Crediting Prime Minister Narendra Modi with pulling the country out of its "sense of despair" under UPA, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today said India has become more aspirational under his leadership and takes pride in its identity. Referring indirectly to the surgical strikes on terror launchpads across the LoC, Jaitley said Modi has displayed a more head-on approach towards terrorism and Pakistan and gone beyond merely isolating the neighbouring country internationally through diplomatic measures. "Going beyond the traditional methods of diplomacy, the PM has been able to give a stern message to the neighbouring country to stop fostering terrorism or else face the consequences. He has been able to convey in no uncertain terms that countries promoting terrorism will have to pay a heavy price if they go on doing that," he said addressing a conference of intellectuals here organised by Kushabhau Thakre Nyas Samiti. The country now feels it has a leader capable of acting tough and taking hard decisions, he remarked. "A hunger to shine out and forge ahead has infected not only the middle class but also sections down the social ladder," he said. Noting that the country was gripped in a "deep sense of despair" during UPA rule due to the absence of a strong leadership, he said no decisions were being taken by the government of the day on the economic front. "We had hit an all-time low on the growth trajectory under UPA in 2013. So much so that we were on the verge of being written off. The scene has been reversed with Narendra Modi's arrival on the scene. I am happy to say that India today is the fastest growing country for the third consecutive year among the BRICS nations,"\u00a0he said. Remembering his stint as the Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha during UPA, Jaitley said it was easy as the government of the day provided the opposition with a new weapon to attack it with on a daily basis. Citing the example of the feverish interest generated by the Prime Minister's foreign visits, he said an average Indian anywhere today takes pride in his Indian identity as the whole world is now in a mood to sit up and take notice. Targeting the Congress, he said every leader associated with the party is getting disillusioned with it. Advising the Congress and Samajwadi Party to give up their "old mindset" of family centered politics, he said surnames don't matter any longer. "Parties that hope to thrive on the dominance of a particular family are on a suicidal path. The sooner they realise this the better," he said. Citing the names of Modi and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan, he said the two are shining examples of the fact that illustrious surnames are of no consequence in the country's politics today. "Political parties on whom this realisation has dawned already are bound to reap the benefits of this in coming years," the Union Minister said. Hitting out at the Uttarakhand government, Jaitley said when the state was created out of Uttar Pradesh during the prime ministership of Atal Behari Vajpayee, he could not have imagined that it would become a "hub of corruption" like this one day. "Uttarakhand was created by Vajpayee ji with the vision to create a model of growth and development by pooling in its huge wealth of natural resources. He must not have imagined at that time that it would degenerate into a hub of corruption,"\u00a0he said. Making a reference to the political crisis witnessed by the state in March this year, Jaitley said if he writes a book in future it will definitely speak of the mechanism by which a government reduced to a minority in the state Assembly was converted into a majority and was made to pass off as something constitutionally correct. He said he was confident that people of the state will look at the coming assembly elections in the state as an opportunity to get rid of a "corrupt regime".