Saturday, 25 June, 2022
HomeOpinionModi's strongman leadership needs reality check, Ninan & Fukuyama offer one

Modi’s strongman leadership needs reality check, Ninan & Fukuyama offer one

In episode 532 of #CutTheClutter, Shekhar Gupta talks about how the Modi government functions and how its DNA does not allow it to accept its mistakes.

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New Delhi: The aura of success and positive changes around the Narendra Modi government has been shown the mirror by two leading intellectuals — Business Standard Chairman T.N. Ninan and prominent author Francis Fukuyama, ThePrint’s Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta said in episode 532 of ‘Cut The Clutter’.

Gupta drew on Ninan’s latest column and Fukuyama’s comments on ThePrint’s ‘Off the Cuff’ to take an overall “broad-brush look” at the political situation in India.

In his column, Ninan wrote that “Narendra Modi was too smart for propaganda around him”.

Anything that Modi does, the entire cabinet endorses it in a style that is sycophantic, and the friendly media also endorses it.

However, according to Ninan, while Modi is too sharp for this and should know what the reality is — leaders begin to get delusional, particularly, when the media is extremely friendly and institutions are weakened.

Furthermore, he wrote, “Modi obviously can see that the positive change narrative around him is untenable” because it is evident, with everything that is happening, that India is not going through “a big positive change and resurgence”.

On the other hand, Fukuyama, in a conversation with Gupta on ‘Off the Cuff‘, noted that India gave China the space to move in and exploit it when India looked weak.

He highlighted three primary points: First, India’s economy and military are not as strong as they should have been and they cannot match China; second, India is not so cohesive and united internally; and third, India’s non-alignment policy is not going to work.

According to Fukuyama, Modi’s priority should be to restore India’s social cohesion and unity. Secondly, India needs to reposition itself strategically and third, it has to strengthen its economy and military power.

Also read: Five elements make up Modi’s charisma. 4 are beginning to lose lustre

Modi government does not accept mistakes

Ninan focuses on what is good about the Modi government. He noted that it had ambition in 2014 and wanted to bring India to double digit growth and keep it there, but that has not happened in six years, Gupta said.

He wrote that while ambition is good, each of the agendas that the government put out for itself are running into trouble because they go contrary to BJP’s own political and ideological DNA.

The government’s DNA implies that it must never admits its failure — a global phenomenon among strongmen leaders like US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin among others.

If they admit something is wrong, it confuses their base and they would rather allow their base to defend them, Gupta said.

For instance, in the Covid situation in India, there is no introspection by the Modi government on where they went wrong.

Ninan added that even when the numbers look bad, these governments still play with them. Despite the GDP declining, the government found a new criteria to dismiss critics, to please its base.

Another instance is the situation with China. Several reports suggest that Chinese have caused a fair bit of mischief in Ladakh but the government has not admitted it. Instead, it is attacking people who are trying to reveal the reality in Ladakh.

Similarly, demonetisation was a disaster and GST is bringing even less tax compared to the past.

Also read: ‘Wicked’ Pakistan tried to backstab a friendly India — PM Modi on Kargil war

How Modi can reverse situation

Therefore, if Modi wishes to reverse the situation then he has to accept that China exposed India’s internal weakness. It is time for him to stop this tendency of fudging the truth on the border, accept reality and deal with it, said Gupta.

Secondly, he needs to understand the limitations of personalised diplomacy, particularly if our neighbourhood is so widely alienated with us. Third, don’t neglect the defence. Fourth, accept the fact that the economy is going into decline and it needs to be fixed, and fifth, restore national cohesion, Gupta added.

As Ninan wrote, PM Modi is too smart to buy into this propaganda but he should give himself a reality check, even if he and his system don’t like critics.

Watch the full CTC episode here:

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  1. Mr kili jolsiyar speaks witha vendetta veiled behind his impeccably framed sentences. He judges about India sitting in Europe while I’m sir his knowledge of the country and its problems come from the articles as we just read. I find it surprising and pitiful for people like him to be the judge and jury of the country for which he has done nothing and by the look of it is fully incapable of doing something worthwhile for it. He looks satisfied blabbering about problems of a country from afar but refuses to acknowledge his own incompetence in doing something productive for it. As a matter of fact only a fraction of people like you out of 1.2 Billion do not feel proud to be an Indian and I’m sure your loyalty will always be questionable with respect to the country you are living in. Rather than saying something negative about a country ,please try and do something about it.

    • Mr Umesh Raghav: Thanks for your response.

      Alas, your comment makes a lot of assumptions about my motives and yet, spectacularly fails to refute a single statement or assertion of mine. And for the record, you know zilch about what I do and have done for the India I left. Let me assure you that at least about 8 persons (sometimes upto 15) have been getting their salaries from the outsourcing contract that I have generated for India – and against all odds. And they would beg to disagree with you Sir when you insinuate and spout rubbish such as “.. country for which he has done nothing and by the look of it is fully incapable of doing something worthwhile for it ..”.

      Additionally, I am the son of a proud IAF airman who saw action in 1962. And my octogenarian, BJP leaning dad was stunned when an old Muslim soldier friend of his from 1962 called to enquire if his family could seek refuge in our Hindu house should the gaurakshak lynch mobs come calling. Apparently, being a patriotic Muslim willing to die for India and even save your Hindu friend is not enough to be safe in the India that is being created now by your saffron friends. Something also IAF Corporal Sartaj Mohammad, son of Mohammad Akhlaq (RIP) who was lynched in Dadri would confirm.

      But getting back to your vacuous observations about my many posts. You seem to forget one feature of all posts – I am strongly critical of the government in power, particularly this one which is hellbent on creating a Hindu mirror image of Pakistan. And the government in power is not the same as the country – after all governments come and go whilst the country is more lasting. Yet, you conflate criticism of the government with criticism of the nation, its people and even begin to question the loyalty of someone who merely criticises. Utterly uncalled for Sir.

      I suggest you try to refute my arguments – if you can – rather than questioning my right to argue or attaching labels to my stance. That should surely be within reach of intellectuals like you Sir, your saffron tinted glasses notwithstanding. Right?

      I will leave you with a quote from the British author George Orwell (1903-50):

      “The further a society drifts from truth, the more it will hate those that speak it”

      And I believe in speaking truth to power Mr Umesh Raghav.

  2. Print is a third rate journal. I am not a BJP or Modi bakth. Just for the sake of criticism you write all rubbish. Surely you belong to Lutyens.

    • Mr S.Krishnamurthy: Hard to believe that anyone but a blinkered, blind bhakth suffering from the deleterious effects of tunnel vision would be angry at criticism of the BJP or the autocratic PPM of India, Narendra Modi !

      That apart, is there a law saying that only praise of the BJP and PM Modi is the only thing that is allowed in thc ountry? You seem to forget that the prevalence of paid media and the hounding, if not suppression of independent channels under the BJP leaves you with ample choice as to where you can get your daily dose of Modi praise. Indeed, in today’s India, you can actually overdose on Modi praise Mr S.Krishnamurthy !

      So if The Print irks you, you can scoot back to Republic TV and inhale the hot air emitted by Arnab Goswami to your heart’s content Mr Krishnamurthy !

  3. Idiots, even if China had the upper hand, which government in the world would admit?
    If India had the upper hand would the Chinese acknowledge?
    In war, propaganda is part of the game.

    They cant show one failure from Modi so they will go back to demonetization.

    • Mr Motabhai: Propaganda may not be very effective in these days Sir with the Internet quickly debunking the preposterous claim of the Delhi University graduate.

      Modi, his PR agency APCO Worldwide, the many BJP IT Cell trolls and others can scream whatever they want but the truth gets out, quick. And the bulk of the world’s press knows that the 56 inch chested Gujarati was all bark, no bite when it came to Galwan and the Chinese.

      You forget one thing that has been a constant in India for almost as long as the country has been independent – the aam aadmi does not trust Doordarshan or government sources. Indeed, even top government officials themselves do not trust their news sources. Thus, when Indira Gandhi was assassinated, GOI officials preferred to get accurate news from BBC rather than Doordarshan. You think that has changed now Mr Motabhai?

  4. When we hear “India is not so cohesive and united internally” , immediately people are driven to the thought of Hindu Muslim divide.
    Yes, there is such a divide, mainly politically supported and propagated by media with vested interests.
    How about other types of division, based on language/region( recently WB CM loudly sid that Gujaratis cannot rule WB!).
    Or, the Biharis were kicked out of Maharashtra when they were seeking jobs in the Railways?
    Or, the way in which the citizens from Eastern India were treated by Delhiites and /or in Bengaluru?
    It is all sons ot the soil culture started by Maharashtra/Karnataka etc.; only exception may be Kerala!!
    Caste based politics of UP (and any other state, fr that matter)?
    So, India is divided on multiple platforms making it well nigh impossible to make it a cohesive naton.
    There has to be political will for that and that is not in any political party’s agenda!
    Solution??? Each individual should feel that he/she is Indian first (it is so only in the PASSPORT, as on today).
    All political parties should join hands to make this UNITY happen! Will it? Any hope?
    Not in the near future (my opinion).
    But, with the Chinese intrusion, I hope, at least now, the political leaders will consider make India “Unity in Diversity”!!!

    • Mr Chandra Ganti: Great post and I can corroborate much of what you say.

      I live in Europe and the first thing that all Indians do upon arrival is to start a countdown on when you can get rid of your Indian passport and get a more coveted European or American or Canadian one. And you see that very same phenomenon in Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Sri Lankans too.

      Restricting myself to India – it appears that many, perhaps most Indians do not wish to be Indians. And that has not changed one bit since Modi came to power. Indeed, the political and in particular the economic instability in India has meant that most Indians want to do a “Quit India” !

      And once in the West, one does not associate as Indians but most group together as speakers of a shared mother-tongue. Thus, when Garmin engineer Srinivas Kuchchibotla (RIP) was tragically shot dead in the US in 2018, the Telugu Association took the lead in many of the administrative and financial aspects of his obsequies etc. Most of us NRIs know that the Indian Embassy is a useless and unhelpful, bureaucratic troublemaker manned by rude and unprofessional staff.

      As you rightly say, India is a very vast, highly heterogeneous country with a lot of people who essentially do not want anything to do with each other. The North-Easterners are taunted in North India; the southerners were called as “kaala madrasis” and attacked by Bal Thackeray’s Shiv Sena thugs; Sikhs suffered a pogrom in 1984; Muslims have been the victims of many riots and pogroms; Dalits suffer from caste oppression and so on. In fact Kashmir, Punjab and many parts of the North East wanted to break off and secede.

      For a country like India, nation-building never stops and should never stop. Uniting the people of the country and forging their identities as Indians should be the first task of every elected PM. Sadly, Modi not only fails in that task, he questions the very need to have a united India where all Indians can live in peace and harmony. Just ask the families of the many innocent Muslims who have been lynched by the PM’s party.

  5. This was a really nice fact finding session and in my opinion you might be correct that China’s belligerent moves have shown the chink’s in the armour. It might be a blessing in disguise if we course correct now. I feel that one of the points of economy not working very well is very much true but now with the pandemic set in it is the case for most of the economies in the world. What I think will matter is who bounces back faster, I feel the steps taken by India with all the constraints that India has, should help the country to turnaround faster. Many of the reforms that have taken place like the agricultural and labour laws even though at a small scale should pave the way for modest growth in the immediate term. So I would not categorize the economy as a pain point instead I feel there are two areas on which sufficient focus was not given and spend has been decreasing over the years which the pandemic gave a heavy blow. One was the healthcare spending, our public healthcare infrastructure is abysmal and has been going down the drain for years. This area should have been given the focus but I have still not seen any significant work or even announcements in this field. The next is Education, which is again lies at the backburner of every strategist. If we do not focus on these two the country is going to bear the brunt of it for decades altogether.
    I would very much like if you could take these two topics as well for your CTC episodes in the future.

  6. Mr Modi has got caught into a viscous trap. He cannot admit his mistakes as it would alienate his core supporters. He cannot take corrective measures unless he knows what he has to correct. He has surrounded himself with less than intelligent people whose only means to be relevant is to tag onto his coattails. That’s the price that the nation has to pay. Soon there will be nothing left to govern.


  8. Undoubtedly a leader who enjoys wide popularity, repeated electoral endorsements and is set in his ways is going to dislike any criticism and PM Modi has a large battalion of supporters on both traditional and social media to beat down any criticism. But criticism is a mechanism for pause, reflection and course-correction, even if one feels the criticism is biased and unfair. Without criticism, there is no renewal, no incentive for new ideas, no growth, no space for life itself.

    On a practical note I hope the PM has atleast now realised that without solid economic growth no one – friends or enemies are going to take India’s concerns seriously. Subsidy management cannot substitute for real growth. And real growth cannot be for only Jio – everyone has to benefit. It is high time the PM publicly instructs his subordinates to concentrate on economic improvement rather than the Hindu-Muslim issue or what J Nehru did or did not do. Failure to make headway to improve real economic situation of ordinary Indians and continuing to blame everyone else will ruin his and his party’s legacy.

  9. Instead of indulging into useless talk of alleged failure of Modi, Modi-haters need to look into why people at large are not accepting their anti-Modi tirade ? The Man , you hate most is still at number one position in peoples ranking. It is his integrity , his honesty in pursuit of solutions of the problems that beset this nation which have no parallel ( Covid -19 ) during last seven decades. China has been indulging in incursions game since early fifties but it only in 2017 or 2020 ,it is finding its match on borders. Economies of all the countries are in trouble . India can not be exception in globalized world. Was Indian economy growing at rate of Jupiter velocity during Nehruvian dynasty era ? Congress -supporting media should come out of this misgiving that Pappu-led Congress will ever get victory in any future parliamentary elections . The man –RG – can not even manage the affairs of the party consisting of mainly sycophants and beneficiaries of their Government s favours . How the man can be considered fit to lead the nation –India –Full of diversities ? Pro- Congress journalists may not have the answer. General public has.

    • Mr Vikram Arora: For a man viewing the world through saffron tinted spectacles, your uncritical, fawning, sycophantic endorsement of PM Modi is fairly predictable. I refer to your fact-free claim:

      “.. It is his integrity , his honesty in pursuit of solutions of the problems that beset this nation which have no parallel ..”

      Well Mr Arora, the Muslim victims of the pogroms that then CM Modi orchestrated in Gujarat in 2002 would perhaps have a different opinion wouldn’t they ? And so would the thousands of poor Muslim cattle traders and others who face the rage and rampages of gaurakshaks, the PM’s own stormtroppers right ?

      You go on to make additional nonsense:

      “.. Economies of all the countries are in trouble . India can not be exception in globalized world .”

      Fact is Mr Arora, the economy that Dr Manmohan Singh left for Modi was in a relatively healthy condition that the one it was in, before the start of the COVID crisis. Then along comes this Gujarati genius who knows more economics than Dr Raghuram Rajan, Arvind Subramanian, Urjit Patel and others and goes on to demonetise the economy. That plunges the nation into a liquidity crisis that it is yet to recover. The informal sector of India’s economy which employs 82% of the workforce was hit in the solar plexus and is still reeling. Indeed, a comparison of the economic indicators of the worst period of the MMS regime with the best period of theModi rule will show that on 11 out of 15 criteria, MMS beats Modi hands down, see ref:

      Worse still, smart Gujaratis – and other businessmen – are flocking to offshore banks, not wanting to risk their assets being held hostage to the whims and delusions of their unpredictable fellow Gujarati and his enforcer and man Friday Amit Shah. Indians, particularly North Indians might flock to Howdy Modi type tamashas, but they will not plonk their cash in India, nor will they move back to India!

      Additionally, since your ilk likes to juxtapose the 56 inch chested, decisive, Delhi University graduate against a supposedly weak-kneed Rahul Gandhi and conclude that the former is better than the latter, the questions that follow are:

      1: Does India depend only on one “indispensable” man for its survival ? What happens when he is out of the scene? Will the country crumble?

      2: What happens when this “indispensable” Gujarati genius quits ? Isn’t the BJP, like EVERY other political party in India not built on the image of a sole charismatic leader or dynasty? Indeed, no Indian political party practises inner democracy and the BJP is no exception.

      3: So Mr Arora, who comes after Mr Modi? Rabble-rouser and saffron thug Yogi Adityanath? Godse worshipper Sadhvi Pragya Thakur ? Sadhu Sakhsi Maharaj? Sadhvi Uma Bharti? Or will there be a Russian roulette type tournament with all the sadhus and sadhvis ?

      No Sir, PM Modi, in his quest to turn India into a Hindu mirror image of Pakistan will only ensure that India will likely follow the tragic history of Islamic Pakistan, viz. a weakening and worsening of the fragile unity of the nation.

      Meanwhile, “intellectuals” like you who get their kicks from inhaling Arnab Goswami’s hot air will continue to blame everything on Nehru. Additionally, your ilk reminds me of Niccolo Machiavelli’s quote:

      “The vulgar crowd always is taken by appearances, and the world consists chiefly of the vulgar.”

  10. What alternative are you proposing? A namby pamby from the Congress Family as leader of free India?
    We prefer a decisive strong leader like Prime Minister Modi any day.

    • Mr Varad Singh Talwat: It is mind boggling that you believe that the only person who can run India is a Gujarati with a dubious degree from Delhi University, a pogrom under his belt, botched economic policies, foreign policy disasters and a polarised, divided nation as his “achievements”. India has done quite well in the past and without much help from saffron quarters, thank you very much.

      I simply cannot fathom how educated men like you refuse to remove your blinkers and allow yourselves to be brainwashed by the spin generated by a political outfit consisting of all manner of saffron clowns whose agenda is religion and religious strife to the exclusion of economic growth and improvement of India’s stature, Thus, you have as leading lights of the party: 2 power-hungry, unaccountable Gujaratis, a saffron thug and rabble-rouser called Adityanath, a terrorist accused called Pragya Thakur, assorted lunatics like Sakshi Maharaj, Uma Bharti, Kapil Mishra, Sangeet Som and many others. Not to forget the Harvard educated intellectual Jayant Sinha who loves to garland murderers as long as they murder defenceless Muslims. And then 2 south Indians like economics challenged Nirmala Sitharaman and rubber stamp Foreign Minister Jaishankar – these 2 being inserted as token recognition of the fact that it is the prosperous south of India that supports the saffron monkeys of the North.

      And then we have people like you who believe that Modi is a “decisive strong leader”. Well, the Chinese will tell you otherwise. He may be strong in destroying democracy, gagging the press and controlling the police and the judiciary – in exactly the same manner as PM Indira Gandhi did during her hated Emergency. But, India is not behind Modi as you might want to think – only 37% of Indians voted for the BJP in 2019. And in South India, any autorickshaw driver will tell you exactly what he thinks of Modi and how demonetisation destroyed his livelihood – in not very printable language.

      The notion that Modi is indispensable, irreplaceable and the only man that stands between India and destruction is a Modi made myth. Or as former French President Charles de Gaulle famously said:

      “The cemeteries are full of indispensable people”

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