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Why West Opposes Strong Leader Like Modi

By Colonel ANIL A ATHALE (Retd)
June 09, 2024 09:54 IST
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'The West has always opposed a strong nationalist leader in India and Narendra Modi is no exception.'
'The West prefers weak leaders who are amenable to Western pressure and Mr Modi's independent stance is not to the liking of the West,' asserts Colonel Anil A Athale (retd).

IMAGE: Prime Minister Narendra D Modi with US President Joe Biden. Photograph: Kenny Holston/Pool via Reuters
 

In the 18th century as the European 'gunpowder' empires were expanding and conquering large swathes of Asia and Africa, they invented the myth of the 'White Man's Burden'. Ruthless economic exploitation and slavery was justified as moral since the West was civilising the savages.

In the 21st century the fable of the White Man's burden has been replaced by the West's 'duty' to safeguard and protect democracy and human rights worldwide.

While the erstwhile White Man's burden theory was used to colonise the minds of the willing 'Natives', the current version of the West as a guardian of democracy is used to influence and interfere elections in other countries.

Setting narratives has been part of the Western agenda for long. Our generation, the immediate post-Independence born, recall how we were brainwashed by Hollywood movies.

Cowboy 'Westerns' regularly portrayed Red Indians as savage and villains. We gullibly applauded their massacres. WWII movies showed the Germans and Japanese as bumbling fools or worse.

On the eve of General Elections 2024 in India, leading media houses, think-tanks and sundry NGOs in the West spread misinformation about India's electoral process, the judiciary and administration.

The West put India at par with countries like China, Iran or Russia that are virtually one party States without an iota of evidence. The local comprador elite then picked up this garbage and amplified it.

Why is the emperor without clothes doing it? Let us check some historical facts.

This should come as no surprise to any Indian who is cognisant of the past.

IMAGE: Modi greets supporters at the Bharatiya Janata Party headquarters, June 4, 2024. Photograph: ANI Photo

Indira Gandhi, even before the Emergency, was invariably dubbed as a dictator Even Jawaharlal Nehru did not escape this fate.

Mr Nehru's non alignment policy was called 'immoral' by then US secretary of state John Foster Dulles during the Cold War.

Americans had forgotten their own 'neutrality' in the Anglo French wars of the 19th century, despite French help during the American War of Independence.

The West has always opposed a strong nationalist leader in India and Narendra Modi is no exception.

The West prefers weak leaders who are amenable to Western pressures on issues ranging from Ukraine to the Middle East. Mr Modi's independent stance is not to the liking of the West.

What about the West's own record on democracy and equality? The 'ownership' of democracy that the West trumpets from the rooftops is a false narrative.

India granted equal voting rights to all its citizens on the day it became independent on August 15, 1947.

The so-called 'original' democracy, Britain, granted full voting rights to the Catholics of Northern Ireland only in 1968.

The USA gave full voting rights to Blacks only in 1963!

With what face do these countries preach to India about equality before law?

The deriding of the Indian electoral system based on EVMs is another strand of this narrative.

The West is loath to acknowledge that India is far ahead in the digital revolution.

India records more digital financial transactions than the whole world put together.

Some readers may remember a former finance minister mocking the digital payment plans by asking how a street vendor would use it. In 5 years Indians have given a resounding thumbs up to digitisation and it is a common sight to see ordinary folk using digital platforms.

Contrast this with the American elections of 2000, when George W Bush won Florida state and votes were declared void on the basis of punching marks.

The West ought to learn from India how to conduct a free and fair election and stop lecturing us about our systems.

IMAGE: Modi being garlanded by Telugu Desam Party Chief N Chandrababu Naidu during the National Democratic Alliance Parliamentary Party meeting at Samvidhan Sadan, June 7, 2024 as Janata Dal-United President Nitish Kumar, Bharatiya Janata Party President J P Nadda, senior BJP leaders Amit A Shah and Rajnath Singh, Jana Sena Party Chief Pawan Kalyan, Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde, Nationalist Congress Party leader Ajit Pawar, Apna Dal (Soneylal) leader Anupriya Patel look on. Photograph: ANI Photo

In any democracy a third consecutive win is difficult. Such victories have generally been won on the back of soldiers.

Indians seem to have forgotten how Mr Nehru timed the liberation of Goa in December 1961 on the eve of the 1962 general elections.

Indians of my generation remember the excitement generated in the Bombay North East constituency where the clash between V K Krishna Menon and a combined Opposition candidate Acharya J B Kriplani was a referendum on Mr Nehru.

I recall the catch line by the Parle soft drinks company: 'Go for Gold Spot and Vote for Menon'.

The Congress won the 1962 election due to the euphoria created by the Goa liberation. Margaret Thatcher won her second term in the aftermath of the Falkland War.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 1999 and Mr Modi won successive terms due to the Kargil War and the Balakote air strikes.

In the absence of such an issue it was to be expected that India would revert to the 30 year-long set pattern of coalition governments.

This article is not peddling a conspiracy theory and the election results truly reflected popular will.

The idea to draw attention to the malicious attempts to undermine India at various levels by the Deep State in the West.

Thanks to peace in Kashmir since the abrogation of Article 370 and the peaceful integration of Kashmir into the Indian mainstream, the West has lost a major pressure point.

Poverty, malnutrition and religious freedoms are the new Kashmir' for the West.

Western and sometimes even United Nations institutes post false or illogical data. According to some of these surveys most Indian children are malnourished and most Indians go hungry.

The height weight ratios or food consumption is compared with Africans or Europeans, who are naturally large.

If one is to apply the so-called standards to India, all of us go hungry every day.

While travelling in the US, Russia and Africa, the biggest problem I have faced is that their standard portions are so large that an Indian invariably ends up over eating... it is not in our culture to waste food.

If Indians are to consume food on an American or African scale, most of us will die of obesity!

Let us be more confident and proud of our institutions of democracy and take Western motivated criticism with a ton of salt.

Colonel Anil A Athale (retd) is a military historian whose earlier columns can be read here.

Feature Presentation: Rajesh Alva/Rediff.com

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Colonel ANIL A ATHALE (Retd)
 
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