Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011's Message: For Transformation, 'Sauno Saath-Sauno Vikas'!

Dear Friends,

It is that time of the year when we bid farewell to what has gone by and welcome what lies ahead. As the joys and sorrows of 2011 pave way for the expectations and apprehensions of 2012, I felt it would be an appropriate exercise to go back in time and remember the year just gone by.

If there was one word that defined 2011, it was 'protest'. Time Magazine summed up the essence of 2011 by naming 'The Protestor' as its Person of the Year. More than any individual, it was collective strength that defined the year gone by. Protests took place against Governments that were unable to live up to the aspirations of the people particularly the youth. Further, it was the cradles of human civilization that showed the way in challenging the status quo. If Egypt marked the rise of the Arab Spring, the Middle East saw protests aplenty while the people of Greece protested in the wake of economic downturn. Even America had its Occupy Wall Street Movement! When the forbearers of humankind become grounds of such protest it is nothing less than a call for introspection.

Talking about protest and 2011, it is impossible to forget events at home. We have been at the forefront of global protests in more ways than one. It is a matter of great pride to note that most of the protests across the World were non-violent! What can be a greater tribute to Mahatma Gandhi than the fact that even today, youngsters across the world are adopting his ways in order to make their voices heard! Be it the Independence Struggle in the first half of the 20th century, 1974 Navnirman Movement in Gujarat that challenged the might of an unhealthy status quo or 1975 Emergency when democracy came under severe strain, India continued to show the world the power of peaceful protest.

Protests in India took place as a distinct change of mood engulfed the nation. Bad economics, poor governance coupled with regular attacks on the federal structure of the country have made the people of this country impatient and disappointed. From corporate leaders to people on the street, there is near total talk of a 'governance deficit', a 'policy paralysis' covering the nation. This explains best the scores of protests across India against complacent Governments, be it in the states or at the Centre.

But, there remains a shining ray of hope in the midst of these otherwise difficult times. Rather than being disappointed or overtly critical we must view them as a ray of opportunity! During my recent trip to China, I spoke of how it is now for Asia to emerge as a growth engine of the world in the wake of the global financial crisis. The crisis of western capitalism is a unique opportunity for India to lead the world, accelerate her growth and pull out the millions of people from the clutches of poverty.

Friends, mass movements are not only about protests. I consider myself fortunate to be witnessing a mass movement that that is manifested in the spirit of Sauno Saath, Sauno Vikas (all together, growth for all), where inclusive growth with collective effort creates a unique mass movement for overall development. In Gujarat, we added a 4th S of Sadbhavana to our 3 S (Speed, Scale and Skill) model of progress. I am overwhelmed when I see so many people coming under one roof to show the world the power that drives Gujarat's growth. Mass movements are as much created when the entire state administration including ministers and senior officials go out to the villages asking families to educate their girl child. When I read about a 16-year old specially abled girl breaking cricketing records in Khel Mahakumbh 2011 it was as much a mass movement suggesting large-scale inclusion! These instances inspire me to work harder so that the ocean of talent is recognized and is able to serve the country to the fullest.

Our democracy remains both young and strong. While we face numerous challenges from both within and outside, I am confident we will emerge stronger, like we have done in the past. In the coming year let us resolve to working towards taking India ahead. The Gujarat Government has declared 2012 as the 'Year of Youth Power' commemorating the 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda. No growth is compete till our youth is given an opportunity to shine and I am sure this will give a boost to youth talent and generate opportunities.

If there is one lasting message of 2011, it is that people power is necessary but not sufficient to transform nations. People power must be combined with good governance to bring about real, deep and lasting change. This combination can achieve almost everything from eliminating corruption to ending malnutrition and illiteracy. It can create a better future for ourselves and generations to come. In Gujarat, good governance coupled with development and harmony has amplified the power of 6 crore Gujaratis. I hope we can do the same as Indians for our nation. If 2011 unleashed the power of protest, let 2012 further demonstrate the power of Sauno Saath, Sauno Vikas!

I take this opportunity to wish you and your loved ones a very Happy 2012! With the blessings of Almighty, may the New Year bring both joy and success at your doorstep!

- Narendra Modi

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