The Indian state of Uttar Pradesh is home to approximately 220 million people and the cradle of Hindu civilization with sites like the Mahakal Kashivishwanath Temple, Krishna Temple in Mathura and the site of a future glorious temple of Shri Ram in Ayodhya. In addition, Uttar Pradesh is also the home of Sarnath, which is where Gautama Buddha first taught the Dharma, that is his first lesson.
In India’s independent history of 75 years, it is also Uttar Pradesh with 80 federal parliamentary seats which have contributed the largest number of Prime Ministers.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s choice to contest from Kashi (Varanasi/Banaras) was best summed up when he aptly said “Earlier I used to think that the BJP has sent me here, sometimes I felt that I am going to Kashi. But after coming here, I feel neither anybody sent me nor have I come on my own. It is Maa Ganga who has called me,”. It is this connection with all things UP, such as the Ganga, such as Ram Mandir, such as Amitabh Bachchan, that every Indian has been touched in one or another!
The connection with UP was also a source of constant disappointment and pain for development-oriented voters of India. The Prime Ministers who were elected by the people of UP grossly ignored UP to the extent they visited the same powerless villages in each election cycle.
The perfect storm was the blatant loot and antipathy of the State government which was involved in a cycle of inept leaders focussed on amassing wealth through corrupt means, and appointing every eligible person from their family to a government post!
The light of development started reaching UP shortly after the election of Hon. Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, and was turbocharged after Shri Yogi Adityanath became the Chief Minister in 2017.
This double engine government has done more work in the past 5 years, not exaggerating than was done in the previous 50 years! The book outlining this development “The Monk who Transformed Uttar Pradesh” by Shri Shantanu Gupta was launched to the Indian-Australian Diaspora in association with Garuda Publications in a live conversation with the author.
The author has taken a data-oriented approach to describe the development work which has been done over the past 5 years. The few things which really stood out were the blatant loot of the taxpayer money facilitated by the previous Chief Minister – whether it came to the tradition of buying brand new luxury cars, paying all tax liabilities, or undertaking renovations of home/office running to large sums of money.
The immediate effect of these actions was that the bureaucracy was jolted and started to take notice. The office of CM no longer served a particular community but was serving the 220 million citizens of UP, and the CM was there to make a difference.
The single biggest change which has been a catalyst for development has been the return of law and order to the state of UP. In the previous government, UP was famous for headlines around riots, arson and dacoity – sadly being done with political patronage of certain leaders, and often by members of a specific community who were certain of rebutting the police.
In the UP post-2017, criminals are on the run, and the general population feels safe and empowered to lead a normal life. The impact is directly visible in the uptick of investment by all sectors of the economy – specifically Information Technology, Manufacturing, Services to name a few. The process was kick-started by an investors summit held in 2018, which served as a catalyst for mega investments into the state.
The data around rural electrification, development of roads and the renaissance of the education system in UP is deeply enlightening and gives a sense of anger and disappointment to the little work done by previous governments. The author hailing from UP in India selfishly wishes for the return of the BJP government in the current elections.
The book is a must-read for any person interested in the development story of UP, and how a new era is taking shape under the dynamic dual leadership of Shri Narendra Modi and Shri Yogi Adityanath.
Author: Pranav Aggarwal