Prime Minister Modi delivered his first ever prime ministerial speech to address the nation from the Red Fort on the 15th August, 1947. Deviating from the convention of a written speech, he preferred to speak extempore during his over an hour long address.
The most touching and sentimental aspect of his speech was that he started by addressing himself as Pradhan Sewak (i.e. prime servant or first servant) of the nation. In a way this is or should be the spirit of the elected representatives in a parliamentary democracy in letter and spirit in service of people as against the usual approach and feeling among elected representatives of being the privileged class and often beyond reach of common man with marked variation in ‘talk and walk’.
Then unlike the tradition of his predecessors announcing big ticket long term schemes from the Red Fort, the prime minister preferred to connect with the masses on basic issues like equal treatment of son and daughter by parents while raising, security and protection of girl child and woman, need for basic amenities including sanitation and toilets in cities, villages and schools, inculcating the habit of keeping surroundings clean, creation of model villages, indigenous manufacturing of all goods of common use, and so on so forth.
This was a significant departure from the usual approach of ‘mai-baap sarkar’ that takes responsibility, or at least pretending so, of arranging goods and services to the passive common citizens. Mr Modi instead stressed the need for countrymen to rise to their full potential, realize their responsibilities and duties and shape their own destinies. In a country where politicians so skillfully with no shame attached exploit the cards of religion and caste for their party’s and personal gains, he came up with another idea i.e. a ten year moratorium on disputes and violence by these divisive issues.
Born, brought up and hailing from a humble origin, he appears to be a genuine dreamer of ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas’. He appears to be under no illusion that this can be achieved only with every citizen’s (including groups, communities and rival parties) sustained and long term cooperation and participation. But the moot question is whether divisive forces with vested interests equally among rivals and supporters would allow this dream to materialize ever.