Saturday, May 17, 2014

Now, CNN calls Modi a "deeply polarizing figure" and "unproven commodity" on world stage

By Our Representative
One of world's leaders in online news and information delivery, Cable News Network (CNN), has described India’s Prime Minister in waiting Narendra Modi as “a deeply polarizing figure and an unproven commodity on the international stage.” In an analytical article for its CNN’s international edition, titled “Who is Narendra Modi? Meet India's pro-business, Hindu nationalist PM-in-waiting”, Tim Hume and Sumnima Udas quote analysts, experts, bloggers and journalists to predict that Modi’s “arrival in the country's top office will bring a marked change in direction for the world's most populous democracy.”
Saying that India’s “modern character has been defined by the inclusive, secular and liberal approach of the Congress Party, which has governed for most of the post-independence era”, the article underscores, “The only question is how great a departure Modi's premiership will be from what has come before.” Quoting influential quarters in New Delhi, it adds, “His vision for India is not the kind of inclusive, secularist vision that we have been used to -- it is a much more right-wing, pro-Hindu vision.” In fact, his arrival may mean an “increase in social tension with groups that are not included in his vision."
“The greatest concerns about a Modi premiership revolve around his ability, as a hardline Hindu nationalist, to lead a country as culturally and religiously diverse as India”, the CNN article says, adding, “Since he was a boy -- the third of six children born to a family of grocers in the city of Vadnagar -- Modi has been a supporter of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a right-wing pro-Hindu social movement. His track record with India's 180 million-strong Muslim community, the country's second largest religious group, has come under intense scrutiny.”
“Less than a year after Modi assumed office in Gujarat in late 2001, the state was wracked with anti-Muslim violence, in which more than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed”, says the article, recalling Gujarat riots, adding, “Modi was criticized for not doing enough to halt the violence, but a Supreme Court-ordered investigation absolved him of blame last year. Modi subsequently expressed regret over the riots but was criticized for not apologizing. The U.S. State Department denied Modi a visa in 2005 over the issue, and has since not said how it will handle a future visa application from him.”
“The tensions are not merely a relic of the past. As recently as September last year, more than 60 people were killed and tens of thousands displaced in religious riots in the Muzaffarnagar district of Uttar Pradesh state. Most of the affected were Muslims”, the article says, adding, “Amid what many see as a rising tide of intolerance drummed up by Hindu nationalist groups, some Muslims fear what a Modi-led government means for their community.” It quotes “an unnamed Muslim man” to say "We all remember what he did in Gujarat. For Muslims, Modi represents death."
Quoting the Pew survey (click HERE), the article says, “The 63-year-old former tea seller's immense popularity -- a Pew survey ahead of the elections found nearly 80 per cent of respondents held a positive view of him -- stems in large part from his reputation as a tough, ‘can-do’ administrator, the man with the medicine to kickstart India's stuttering economy.” In fact, the CNN thinks, “The so-called ‘Gujarat model’ of development means a focus on infrastructure, urbanization and eradicating red tape -- seen as a much-needed tonic for a country ranked 179th in the world by the World Bank in terms of ease of starting a business.”
“A sharp contrast to the traditional approach of the outgoing Congress Party -- which has focused on promoting inclusive growth involving a raft of welfare schemes -- it's proven highly attractive to business. India stocks have risen almost 18% this year at the prospect of a Modi-led government”, CNN writers say, adding, “India's largest conglomerate, the Tata Group, relocated a car plant into the state four years ago, a move the company's former chairman Ratan Tata credits in part to Modi's involvement.”
Wondering why Modi is so popular despite not being charismatic, the CNN quotes another expert, Dilip Dutta, director of the South Asian Studies Group at the University of Sydney, to say, “The promise of economic development is just as enticing to the public, and resonates particularly with the aspirations of the 100 million young voters who were eligible to cast their ballots for the first time in 2014.These young voters are exposed through electronic media to the whole world, and have a dream of moving forward -- not lagging behind as their fathers and grandfathers have for decades."
Quoting yet another political analyst Mohan Guruswamy of Delhi's Center for Policy Alternatives, the article says, “Modi's record in Gujarat has been overhyped. There is no 'Gujarat model,' and there are other states with faster economic growth," he said during an interview in the build-up to the election. Moreover, many feel that economic development in the state has been unequally distributed, and not matched with corresponding gains in human development. It really is a model that favors people who already have access to things like education and business possibilities. He offers very little to the poor, to the weaker section and I think that this is a major weakness."
Wondering whether Modi will be “too autocratic”, the article says, “Modi's hard-nosed, occasionally abrasive leadership style will also present a marked departure for a country accustomed to a more consensus-driven approach, analysts believe.” Quoting analysts, it says, Modi as an “extraordinarily ambitious man, quite ruthless in the pursuit of his ambition," adding, he will lead a "right-wing, authoritarian corporate state” as closer to the model in China, and questions whether his “divisive, autocratic tendencies will translate well in a country as boisterously democratic as India.”

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