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Is stopping Modi the West's new priority?

April 08, 2014 13:37 IST

Narendra Modi

'The West has always preferred a timid, half intelligent and a dependent India rather than a decisively independent and self-reliant one. A pliable Indian leadership suits the West best,' says Tarun Vijay.

On the eve of India's polls, it looks like the West has accepted the widespread Indian mood for change, but still wishes it has to deal with someone else but Narendra Modi.

The Economist magazine brazenly displaying a Western arrogance bordering on a coloured vision, suggests in its latest issue: 'If, more probably, victory goes to the Bharatiya Janata Party, its coalition partners should hold out for a prime minister other than Modi.'

The old colonial psyche that described us as heathens and pagans to be civilised through a hard dose of the gospel, still survives, it seems, in the editorial offices of some Western newspapers and magazines.

When the economy is down and the corruption is high, a nation needs a leader with clear majority and a massive mandate to take firm, hard decisions. It must make Western governments, dwindling under their own 'not so good economic conditions', happier and more assured.

Instead of bowing before the people's mandate and looking at an emerging, stronger democratic India as a guarantee for regional peace and power balance, the Western media and some hardcore Christian lobby groups in the United States have started their last ditch effort to stop Modi.

Though there are fears that forces inimical to India's rise might plot something sinister, nothing can stop Modi from taking oath as the new prime minister.

The Indian people have shown their transparently clear and decisive mood. It is an unprecedented event in India's post Independence history.

The West has always preferred to have a timid, half intelligent and a dependent India rather than a decisively independent and self-reliant one.

No matter whether the Congress was in power or the BJP. The Western preferences have been very clear: A pliable Indian leadership suits them best.

Modi belongs to an entirely different world they do not know how to connect with. Having developed a habit of reporting India with the help of so-called liberal, Left of Centre, Anglophile scholars, commentators and gossip providers in an English club ambience, the Western media and their highly accented Indian correspondents find it difficult to comprehend the new phenomenon.

They have never read anything first hand source material on the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh except the extreme Left's hate literature; their understanding of the Modi factor is limited to briefings by frequent fliers to Cambridge and the pre-opinionated India International Centre crowd.

How to deal with a new leadership that has studied in a village school in Gujarat and has completed the three-year rigorous RSS training? The ignorance and illiteracy regarding the new language has put fear in their minds -- we do not know this, so this must be a monstrous thing.

Modi is a son of the soil. He speaks English with an Indian accent, and not an Oxbridge one, which had been so familiar to the Western media, crowding and appreciating the Westernised neo-Nehru clan.

A half-baked knowledge of Indian history and a Churchilian outlook make them too uncomfortable dealing with a person who is best at speaking to Indians in their language and is moulded by the ideology they had despised so much.

This is a new vocabulary to them, a new introduction to the reality which is diametrically opposed to the half-Brit-Nehruvian model of behaviour they were familiar with.

That was the protocol, they could easily connect with -- looking at India the way a Viceroy looked at the natives -- a Ganesha terracotta to admire, ethnic pottery, folk something of Bastar and Jodhpur, sympathies with Maoists guerillas, talking supportively with Kashmiri separatists, no to Ayodhya and eyes wide shut at Hindu ethnic cleansing in the valley.

That was the sum total of their Indian affair. Anglicised masters of India's destiny. Dictating terms to talk or stay paused with Pakistan. Getting a baton to begin the Commonwealth Games from the Queen. A protocol of regularly turning at Buckingham Palace and 10, Downing Street; feeling humbled by the benevolent attitude.

It came to them so naturally that till the Atal Bihari Vajpayee regime, the Budget of India was presented in Parliament as per British clocks, to make the Lords in London comfortable and not for the comfort and the convenience of the Indian people. It was the BJP that changed the timing and started presenting the Budget when India was comfortable to hear it.

The BJP changed that and is set to change much more for India.

The fear is the colonial continuity of the supremacy of the Anglophile may end with the rise of Modi.

When India gained nuclear power under Vajpayee's Pokaran-II test, the West was first to frown upon us, isolate us from the mainstream and impose harsh sanctions against India.

In spite of that, India-US relations have remained a pillar of India's foreign policy. The presence of nearly four million professionals of Indian origin people in the US and the recognition of their contribution by the Barack Obama regime is a testimony to the strong bonds that exist between us. Obama's rise delighted common Indians as much as it brought a feeling of justice in Washington.

A future Indian government will have to move ahead without any historical baggage of rancour or animosity and hence it is important to know if the West is hearing or is willing to appreciate the new music of a happy dawn on the Indian horizon.

It is not just trade and industry, the strategic partnership of India, Japan and the US is more significant in the contemporary geo-political situation.

The Economist and other voices of Modi-fear emanating from the influential US media can't have come at a more inappropriate time.

In Washington, Capitol Hill tried to give some signals of a changed mood, though delayed. The US ambassador to India, Nancy Powell, has resigned, fueling speculation that perhaps a more acceptable face would be sent to Delhi as a new envoy. But Congressional noises right at the time of elections in India have exposed the real faces of some US politicians against the rise of a new Indian leadership.

On April 4, the US Senate's Human Rights Commission had an unusually timed hearing on religious freedom in India that was meant just to criticise Modi and suggest, quite shockingly, strengthening of religious minority courts.

The timing of such an outrageous hearing alarmed some Hindu groups and Representatives. US Congresspersons Tulsi Gabbard and Brad Sherman raised serious concerns about the timing of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission hearing on religious freedom in India.

Both US Representatives, who are members of the commission, suggested that the hearing may have been timed with the upcoming Indian democratic election and urged committee members not to attempt to influence it.

'Any attempt by the United States to have an effect on the Indian elections will backfire,' Congressman Sherman said, while questioning the panelists.

The Hindu American Foundation specifically criticised House Resolution 417 as Hinduphobic and highly prejudicial, and expressed particular concern over the resolution's call to empower religious minority courts to conduct trials and hear appeals -- a suggestion the HAF contended threatens to undermine the secular Indian judicial system.

They want an India with American priorities but Indians are making an India of their dreams. That is their priority? It hasn't to be an American choice, but an Indian destiny. And it will be.

India's rise is an unstoppable fact that the West also accepts it. It will be a tragedy if the largest democracy, so deeply appreciative and in harmony with Western democratic values, feels compelled to look the other way.

Also Read: So if not Modi, then who?

Tarun Vijay is a BJP member of the Rajya Sabha.

Tarun Vijay