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Why West should welcome a Narendra Modi government

April 19, 2014

It is a Julian Assange observation which he later withdrew that raised a storm. Mr. Assange and his Wikileaks claimed that the West was wary of a Narendra Modi government because Mr. Modi is an honest man. This on the face of it an innocuous statement had larger ramifications. One – that the present UPA establishment is corrupt and that corruption is at the highest levels, which meant the first family of India – the Gandhis. Second, that the West prefers a corrupt and pliable establishment whom they can arm-twist and get their way to one that is honest, forthright and has a mind of its own. I don’t think Julian Assange realized he had opened a Pandora’s Box by making this statement. Later he hastily retracted what he had said.

There is a lot of truth in the assertion that a Modi government will be more decisive, active and transparent government than the present dispensation. The irony is that the West is not too enthused about a government that is proactive, responsive, decisive and a go getter. A bunch of Left Liberals have signed a petition saying that they fear a Modi government will bring in totalitarianism and will be a threat to democracy. Western media is also giving voice to such Liberals and invariably shut their ears to those who want a responsible, decisive government led by Narendra Modi.

If there is indeed a Modi government on the 16th of May, 2014 it should be the best news for the West. There are umpteen reasons why the West should not only welcome a Modi government but should celebrate a government that is overtly a friend of the West. Remarkably, that does not seem to be the case.
I must admit however that the US has eased out their ambassador in Delhi, Nancy Powell for being cold to BJP and to the inevitable change of guard. Ms. Powell did visit Gandhinagar and met Mr. Modi but it was too little too late.

It is the economics of Modi that most excites prospective investors within India and those from abroad. When the Japanese and other foreign investors felt they were being stone walled in other states they headed to Gujarat safe in the knowledge that if their investment made sense they would get clearance in no time. That is the basic idea of the so-called Gujarat model. The progressive forces have made foreign investment a bad word in the minds of Indians. They equate foreign investment as a ruse to fleece India as the East India Company did in the times past. This is petty and meaningless rhetoric in the 21st century. The world is doing all it can to attract foreign investment and here in India we shun them as pariahs! Modi understands the importance of rapid industrialization and that of creation of jobs. He is very clear that only such development can uplift people from poverty and give them basics like housing, healthcare and education. The Left Liberals find this an assault on Indian democracy!

India is a land of immense possibilities. Ask those who have invested in India and decided to stay put come what may. India has been a bonanza for them. But must companies and investors have to fight it out such that they resist eviction? With the present UPA dispensation that was the economic environment. Remember so many companies are fighting expensive and tiresome legal battle against taxes levied on a retrospective basis. Investors do not come to India to fight legal battles. They are here to create an enterprise that serves them well as well as is an asset to India and Indians. They feel unwanted here and that is just so distasteful.

President George W Bush rightly pointed out to the 400 million plus Indian middle class and their consumption needs as an opportunity not to be missed. This figure could double in the next ten years and then the consumption of India will skyrocket. This will happen only if there is a decisive, clear headed government with the right priorities. Foreign investment in basic industries, consumer goods, education and health care should make that radical shift that ordinary Indians are waiting to happen. Let me assure that were Modi to come to power and for some reason unable to come up to expectations of the people of India he will be as unceremoniously discarded as anyone else before him. People’s aspirations must be met and that is a given. And that is where the opportunity lies for foreign investors and companies. India is on an irreversible path to development and that cannot be wished away.

India and the West have had close strategic ties over the last decade. The Indo-US Civilian Nuclear deal that was signed was the paradigm shift in Indian foreign policy. True to form India has been slow on its implementation or shall we say that the deal has been put in the cold storage. A Modi government should change this and the parameters of the deal and what we envisage as the nuts and bolts of the new relationship will be refurbished. The West needs India and we need the West. India can be West’s outpost in the region. With US withdrawing from Afghanistan they will have a freer hand in dealing with situations in Asia in general and South Asia and the Far East in particular. A Modi government will be more aware of India’s stature in the region and will not shy away from its responsibilities to make sure that the equilibrium is maintained India is not just a tool in West’s contain China policy – India is an equal partner in it. The India-Japan-Australia partnership should find more leverage under a Modi administration. India could also play a more active role in Afghanistan post West’s withdrawal which will quash any possible Pakistan adventurism in the region.

West will have to learn to deal with India on an equal footing and not try to push us around. To be fair to our western counterparts our own tardy progress and inertia in dealing with issues and proposals puts a spanner in bilateral and multi-lateral relations. Our attitude to work and dealing with issues needs to be more transparent and responsive which is what Narendra Modi epitomizes.

A billion educated forward looking Indians could be a bonanza for the West. I will again come back to the economics. With a slowing Chinese economy, India galloping in double digits growth figures could be the elixir that the world economy needs. I see India replicate the kind of scorching growth Japan witnessed in the ‘60’s. The good news is that India and Indians are ready to go farther and higher. A Modi victory will be a victory not only for India but for the world at large. For democracy, freedom and those who believe in humanism. Because poverty is a scourge that is the most ghastly assault on human dignity and we must fight it with honesty and intelligence. That is exactly what Modi wants to do. West cannot afford any but a Modi government in New Delhi.

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