*This is an op-ed piece by Sushruta Banerjee*
Ever since the independence of India, there have been few Prime Ministers that have been as charismatic as the current one. The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Damodardas Modi, has risen from being a junior cadet in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh to being the Prime Minister of the largest democracy in the world, Modi’s rise is notable.
However, despite all the love that he gets from the people of the country, he attracts or people tend to give him a considerable amount of hate as well. Every action that he takes is mired with polarizing views of support and controversy. However, today, we want to prove to you, conclusively, why Mr. Modi is one of the good leaders of India with a democratic leadership style. We will talk about economic reforms, as well as about national security.
Why Is Narendra Modi a Good Leader?
1. An International Relations Expert
If you ask the people of India why Modi is a good leader, most of them will answer that he is terrific at building international relations. Both foreign press and Oxford researchers have documented the meteoric rise of India in the global platform under the Prime Minister’s leadership, which answers all the critics as to why Modi is a good leader.
Sure, you could entertain the naysayers’ arguments for a while too. Just for a while, just for fun.
You could ask how India managed to alienate Bhutan, one of its closest historical lies, by its actions during the 2017 Doklam standoff with China. You could also question as to why India-Nepal relations have been going south ever since Modi took office. Nepal has always claimed the Kalapani region as its territory, and border scuffles were present but kept to a minimum. Until, of course, when in June 2020, the Nepalese Parliament cleared a modified map of the country that showed THREE disputed areas as part of Nepal’s territory – Kalapani, Limpiadhura, and Lipulek. You could ask how the Nepalese radio could start giving weather bulletins of territories that India claims as its own.
You could ask how India’s close regional ally Bangladesh’s Prime Minister publicly denouncing the hotly contested Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) or its deputy foreign minister calling of his India visit would affect regional stability.
You could also ask that despite the much-covered Modi-Donald Trump friendship and two high-profile visits by both the head of states (Howdy Modi and Namaste Trump), why did the US terminate India’s status as a preferential trade partner under the GSP trade program or why did Trump chastise India for its high tariff rates? And, of course, who can forget Trump publicly promising retaliation if India did not bow down to its demands over the hydroxychloroquine drug.
You can also question why India let off China with a proverbial slap on the wrist after it killed at least 20 Indian soldiers and why Modi released a statement contradicting the Minister of Foreign Affairs, which is then used by the Chinese government as propaganda. One could also question the growing Chinese influence in countries that have been traditionally Indian allies, including the Maldives, Nepal, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. You could also question India’s relationship with Pakistan, but it’s better to save your breath.
Another aspect of Modi’s foreign policy that you can question is how the international media, Amnesty International, the United States Congressional hearing, the European Union, and other countries have “expressed concerns” over India’s lockdown of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. And, of course, the international response to the CAA is also something that one can ask about.
You could ask all these questions and more, but what’s the fun in that? Does it answer why Modi is a good leader? So, let us enjoy the little that we get, like India putting trade sanctions on Malaysia after it lambasted India on the Kashmir issue. Now, THAT is why Modi is a good leader.
By the way, in case you’re looking for a vacation anytime soon, the Indian passport is the 84th most powerful passport in the world.
2. Economic Crisis
While sitting in the future 5 trillion dollar economy, it is not difficult to understand why Narendra Modi is a good leader. Sure, you could question his international policies from time to time, but how can you question his economic prowess?
Oh, what is that I hear? An 11-year record low GDP? An all-time high unemployment rate? An abysmally low per-capita income? A staggering inequality in the distribution of wealth? A demonetization drive that achieved nothing and slowed the economy down? A record low value of the Indian rupee? High inflation? Are our economic experts concerned about the Indian economy?
No, wait, I couldn’t hear anything. All I could hear is how Modi is a great leader in many ways and how he is going to make India a 5 trillion dollar economy!
3. A Fantastic Statesman
Why Modi is a intelligent leader shouldn’t even be a question that needs to be asked. He is a supreme leader for the country (no connection to North Korea’s Kim Jong-un), who has time and again proved his mettle in the handling of state affairs. Don’t believe me? Let’s look at some of the instances where the people of India felt thankful that a man like Modi was at the helm of the country.
Let us look at the way the Modi government tackled the ongoing coronavirus pandemic in the country. From Bill Gates to WHO, everyone (including the RSS) has praised Modi for his efficient handling of the coronavirus crisis. The opposition has been going on about the rising coronavirus cases, failed lockdown, an unaudited relief fund, lack of protection for doctors and frontline workers, and the death of the economy.
But all the unnecessary questions miss the main point – Modi is a good leader, and more importantly, he is OUR leader, and to question our leader at these times are disparaging to the morale, no matter how legitimate these questions are. When will the opposition learn? And, please, shut up about the migrant labor crisis already! Sure, the government may have fallen a bit short, but what did the opposition do?
India supports CAA – the Prime Minister has declared that, so don’t you dare assume otherwise. Ignore the fact that Tibetan refugees (most born in India), Sri Lankan Tamil refugees, and Rohingya refugees have no end in sight to their citizenship problem – it does not matter as long as Pakistani Hindu refugees are taken care of.
Under Modi’s leadership, India is a rich country. Sure, India is 102nd in the Global Hunger Index and 129th in the Human Development Index, but Indians are happy and content. If you tell me that India is 144th in UN World Happiness Index (and Pakistan is at 66th), I’d call you an anti-national. Modi has assisted the individual states very able – except minor goof-ups like during the Chennai floods, the Amphan cyclone in West Bengal and Odhisa, and the Delhi air pollution.
But, as long as alcohol is delivered to our homes, we are happy. This is proof enough as to why PM Modi is a good leader.
4. An Enemy of Crime and Hate
Modi has spent his entire career fighting crime and hate wherever he saw it, signs of one of the great leaders. And, you better believe it, he has carried on with that principle after becoming the Prime Minister. When he was taking office, Modi promised the nation that he would put criminal politicians in jail. Now, in his second term, 37% of the ruling party’s ministers have open criminal cases against them. Here’s a list, if you want to read. But we must look at the bright side of all this – this means that Modi has been 73% successful in keeping his promise – and I think we should be happy with that. He is responsible for major reforms.
Just like crime in politics, Modi promised to make the country a safe haven for minorities to live in. We could ask, then, why international media and organizations like the New York Times, Time Magazine, the BBC, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International think that hate crimes against Muslims are rising rapidly in India. Or, of course, the fact that more than half of hate crimes in India are against Dalits (lower caste people).
We could ask these questions, or we could make our plans to visit the “sky-high” Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, and between you and me, I know what I’d do. Oh, and before you ask, I don’t know who Rohith Vemula is.
In his defense, he did order the creation of a million toilets, and is among the only world leaders to do so. Now, India isn’t the fast growing nations anymore, but that’s because of the pandemic, right? Among his other achievements, he abolished the Tripl e Talaq and has made President Donald Trump an ally.
5. Loves the Media
Think of a great leader, and of all the characteristics you can think of, one is common. A great leader loves the media, and the media, in turn, loves him. This is true for all strong leaders: John F. Kennedy, Vladimir Putin,Xi Jinping,
Adolf Hitler. And we all know, the Indian press LOVES Narendra Modi. Modi is, indeed, the first Prime Minister of the country who is the metaphorical darling of the media. Who cares what the foreign media thinks of him?
We have all seen it and heard it – the media’s immense fascination with the size of Modi’s chest, Modi’s diet (he can cook too!), Modi’s fitness routine, Modi’s dressing style, and Modi’s favorite movie. You could argue that all these are meaningless information, and the media should question Modi about things like the Rafale deal controversy and the government’s role behind the rise of Patanjali, but is that any fun? What would you rather see – Narendra Modi reciting a poem or answering about the RSS’s communal ideology?
It is often said that with love comes with restrictions – we put restrictions on our loved things to protect them. The same is true for media under Modi’s rule. Narendra Modi loves the media, and therefore, certain restrictions are indeed understandable. In the World Press Freedom Index, India’s position is 142. Reporters Without Borders, an international non-profit organization that defends the freedom of the press, said they were “appalled by Orwellian press policy” in Jammu and Kashmir. Journalism has always been one of the risky profession, but it is more dangerous in India. He is also one of the most important reasons for digital India.
Between 2014 and 2019, there have 198 severe attacks for journalists in India; among them, 40 have been killed. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a non-profit organization that protects the rights of journalists, listed India in the 14th position in its Global Impunity Index, which lists the countries where murders of journalists are rarely prosecuted. The most high-profile murder cases were those of Gauri Lankesh and Shujaat Bukhari; a more extended list can be found here. Even under the COVID-19 lockdown, journalists have been beaten and arrested for their work.
But what if the New York Times thinks that the press in India is not free under the Modi government? In what country can a prime-time anchor accuse a neighboring country of orchestrating locust attacks? Even now, you want to say that the Indian press is not free? Well, some people can never be satisfied.
6. A World Tourist
A good leader knows about the world – he loves to experience new cultures and visit faraway lands. Modi likes to travel – he has visited 60 countries so far (SO FAR). And we love that he travels so much, don’t we? What’s the use of having progress if our Prime Minister can’t play the flute in Japan or beat the drum in Tanzania?
His travels have cost us 2,021 crore rupees, but hey, who’s counting? The Prime Minister and the President got themselves two fancy new airplanes worth 8,458 crore rupees, but we all want a nice ride for ourselves, right? Even the opposition isn’t really angry about it, so YOU better not be!
The only conclusion that I can draw is that if I start listing why Narendra Modi is one of the good leaders, that list is likely to be very long (like India’s wait for a trade deal with the US). Therefore, I’d like to end this piece with a quote by George Orwell from his book “1984”.
Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.