How to praise India by not praising Modi? The Economist gets panties in a twist

The Economist’s tone reflects the colonial attitude of its country of origin, Britain, towards an erstwhile subject.

Abhijit Majumder May 14, 2022 13:08:18 IST
How to praise India by not praising Modi? The Economist gets panties in a twist

Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets members of the Indian community as he concludes his address to them at Theater at Potsdamer Platz in Berlin, Germany. ANI

Just before India’s 2014 general elections, The Economist chose sides. It exhorted Indians to vote for Sonia and Rahul Gandhi’s Congress.

India knew better. It voted out the corrupt Congress by a massive mandate and put the Narendra Modi-led BJP in charge. Five years later, it defied Western media’s advice by an even bigger margin.

Another three years later, the editor-in-chief of The Economist grudgingly concedes good things about India. So grudgingly that almost cuts itself on the keyboard trying to not credit Modi for the changes sweeping India.

“A novel confluence of forces stands to transform India’s economy over the next decade. As the cost of technology has dropped, the country has rolled out a ‘tech stack’: a set of national, state-sponsored digital services that link ordinary Indians with an electronic identity, payments and tax systems, and bank accounts,” The Economist writes. “The rapid adoption of these platforms has turbocharged the world’s third-largest startup scene after America’s and China’s. Alongside that, India is creating bigger business clusters, including in tech and renewable energy, and hopes to gain as supply chains shift from China. It has also used a direct, real-time, digital welfare system to pay $200 billion over three years to about 950 million people who would otherwise have missed out.”

Note the emphasis on factors — “a novel confluence of forces” — and not the efforts of the government. The Economist, however, does not entirely bestow credit on the accident of events. It does credit humans. But whom?

“Behind this stands the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which has benefited from global trends and the work of its predecessors, but has also got things right by backing the tech stack and direct welfare, and persevering with the painful task of shrinking the informal economy. It is led by Narendra Modi, whose dominance is both a source of stability and a threat,” it writes.

So, most of the good is coming from “global trends and the work of its predecessors”, while Modi apparently remains a threat. Why?

“One risk is the BJP’s abhorrent hostility towards Muslims, which it uses to rally its political base. Modi also indulges cronies and is prickly and vindictive towards his critics, co-opting the bureaucracy to bully the press and the courts,” it writes.

Ultimately, for ‘liberal’ media, everything boils down to how political Islam views an individual or society. There is no empirical or data-driven evidence that more Muslims are being targeted with the advent of Modi. Left-leaning and ‘liberal’ media have painstakingly hidden, underplayed, or remained silent about attacks by Muslims on upper caste Hindus, Dalits and tribals at alarming regularity.

Only a week ago, a Dalit man was brutally murdered by the relatives of his Muslim lover for daring to have a relationship with her. In Kashmir just a day ago, another young Hindu Pandit man, Rahul Bhat, was killed by Islamist terrorists who have nearly cleansed the state of “infidels” since the ’90s genocide. Two weeks ago, Hindu procession were attacked in about ten cities across India by armed Muslim mobs.

There was not even a single report unequivocally condemning or exposing these acts of Islamist violence in Modi’s India in The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Guardian or The Economist.

Western media has made no attempt understand and highlight the historic injustices and waves of genocides carried out by Muslim invaders on Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains.

And then there is hypocrisy. When France came up with rules against Islamist violence and intimidation, The Economist never said that President Emmanuel Macron was going after Muslims.

It has trouble crediting Modi with anything. It never mentions that the Congress had thought of Aadhaar but its ministers were only too keen to scuttle it. Modi used it, built on it.

The PM has on several occasions chided Hindu crazies for vigilante attacks on Muslims. He has actually been less vocal about tirades and attacks on Hindus by Muslim mobs or leaders like Akbaruddin Owaisi.

And despite being a woman, The Economist’s editor-in-chief Zanny Minton Beddoes fails to recognise what Modi has done for Indian Muslim women. His government banned instant triple talaq, promoted girls’ education and scholarships among Muslims, raised marriage age, and made sure the benefits of central schemes on direct benefit transfers, housing, LPG and health insurance reach Muslim homes without discrimination or negligence.

The Economist’s tone reflects the colonial attitude of its country of origin, Britain, towards an erstwhile subject. The weekly newspaper, like most other Western media outlets, takes itself to be the self-appointed new viceroy of India. Their hollow, sanctimonious lectures must be heeded. India must look at itself on their terms. They are the vanguards of Western liberal, globalised democracy. They know India better than even Indians.

That India no longer exists except in the Western media’s colonial nostalgia. It is time The Economist and others smell the coffee from Araku Valley or Coorg.

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