Life presents very few occasions to poke fun at the outstanding grid that is New York City. So, it is hard not to act petty and abandon all sense of history to seize that rare moment when it presents itself. At its current location, the city’s most cherished indoor entertainment venue does not intersect Madison Avenue, nor is it square or has a garden, but is still called Madison Square Garden (MSG). For us Indians, though, that hardly matters, for we are accustomed to naming a shabbily designed three-storey building as Lake Tower or Garden View, with no water body or greenery in sight for miles. Hence, on the evening of September 28, 2014, MSG might have well meant Modi sathe garba (dance with Modi).
The new prime minister has brought renewed hope to a nation where even many of its educated citizenry are self-serving. Given that a society gets the leaders it deserves, we have largely been led by self-serving politicians. But now we have an aberration. Narendra Damodardas Modi wants to make that leap from a politician to a statesman who puts country before self. Essentially, he wants to go where no Indian politician has gone before. If he succeeds, then for this country, the term ‘Statesman’ will mean more than a newspaper.
His newly-begun FDR-style radio broadcast may address his penchant for communication but industry and investors now want him to execute his vision. Many of us are watching but not all of us will wait is the view from the world’s financial capital. It is not just foreign but also Indian investors who want the state to transform into an efficient allocator of capital. Countless public sector units drain resources and yet are not accountable. State-owned banks make highly questionable lending decisions, tot up bad loans and then get recapitalised at the expense of the taxpayer.
All of the above and much more have to change and any action to the contrary might be interpreted as anti-reform. Modi may have signed off with “May the force be with you” from the Star Wars movie trilogy to the youth assembled at Central Park but, now more than ever, as he pushes against self-interest groups, he needs the force to be with him.