- This disdain for engagement, both domestic and foreign, on controversial decisions is the hallmark of Modi 2.0.
- The democracy deficit of the recent Modi government decisions is also taking Modi’s international reputation to the cleaners.
Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, has a tenderly nurtured dream: that of being feted at the global high table and being in the league of global leaders.
But following the recent flawed and contentious, nay, bigoted decisions taken by him, that dream is now reduced to ashes.
Modi’s frenetic globe-trotting is evident from the data published by the Hindu Business Line. Modi has made 92 trips to 57 countries since May 2014. The joke in South Block was that the late BJP leader Sushma Swaraj, Modi’s External Affairs Minister, was not allowed to set foot on foreign soil.
Ever since the US denied him a visa, post the 2002 riots in Gujarat, Modi, who has a very thin skin about his image, felt that redemption would lie in him being globally feted. This explains what is called his “hug diplomacy” -- bear hugs to foreign leaders in sight of the cameras.
Modi has always said that his skillful diplomacy on the world stage has increased India’s global stature and brought in a flood of investment. Both claims, like much of the Modi hyperbole, don’t stand up to scrutiny.
India always had a global stature because of its enduring reputation of being the world’s largest democracy and of being a stable country. Modi’s actions of Muslim baiting such as the repeal of Article 370 in Kashmir, taking away its special status and reducing the only Muslim state in India to a Union Territory, the continuing communications lockdown in Kashmir, which has now lasted four months and the brutal crackdown on the largely peaceful protest against the bigoted National Register of Citizens (NRC) has made India lose its democratic sheen.
Modi's global reputation dream
Modi’s desperate need for global embrace was evident in his needy name dropping of former US President Barack Obama even in his interview with actor Akshay Kumar. The infamous Modi monogram suit which he wore was to greet Obama were mocked internationally.
Yet in his second term we have had an important Democratic Party leader Elizabeth Warren, who is running for president, say: “Efforts to silence Pramila are deeply troubling. The US and India have an important partnership, but our partnership can only succeed if it is rooted in honest dialogue and shared respect for religious pluralism, democracy and human rights.”
This very public rebuke happened when Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar backed out of meeting with the US House Foreign Affairs Committee after India tried to lay down terms asking that Pramila Jayapal, an elected official, who has raised the crackdown in Kashmir, not be part of the meeting. The US reacted fairly saying India could not dictate the composition of the committee.
Effectively, what Modi has done is put all of India’s eggs in the Republican Party basket and if the Democratic Party wins the presidency, India will face repercussions. The Democrats have a long memory and are unlikely to forget this institutional snub.
Read more from Swati Chaturvedi
- India rises to save secular democracy under siege from Narendra Modi and Amit Shah
- Kashmir lockdown, arrest of activist, WhatsApp spying: Is India headed from democracy to police state?
- CAA and NRC: A pyromaniac is at play to hound Muslims, turn secular India into a Hindu state
- As second generation leaders exit the BJP, the mask is off
This disdain for engagement, both domestic and foreign, on controversial decisions is the hallmark of Modi 2.0.
The democracy deficit of the recent Modi government decisions is also taking Modi’s international reputation to the cleaners.
Modi and the BJP routinely revile India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and yet Modi has a gigantic need to be remembered like Nehru as a statesman.
Modi will certainly have a historic legacy. But history will not be a kind judge. Setting India on fire is certainly not the stuff global reputations are built on.