Blatant Interference in Indian Elections
— Jagdish Sewhani, New York
I am writing to you with regard to the op-ed published by you “Under Narendra Modi, India’s ruling party poses a threat to democracy.” As an avid reader of The Economist, I have experienced a deep decline in the journalistic standards and ethical values, which once was considered a prestigious publication.
As a person of an Indian origin, living in New York for the past several years, I have closely followed the political, economic and social developments in India. The progress made by India in the last five years under Prime Minister Narendra Modi is unparalleled and historic. Facts speak for itself.
The op-ed published by you is fiction, rather than based on facts. I firmly believe that by writing such a fictitious article and asking people of India to vote against Modi, is a direct interference in India’s election. I demand that The Economic must tender an apology and reveal under whose influence it has done so.
Your biased mentality is reflected on the very fact that you have put Congress in Capital letter and BJP in small letters. Why? Dear Mr Editor,
Let’s talk about some facts.
India as per the latest figures from all major international financial institutions including the IMF and the World Bank under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has emerged as the world’s fastest-growing economy. Not denying that India has a long way to go achieve a high level of living for the common people, Prime Minister Modi India has laid a strong foundation in that regard: from various social security measures to providing health insurance programmes to a significantly large segment of the population, to making basic necessities like electricity, housing, affordable food, banking and internet accessible to all.
India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made a remarkable improvement in the business environment. Hope before publishing this factious and one-sided op-ed you would have looked at the annual Ease of Doing Business report of the World Bank. Can you name one single country of the size of India that has jumped the rankings of Ease of Doing Business as much as India has done in the last five years? And what about the amount of foreign direct investment that India has attracted under Prime Minister Modi. Here is homework for you. Please prepare a list of top emerging economies on FDI in the last five years. Let me know, what you find.
Let’s talk about freedom of the press and the baseless and slanderous allegation of him being non-democratic and intolerant to criticism. Even these are relative terms and contextual in nature, can you find out one leader in modern history wherein the leader has been denied Visa by one big country – here I am talking about the visa denial by the US – and after coming to power, India under him has developed a strongest-ever relationship with the United States. This is primarily because he strongly believes this is in the best interest of India, the United States and the world. I hope you must be aware of Nixon-Indira Gandhi relationship and how then India drifted fast into the Soviet Camps.
But for the ego clash of two leaders, had India and US joined hand together, the world would have been a much safer and peaceful place now.
And BTW, if anything Prime Minister Narendra Modi is intolerant to it is corruption and terrorism.
I hope you have the resources at your disposal to conduct research on the articles critical of Sonia Gandhi – the most powerful leader of India during the 10 years of the UPA regime in major Indian publications. I guess you can count them on your fingertips or at the most list them on page one. Sitting in New York, every day I can find at least a dozen news articles, op-eds and television shows in major Indian media outlets critical of the policies and views of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
I will bring to your notice another example. Two senior leaders of BJP – Yashwant Sinha and Shatrughan Sinha – for the last five years have openly talked against the Prime Minister and his policies. They have joined the platforms of the opposition leaders. Still, they were never dismissed or expelled from the party. Can you name one political party in India, including the Congress wherein a senior leader critical of say Rahul Gandhi or Sonia Gandhi or party president would be allowed to stay in the party even for one single day?
On news media outlet I will ask you one question. If an online publication like The Wire – which is small in terms of financial capacity – can run an open campaign against Prime Minister Modi, nothing stops other publications to do so. India, dear editor of The Economist, has a free and strong vibrant press, wherein everyone has the freedom to write what they feel like. Your article tries to say that major publications like The Time of India, The Hindustan Times, India Today, NDTV are scared of Prime Minister Modi. Flatly wrong. They are writing and publishing what they believe in. By saying so, you are simply trying to demean the prestige and work ethics of these major Indian publications. I think The Economist should be ashamed of this.
I would like to bring to your attention, a few aspects of his foreign policy and national security aspect, as India under him has emerged as a strong power which is not afraid of bullying any longer. Doklam is one such example. Today, when India talks, the world listens with attention and acts. Look at the global position of Pakistan, the nerve centre of terrorism. It’s because of his diplomatic policies, Pakistan has never been as globally isolated as it is today. Not even after OBL raid. Before PM Modi came to power, please have a look at the global opinion towards One Belt One Road project of China. It’s India, under him, which took the lead in telling the world about the predatory economics of China. I know, it would be very tough for you to acknowledge this and the West today is taking the credit for this. But these are the facts.
His guiding principle of foreign policy is ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ or the world is one family. And he has persistently worked on this aspect, be it his steps on climate change, solar alliance, international yoga day or free satellites to third-world countries. Within all its economic constraints, India under him has emerged as a major donor – both in terms of financial and technical know-how.
Dear Mr Editor, I am amazed at the last two paragraphs of your op-ed. You might be favouring a corrupt government, but people of India, under 10 years of UPA rule, were bitter sufferers of a corrupt and inefficient government. Your biased mentality is reflected on the very fact that you have put Congress in Capital letter and BJP in small letters. Why?
Look at the audacity at which you are interfering in Indian elections. Are you an Indian publication? What is your interest in asking people of India to vote against BJP? You very well know that the BJP is coming to power. So you are asking Indians to at least vote for a coalition government, which will definitely result in a weaker India. I am sure, you very well know who will benefit from a weak India. It is a very sad state of affairs.
The world needs a strong India. In 2019, it’s only Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has the capability of leading a strong India. And I am hundred per cent sure, people of India have already made up their mind. You will see the results on May 23. They will not be influenced by your blatant interference in Indian elections.