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'Rockstar' Modi charms Australian media

November 18, 2014 17:50 IST

‘A rockstar!’ ‘Absolutely fantastic’ … That’s how media outlets in Australia have been describing Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he traversed through the continent, charming people and political leadership along the way.



On Tuesday, after Modi left the podium after addressing the Australian parliament -- the first Indian prime minister to do so -- an editorial in the Sydney Morning Herald said: ‘When Modi began to address the parliament in Canberra on Tuesday, we knew for sure there was something about the Indian Prime Minister. It wasn't just that he acknowledged Indigenous Australians when Abbott did not. Or that he wondered how MPs were surviving a third address to parliament by a world leader in as many days. 'Maybe this is Prime Minister Abbott's way of shirtfronting you,' he suggested with the hint of a wink.’

‘It wasn't even the fact that -- although he had an autocue -- he appeared not to be speaking from prepared notes. He was eyes up all the way through. It was because as soon as Modi got stuck into the substance of his address, he had the normally rowdy House of Representatives hypnotised.’

Detailing Modi's address to Australian parliament, news.co.au said: 'In some ways it was simply a businesslike speech from a visitor with plenty of self-interest in making a good impression. But there were touches of the poetic, like "the new high tide of hope" in remote villages; and a dimension beyond the simply economic, like growth not just for the sake of growth, but to transform the quality of life of every Indian.'

'And it was all delivered in a rich, deep voice with a characteristic sub-continental timbre. Modi may be a can-do PM. But he's can-do with charisma, which is rare.'



Earlier in the day, Modi stirred up local sentiments when he presented his Australian counterpart

Abbott a commemorative photo collage dedicated to the memory of novelist John Lang, who was Rani Lakshmibai's counsel during the East India Company's rule in India.

In a commentary on ABC Radio, Rory Medcalf, non-resident Senior Fellow in Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution, said: ‘'John Long is a long-neglected figure in Australian and Indian history, and he deserves a lot more attention than he's had. Lang took the extraordinary step of representing one of the leaders of the Indian independence movement in the 1850s, the Rani of Jhansi, essentially a Joan of Arc figure in Indian history, in her legal case against the East India Company to have her lands restored that had been wrongfully taken off her under British rule.'

'He was unsuccessful in that legal challenge. Of course, had that legal challenge been successful, it might have forestalled some of the bloodshed of the first Indian war of independence, or the so-called Indian Mutiny.'

'It's amazing and it's, I think, very heartening that all these years later, an Indian prime minister is recognising a little-known Australian for his commitment to the dignity and independence of Indians.'



More adulation came the night before when the Allphones Arena in Sydney erupted in chants of ‘Modi, Modi, Modi’.

Said The Australian, ‘Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi got a reception Barack Obama could only wish for these days. It was saris, selfies and excitement. Even Katy Perry, who plays Sydney’s Allphones Arena for several nights after him, would be jealous.’

‘The new leader carries the hopes of a nation on his shoulders. And while six years has been long enough to disappointment, after six months Modi still symbolises a rising Indian nationalism,’ The Australian report said.

‘Modi has cast off the baggage of race riots in 2002 in his home state of Gujarat to be the rising star of world politics. A strange gaggle of local politicians lined up beneath him on the stage, from NSW Premier Mike Baird to more ­obscure regional players,’ it added.