From Chaiwalla to PM? Come On…
By: Chaitanya Davé
Narendra Modi was born to a middle class family of grocers in Vadnagar, Mehsana District of what was then Bombay State (present-day Gujarat), India. His great grandfather was a grocer; so they were known as Modi. He was the third of six children born to Damodardas Mulchand Modi and Heeraben. Young Narendra grew up in 12 ft. X 40 ft. shack with no windows nor any bathrooms. His father maintained a tea-stall at the railway station in Vadnagar. While teenager, Narendra ran a tea-stall with his brother near the bus terminal and as a young boy, he sold tea in the railway stations helping his father. He was betrothed when quite young but chose to walk away from marriage and has remained a bachelor.
He completed his schooling in Vadnagar. Whenever time permitted, he was in the library reading books. At an early age, he was drawn to politics and joined the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh (RSS) serving his country.
After finishing high school in Vadnagar, at 17 years’ age, he journeyed to Himalayas, mingling with holy men and deeply meditating. This and having read Vivekananda and Hinduism extensively, has given him a deep understanding of Hinduism. After two years, he came back home, joined Gujarat University and received his Master’s degree in political science with first class.
Narendrabhai comes from a humble background and is known for his simple lifestyle. His reputation is that of a workaholic and introvert. When we met him on December 7, 2013 at his residence in Gandhinagar, my wife Amita and I both found him to be very charismatic, confident and humble.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was born in 1980. Modi joined it in 1987 and immersed himself with selfless party work. Honest to the core, hardworking, and trustworthy, Atalji and Advaniji (the party leaders) recognized the man and his potential.
His hard work paid off when BJP came to power in Gujarat in 1995. He was named the General Secretary of the party and moved to New Delhi. After some three years, he became the National Secretary of BJP. Weak handling of 2001 earthquake in Gujarat, BJP leadership sought a new candidate other than Keshubhai Patel for Gujarat’s Chief Ministership. Reluctant Modi was inducted to replace Keshubhai as Gujarat’s Chief Minister in October 2001. His exemplary work and achievement in Gujarat ever since has been awarded by its people electing him for the third time as its Chief Minister. His iconic call for “Minimum Government and Maximum Governance” has struck the chord with the masses.
Under his superb leadership, water and electricity have been made available all over Gujarat. Agricultural production has gone up significantly. Gujarat has become a hub of national and international businesses attracting big businesses with their capital investments and employment opportunities for its people.
One of his greatest contribution to Gujarat and the country is his handling of the climate change threat. Perhaps no one has done more for India than Narendrabhai for combating and mitigating climate change, the greatest threat to India’s future. Here are some of his achievements:
Under his watch, large scale infrastructures are built for state-wide drinking water grid: 1,987 km long Bulk pipelines and 115,058 km of distribution pipelines, 10,781 hydraulic structures like elevated storage reservoirs, 10,683 storage sumps and high ground level reservoirs with capacity of 2,504.8 million liters constructed. 151 water treatment plants with capacity of 2,750 liters per day (MLD). 2,250 MLD of treated water is delivered to 10,501 villages and 127 towns in the state ensuring safe and assured water supply to about 65% of state’s population in drought prone and water quality affected areas through the water supply grid.
This has decreased vast number of tube wells installed saving 72.09 million kW of electricity per year resulting in 16,076 tons of CO2 equivalent emissions per year. The ground water levels in the aquifers have risen significantly between 2003 and 2007.
Modi’s government has built water harvesting structures in Bhavnagar and Junagadh Districts such as vast numbers of check dams, village ponds in District Amdavad and farm ponds in District Valsad and Kutch.
A total number of 353,937 check dams and village ponds were created from 2002 to 2010 providing benefit to over 13 million people in rural Gujarat.
He has paid close attention to Gujarat’s agriculture; created hundreds of thousands of micro irrigation structures; has established one Agro-meteorological field unit in each agro-climatic zone providing weather based agro-advisory services to the farmers of that zone. This has helped the farmers to adopt better management practices including taking preventive measures against adverse effects of weather. Applying agro-climate crop planning, his government initiated Soil Health Cards program on massive scale suggesting cropping system to farmers based on soil moisture availability index. Thus farmers are helped to adopt better remunerative crops, thereby increasing their incomes.
As a result of Agriculture Universities’ Automatic Weather Stations across Gujarat and due to their research on effects of climate change, his government has increased crop yields and reduced population dynamics of insects, pests and diseases. As a result of this work, production of cotton, cereals, pulses, oilseeds, fruits, vegetable, rice, groundnuts, castor and wheat has increased considerably in the state. Gujarat is now an outstanding performer in agriculture, growing at the rate of 9.6% per year. Performance of Gujarat’s agriculture is more than thrice that of all other states of India.
Narmada River’s Sardar Sarovar Dam project was mired in controversies for last 15 or more years. Narendra Modi had inherited this highly controversial project when he came to power in 2002. His team under his leadership tactfully managed the rehabilitation in coordination with other neighboring state governments, satisfying the administrative and quasi-judicial mechanisms established by various judicial orders, and arranged for a high dose of finance on a continuous basis. With a concerted strategy and satisfactory compliance of the project obligations in terms of rehabilitation of project affected persons and environmental measures, they were able to raise the dam height to 100 meters in 2003, 110.64 meters in 2004 and 121.92 meters in 2006. This facilitated a much higher increase in storage of Narmada waters resulting in drastic increase in water supply and hydropower generation. Thus he brought this complex project to successful completion.
The benefits of this project have started accruing since last several years. The Narmada now flows thunderously through a 458 km long canal completed in 2008. This is the largest lined irrigation canal in the world. The neighboring dry state of Rajasthan too is now getting this water since 2008. Many smaller rivers of Gujarat are now interlinked with Narmada waters through this huge canal. The ecology and water quality of these rivers have drastically improved. Narmada water now feeds vast dry area of Gujarat. Through this project, these waters have reached and covered vast areas of Gujarat enabling reforestation and plantations in those areas.
The hydropower generation from this project boasts 15,070 million kWh of electricity as per March, 2010. The total generation savings in electricity aggregate to 69,213.51 million kWh. This will save 15,459 million tonnes of CO2 emissions in the country, not a small feat.
He has conceived the idea and brought it to fruition completing Sabarmati River Front Project. Both sides of the river now boast nicely built area with long retaining wall at the river front. The dry riverbed is converted into nice walking area that not only looks beautiful but offers people to walk around the river front. Also the waters of Sabarmati now flow freely offering beautiful sights to the onlookers. There are now roads, gardens, promenades, informal markets, residential areas and public facilities on the extended river front.
By constructing a canal, there is now inter-basin transfer of Narmada waters into water deprived Sabarmati River offering a perennial source of water for the Sabarmati River. This has quenched the thirst of the Amdavad city by effective use of surplus Narmada-water. It has rejuvenated the French Wells in the riverbed.
At his insistence and under his watch, in the Panchmahal district of Gujarat, on existing Panam Dam, a long canal is constructed providing water irrigating thousands of hectares of land benefiting 125,000 people. This irrigation tunnel is one of the few in the country. The water in the tunnel is the surplus water from the Panam Dam. As an additional advantage, the nearby wells, some 60 village tanks and 500 check dams are being interlinked for recharge proving additional irrigation to 2000 hectares.
With 4.5 million population in Amdavad, around 800,000 passengers are ferried each day through a fleet of over 1,000 Amdavad Municipal Transport Service (AMTS) buses. Around 1.9 million private vehicles ply on Amdavad roads every day. To ease the traffic congestion in the city, and simultaneously to reduce the Green House Gas (GHG) emissions, Narendrabhai’s team has carefully planned and executed the Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) at a cost of around Rs. 9,820 million. This will reduce the movement of 400,000 vehicles per day and carry 100,000 additional passengers through BRTS buses over and above (AMTS) buses. It is estimated by Amdavad University Center for Environmental Planning and Technology (CEPT) that this will reduce the GHG by 37,000 tonnes per year. In addition, more than a dozen flyovers are being built in Amdavad city that would facilitate easy transit of about 200,000 vehicles, reducing further GHG emissions.
Today Amdavad City has dropped in rank—from 2001 to 2008—from 66th to 4th as the the most polluted city in India. With similar efforts in Surat City including the construction of fly over bridges, its GHG emissions have also been significantly reduced. NaMo has encouraged the use of natural gas—less polluting-- against the use of fossil fuel such as petrol. A statewide Gas Grid has been planned to provide cleaner fuel to the remote areas of the state. Around 1,500 km long High Pressure Gas Pipeline has been laid and commissioned. It passes through 15 districts of Gujarat catering the needs of power sector, chemicals, fertilizers, small and medium industries, ceramic and glass industries etc. Additional 800 km of high pressure pipeline is under construction. Gujarat is the only state in the country to boast such a State-wide Gas Grid. This will reduce CO2 emissions significantly. An ambitious project is under way for establishing statewide natural gas distribution stations to various households, automobile segments, commercial establishments and small scale industries. This project also aims to set up Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) stations at many locations replacing highly polluting fuels like coal, furnace oil, Liquefied Petroleum Gas, etc. in small industrial zones with environment friendly natural gas.
Thus under Modi’s leadership, Gujarat is the highest earner of Certified Emission Reductions (CERs) by industries totaling some 41.58% of total CERs earned by all states in India.
Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) has undertaken Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects to utilize methane gas that is generated during sewage treatment. The electricity generated thus is used for captive purpose. SMC commissioned India’s first Sewage Gas based Power Plant (SGPP) of 0.5 MW capacity at Anjana Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) in 2003. It also commissioned three SGPP, each of 1.0 MW capacity in 2008 at different STPs. These power plants have generated more than 12.888 million kWh electricity and reduced GHG emission equivalent to 52,100 tons of CO2.
Under NaMo’s leadership, the state power utilities have carried out improvement in power generation by adapting to better operation and maintenance practices. By implementing recommendations given in the energy audit reports that were done, the generating stations have achieved a saving of 13,035.83 MWh of energy annually. For reducing the transmission losses and improving power factor, lines with higher transmission voltages have been laid. More number of higher voltage substations has been set up and capacitor banks have been installed at various stations in the state. The combination of reforms in generation, transmission and distribution sectors have moderated the requirements for additional generation of electricity using fossil fuel in order to meet increase in demand of electricity. Thus by improving overall efficiency of the power plants and improving the performance standards of transmission and distribution network, lesser emission of the GHG has been achieved.
From 2000-01 to 2007-08, Gujarat’s net electricity generation (Million kWh) has increased by 28.75%
Recognizing the importance of Mangroves as carbon sinks, Gujarat has taken up extensive conservation and plantation activities in Mangroves areas. In last couple of years, more than 30,000 hectares of Mangrove forests have been added in the coastal tracts of Jamnagar, Kutch, Bhavnagar and Anand districts of Gujarat state. According to Forest Survey of India’s estimates, Mangroves cover in Gujarat has been steadily increasing. Modi’s team efforts have resulted in having the second largest Mangroves forest cover of 93,000 hectares in the country.
Narendrabhai has been constantly trying to enhance the wind power generation capacity in the state through successive policy frameworks. As a result, Gujarat has seen a phenomenal rise in wind power generation. Since 2002, it increased from 119.495 MW to 1,865 MW in 2010. These wind farms have generated 6,978 million MWh of electricity over last eight years resulting in emission reduction equivalent to 1.56 million tonnes of CO2. Under Modi’s watch, Gujarat saw wind power increase of 593.37% compared to India’s 364.89% In November 2008, Gujarat bagged the first prize and winning the Best Wind Power Developer State Award in India for maximum capacity addition in wind power generation for the year 2006-2008 with a growth rate of 99.64% during these two fiscals—2007-07 and 2007-08, along the coast of Saurashtra.
Possessing solar radiation levels for almost 300 days in a year, Gujarat has tremendous potential for solar power generation projects. Realizing this early on, Narendrabhai’s government has been working hard to tap and promote this green energy potential. They have done this by establishing projects in vast barren tracts of land in backward areas of the state, thus creating livelihood for the local people. Private businesses are given attractive incentives for some of these projects. Gujarat government under Modi is working with Clinton’s Climate Initiative to set up the world’s largest Solar Power Project (3000 MW) in arid regions of Kutch in Gujarat. All the raw materials will be locally produced. Gujarat energy Development Agency (GEDA ) has been promoting devices based on renewable Energy Sources such as Solar Cookers, Solar Water Systems, Solar Stills, Biogas Plants, SPV Street Lights and Home-lights, Solar Portable Lanterns, Water Pumping Windmills and Wind Turbines. In short, under Modi, Gujarat has been on the forefront in solar energy arena.
Last December, we drove hundreds of miles in Saurashtra; passing from Amreli, to coastal cities of Porbandar, Dwarka and Jamnagar on the way to Rajkot, we came across miles and miles of green cotton farms with hundreds of big windmills in these coastal areas generating electricity benefitting the state. Thanks to Narendrabhai’s total awareness and action on climate change.
Implementation of climate change adaptation into all aspects of policy formulation and implementation for poverty reduction has been given high priority by Modi’s administration. Having the longest coastline—some 1600 km long—of all the states of India, millions of people live and subsist on the coast of Gujarat. It also houses a large fishing community. Modi’s government has developed and implemented a 12-point program called Multi-Dimensional Development Package for Coastal Communities. The program consists of Skill upgradation, creation of employment, education, health services, access to pure drinking water, housing for all, soil conservation, water management, electrification, capacity building programs, development of salt pan workers, and national security. Some 110 million rupees are allocated to this unique model covering 38 subdivisions of Gujarat coast and a population of 6 million. It is for the first time that any Indian state has developed such a program addressing the problems and needs of poor people living in coastal areas.
Gujarat under Modi is the only state in India that has established a separate Department of Climate Change. Very few nations such as Denmark, UK, New Zealand and Australia have done so. This department is on its way to becoming a nodal agency for turning Green Technology into a new economic driver for the creation of extensive employment opportunities.
While extensively traveling in Gujarat last December-2013, we observed that the major highways—some of them being toll highways--were in excellent condition; Narendrabhai’s doing. Also, we found road-signs on highways with phone number like our 911 phone line. In case of any emergency including accidents, by calling this same number, a rescue vehicle will reach you to help within a short time.
“Pause for a moment and think about all that we take from nature in a day to live and then (to) realize that it does not ask for anything in return. That is what is called true giving. Then let us not be too selfish to exploit nature mindlessly when the very foundations of our civilization rest on the harmonious co-existence with nature”, says Narendrabhai.
Friends, this is what Narendrabhai Modi has done for Gujarat. I have no doubt, if elected the prime minister, he will do even more for the entire country what he has achieved for Gujarat. Our job is to get him elected by voting for BJP and giving them a thumping majority in the parliament; so that his government has a free hand to bring India, our motherland, to its pristine glory.
“Today’s Congress is a divisive force. It has divided men from men for the sake of votes. I want to unify India on the platform of development. My slogan, ‘India First’”…crows NaMo.
He thundered at a Kanpur rally last October, “A nation of 125 crore people with the world’s youngest population can achieve whatever it aims for. It only has to have the will to achieve it.”
Indian masses must get rid of the dynasty called Congress and its corrupt, ‘vote-bank’, ‘divide and rule’ politics. It has become redundant and corrupt to the core. This may sound extreme, but this Indira Gandhi dynasty called “Congress” needs to be dissolved. Custodian of power of India’s 67 years of independence, this Congress has kept India in perpetual poverty by its corrupt politics ever since our independence. The Congress of the pre-independence era was a dynamic party led by great stalwarts like Gandhi, Nehru, Patel and a galaxy of leaders. It served its purpose during the independence struggle. Current Congress is a family run business-empire promoting power and interests of one family served and supported by hundreds of sycophants. It has outlived its usefulness and it simply needs to be dissolved. Naturally, they will not do it but people of India can do it. India desperately needs to be free from the octopus tentacles of this rotten organization called the Congress Party.
Today, the choice for Indian people cannot be starker. The stakes could not be higher. They can either continue to keep this corrupt family-run organization in power with business as usual or they can vote BJP and its proven, no-nonsense visionary leader Narendra Modi to power giving his party a thumping 272 member majority in the parliament and usher in a new era for a dynamic, powerful and a resurgent India of 21st century.
Fortunately, since independence, a new Sardar Patel has arisen on Indian political landscape. Narendra Modi is that man. He will lead India to great height. He is doing his job. Let’s do our job by bringing BJP to power and making Narendra Modi India’s next Prime Minister.