Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, in New York Saturday. | Photo: ANI
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, in New York, September 2021 | Photo: ANI
Text Size:

New Delhi: Narendra Modi has pushed India away from secularism and towards Hindu nationalism, Indian-American journalist Fareed Zakaria has said in his profile on the Prime Minister for Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People list for 2021

Modi’s government, Zakaria adds, has eroded Muslims’ rights, “imprisoned and intimidated journalists who shine a light on its abuses and has passed laws crippling India’s thousands of NGOs and advocacy groups”. 

Modi, who has also made it to earlier editions of the annual Time exercise, is one of three Indians on the list, which seeks to identify personalities that have had the deepest influence in different spheres. 

The only other Indian politician on the list is West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who secured a third consecutive stint as leader of the state earlier this year despite an aggressive campaign led by Modi’s BJP. The accompanying profile, penned by journalist Barkha Dutt, describes her as the pivot of any Opposition coalition that takes shape to counter Modi.

Adar Poonawalla, the CEO of the Pune-based vaccine-maker Serum Institute of India (SII) whose firm has been among the torchbearers of India’s Covid vaccination drive, is the third Indian on the list. His profile has been written by Time journalist Abhishyant Kidangoor.

The list has been published in the US-based magazine’s latest edition (27 September-4 October). 

In his profile, Zakaria says Modi is India’s third most pivotal leader after Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi.

“Jawaharlal Nehru, its (India’s) founding Prime Minister, set the template for the country as secular and democratic. Indira Gandhi presided over its most tumultuous times, spanning war, civil strife and emergency rule. Narendra Modi is the third, dominating the country’s politics like no one since them,” Zakaria says.

Modi was expected to move India to a capitalistic future and “he’s done some of that but more determinedly, he has pushed the country away from secularism and toward Hindu nationalism”, he writes.

Zakaria says Modi remains popular despite “mishandling COVID-19”, adding that the “death toll has been estimated to be much higher than the official count”.

Also Read: In Modi’s AMU pitch to Muslims, retreat from party politics hurting foreign policy interests

‘Self-made street-fighter’ Mamata Banerjee 

In the accompanying profile, Mamata is described as one with a “street-fighter spirit” and “self-made life”.

“The street-fighter spirit and self-made life in a patriarchal culture set her apart. If any coalition of forces were to come together to counter Modi nationally, Mamata is almost certain to be the pivot,” Dutt writes.

Poonawalla, whose firm manufactures the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine under the brand name Covishield, is described as someone who could help the world end the Covid-19 pandemic. Kidangoor praises his promise to deliver 1.1 billion Covid vaccine doses and efforts to double the manufacturing for the same. 

The profile also describes the many hurdles that Poonawalla has faced, such as a fire at a Pune plant, raw material bottlenecks, and the supply ban on overseas commitments during the second wave.

(Edited by Sunanda Ranjan)

Also Read: India can’t alienate its 20 crore Muslims, not when Taliban are finding legitimacy, not ever


Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it

India needs free, fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism even more as it faces multiple crises.

But the news media is in a crisis of its own. There have been brutal layoffs and pay-cuts. The best of journalism is shrinking, yielding to crude prime-time spectacle.

ThePrint has the finest young reporters, columnists and editors working for it. Sustaining journalism of this quality needs smart and thinking people like you to pay for it. Whether you live in India or overseas, you can do it here.

Support Our Journalism