As Delhi burnt in the flames of communal hatred, US President ‘Dolan Trump’, as PM Narendra Modi was heard calling him, arrived in India with Modi welcoming him with a ‘Namaste’ plastered on a saffron dot. It felt like a homecoming with Trump and Modi looking thick as thieves with the hugs, handshakes and show of solidarity. The ‘bromance’ between Modi and Trump is well known. And both rule the roost of the nationalist Right space in India and the US – a space that has expanded to push out the centrists, Leftists and liberals to the fringes.
It’s rather amusing, the commonalities and identifiable sensibilities between Trump and Modi. Both love walls, for one. Both love to talk about themselves. Both get easily carried away during public speeches. Both have a love-hate relationship with the media. Both are a bit iffy with facts. Both have their set of blind followers who refuse to see any wrong in them. Trump and Modi are brothers from different mothers – popular and infamous, but not for all the right reasons.
The popularity of ‘Make America Great Again’ and ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ show that the nationalistic fervour is working for both the alpha males who have centralised power in their respective countries to a level that has never been seen before. Add to that, the brazenness to not acknowledge issues staring you in the face. Both leaders have had major controversy over who they consider as true citizens of their nations. While Trump was adamant to oust ‘illegal’ Mexicans from the US, Modi insists on ousting ‘illegal’ migrants from India. Both leaders have seen, and some say given free rein to, hate crimes rise in their countries.
India and the US, today, are in desperate need for a leader who is compassionate and empathetic. Which is why the world needs women as leaders because the alpha males, high on nationalism and machismo, clearly lack the foresight to run a democratic country.
Also read: Modi and Trump bromance won’t do much for democracy or the global liberal order
Being in power has become about self-promotion when it should be about doing the right thing. The ego needs to be deflated, which Modi and Trump clearly can’t do. While Trump has taken some of the most sexist digs at Hillary Clinton (he once called her a “nasty woman”), Modi doesn’t spare his dissenters either by often branding them as “anti-national” or calling his opponents “hybrid bachhda (calf)” and “jersey cow”.
Most male leaders today are resorting to jingoism and a false sense of bravado masqueraded as nationalism to peddle their agendas as politicians. China’s Xi Jinping has precipitated the Uyghur crisis by putting Muslims in ‘re-education camps’ to indoctrinate them, since apparently they are not Chinese enough. Similarly, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is at loggerheads with the country’s minority communities Alevis and Kurds who do not fall in line with Erdogan’s machismo backed by nationalistic dogma.
Also read: How Jacinda Ardern’s response to terrorism reveals what macho leaders like Donald Trump lack
Future is female
It’s women leaders such as New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and German Chancellor Angela Merkel who have shown how diversity, harmony, community building is integral in the overall development of a country.
In fact, Merkel stands in stark contrast to both Modi and Trump’s take on asylum seekers and refugees. In 2015, in spite of Germany being sharply divided on taking in Syrian refugees, Merkel’s bold move to give them asylum was not only heroic but showed that she thought beyond politics, power and voter-base. And she did manage to push the envelope by rescuing Germany from being the “sick man of Europe” by turning public deficit to surplus. Germany’s unemployment fell by half and tax revenues grew since 2009.
Similarly, Ardern’s handling of the 2019 Christchurch mosque attacks turned the incident from one that could scale up to full-blown hate and vengeance to one of communal harmony and unity. Wearing the headscarf was a loud and clear message by Ardern to xenophobes and Islamophobes. Being unpretentious and humble has taken both Merkel and Ardern a long way.
Also read: Modi, Trump, Putin all put emotions over reason. That’s why they keep winning
Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina, too, in spite initially grumbling over the burden of Rohingyas from Myanmar, and spending an estimated US$ 280 million on the allegedly uninhabitable islet of Bhasan Char to relocate 100,000 Rohingya refugees from Cox’s Bazaar, has backtracked from her plans under criticism of traumatising the Rohingyas furthermore. Instead, she is planning to promote Bhasan Char as the “New Bangladesh” by turning it into a business hub. That’s more of humanity and less of fascism at play. Her government has also said, after the anti-CAA furore in India, that Bangladesh will take back any Bangladeshi national who is illegally residing in India.
The future is female. And to bring back balance and sanity in a world full of testosterone-driven egos, we need women and their sensitivity to heal the world.