Narendra Modi could become most important Indian PM since Nehru: Fareed Zakaria

Narendra Modi has the chance to leave behind a very powerful legacy and go down as the most important Indian prime minister since Jawaharlal Nehru, geopolitical expert Fareed Zakaria told India Today TV.

Speaking to India Today News Director Rahul Kanwal on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Fareed Zakaria said that PM Modi has the chance to transform India’s economy which is still very protectionist.

“I was on the Yale board. We tried desperately to do more in India. It’s incredibly hard. India has so many backward colonial, post-colonial regulations that are so suspicious of foreign universities, NGOs,” Zakaria said. “Tariffs are still very high. India is the most protectionist large economy in the world. So all that needs to change.”

“He (PM Modi) has a chance to go down as the most important Indian prime minister since Nehru. I think it would be hard for him to overtake Nehru because Nehru was India’s first prime minister. And that gives him a kind of unique status as the man who established modern India and particularly modern Indian democracy. But he has the chance to leave a very powerful legacy,” said Zakaria.

Zakaria also noted that PM Modi is in a commanding position ahead of the Lok Sabha elections this year.

“I think he probably is in the most commanding position in all these elections around the world. Why? India is doing well. Some of that is Modi and his policies and you have to give him credit for that. Some of it is 20 years of reforms that have created a certain momentum that is now unstoppable,” he said.

According to Zakaria, PM Modi has understood the pulse of a large section of Indians — the Hindu pride — that “very few people have in India”.

“He (PM Modi) comes from outside the elite. He may be the first real non-elitist Indian prime minister. You think of the Nehru, the Gandhis, Narasimha Rao, even Manmohan Singh, they all by education, if not birth, came out of a certain kind of elite background. He doesn’t. There is a sense in which the average person relates to him. And he understands Hindu pride, the ordinary Hindu’s pride in a way. I wish he would use it in a more positive way, not to divide people, but to bring everyone up,” he said.

“He is able to tap into the pride of a large part of India that felt that, you know, ‘we’re not Bombaywalas, we’re not Delhiwalas, we didn’t go to these fancy universities, but our time has come’,” he added.

When asked what a potential third term for PM Modi looks like, Zakaria said he expects more reforms.

“There are still areas where India is still a very difficult place to do business by global standards. It’s very protectionist. Labour laws are very tough. Land acquisition is tough. Modi tried to do something about some of those things. Maybe the third term will allow him to just create and it’s really most all over,” Zakaria said.

Zakaria hoped that India would solidify its ties with the US. “I strongly believe that it is in India’s strategic interest not to be sitting on the fence, not to be playing footsie with the Russians. India would benefit dramatically by having a generational alliance with America. It doesn’t have to be formal. I don’t mean that. What I mean is a generational level of commitment that there’s going to be cooperation, dialogue, cross-fertilisation of economics, trade, technology, education,” he said.

Published By:

Rishabh Sharma

Published On:

Jan 15, 2024

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *