Thoughts on India’s New Leader

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I’ve been reading the latest news on the election being held in India. As of now, Narendra Modi, the Hindu nationalist leader running for prime minister, is sure to win. This presents some interesting issues for India.

One thing that I’ve read is that he is widely suspected of having taken part in religious riots that broke out in Modi’s home state of Gujarat in 2002. At the time, he was chief minister of that state. More than 1,000 Muslims were killed by Hindus in the riots. Modi has never apologized for his mishandling of it, and some people think he should have, especially since it has been confirmed that politicians close to him were personally involved in the riots. For instance, many Muslims blame Modi and his allies for declining to arrest people they knew were responsible for the violence. The riots were a reaction to a train wreck that killed 59 Hindu people, who constitute a large majority in India, and that Hindus blamed Muslims for.

I’m interested to know what Pres. Obama’s dealings with Modi will be like, given Modi’s history. So far, Obama has congratulated Modi. Will Obama comment on the riots publicly? Or does he see the incident as old news? It’s important to remember that Obama’s recent use of drones don’t make him the ideal person to pass moral judgement on any world leader. Obama’s the one with what I call a personal “hit list” of people to eliminate with his drones.

I’m also interested to see what Modi’s dealings with the Muslim population of India will be like. The plight of Muslims in India is remarkably similar to the black community’s issues in America. Both are minorities with little economic or political power, and both suffer from chronic poverty and discrimination. Here’s a bit of a New York Times article about this:

Discrimination against Muslims in India is so rampant that many barely muster outrage when telling of the withdrawn apartment offers, rejected job applications and turned-down loans that are part of living in the country for them.

As a group, Muslims have fallen badly behind Hindus in recent decades in education, employment and economic status, with persistent discrimination a key reason. Muslims are more likely to live in villages without schools or medical facilities and less likely to qualify for bank loans.

If India can successfully find a solution to this problem, the U.S. would be foolish not to take note. Of course, such problems rarely have simple solutions. I wonder, though, what would happen if we in America were to compare and contrast our problems, rather than looking at race and poverty as existing in a vacuum, with the problems in India. Might we come away with a better understanding of the issue? In India, the inequality stems from religious differences, not race, but the results are the same.

What do you think about Modi? What do you think about America looking to other nations for ideas/insight into our social issues?

5 thoughts on “Thoughts on India’s New Leader

  1. “Obama’s recent use of drones . . .” should be Obama’s CONSTANT use of drones.
    There IS NO moral high ground from the U.S. if there ever has been, really.

      • I’m not familiar enough with India’s politics to know why Modi won the election, but extreme candidates typically do not win fair elections in large countries unless the socioeconomic conditions are poor. Public dissent generally breeds radical politics.

        When Modi’s bad behavior in his own province became known, Obama opposed him and I believe the U.S. took diplomatic action against him. Now that Modi is head of state, Obama is playing nice.

        • Yes, I heard that Obama and other Western leaders denounced his behavior at the time of the riots, but it seems many of these same nations are okay with him now. I’m sure support of him can only be for self-serving reasons.

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