India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who hails from the state of Gujarat where Mahatma Gandhi was born, may have shortcomings as a leader.
But this man with a disarming smile who, at a very young age used to help his father sell tea at a small railway station, can pull crowds.
He proved it last year at New York’s Madison Square Garden where he got a rock star-like reception.
He may repeat it on Sept. 27 in San Jose where he will be visiting tech companies to win their support for his “Digital India” initiative that aims to expand Internet access, boost electronics manufacturing and develop apps to improve the delivery of government services.
Among his schedules is a visit to Facebook for a town hall-style question-answer session followed by visits to other top tech companies like Google and Adobe systems and electric carmaker Tesla.
Modi, who has more Facebook fans than any politician except for Barack Obama, will visit Sundar Pichai and Shantanu Narayen, India-born chief executives of Google and Adobe respectively.
At Tesla, which makes zero emission cars, he will learn more on ways to strengthen India’s clean energy initiative.
During his visit to Bay Area, home to a large number of Indian techies, he will meet managers of tech firms that want to invest in India and also seek support from the influential Indian-American community living there.
At SAP Centre, he will be addressing about 45,000 Americans of Indian origin.
Indian media will naturally play up the US visit for their own reasons and millions of Indians glued to TV sets will be impressed by the show.
But once back home, Modi has to prove himself by successfully implementing measures to improve the lives of millions of farmers, provide home and food for the marginalized sections of society, generate jobs for youth, fight corruption at all levels, make bureaucracy more efficient, stop crony capitalism, empower women, ensure rule of law and mend fences with neighboring countries.
True, Modi government has taken some positive steps like providing toilets in schools, opening more than 14 crore bank accounts for financial inclusion, “Make in India” to provide jobs for youth, and “Swachh Bharat (Clean India) Mission to see that health and hygiene issues of the poor do not affect their working capacity and output.
While these schemes have a good purpose to serve their worth is judged by the successful implementation. Launching them with a lot of fanfare and neglecting them soon after will only provide photo opportunity to the rich and the famous who join such inaugurals to draw crowds.