It is PM Modi’s birthday, as our thoughts wean towards his accomplishments we can’t help but marvel at the way he has gone around achieving the lofty targets he has set for himself. His vision for the nation sets him apart from all his contemporaries. While several people questioned BJP’s choice for PM for the 2014 general elections, owing to the fact that BJP had several more leaders with an “unblemished past”, what got him elected was his track record as the CM of Gujarat & the grand vision he had for our country.
Although he did not exactly spell out his vision for our country & promised “Acche Din”, post being entrusted with the job of running the nation, he launched several flagship schemes namely Make in India, Jan Dhan, PM Awas Yojana, modified land bill etc. He faced flak from a restless electorate in his first year for not being able to showcase visible results, but the voices of dissent were silenced in the second year as his schemes started showing the desired results. Post completing two years he launched the more crucial reforms. These reforms although promised long term benefits, would cause his electorate short term pain. As we speak demonetization & GST have been implemented to mixed reactions from the public. While several people are excited about the long term prospects thanks to these ground breaking reforms, there are several who are criticizing these moves owing to the short term losses they are facing.
Two other moves which have come under fire have been erecting Shivaji Memorial in the middle of the Arabian Sea & Bullet trains for Mumbai-Ahmedabad due to the huge costs involved & or the projects not being financially viable. The Opinionated Indian lists out reasons why these projects need to be supported & as to why these projects are masterstrokes by PM Modi
People have been questioning the rationale behind investing INR 4000 crores for building a memorial for dedicated to Maratha ruler Shivaji Maharaj, when several citizens of Mumbai remain homeless, survive with barely a morsel per day & lack basic amenities.
The answer to this query lies in the eyes of a foreign traveler. Tourism is a major industry across the globe, but barely contributes 8% to Indian GDP. Tourism not only boosts foreign exchange reserves, but also generates employment & gives a major thrust to the economy directly & indirectly. Tourism is a major source of revenue for UAE, Singapore, EU, UK & Thailand. while the aforementioned countries were early in realizing the potential of tourism & took proactive measures to increase tourist traffic. In fact there is something new to explore for tourists in Dubai every two years. Realizing that their limited oil reserves as compared to their neighbours will not last too long, UAE has been at the forefront of developing their country as a tourism hub. Thailand, Singapore too are a favorite among travelers. China & Australia too have joined the race recently. They have spent millions on advertising & marketing their countries to boost tourism.
Apart from The Taj Mahal in Agra, there are no novel tourist spots in the country. While there are several beautiful beaches, hill stations & historic landmarks across the country, there is nothing totally unique to our country. There are several beautiful beaches, hill stations & historic landmarks in several other countries. An American traveler for example would rather enjoy the beaches of Phuket or Pattaya, where he can either get a tan while sipping the cheap booze or enjoy motor sports, go shopping at their huge malls & then proceed to get a “happy ending” from an exotic thai masseuse. Whereas an American traveler in Goa can has to remain content with getting a tan & sipping cheap booze. We are not advocating for legalizing prostitution but speaking about the mindset of travelers. It is about the various options presented to him/her once they land in your country. Macau for example has world class casinos, exotic massages & beautiful beaches. Thus should explain the huge surge is tourists visiting Macau every year. Dubai is probably the favorite tourist destination of travelers across the globe, thanks to their huge malls, desert safaris, historic monuments & the Burj Khalifa. Europe wins hands down for a traveler interested in natural beauty or a history buff or even an art lover.
While having a Disney Land or Universal Studios provides a huge boost to tourism in that city/country neither of them are expected to come to our country soon. Neither is our government expected to legalize gambling or prostitution anytime soon. So how then do we boost tourist traffic? The answer is the Shivaji Memorial.
The Shivaji Memorial will be the tallest statue in the world. This description itself will evince the interest of a lot of global travelers. They can then revel in knowing the history of the great ruler & his exploits. The surge in tourist traffic to Mumbai, which is the financial capital of the country & naturally attracts a decent amount of business travelers, will lead to increase in foreign exchange reserves & boost revenues of travel companies. The travel companies will have to hire more employees to cater to the growing demand. The Memorial will be situated in the middle of the sea. The jobless youth can earn money by ferrying the travelers to the memorial on a jetty. When anyone mentions New York, the first image that flashes to your mins is likely to be The Statue of Liberty, similarly the first image that will flashes in anyone’s mind when Mumbai is mentioned, will be The Shivaji memorial, with the Shivaji Statue towering over the city’s skyline. what a magnificent view will that be!
It also helps that the BJP will gets to steal a march over the Shiv Sena – it’s ally cum rival who have positioned themselves as the caretakers of the great ruler’s legacy. This will help the BJP garner a lot of Marathi votes. What a masterstroke Modiji!
The bullet train has been a long cherished dream of PM Modi. Reams of newsprint has been dedicated in analyzing the financial viability of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project. There have been reports that the bullet train will have to make 100 rides between Mumbai-Ahmedabad in a day to be financially viable. Critics have been asking why the government is spending millions on a bullet train when the existing railway network is replete with issues.
When China launched a bullet train, it helped its citizens in far flung provinces to reach the city to work & then go back home in the evening. This helped in reversing the concentration of population, growth of the city & spread it across the region. Companies too benefited, as they were able to get cheap & skilled labor without having to set up several branches. Imagine a computer engineer from Vapi who has to spend at least 5 hours to reach Mumbai as of now, will require less than two hours to reach either Mumbai or Ahmedabad to work in an IT firm of his choice. Now he will have to leave his hometown & pay a hefty rent to reside in Mumbai or Ahmedabad. It goes without saying that the money saved on rent or transportation can be utilized for other purposes, which in turn will boost the economy of Vapi. A small retailer based out of Ahmedabad can now fulffil his ambition of setting up shop in Mumbai, as he can now make several visits to Mumbai by reaching in two hours & then be back to his shop in Ahmedabad in the evening post sipping his afternoon tea. It goes without saying that the world will speak about the bullet trains in India & help improve India’s perception across the globe, which too will lead to more jobs & FDI. There are talks of several Japanese firms investing in the Mumbai-Ahmedabad industrial corridor, which will develop thanks to the bullet train. Although the affordability of the bullet train for a low level employee or a daily wage earner is questionable, it is ideal for business travelers , middle income citizens & tourists. It will help in easing the burden of highly congested air traffic, which is expected to increase in the coming years. The route might get extended to Bengaluru, which will greatly benefit the economies of Maharashtra, Karnataka & Gujarat. The computer engineer from Vapi can then dream of working in Bengaluru – the Silicon Valley of India!
By now you will have guessed that every move of PM Modi has an ulterior motive. While the Shivaji statue offers political gains for the BJP, the bullet train project will enable India & Japan to cock a snook over their rival – China. Modiji should tutor people in killing several birds with one stone!
The point we are trying to make is that both the moves of PM Modi have huge long term gains. One needs to have the kind of vision which Modiji has in order to commend him for the exemplary job that he is doing in order to develop our country & not worrying about the short term losses he will face due to his decisions. He is more interested in leaving a lasting legacy & not just play safe for short term electoral gains.