facing uncertainty, is a significant challenge for a leader, particularly in large democracies.

Facing a range of future scenarios, what a former US General described as “Cascading dilemmas”, Prime Minister Modi came across as a leader ready to reckon with the challenges and opportunities of COVID-19.

Narendra Modi --

The Prime Minister underscored the fact that the people of India have demonstrated a high degree of resilience and adaptability. Extending his argument from his last ManKiBaat communique, he reiterated India’s ethos of practising -“VasudhaivaKutumbakam ” and leading from the front in a crisis like this.

The synergy of India’s genius, innovation and relentless effort to solve human problems came for generous praise by the Prime Minister. These attributes have earned recognition for India by the world community, he added.

The Prime Minister’s address to the nation contained the crucial elements of governance in a crisis. Highlighting the near irrelevance of globally efficient systems, PM urged the country to build local resilience and capabilities. In a radical shift from the foundational pillars of the globalised, liberalised economy, Mr Modi came out with his doctrine of five components of resurrection – economy, infrastructure, systemic changes, demographic dividend and demand-Supply chain structures as enablers to move India forward. His announcement of an economic relief, breaks all records of the usual policy rulebook.

Narendra Modi --

The vision of a healthy, self-reliant, confident nation upholding its democratic values can be achieved only by strengthening institutions, good governance and trusting relationships between the government and the people. The founding principles, values and the people – first administration pursuing public good are at the core of such a vision. The Prime Minister invoked “SarvaAtmavashamSukham” to drive home his point. He reminded the people of their innate qualities; confidence, poise and never -die-attitude.

The Prime Minister, while enumerating the components of our strength as a nation, talked about our highest sense of duty, purity of thought, righteousness, and competency as age-old gifts to the people. Adherence to the higher values of life coupled with agility and capacity building determines the success of people and societies. And that is the supreme aspiration of any community.

The Prime Minister once again came across as a master communicator by including ‘why’ in his address. He was convincing in elaborating why we can rebuild ourselves? Why should we make the 21st century as India’s? Why should we not be bogged down and defeated by the COVID-19? And why a huge opportunity lies ahead of us to lead the world by example? Most leaders would have stopped just at saying what and how of things.

Narendra Modi --

By scaling up our manufacturing capability from zero to two lakh production each of N95 masks and personal protective equipment (PPEs), we have demonstrated the nation’s effort and resolve in the short term.We must now show our determination to preserve public health, and ensure that people and businesses beat the lockdowns. The pandemic has exposed the faultlines, and we must learn lessons in reshaping the nation. Mr Modi exhibited his sensitivity towards the people who have lost their livelihood in this crisis. The economic package is a response to those pain points.

Many commentators have said that Modi’s address was a Narasimha Rao’s moment. It was a Modi’s Modi moment for the future leaders to emulate while in a crisis.

((The author is Chairperson, Council for Global Citizenship Education and Director, Ahlcon Schools))