The potential of Narendra Modi: Does the 21st century belong to India?


Since the inauguration of Narendra Modi, there has been considerable excitement regarding the economic possibilities. The Guardian went so far as to say that the “21st century belongs to India”. The often-controversial Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was sworn into office May 17th 2014 after winning the election by a landslide victory, has changed the Indian political game. Having won 282 of the 543 elected seats in lower parliament, Modi signifies the potential for a new economically progressive India, and with his historically impressive election results; Modi aims to revive the nation plagued by corruption and mismanagement. As written by Anil Padmanabhan in Mint, a local business paper, “The results were historic … It is evident that the Indian voter has delivered an epochal verdict.”[1] Public confidence in the potential for economic advancement since the inauguration of Modi has greatly increased and with reports from Kevin Gibson, Chief Investment Officer at East-spring Investments, stating, he would like to see India growing at its potential growth rate of 8-9% by the end of Modi’s current term.”[2]

Image courtesy of the World Economic Forum, © 2008, some rights reserved
Image courtesy of the World Economic Forum, © 2008, some rights reserved


At Modi’s inauguration into office, he announced “Ma Ganga aur Benares se mera rishta purana hai,” thereby pledging to clean up the River Ganga, in Varanasi, the holiest and possibly most unhygienic river. The Ganga is the country’s central vein representing the spiritual epicentre of India. Thereby, Modi’s pledge to clean up the river goes far beyond; the symbolic impact of a successful clean-up would solidify the country’s choice in Modi as their Prime Minister and forever immortalise his time in office. A successful clean up of the river would entail far more than one might assume, and will be Modi’s toughest endeavour. The watershed of the river Ganga spreads over 10 states of India, and by promising to clean the river, Modi will provide clean drinking water to these numerous states across the country. Initial plans have shown that in order for this plan to be fully enacted, it will be an eighteen-year long in order for complete water sanitation to occur. Far greater than the logistical improbabilities of implementing this plan will be the symbolic victory should his plan be realized. Not only would he be able to enact something, which has been discussed since the Ganga Action Plan in January 1986, he would reaffirm his position as Prime Minister and furthermore, ward off any ‘anti-environment’ criticisms that Modi received during his term as Chief Minister of Gujarat, India.


Modi also marks the end to the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, which has ruled India for over 30 years since the country’s independence in 1947. In the 2014 election, they won only 44 seats showing their worst performance to date. The once untouchable “royal” family of India has now been shown to have fallen from grace and the glowing words from the Guardian in 2007 can no longer be validated as the truth: “The Nehru Gandhi brand has no peer in the world — a member of the Gandhi family has been in charge of India for 40 of the 60 years since independence. The allure of India’s first family blends the right to rule of British monarchy with the tragic glamour of America’s Kennedy clan.”[3] The landslide victory for Modi can be related back to the public frustration with this version of Indian ‘monarchy’. The continuation of one family’s dominance in Indian politics created complacency. Modi represents the hope for a future India, based on the microcosm of Modi’s changing of Gujarat. As my mother’s family is from Ahmedabad, Gujarat, I visit annually, and even to me, the change is apparent as the infrastructure and transport systems have greatly improved. Gujarat was greatly ameliorated during Modi’s term in office and therefore the public support in other states increased subsequently looking to Gujarat as the result of Modi’s proactive character and economic prowess.


Modi personifies the potential for India to be a truly great power, and reduce the emphasis on hierarchy and caste that occurs even today and more importantly, eradicating the vast corruption enacted by the political elite. While the Indian youth are increasingly looking towards the Western world as the epitome of progress and advancement, this also means that, thanks to the digital age, there has been an increase of importance of wealth and fame on the Indian public. Since the appointment of Modi in office, the public have looked to Gujarat, which has seen a dramatic transformation in the last 10 years, one that is evident even to me when I visit annually, as the beacon of hope for the potential for India. Modi’s promise to clean the Mother Ganga (River Ganges) symbolises more than just economic advancement for the country, but also that the pulse of the Indian populace being cleansed and purified. This suggests that Modi will aim to change the cultural hindrances that India will face in his term in office, thus signifying an exciting time in India with considerable potential for economic advancement, political influence and social progress.



[1] Burke, Jason; “Election-winner Narendra Modi: 21st century belongs to India”, The Observer, 17th May 2014 (Last Accessed: 8th October 2014)

[2] Baruah, Biswajit; “India has the potential to grow at 8-9% under Narendra Modi”, ET Bureau, 9th September 2014 (Last Accessed: 8th October 2014)

[3] “The making of the Gandhi dynasty”; Guardian. 2007-05-09 (Last Accessed: 8th October 2014)

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