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Prime Minister Narendra Modi demonstrates that common sense is the King

PM Modi's initiatives seem simple but have a profound impact on the 1.3 billion people.

Common sense is as rare as genius –is the basis of genius’

                                                                                                         Ralph Waldo Emerson

Heading Business schools for around two decades and writing books and articles, columns on Leadership, motivation and management, my biggest takeaway has been just one- ‘management and leadership is nothing but sheer common sense.’ Common sense is what I call ‘Horse sense’. A horse knows when there is a difficult path and has the sense to navigate his way out that is why horses seldom fall. It is a natural gift from God.

Let me give one simple example to explain this idea. When Thomas Edison, the inventor of the light bulb hired his top guns for his company, he would give each aspirant a glass bulb (shell of an electric bulb) and ask them to find out the volume of the bulb. These guys were toppers from the most prestigious engineering colleges dying to work for him and were great at physics and math. They would all take measurements using Vernier callipers, use slide rules, take accurate measurements and, apply advanced Calculus, and make complex equations to calculate the volume as accurately as possible. Out of hundred candidates, one guy would fill it with water and pour the water into a measuring jar and give the exact volume! He was hired. Edison was looking for people who could find a simple solution to a complex problem.

I think the biggest strength of Prime Minister Modi is common sense and using that to take major decisions. More often than not he is spot on. His initiatives seem simple but have a profound impact across the 1.3 billion people.

Late Rajiv Gandhi as the Prime Minister said that only 15 paise out of a rupee sent by his government reaches the actual beneficiary! The rest was gobbled up by the middlemen (Bichauliyas). This was said in 1985 and no one found or attempted to find a solution to this seemingly complex problem, and mind you, Rajiv Gandhi government is rightly given the credit for computerization and automation.

All it took was common sense to solve this. First, PM Modi under Jan Dhan Yojana opened bank accounts for the poorest of the poor (the most exploited by dalals touted as ‘Dallas’). In one shot more than 35 Crore bank accounts were opened and then the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) scheme was implemented, literally eliminating the middlemen. Along with the force multiplier effect of digital India, it hit the nail on the head. Bang. Of course, the Naysayers and Liberals were quick to point out that these bank accounts would help to stash unaccounted money. As they say ‘Chor ki dadee main tinka‘ or ‘sawan ke andhey ko saab hara he nazar aata hai’. If you are a chor minded person you will think like one.

Common sense can bring a paradigm shift and in this case, it did. It was killing five birds without a stone! The poor got their entitled money, they got self-respect, the middlemen got eliminated, and the poorest man sitting in the remotest corner started paying online and as a bonus larger part of the economy got accounted for.

As a techno manager, I always say ‘Creating technology is one thing but using it for mass impact is more important‘.

Another leak was fixed by the government by neem coating the urea which is subsidized for farmers’ use at Rs 5,360 per ton, was being diverted for industrial use, especially in the paints and plywood industry, as it is cheaper compared to the urea for industrial use which cost Rs 22,000-23,000 per ton.

Look at the Medal tallies in games. A push from the top has helped our sportsmen and women to do better in the international arena and also linked Yoga with fitness.

Let me say, we always looked at ourselves as ‘inferiors’; inferior to the white skin, maybe to the entire world, we always struggled to keep our head just above the water. We had no qualms in being referred to as the third world.  Our aspiration was limited to Roti, Kapada aur makaan for decades on. Pride was nowhere on the horizon! You cannot put a price tag on your pride- it’s not a bar of chocolate.

Common sense again came in handy. We had the means all along but were always scared of a self-created mental glass ceiling. We never thought we could do it. It took a concerted effort to get going in this going North and several initiatives were taken in this direction. For instance, the Statue of Unity of Sardar Patel 597 feet tall is the tallest statue in the world. It was built with a twin purpose. First to build the world’s tallest statue and second to give the well-deserved due to Sardar Patel, our first home minister who single-handedly united all states of India as one nation. The spin-off was the pride which has no price, it is priceless.

Again killing three birds with one stone. In comparison, the Statue of Liberty located on Liberty Island in Upper New York Bay, off the coast of New York City, a highly touted monument in the US stands at 305 feet only. Almost dwarfed in front of ours. Here also the naysayers were quick to retort. ‘This statue cost around INR 3000 crore, we could feed crores of people with this!’ can you believe this? Back to the freebees mentality.

 We were like an eagle in the Hen’s coop.

An eagle’s baby got trapped in a hen’s coop and picked up all the habits of little chicks. As a chicken flies only a few feet, the eagle’s kid also flew that much. As it reached adult plumage it looked like an eagle but still didn’t know how to fly because of the mental block, he thought himself to be a chicken. One day as he was looking up he saw a grand eagle flying in the sky and thought ‘I wish I could fly like this bird!’

We could never think that we could, fly, and roll out 5G as we were only doing Haan ji or How ji and no ji? Could we ever imagine health care for free for 50 crore Indians under one Ayushman Bharat scheme? Could we ever imagine world-class highways? Could we imagine ever exporting weapons to other countries? Could we ever think that ten crore toilets can be built for rural landscapes, world-class railway stations? Could you ever imagine that article 370 would be revoked one day (a brilliant way to make two UTs) to make a clean sweep? NO, NO and NO.

But the proof of the pudding is in the eating

Let me tell you, you don’t have to eat the entire pudding to appreciate the taste. To check whether rice is fully cooked and ready to eat you need to take just one grain of rice and you will get to know if it is ready or not.

While playing golf when you speak to your caddy you get to know what is happening in the country. Our safai Karamchari now takes his salary by cheque. I was speaking to a nursing helper the other day and he told me that the entire treatment of his wife in a hospital would have cost around Rs 200,000 but under Ayushman Bharat scheme he availed the cashless facility.

For me this is the proof of the pudding- that is Naya Bharat. Please go and check out at random as I do to get to know what is happening on the ground for those who were deprived.

Today when you travel abroad, you are respected as an Indian. People still can’t believe this! Is this happening for real? Yes it is.

I have friends living abroad and they give it a resounding thumbs up.

It is better to have common sense without great degrees than to have great degrees without common sense.’

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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Virender Kapoor
Virender Kapoor
Author, inspirational Guru. 'What you can learn from military principles' 'Excellence the Amitabh Bachchan way' 'Speaking the Modi way' 'Winning Instinct - decoding the power within' 'PQ - How it matters more than IQ'

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