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With eye on 2014, Modi for re-branding of India

New Delhi, Feb 6 (IANS) In a speech with barely disguised claims of what he was capable of, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi Wednesday appealed for a re-branding of India to make it a global power.

In an hour-long speech at the Shri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC) here, Modi underlined that the government's job was not to run businesses but to provide good governance.

Amid repeated applause, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) veteran told the hundreds of students and faculty that Indian political leaders should view the young as "new age power", not as "new age voters".

Modi made no criticism of the Congress party or any politician but left none in doubt that he was pitching himself as one of the most progressive and visionary leaders of present day India.

Marshalling facts and figures to prove how Gujarat had developed under his leadership, he said: "The root of all our problems is a disease called lack of good governance."

In Gujarat, he said, "we have given emphasis on good governance".

In an obvious reference to much of India, he said: "Normally, our administration follows the fire-fighting model. When there is a problem, they look for ways to set right the situation."

A leader's job "is to visualise the situation ahead, look for new avenues, and bring about changes in the situation".

"We see that in the last six decades we (India) have failed to do that. As a result, there is widespread despondency in the country."

"But I think differently," Modi went on, and said in Gujarat he had used the "same constitution, same laws, same rules and regulations, same files, same offices (and) same people" to bring about radical changes.

The 62-year-old then picked up a glass of water, and said: "The optimist will say this is half full, the pessimist will say it is half empty.

"I have a third view. This glass is full -- half with water, half with air."

This, he underlined amid applause, was the way he conducted his model of governance -- with optimism and hope.

Modi recalled that when he was growing up, the "Made in Japan" brand stood for quality. "Why can't we brand Made in India globally?"

The world, he said, was eyeing India for its market. "The time has come to make the world a market for us and dump our products there."

He said Indian politicians viewed the young only as news age voters. "If this thinking persists, the situation cannot change. I think differently."

Outlining his roadmap, Modi said the 21st century will belong to India.

"Our youths have the ability to achieve that... There was a time when we were seen as a nation of snake charmers and black magic. India's image has today changed, thanks to our youngsters.

"We are a nation of mouse charmers," he said to laughter, referring to the Indian strength in software.

Speaking in Hindi, Modi presented himself as different from the rest of the political class, one who had a long-term vision, and one who believed in the capabilities of the Indian youth.

But he made no reference to the growing clout within his party that he should be named the prime ministerial candidate ahead of the next general election.

Speaking approvingly of the Delhi Metro coaches made in Gujarat, Modi said one of his achievements since he became chief minister over a decade ago was setting up the world's first forensic science university in the state.

He also spoke about Gujarat's growth in agriculture, animal husbandry, tourism and education, the grant of "soil health card" to farmers, and to the ballooning rise in cotton production.

"Development is the answer to all our issues. Vote bank politics has destroyed India... I am one of those who sees a future (for India)... I am an optimist."

Indo Asian News Service

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