Executive Director, C Voter Foundation
In this era of Narendra Modi combined with social media, every damned thing in India is politicised and polarised. I often find the tribal warfare on social media platforms over silly things quite entertaining. It is always funny to see adults fight like school kids. One such laughable event was related to the recently released Shah Rukh Khan film Jawan which is doing roaring business. Hordes of self-proclaimed “liberals” went into paroxysms of ecstasy. Why? It seems Shah Rukh Khan has taken “revenge” on Narendra Modi through the film. It seems the central message of the movie is an appeal to Indian voters to not vote for the man and his party. “Liberals’ gleefully asked Modi fans or Bhakts to buy Burnol. Soon after, Shah Rukh Khan posted a tweet praising and congratulating Modi for the success of the G-20 Summit. Now, it was the turn of Modi Bhakts to gleefully ask “liberals” to buy Burnol. No other brand in India has enjoyed so much free publicity thanks to the childish social media antics of ideological warriors. In this strange world, “liberals” detest Amitabh Bachchan, Anupam Kher and Akshay Kumar as they are Modi “toadies”. In return, the right wing detests Aamir Khan, Anurag Kashyap and Naseeruddin Shah as they are “anti-national”.
When the warring camps can fight so bitterly over an entertaining movie like Jawan, it is inevitable that the G-20 would become a flashpoint for vicious ideological warfare. Quite justifiably in my opinion, prime minister Narendra Modi has drawn praise in India and the world for the successful conclusion of a very well organised gathering of global leaders. Inevitably, fans of Modi declared him to be the greatest prime minister ever of India when it comes to foreign policy and engagement with global leaders. Many hailed him as a true leader of the global south. For the record, till about a few days ago, G-20 was a group of the 20 largest and consequential economies of the world. After months of diplomacy and negotiations led by India, the African Union (a group of 54 African nations) was admitted as the 21 st member of G-20 right at the start of the Summit in Delhi. This single move overshadowed all doubts raised over the absence of Xi Jin Ping of China and Vladimir Putin from the Summit. It is natural for Modi to get praise and credit though I doubt if that makes him the “greatest ever prime minister”.
But not only is it difficult for “liberals” to ever appreciate anything done by Modi, they have an instinctive tendency to dig up Jawaharlal Nehru or Indira Gandhi when others praise Modi for some event, decision or policy. So even as Modi fans went hyperbolic, “liberals” dug up Nehru. One of the most “influential” journalists of India Rajdeep Sardesai posted a tweet that praised Nehru and his foreign policy leadership during the 1950s. The poor fellow is brutally savaged by Modi fans on social media and it was no different this time. Sardesai had to change the wording of his tweet about three times and kept getting flak. Other “liberals” who hate Modi with a passionate ferocity jumped into this tribal fight. Many belittled Modi as a fraud and an imposter who is no match for the global stature of Nehru. Many requests to buy Burnol were liberally exchange!
I find this whole war over “global stature” and successful diplomacy silly and stupid. Anyone sensible will agree that Nehru indeed enjoyed a global stature as a statesman. He was indeed the co founder of the non-alignment movement. There is little doubt that he was accorded recognition and respect in global capitals. Of course a lot of that came crashing down in 1962 when China inflicted a military humiliation on India. That doesn’t mean Nehru was a complete foreign policy failure. Just as the success of the G-20 Summit make Modi an all-time foreign policy hero. Not to forget, in 2020, even Modi was hoodwinked by China. But there can b no doubt that Modi has engaged in extremely energetic and dynamic foreign policy initiatives. Perhaps his biggest foreign policy is that most countries of the world no longer put India with Pakistan in the same south Asian box. For instance, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohamed Bin Sultan cancelled a planned 6 hour stopover in Pakistan on his way to India to attend the G-20 Summit without even a polite word of regret to authorities in Pakistan.
There is another important reason why it is stupid to a Modi versus Nehru show. The world was a very different place in the 1950s when Nehru towered over Indian politics. From then till the end of the 1980s, India was a hopelessly poor Third World country that had no economic clout or leverage of any kind. Thanks to four prime ministers P. V. Narashima Rao, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Dr. Manmohan Singh & Narendra Modi, India is now transitioning to a middle income country with one of the largest markets in the country. Sure Modi still uses Nehru era rhetoric, but it is the economic clout and leverage that talks louder. Foreign policy, like almost everything is always more effective when diplomacy is backed by hard cash.
You can say Modi is lucky to lead India at this time. But don’t be a stupid Modi Bhakt by saying all good foreign policy moves of India started in 2014. And don’t be a stupid Nehru Bhakt by saying the success of the G-20 Summit is because of what Nehru did in the 1950s.
This is the personal opinion of the author. The views expressed in this write-up have nothing to do with www.prameyanews.com.