Confused with the title of this article?
This article is about the just concluded “State Of The Union” address of the “President Of The United States” on 30th January 2018, its implications and its similarities with the challenges we face in India.
President Trump struck all the right chords in this address. I had written an article in September 2016 outlining why I believed Trump would win the election and I continue to believe that he is delivering on everything that he had promised in his election manifesto. This was a different Trump than what we have seen in the past. He was less aggressive and more inclusive. It is clear that all that matters to him is his country.
He spoke about major investments in America (singling out companies like Apple, Chrysler and Mazda), reduction of taxes, investing over US$ 1.3 trillion in infrastructure, immigration, and strengthening the defence forces and other services like border guards, police forces and the fire service. He peppered his long speech with very well placed examples of people who had been carefully selected and invited to this address. He took time to discuss the need for protecting the citizens of the country. He spoke about setting up vocational schools to train the next generation of young Americans.
He spoke at length about the cost of medicines and his plans to reduce these costs very soon. He also referred to the need to respect their National Anthem and their National Flag. He was applauded regularly by the Republican benches and several times, albeit reluctantly, by the Democratic benches. He asked for a bi-partisan approach to many challenges being faced by the country.
As he spoke, I tried to draw a parallel with the Indian parliament. Would our Prime Minister be able to make a long speech in parliament without loud challenges from the opposition benches and without people rushing into the well or tagging a walkout? Would the opposition, even reluctantly, applaud the Prime Minister and this Government for so many achievements?
The analysts are busy tearing apart his speech on every channel and I am sure the newspapers in the morning will be full of views and counter views on his speech. Critics are talking about what he did not say instead of talking about what he did say. Here is a President who is refocusing his energies on his own country and is moving away from providing leadership to the World. His “Make America Great Again” slogan appeals to his constituents but shakes up the rest of the World who have got used to looking towards America to provide leadership first and then blaming America when things do not go as per plan.
The challenges we face in India are no different. Our Prime Minister too is faced with a small group of high decibel politicians and journalists whose only aim is to critique every action that is taken and every word that is uttered by him. Mr Modi’s challenges are much greater. Not only does he have an over aggressive group of opposition parties who can never hope to present a bi-partisan face given their wide disparities, he can never think of supporting or naming businesses since he can never be identified with any business group.
India too needs huge investments in infrastructure in our economy. We need more and better roads and better public transportation. We need more airports and river transportation. We need clean energy and clean air. We need improved healthcare and cheaper medicines and improved educational facilities. We need cheap housing for our masses. We need more control of our borders (yes we have a huge problem of illegal immigrants from our neighbouring country on our east). In a country adding 27 million children every year, we need strong and determined policies to create more jobs. We need to support and galvanise the Make in India philosophy because only then will be create value added jobs for our people.
We need more respect for our defence forces and we must stop these ridiculous FIR’s against the Indian Army. We need a very strong policy to manage our over aggressive neighbour on our western border and therefore we need to improve on the arms and facilities for our armed forces. Our space programme needs to be supported not simply because we want to “reach for Mars” but because this technology helps develop more reliable defence capabilities.
Since Independence, the “roti, kapda, makan” promises have been made by successive politicians and the gap between the rich and the poor has continued to widen. Too much has been done for a few who have amassed huge wealth under the guise of providing employment. We need to ensure that the “have-nots” in our country which comprises of agricultural workers, blue collar workers, people in rural and semi urban India and those people who have never benefited from the largesse of previous Governments are provided opportunities in a nation that belongs to all of us.
We need to provide opportunities for our millennials and beyond, the people who will power our nation into the next few decades. All this can be delivered only by a strong and committed leadership who will be able to follow through on tough reforms despite criticism.
We need India to be take its rightful place in the comity of nations. We need to provide leadership in South Asia and in the World. For this we need a strong and unwavering foreign policy.
As President Trump ended his speech with “God bless America”, I wondered if a similar statement could be made by Prime Minister Modi. If he did, there would be an uproar of “which God” he was referring to and which audience he was selectively “blessing”!
The author is the founder Chairman of Guardian Pharmacies. A keen political observer, he is an Angel Investor and Executive Coach. He is the author of 5 best-selling books, Reboot. Reinvent. Rewire: Managing Retirement in the 21st Century; The Corner Office; An Eye for an Eye; The Buck Stops Here – Learnings of a #Startup Entrepreneur and The Buck Stops Here – My Journey from a Manager to an Entrepreneur.
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