By R.K. Raghavan
The people of India have once again convincingly demonstrated their faith in democracy and in Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatya Janata Party (BJP) by giving them a massive mandate in the just-concluded general elections. A large segment of about 600 million Indians – out of a total electorate of 900 million – who exercised their franchise, voted Modi back to office with an incredible majority.
The BJP on its own steam won more than three hundred seats in the Lok Sabha – total strength of 543 – the lower house of a bicameral Parliament. The margin of victory may astound an international observer, but those at home may not have been surprised.
Mr Modi stands for economic development with an emphasis on domestic manufacturing sector, as exemplified by the Modi slogan ‘Make in India’ and not merely ‘Make for India’. He also stands for justice and equity for the poorest of citizens. The magnitude of a Modi victory confirms that the average Indian – both in the rural and urban areas- is supremely satisfied with the present government and its performance.
Mr Modi’s sensitivity to the fundamental needs of the women in villages was demonstrated by strengthening the system of distribution of cooking-gas connections for poor homes, which had until recently been using kerosene or wood, not the most efficient of fuels.
The formulation of a universal health scheme is the brainchild of Mr Modi that has won him millions of hearts. The scheme is fast gaining credibility and acceptance, and will soon become a model for countries across the globe. There is widespread belief that this attractive health cover will be extended to millions of more Indians who are burdened by the galloping costs of Medicare.
Mr Modi is a great believer in public hygiene. His decision to fund building of toilets was a masterstroke hailed by villagers – especially women – who had the ignominy of sharing toilets with total strangers. This is Mr Modi’s style. No task is beneath his stature as long as it helps the poorest of the poor.
Perhaps Mr Modi’s strongest footprint will be in the area of foreign policy. During his five-year tenure from 2014 to 2019, he has travelled to nearly 100 countries and established personal rapport with the most powerful of statesmen currently dominating the world.
Good relations with every other country and respecting their cultural and other sentiments have been the hallmark of Mr Modi’s foreign policy. He has successfully permeated the message that India is a friend of everyone and no consideration of religious or other differences will ever stand in the way of regulating international relations.
India has the highest respect and deepest love for Cyprus. This bond goes back to the times of Archbishop Makarios, in whose memory New Delhi has named an important road in the heart of that metropolis. The solid support to Cyprus in its problem with Turkey is widely known. I expect this bond to grow stronger and stronger by the day.
R.K. Raghavan is India’s High Commissioner to Cyprus