Yesterday was a day to remember …. we got to be in the same auditorium as our rockstar PM and heard him live. Krishnan and I are huge fans and his way of interacting with people just made us even bigger fans.
Thanks to Rajesh, we attended the Self4Society platform launch yesterday at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium. The program was to start at 3.30 and we had clear instructions to reach the venue by 2 and be seated by 2.30. We reached by 1.15 and registered ourselves. There were enough registration counters, enough cloak room counters and enough policemen to help people park their cars. We were impressed with the arrangements made outside the venue.
Around 2 pm they started allowing us inside. There was a thorough security check at two points before we entered the hall at 2.30 pm. Many industry bigwigs like Anand Mahindra, Raman Roy, TCS founder director Mr. Kohli, Rama Dorai, Kiran Karnik and ministers like Ravi Shankar Prasad, Manoj Sinha, Prakash Javadekar, Jitendra Singh, Dr. Harshvardhan etc started coming in by 3 pm. When we entered the hall, there were about 100 to 150 people and we were wondering why such a huge hall had been booked. at 3 pm, the organisers tested the connection with Infosys, Bangalore and Tech Mahindra, Pune.
Within half an hour the hall filled up …. people started walking around looking for seats ! Then everyone was a little restless as 3.30 pm came around and there was still no sign of the PM. We saw Mr. Ravi Shankar Prasad and many of the industry bigwigs go out at 3.30 and assumed that the PM had arrived, but he hadn’t. The announcer came on to say the PM is expected shortly around 3.45 pm and that all of us should settle down. There was a sudden hush :). The PM still didn’t arrive but all the industry bigwigs came back into the hall. A few minutes before 4, our rockstar PM arrived and the hall erupted into a spontaneous cheer and some “Modi” “Modi” chanting. Everyone was standing up and trying to get a picture of the PM. He smiled and waved to everyone before sitting down in the first row. Many of the people in the VIP enclosure were trying to take his pictures !
For all the HMVs out there – buy heaps of burnol and antacid tablets.. this adulation for Mr. Modi will only getting stronger because the man has delivered far more than what could have been done in 4.5 years. Everyone knows that in their heart of hearts. Forget the brilliant oratory, thats just an added advantage he has but his optimism, his undying love for our country, his sheer hardwork and above all, his willingness to be a perpetual learner puts him far above any politician anywhere and from any time period. Most leaders stop learning when they reach a pinnacle – but Mr. Modi is open to learning all the time. That’s what makes him the visionary that he is. What he hasn’t managed to do in these 4.5 years is tiny compared to what he HAS done.
Anyway coming back to the event yesterday, we were blown away with the world class arrangements – there were water stations, clear seating map, ushers etc and when the PM started to speak, he didn’t have to tap the collar mike or wait for it to be switched on. He just went up on stage and started to speak and everything worked. When folks from Kolkatta, Pune, Bengaluru and Chennai had to be patched in through video, they got connected without a hitch and with no voice drop or blurring of images or latency issues. We were so proud that this was a government event done better than a corporate event and truly world class.
Every caller had a question for the PM and he handled them with his customary aplomb. Two answers stood out for us – a young lady from Cisco asked the PM why anyone paying taxes should still do some volunteering and community work? Isn’t paying taxes enough? Mr. Modi answered beautifully by saying, paying taxes is great as it shows a law abiding citizen but there is no soul satisfaction in paying taxes. Then he said – when you go to a restaurant, you pay the bill which is a necessity and the rule, but you also leave a tip for the waiter, similarly when your ride in a cab, you leave a tip for the driver – why? because it feels good and is soul satisfying. So doing community work or donating to a cause after paying your taxes is for your own satisfaction and not about following a rule. Just brilliant.
The next answer that showed why Mr. Modi is a visionary – he spoke of the squirrel in Ramayana wanting to help Lord Ram in building the Rama Setu during his war with Ravana. The squirrel also wanted to participate in a momentous historic project. Thats the regular interpretation. Mr. Modi offered a different paradigm shifting interpretation – no great historic project can be done without contributions and participation from people across all positions – the leader can’t do a great historic project all by himself !! He said this in answer to a question about how young people can help his mega visionary projects like the “Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan” – he said all that his government has achieved, has been done by the people who made it into a movement. Its an important lesson for the corporate world too … some leaders/managers assume that they deliver all the projects all by themselves and forget to recognise the efforts of the young team members. Even Lord Ram needed the help of a little squirrel.
The wow factor didn’t end when the PM left the hall – he got a standing ovation just like when he walked in. He completed the session at 6 pm exactly, 2 hours is what it said in the invite and two hours it was.
The announcer said there are snack boxes for all the participants and as we walked out of the hall towards the road, the registration desks were piled with snack boxes and water bottles. Volunteers handed over the snack boxes and water to everyone who was walking out and the snack box had a CCD Sandwich, brownie, paneer pakoda :), a pack of chips plus a Maaza. Many of us sat down nearby on the pavement to eat. I had jokingly told Mom that the PM has to give us lunch since we left home early to attend his session – well, he did.
We got into the metro and came back home after a great experience. Our dream is to meet Mr. Modi and take a selfie to replace the one we took with his wax statue at Madame Tussauds, London. Someday that too shall happen – we were a few metres away yesterday, which is a huge improvement and we are happy.
Thanks Rajesh and thank you Mr. Modi for being who you are and leading my country, couldn’t ask for a better leader.