By Rahul Singh
Edited by Nandita Singh, Senior Editor, The Indian Economist

Right wing Hindutva preachers and pseudo secular congressmen will frown upon the very idea of a comparison between Narendra Modi with Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, but looking through the lens of rationality, one might agree that they have a lot in common when it comes to leadership. Both faced the challenge of establishing a new system of governance when they assumed office as Prime Minister. Both the leaders had a huge responsibility of establishing credibility among the citizens of this country. Both the leaders emerged as the face of India.

As far as economy is concerned, Nehru had to start with zero. He proposed the concept of five year plans and the first five year plan was dedicated to the primary sector. The total planned budget was divided among irrigation and energy, agriculture and community development, transport and communications, industry and social services. He was highly impressed by the socialism of Soviet Union and tried his best to implement that idea in India too. He chose to shut the doors for foreign investors and because of license raj he lost the confidence of industrialists. Some economists believe that it was the biggest mistake committed by Nehru, but he was too mesmerized by the Soviet Union and too exhausted fighting the British Raj to build a capitalist regime in India. Although Narendra Modi is pro capitalist and believes in opening the economy, his passion for innovative planning and taking correct decisions at the correct time is what makes him very similar to Nehru in his first two terms as PM. Just like Nehru understood the need of a socialist economy for at least 10 years, Modi’s plan of action clearly shows his intent for inviting foreign capital in India, which is the need of the hour.

Another similarity between the two leaders is that they have been successful in restoring credibility to the governing system. This can be attributed to their charismatic personality. Both the leaders possessed the skill of identifying the public sentiments and acting according to it. Nehru projected himself as the heir of Mahatma Gandhi, which was enough for the people of a newborn country to accept him as their messiah. His policies may have been questioned several times, but his intentions were never doubted by the people. In a similar way, Narendra Modi took up the issue of development in an ailing economy. He projected the model of development of his own state Gujarat. For a country with 63.6% people between the age of 15 to 64, the issue of economic development served well.

Six months may not be enough time to judge the performance of a PM, but it is a long enough to sense the intentions and ambitions of a leader. It can easily be inferred from his speeches that like Nehru, Narendra Modi is an extremely ambitious leader. It is a blessing of democracy that as the leader becomes more ambitious, the country treads the path of development.

Like every other Prime Minister of India, Nehru was a victim of incumbency. He took many decisions in his third term which, many political experts believe, tainted his image of a well groomed politician. Narendra Modi is yet to be tested at a national level. Although he has successfully veiled the image of a communal politician, if he will be able to allay the ghost of Godhra from the minds of religious minorities, and if he will be able to make India a stable economy is yet to be seen.


Rahul Singh is a final year engineering student pursuing his B.Tech from VNIT, Nagpur. He loves reading on topics ranging from mythology to political satire. He believes that writing is the most convenient medium of conveying one’s thoughts. You can email him at rvssingh2010@gmail.com.

Posted by The Indian Economist | For the Curious Mind