Prior to the Lok Sabha elections in India this year, Time magazine published a cover story tagging the Prime Minister Narendra Modi as “Divider In Chief.” But it seems that the landslide victory of BJP led by Modi has suddenly changed the perspective of those behind this publication.
It is because now the same magazine as an afterthought has come up with a headline “Modi Has United India Like No Prime Minister in Decades.” Now this sudden turn about has surprised many as the article on Time’s website goes on to ask, “How has this supposedly divisive figure not only managed to keep power but increase his levels of support?”
"Modi is no divider. In fact, he has united India like no leader in decades," writes Manoj Ladwa https://t.co/A8lPAHuGkh
— TIME (@TIME) May 29, 2019
Modi Managed To Disrupt India’s Greatest Fault Line
The article written by Manoj Ladwa says that Narendra Modi managed to retain the power and also get huge support because “A key factor is that Modi has managed to transcend India’s greatest fault line: the class divide.” The writer credits Modi as a person who unified people of his origins (a backward caste) which no other leader until now has been able to achieve. Ladwa cites that the Western media purposely or by mistake omitted this factor as it has always been obsessed with upper caste domination factor.
Ladwa further explains, “Narendra Modi was born into one of India’s most disadvantaged social groups. In reaching the very top, he personifies the aspirational working classes and can self-identify with his country’s poorest citizens in a way that the Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty, who has led India for most of the 72 years since independence, simply cannot.”
While referring to the massive victory of Indira Gandhi in 1971, the writer says, “Yet despite the strong and often unfair criticism leveled at Modi’s policies both throughout his first term and this marathon election, no Prime Minister has united the Indian electorate as much in close to five decades.”
Turn Over By Publication
The story published before the election was used by the opposition of Narendra Modi as a tool to criticize the PM and indict him as the divider in front of the global media. The reason for such sarcastically opposite stands taken by the same publication of global level can be because the international media powerhouse changed hands two times in just a year.
It was first bought by Meredith in March 2018 and later on in September by tech entrepreneur Marc Benioff and his wife. The earlier article was written by Aatish Taseer, the British-born son of the late governor of Pakistan’s Punjab, Salmaan Taseer, and Indian journalist Tavleen Singh.
The cover story of Taseer said, “Not only has Modi’s economic miracle failed to materialize, but he has also helped create an atmosphere of poisonous religious nationalism in India.”
On the other hand, the latest story by Ladwa by the same publication says, “Through socially progressive policies, he has brought many Indians, both Hindus and religious minorities, out of poverty at a faster rate than in any previous generation.”
Delivered As Promised
Apart from Ladwa, many other prominent media experts are of a strong belief that the second consecutive term of Modi is the victory for meritocracy. His cluster of welfare policies for the extremely poor Indians and socially progressive policies have brought the Indians, both Hindus and from minorities out of poverty at a much faster rate than any previous government.
The PM vowed to improve the sanitation in India and he has been successful at it. Less than 40% of households earlier did not have access to the toilet. Now almost 95% of households have toilets. Almost all the Indian villages have electricity whereas before Modi took over as PM in 2014, less than 40% of villages had access to electricity.
His open approach towards technology and the introduction of transformative programs in affordable housing, climate mitigation, universal healthcare, and financial inclusion have really made a difference to the overall development in India. Incidentally, Modi is also credited with stabilizing the volatile economy that he inherited from the previous Congress government.
Undoubtedly, Modi has a lot more to do to fulfill all the expectations of the people. But his efforts and the results during the first 5-year term at least gave Indians a glimpse what a dedicated PM can achieve.