Leadership lessons from Narendra Modi

Ever since Narendra Modi took over as the Prime Minister of India, I have often been asked on what this means for India. My parents are staunch supporters of the Congress party and it was only natural that this was passed down to the next generation. Narendra Modi, led BJP was not my natural first choice as the Prime Ministerial candidate (not that my one vote means anything!). However, he has had an inspiring effect on millions of Indians from his very first day in office. I have been inspired by several of his actions from day one of his assuming office as the Prime Minister of India. Allow me to share some of these below to illustrate why many Indians are excited about the future of the country.

  • In what was regarded as a masterstroke, he invited the heads of state of all neighboring countries to his swearing in ceremony. The guest list included Mr. Nawaz Sharif, Prime Minister of Pakistan with whom India has had very strained relations even since its independence. This move to invite the heads of state from neighboring countries to the swearing in ceremony was the first ever by an Indian Prime Minister. He sought their support in building a very strong South Asian subcontinent on his very first day in office. It seemed like Narendra Modi had dreamt about this day long before his election and was well prepared to lead this nation of 1.25 billion people. He demonstrated the sense of urgency and speed with he is going to operate.
  • A few months into office, he was invited to address delegates celebrating the 86 year anniversary of Indian Council of Agriculture research. He took the delegates by surprise in asking the council to start preparing for the 100 year celebration (14 years from today!). The celebration he said was to be less of celebrating the institution and more of celebrating the impact it has had on developing the farmers of the country. He challenged them to achieve in the remaining 14 years what has been achieved in the last 86 years. He shared his visionary perspective of how this can be achieved by bringing the “Lab to Land”.
  • A crucial aspect of leadership is our ability to communicate and call for action. In his first ever address to the nation on India’s Independence Day, he announced “Mission Swach India” – a cleanliness drive to create a Clean India of his dreams by 2019. He laid the vision of how the pursuit of a Clean India can drive economic activity, reduce healthcare costs, increase tourism and a source of employment.
  • Another inspiring initiative is the Jan Dhan Yojana. This is an initiative to provide financial inclusion to poorest of poor in India. The idea is to integrate millions of families which have mobile phones but no bank account. The person who opens a bank account gets a debit card and an insurance cover to deal with any unforeseen eventuality. Account holders also get entitled to a small overdraft facility once they have maintained an active account for a period of six months. On inauguration day of the program, 15 million bank accounts were created!! The eventual goal is to build a cashless society and provide universal access to banking facilities.

Several other exciting initiatives such a Digital India, Make in India have attracted the interest of the global enterprises. In a short span of just over three months of being in office, he has energized the country and leveraged their collective support to build a better nation. I believe the biggest test for the Modi government will be in the area of national security. This is what caught the previous government off guard and they were perpetually in a defensive mode. A stable and economically vibrant India can play an important role in leading global economic recovery. The next decade promises to very exciting for Asia. I am very inspired by leaders in several Asian economies. More on this in subsequent posts.

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