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Time Magazine Has Modi on Its Cover but Labels Him as Divider in Chief

Updated on May 13, 2019
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A senior Air warrior and a graduate of the Staff College is well qualified to write on history and contemporary India including spirits.

The Beginning

While strolling along the main Shopping Complex of Singapore I saw my favorite magazine 'Time' on the newsstand. I immediately bought a copy, more so as it featured the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on its cover. The subheading was a little disconcerting as it characterized Narendra Modi as the divider in chief. Such a comment would have put Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the horns of a dilemma with the general election in full swing. This news report of the Time magazine would have been a bit of a shock for him. The same magazine had lauded him earlier in 2015 as the "man of the Year". This precipitous fall from grace would be a surprise to Modi and a bigger surprise to his supporters that their leader is labeled a divider in chief.

Negative Comment

This by itself is a very negative comment about the Indian Prime Minister. The Time magazine article is written by Aatish Taseer. Aatish is by himself a man who has made a name for himself as a writer. He is the son of the Indian Sikh columnist/writer Tavleen Singh. Aatish has a Muslim father and I wonder whether that has a bearing on what is written about Narendra Modi. But looking at the article dispassionately does appear that Modi may have failed to live up to the promises which he made during the 2014 election.

The BJP and its allies which form the National Democratic Front(NDA)had won 336 seats in Parliament out of 542. The BJP on its own strength won 282. Modi came to power with a thumping majority. It is worthwhile to remember that at that time he coined two phrases "sabka Saath sabka Vikas" that means "development and progress" for each and everybody. He also promised "achhe Din" that is( Good times to come). Instead of building on these two planks Modi, unfortunately, adopted militant Hinduism. During his rule, a new phenomenon emerged. After nearly six decades people in India got lynched on suspicion of being cow slaughterers or beef eaters. India has a large tribal population as well as a minority Muslim population which consume beef. This fact was unfortunately overlooked by Narendra Modi, in his zeal to spread the message of Hindutva to all corners of India.

Low priority to the Armed Forces

Along with this Modi, forgot his development plan and began to antagonize the armed forces also. After making a solemn promise to ex-servicemen at a massive rally in Rewari in Haryana, that he would ensure that one rank one pension policy (OROP) as approved by two Parliaments would be implemented, he backtracked and approved a watered-down scheme. This was not all, as he reduced many of the perks and privileges of the armed forces, with the result that the armed forces are now at the bottom rung of the ladder for a career for the Indian young man. This has had a deleterious effect on the cadre of the armed forces.

He also did not appear to have any strategic overview of the subcontinent and therefore the demand for126 Rafael fighters were reduced by him to a mere 36. One wonders whether Modi was aware, how the IAF with 36 Rafale fighters that is just two squadrons can face a combined military adventure by China and Pakistan.

Hair-brained Schemes

Apart from this Modi, is also guilty having implemented hair-brained schemes which broke the back of the Indian middle-class businessman. He introduced demonetization in one go with the idea of finishing black money. The operation was a total failure and resulted in great harassment to the small businessman. In any case, the Reserve Bank of India has confirmed that 97% of the money which was demonetized and classified as Black money, has again come into circulation.

Modi also introduced GST tax which by having slabs going up to 36% resulted in tremendous hardship to the common man. These harebrained schemes led to the defeat of the BJP in three states in North India when the provincial elections were held. The states were Rajasthan. Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh.


Modi and the Electorate

Reality and solution

Realizing that he may lose the 2019 election, Modi thought it best to support the Hindutva concepts. This led to a division in the country and was contrary to what is written in the Indian Constitution. His failure to kickstart the economy and provide more jobs came to a cropper as he concentrated on GST and de-monetization. As a stop-gap solution, he turned to Hindutva and thus created the big divide in the Indian state.

India is a secular socialist Republic where religion is a private matter. Unfortunately, Modi began to create a psychosis of Islamic- phobia with the hope of consolidating the Hindu vote.

In this respect, the observation by Time Magazine that Modi is the great divider in the country is to an extent true. Moreover, his personal life also if put on the scanner cannot be treated as a paragon of virtue.

Bacon in one of his most famous quotations said: "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely." One feels a great sense of regret when one realizes the extent to which Modi can go to stop all challenges to his power.

His sidelining of the man who stood by him when he was accused of complicity in the 2002 riots in Gujarat and who as Home Minister supported him has been sidelined. I am referring to Lal Krishna Advani who has not even been given a seat to contest to the Indian Parliament, on the plea that he is very old. Advani may be old but is mentally very alert and active. Modi has ignored examples of Konrad Adenauer the German chancellor who continued to rule German even when he was close to 90.

Age should not be a bar yet Modi has sidelined many strong leaders in BJP on the plea that they have crossed 75 and need to retire. One wonders what Modi will do once he himself attains the age of 75.

Time Magazine report

The photo of Narendra Modi on the cover of TIME magazine and being labeled as the great divider is not something that Indian nation should be proud of. Modi is guilty of many things but his biggest failure is that the economy has floundered and no new jobs have been created. Thus the promise of Good Days Ahead has been vaporized and to win the election Modi has banked on Hindutva and militant Hinduism.

He is trying to polarize and consolidate the Hindu vote so that he can win elections. This is a very short-sighted policy and the fact is that even if Modi wins because of a majority Hindu vote and becomes the prime minister of India, the old Modi who brought the slogans of good days ahead and development for all will have to take a back seat. Modi will be a lame duck Prime Minister and that is the bane of India.

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Last word


A scenario where Modi wins on the Hindu vote will divide India and the country will have a trying time. Modi thus has a lot to think about. India stands at the crossroads and in hindsight, the advent of Modi as the prime minister of India may turn out to be a Pyrrhic victory for the Indian state.

We must understand that the militant Hinduism espoused by Modi and BJP is very different from what the great Hindu emperors like Vikramaditya, Raja Bhoj, Chandragupta and Kanishka practiced. The ruled by "Dharma" a set of principles based on righteousness. They were just and fair for all, not just for Hindus. This is forgotten.

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