TIME Calls PM Modi India’s Divider In Chief – Can We Ignore?

News Frontliner Web Desk, 12 May 2019: TIME magazine’s latest cover, calling Prime Minister Narendra Modi ‘divider in chief’, has not only punched holes in the BJP narrative that Modi has strengthened India’s global image, but has also dented his personal standing among his global peers.

The American magazine’s May, 2019 international editions, which are circulated in the Europe, Middle East and Africa, Asia and South Pacific,  feature the Modi cover story being written by journalist Aatish Taseer, saying Modi has failed to deliver on his economic promises while creating an “atmosphere of poisonous religious nationalism”.

It is the same TIME magazine, which in 2015 featured Narendra Modi on its cover with the title, “Why Modi Matters”, expressing hope that he would lead India to step up as a global power. Four years later, just before the two concluding phases of the general election, the iconic international magazine slamming Modi might not have any impact on the Lok Sabha polls, but will definitely affect global investors’ sentiment, who are being aggressively courted by India.

Synopsis From TIME Magazine Article

The article titled, “Can the World’s Largest Democracy Endure Another Five Years of a Modi Government?”, opens with the sentence: “Of the great democracies to fall to populism, India was the first.” Under Prime Minister Modi, the story read, “nation’s most basic norms, such as the character of the Indian state, its founding fathers, the place of minorities and its institutions, from universities to corporate houses to the media, were shown to be severely distrusted. Under Modi, minorities of every stripe – from liberals and lower castes to Muslims and Christians – have come under assault.”.

Talking about the economic promises made by Modi in 2014 elections, the writer says, “Not only has Modi’s economic miracle failed to materialise, he has also helped create an atmosphere of poisonous religious nationalism in India.”

The author also adds that Modi is ” lucky to be blessed with so weak an opposition – a ragtag coalition of parties, led by the Congress, with no agenda other than to defeat him.”

“Modi will never again represent the myriad dreams and aspirations of 2014. Then he was a messiah, ushering in a future too bright to behold, one part Hindu renaissance, one part South Korea’s economic program. Now he is merely a politician who has failed to deliver, seeking re-election. Whatever else might be said about the election, hope is off the menu,” the write-up reads.

The Effect

The BJP publicly slamming the article is an indicator in itself that the “Divider in Chief” jibe have hurt them dearly. A BJP office-bearer Ashwin Johar, has started an online petition on online platform change.org to protest against such an article which the petitioner and the party feels is an “attempt to malign Modi’s image”.

When a foreign magazine with the influence that TIME enjoys calls the Indian Prime Minister a “Divider-in-Chief,” one can’t dismiss it as compulsive cynicism of a few. Nor can’t it be dismissed by sighting it as western media’s biasness against India, for these are the same publications that had previously named Narendra Modi as one of the most influential leaders in the world, eulogizing him as the ‘reformer-in-chief’.

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