“Shreyo hi jnana abhyasat jnanat dhyanam vishishyate,

Dhynat karmaphalatyagat Shanti anantaram.” The Gita, XII.12

(Knowledge is superior to habit, meditation is superior to knowledge

Superior to meditation is renunciation of fruits of action; from renunciation comes peace immediately.)

In spite of striking differences between the two nations, one thing that binds Narendra Modi and Lee Kuan Yew is their total dedication to building the nation. With single-minded focus, Lee developed Singapore from rags to riches. In 1969 when he became prime minister the per capita income was $400. At present, it is a staggering $55,000. This growth rate is truly phenomenal. Modi developed Gujarat as CM in a similar way. Now he is determined to develop India in the same way. Both are dedicated to the growth and prosperity of their people. Both are illustrious leaders.

At the time of Jawaharlal Nehru, Indians regarded Lee as a follower of Neo-colonialism. He was identified with humiliation and poverty. During this period, India was looking for foreign aid. The total population of poor Indians grew by 2 times in 1947-77. During this time, the economy of Singapore grew amazingly.

Jawaharlal Nehru opposed foreign trade as well as an investment. The Indian government was not ready for economic development through re-colonisation. India aimed to achieve prosperity through import. The socialist leaders wanted foreign aid and promoted self-sufficiency.

Jawaharlal Nehru followed the ideology of a businessman according to socialism. He gave respect to Soviet Union leaders. In Soviet Union people with a vision ruled the country for 5 year term. Nehru wanted the government to rule the economy.

Jawaharlal Nehru wrongly supported the public sector. On the other hand, Lee was an extrovert and encouraged the private sector. He understood the principle of globalization by improving conditions for investment, as well as good institutions. Rapid development increased wages quickly. Lee had the target of increasing productivity by implementing policies suitable for the market, as well as good administration. It was not in line with the socialist philosophy of Nehru. But Sri Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India follows this principle of growth and development. India’s GDP is growing from 5 to 8% in the current financial year.

In 1960s, the Asian countries like Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore showed a yearly growth of 10%. During this period, India had a growth rate of 3.5%. India had no respect for Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan. The Indians were afraid of following their path of success. Neo-serfdom and poverty are the two reasons India avoided their path. When its colonial master had per capita income of $42,000, Singapore had $55,000 per capita income. But the condition of India did not improve.

Lee followed the principles of good governance which is also the focus of Modi government. It consists of big public, social and physical infrastructure. He dreamed of a world class economy. This will increase productivity and private enterprise. During Lee’s tenure, the public limited companies were power stations, ports, roads and water supplies. Socialism in India could not mobilize growth in infrastructure. Lee followed capitalism and showed excellent performance. Indians gave priority to steel and heavy industry. These public sector manufacturing showed poor growth.

Both Lee and Modi give top priority to education as well as health. He also contributed significantly to old age security as well as public housing. Both Lee and Jawaharlal Nehru gave priority to social infrastructure. But Lee had built a police and legal system showing efficiency. But India failed to score in terms of police and law. Lee provided high salaries to his ministers and bureaucrats who were experts in various fields. But India could not attract the best talents as ministers and bureaucrats. Now Modi is trying hard to wipe out the sloth and corruption that block India’s prosperity.

Our Prime Minister Narendra Modi appreciates the policy of Lee. Lee ruled Singapore very strongly. But Modi cannot achieve the same growth so fast in a vast country like India. In India, there is resistance from the opposition parties. There are activist courts, bureaucracies and state governments. So Modi has to fight against all odds to fulfil his dreams.

Modi follows Lee’s philosophy, eg. Minimum government, maximum governance. Modi gave priority to creating public infrastructure for foreign and private investment. He has planned high-speed trains, a garland of ports named Sagar Mala. Modi also dreamt about massive inland waterways in India. He chalked out big power plants to ensure power supply throughout India. However, social infrastructure in India cannot be created like Singapore. The state governments which are responsible for creating social infrastructure do not always cooperate.

There are four points where India is lagging behind Singapore. Firstly, India fails to maintain a police –judicial system. Secondly, the Make in India scheme shows signs protectionism. Thirdly, there is definitely a slackness in arresting influential people having black money. Fourthly, the BJP government has yet to make entrepreneurs do their business easily. So the present government should fulfil the citizen’s needs by staying in power for the next five to ten years.

But the problems of these two countries are different. Singapore has a population of 51,88,000. The density of population is 7263 per sq km. Its per capita income is $50,087. The average mortality rate is 83.7/78.9. Singapore is a big island and there are 50 small islands. The area of Singapore is 714 sq. Km. Whereas the area of India is 32,87,263 sq. Km. The population is 121,01,93,422. The density of population is 382 per sq. Km. The literacy rate of India 74.04%. People of various religious faiths like Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikh, etc live here in large numbers.

Modi paid his tribute to Lee by calling him a global thinker and the tallest leader of our times. Millions of Indians look forward to Modi to turn India into a global giant. Let’s all work for Future India.



Contributor: Pratanu Banerjee