WHAT DOES MODI WAVE MEANS TO INDIA AND THE REGION?
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With shocking facts, evidences and irrefutable references - Accidental India, written by Shankar
Aiyar and The Accidental Prime Minister, written by Sanjaya Baru, say how India treads its course
through political crisis and compulsions of its rulers. Both Aiyar and Baru have explained how
accidental leaders rule the World’s largest democracy- sometimes piteously and sometimes
gloriously. It is even much surprising that although chosen accidentally to lead their countries -
some of them have exhibited unparallel caution, courage, and conviction. The way - they lead their
country, has become an impressive history.
Thanks to the quality of leadership exhibited by persons like P.V. Narsimha Rao, Atal Bihari
Vajpayee, and Manmohan Singh in the recent past. The country ignored and mocked in international
community, has acquired global recognition since the early nineties of the last Century. Together
with Rao, Vajpayee, and Singh - regional leaders like Narendra Modi and Nitish Kumar, India has
substantiated the values of democracy and India’s independence that it acquired in 1947.
Including and Aiyar, Baru, many good writers like Gurucharan Das, Arun Shorie and Nandan Nilekani
have played critical roles in analyzing why an ancient civilization with abundant glorious cultural
traditions - a country with such a decisive geo- strategic location combined with unparallel human
and natural resources, blessed with so many economic opportunities, matters less in global affairs.
They have also explained what can ensure India realize its huge potentials.
History of India is next to its continued struggle against the destiny. Its unrelenting drive to reinvent
its glory, find an economy to serve the imaginations of millions and build its confidence to reclaim
the great legacy of thousands of years, than an India - poor and wretched - where millions go to bed
without food, have invented Narendra Modi. Inevitably, for another millions of Indians who have
their imaginations for a strong, confident, prosperous and globally recognized India, Modi has
become an iconic figure.
Modi - the likely next Prime Minister is probably the best answer available to the Indian masses for so
many questions that have been disturbing their minds for long. He seems to have represented their
imaginations concerning the strengths of their country and the power of their collective trusts and
commitment. Moreover, Modi with his exceptional charisma, character and conviction, seem stand
tall to address the deep sense of pains engulfing Indian people for its dismal development
achievements and poor state of governance. Modi – with his exceptional quality of leadership among
the average and corrupt politicians is able to lead the dream - Indians have been nurturing since
Likewise, he as the Chief Minister of his native Gujrat, could best reflect the hopes unleashed by the
great trio – P.V. Narsimha Rao, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh, but discontinued very
Unquestionably, India seems to have been swept up by ‘Modi Wave’. Even those who feel sick even to
talk about the existence of such wave – have endorsed it with their irrational outbursts. Apparently,
the enthusiasm of huge masses Modi has led - has validated the decision of his party to nominate him
as its prime ministerial candidate and leader of BJP’s election campaign.
A country of 1.2 billion people – with a huge chunk of well educated youth population, charmed by
the deep sense of the nation’s glorious history and heritage that is full of valor and sacrifices, if is
combined with the good governance, economic prosperity and its rich cultural wealth, is inevitable
to claim its right place. Including all these, what Modi was able to deliver to the people of Gujrat as
its Chief Minister for three consecutive terms, has reinforced the trust of the Indian people – that
India can reinvent its glorious past with present day success.
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To know about India’s accidental rise, two events can be noted here. After Rajiv Gandhi’s
assassination in May 1991 - P.V Narsimha Rao, a retiring low profile politician, but highly regarded for
his spirituality, wisdom, competency, and political acumen was chosen to lead the country. As he
was preparing for taking the oath of office as the 10th Prime Minister of the world’s largest
democracy – the third in the last 18 months, the Cabinet secretary Naresh Chandra came to see him.
According to Shankar Aiyar, Chandra handed over two notes to Rao - containing detailed account of
economic crisis and a blue print to address the crisis. Aiyar also writes that the Chandra’s note say -
India’s foreign exchange reserves “were only enough to cover just seven days of imports . . . and the
government was on the edge of bankruptcy”.
Rao as a seasoned politician knew the gravity of the challenge. To find a highly qualified,
competitive and trustful finance minister had therefore became his first job. For this, he defined his
criteria for a new finance minister and asked his aides about the person fit enough to meet the
standards. The name of Dr. Manmohan Singh (currently the Prime Minister) was suggested to him. He
agreed his name immediately, although Rao personally did not know him.
Just after one month as the Finance Minister of the Rao government Manmohan Singh while
presenting his first budget in the Parliament, quoted Victor Hugo who once said, “No power on earth
can stop an idea whose time has come.” Thereafter Singh continued, “I suggest to this august House
that the emergence of India as a major economic power in the world happens to be one such idea.
Let the whole world hear it loud and clear. India is now wide awake. We shall prevail. We shall
The world knows - India prevailed, overcame the crisis, and stood as one of the fastest growing
economies of the world. P.V. Narsimha Rao with fragile coalition partners was able to maintain
political stability and sustain his government - a full term.
Political instability persisted after Narsimha Rao, but after 1999, it reclaimed stability, order and
continued economic growth. First, with Atal Bihari Vajpayee and then with Manmohan Singh - both
completed their full terms. As Sanjaya Baru has reminded, Manmohan Singh created a new history -
giving his party a consecutive two terms government with an improved majority only after Jawaharlal
Nehru. Interestingly, as was P.V. Narsimha Rao selected to lead the government, so was Manmohan
Singh chosen, as the country seemed unprepared to accept Italy born Sonia Gandhi to lead the
government as the Prime Minister, although she was the unanimous leader of her party and an
Member of Parliament.
Narendra Modi is a complete aberration to accidental leaders like Rao and Singh, but a political heir
of Atal Bihari Vajpayee. As Vajpayee led government India and the World will see huge change with
the nature of leadership if Narendra Modi becomes the new Prime Minister of India. An outspoken,
high profile and assertive Narendra Modi, who with his austerity, managerial skills, vision, and high
level of commitment has created a history for himself and the people of Gujrat, will replace the soft
Spoken, low profile, but highly respected Manmohan Singh.
Narendra Modi has also a most powerful story to tell the world - as an innovative leader with vision
and determination. Born in a lower middle class family, he used to sell tea at a railway station when
he was six years old. However, his rise from a tea vendor to the most popular leader of the world’s
largest democracy is a long way that only a man of his character can attain.
Modi’s rise says - no one is ever alone and can be ignored either. Similar is the case of history of a
country. History of a country can never be tamed, trained, imitated, or invented entirely anew.
Obviously, there is no good teacher in world than history itself. It can help learn best lessons and
teach us to improve or develop a new history than the old one. The hard lessons of history is that it
(history) can be learnt and honored but cannot be waited to correct its course for itself or recourse
its painful or pleasant past - robotically or again and again accidentally.
It seems, India is no more prepared for another series of accidental leaders.
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In case of India, what Dr. Manmohan Singh claimed as a prophet in Indian Parliament - about a
quarter century ago, has become true. Apparently, in case of Modi too, he seems true. Had Dr.
Singh, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi worked as a team during all these 10 years, and had Prime
Minister Singh continue to run the country - with similar courage and confidence, he exhibited
during Civil Nuclear Deal with the U.S. and International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA), perhaps it
would be a time for Rahul Gandhi than Modi. Nevertheless, Singh could not and Sonia and Rahul did
not support Singh when he needed their unequivocal support. Repeatedly his authority was
challenged, ignored, humiliated, and even mocked, but surprisingly, he never made a fuss, but
people knew it and wanted to correct it with Modi.
Dr. Singh, although an honest man, did the greatest injustice to his authority as the Prime Minister of
India. With his novice political rationale, he surrendered his complete constitutional authority and
political existence to Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi – the Congress president and vice president also
the mother and the son. According to Sanjaya Baru – his confident Media Advisor, during his first
term, Sing told him “There cannot be two centres of power. That creates confusion. I have to
accept that the party president is the centre of power. The government is answerable to the party.”
Perhaps, this was the greatest rebuke to the world’s largest democracy - that the government is
answerable to a party and its president – than to the people, constitution, and the parliament. In a
prime ministerial system, when a prime minister stands helpless to a party president and even vice
president who has no constitutional responsibility than an individual, it creates enormous vacuum in
the country where only the people, country, and constitution become a loser. The political space left
unattended by the government was filled by many unwanted elements. When the image and
leadership capacity of the prime minister suffered, it affected the overall health of the country and
its people. On issues such as accelerating economic growth and especially in fighting corruption, the
government led by one of the finest economist and cleanliest prime minister in Indian history, fell
too short to peoples’ expectations.
On this milieu, people were in need of a leader who can fill the vacuum and address their concerns.
On this account too, Modi became their natural choice.
It seems, common people in India do not have high expectations. They want someone who really
listen to them, create jobs for them, improve their living standards, offer good education to their
children, ensure the future of their children, and protect their major interests. In all these areas –
they found Gujrat as a model. They want Modi replicate the Gujrati achievements to the whole
country. They just wanted their government run as an institution – not as a fiefdom of some political
family; give power to them and in return receive power from them. Modi again fits well to their
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Modi might not know the practical details of foreign policy and diplomacy, but as a prime minister,
he has to construct India’s response to an assertive China equipped with huge economic and military
power and ensure China’s peaceful rise. He also has to find a fine balance between its time tested
historical relations with Russia - always unfailingly supportive to its major security stakes and India’s
new found strategic partnership with the US.
In an interview published in Indian Express Narendra Modi has prioritized the policy of his party.
According to him, if it gets an opportunity to form the government - his priority “will be to restore
the confidence of the people” . . . address the policy paralysis . . . consolidating the infrastructure
and industrial sector” and new confidence building measures between the center and states in all
reforms undertaken by the government.
In the same interview he professed, the Hindutva based age-old concept of foreign policy that says
“वसुधैव कु टुम्बकम” or “Universal Brotherhood”- that means people living everywhere on the Earth
belong to one family. Therefore, “mutual respect for one another and cooperation should be the
basis for relationships with foreign nations. Further, he committed himself to follow the foreign
policies of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee led government. Indicating his cold relations with the United
States, he said that any decision taken by any individual or one event should bear lasting impact in
overall foreign policy. He is open with any country whether the U.S. or China. At times he has
indicated – if the U.S. has problems with him, let the U.S. manage it – it is their job and not his.
India, which has yet to reach a border agreement with China – known as the ‘world’s longest
disputed frontier’ and with whom India has also has fought a war in 1962. Pakistan, China’s closest
strategic partner in Asia, has also fought three wars and numerous standoffs with India since they
both gained independence in 1947 when Britain, the colonial master of United India, created two
state formulas – India for the Hindus and Pakistan for the Muslims.
As their economies are growing, so are the military might of both India and China is soaring high. If
their economies will continue to grow as expected for years to come, because of the size of their
geography, population, economy, defense power, and critical geo-strategic location, India and China
will continue to define global strategic balance in their favor. Amid questions being raised on
America’s strategic credibility and its willingness and capacity to provide security umbrella to its
Asian allies in China’s neighborhood, India has gained a new strategic weight that Modi has to
Recently, India test fired a new anti- ballistic missile capable of intercepting targets outside the
earth's atmosphere. India has developed a double-layered ballistic missile defense capacity capable
of destroying missiles at higher as well as lower altitudes. This has created tremors in some circles of
India’s neighborhood while satisfactions in other. Again if a balance between such tremors and
satisfactions fails, India has to pay high price.
Emphatically, international media has laid more attention and concerns mainly in BJP’s nuclear
policy. In its Election manifesto, BJP has declared to follow two pronged independent nuclear
program unencumbered by foreign pressure for both civilian and military purposes. It has mentioned,
“BJP believes that the strategic gains acquired by India during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee regime on
the Nuclear programme have been frittered away by the Congress. Our emphasis was, and remains
on, beginning of a new thrust on framing policies that would serve India's national interest in the 21st
century.” As a part of this BJP says, it will “Study in detail India's nuclear doctrine, and revise and
update it, to make it relevant to challenges of current times” and “Maintain a credible minimum
deterrent that is in tune with changing geostatic realities”.
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On the April 2nd, the outgoing Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh addressing a seminar in New
Delhi on 'A Nuclear Free World: From Conception to Reality' had proposed a global convention for
'no-first-use' of atomic arsenal to make the world a safer place. While giving reference to its 'no-first-
use' policy, he had complained that “no single country can undertake the journey alone" and unless
there exists an "agreed multilateral framework" that can involve all states.
Singh also admitted, “As a responsible nuclear weapon state that remains committed to non-
proliferation, India supports the idea of a nuclear-weapon-free world because we believe that it
enhances not just India’s security, but also global security.”
Few days after this, BJP announced to review its nuclear policy that analysts hint with its “no first
use” policy. This has created some Jitters in international media – implying this with some geo-
political realities of the region that joins the three nuclear weapon countries - India, China, and
Pakistan. Among the three Pakistan has not declared – No First Use Policy.
But, as Manmohan Singh has said “no single country can undertake the journey alone", even though
BJP says it will review its nuclear policy, there is not much to take it as an aggressive nuclear policy.
A pragmatic and confident Modi and BJP, may need to build some more strategic confidence in its
favor – but will not declare its one and half decade long nuclear policy redundant – unless it senses
some serious threat to its security.
The New York Times in its editorial –‘A Risk to India’s Nuclear Doctrine’ says that the likely change in
its self imposed restraints on its nuclear policy “introduces more uncertainty into an already unstable
region “ and that “would exacerbate tensions with China, which subscribes to the policy, and
Pakistan which does not.”
The New York Times further says that India and Pakistan both have some 100 nuclear weapons each
and are building more. Two rival countries that have fought three battles and faced numerous
standoffs have little regular communication. While Pakistan has the world’s fastest-growing nuclear
arsenal with large stock of short-range tactical nuclear weapons, India’s conventional arsenal is far
superior to Pakistan’s and sufficient to respond to most of the threats coming from Pakistan.
Similarly, Reuters has quoted Richard Boucher - former U.S. assistant secretary of state for South and
Central Asia who has said that while the United States has negotiated the civil nuclear deal with
India, scrapping the no first strike policy would not be a smart move on the part of the possible BJP
Boucher also claims that it will not benefit India any more, rather would introduce some destabilizing
elements in the calculations of nuclear adversaries.
Western media especially the American look policy change in India right from the American
perspectives. In the U.S. when a new president is elected – even if from the same party, he comes to
rule the country with a complete new team – not only in political leadership even in senior
bureaucratic positions too. Obviously, even such bureaucratic leaders come with their own team. It
creates some policy hassles even within government.
However, in India, senior bureaucratic leadership is hardly changed even after a new government
takes place. A new government may change some of its policies; some of their focuses, some
approaches, some decision making process. Hey can introduce some new visions, and attitudes on its
defense and foreign policy, but cannot change its overall policy. Even if they want some drastic
changes, no political leadership can set aside the tough bureaucratic procedures fixed by the
country. Such well-established bureaucratic procedures keep power and authority to control the
possible damage caused by some lightly cooked political decisions. Only when an unanticipated crisis
erupts, only then, the political masters decide the rule of the game.
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In an interdependent world - bilateral, multilateral, regional, and global institutions matters for the
drives, desires and requirements of major policy change of any country. Therefore, credibility,
confidence, and capacity of such institutions if are fixed and enhanced, then no leadership chosen
democratically, can upset the global power balance to endanger peace and security of the country
and the region as well.
On this background, if Modi can form a government after the world’s largest electoral exercise with a
due procedure defined by the most rigorous democratic scrutiny, he can never endanger the security
of its nation and its people. Only a through a meticulous policy analysis at different level, he can
decide anything vital for national, regional or global significance.
Besides, nationalism has gained new impetus in Asia, especially in and around India, China, and
Eurasia. Policy discrepancies, policy failures, and policy interferences of global and regional bodies
and strategic ambitions and behavioral hegemony of major powers have become a major source for
growing aggressive nationalistic sentiment in many countries – including India, China, Japan, South
Korea, Indonesia, Brazil, Germany and Russia.
Largely, we can see India facing greatest risks from within - mainly from weak internal security
against Maoist extremism and cross border terrorism. One third of its territory is infested by Maoist
extremism. Terrorist from any source can infiltrate its long coastline that according to Arun Shourie
is poorly guarded or in other word remains unguarded. Shourie, with facts and figures in his book –
We must have no price, claims India as a safe heaven for those engaged in maritime terrorism. It
means India has to reorient its national security in the face of these unconventional sources of
Common people in India are practically denied to participate in true democratic practices – which
the country has made available to all. People in state and society are living with inadequate
economic opportunities and social security. More than any other thing, this has further weakened
India. This has created tremendous challenges to India and fortunately, Narendra Modi in Gujrat has
achieved a record success in coping with all these challenges with even the limited authority he has -
as its Chief Minister. It seems majority of Indians have known this and BJP has made best efforts to
pass this message to every Indians. And indubitably, if Modi wins with a sizeable seats in parliament
for BJP, the resurgence of India is inevitable.
As a weak United States, will certainly weaken global order and democracy worldwide, similarly, if
the world is largest democracy continues to become weak, loses its confidence, it will not only
weaken democratic movement all over the world, but will also weaken its neighbors and crises of
confidence will create regional and global tensions as well.
In history, there is a reference about a relationship between Alexander the Great and an Indian King
Puru in present day punjab. It describes how Alexander himself a brave person exhibited high regards
for bravery Puru demonstrated in his battle against Alexander. To show his respects for the sacrifice
and heroism - Puru displayed, Alexander returned the state that he had conquered from him and
humbly requested for Puru’s friendship.
This is true with every bold person and country. Only a bold and confident government in India, by
nature can honor similar governments in its neighborhood. This kind of bold approach can create a
new understanding in India’s relations with its neighbors. It will have tremendous impacts in
international relations too. In short, an India that is bold and confident can redefine its relations
with its neighbors and major world powers with mutual respect and confidence to each other. That
ultimately works as a basic for global peace and order. There is ample reason to believe that Modi’s
rise in India will set an example in enhancing regional and global peace and order this way.
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