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Modi’s India

Historic elections in India. We’ll  go deep on the results and what they’ll mean for India, the  world and the US.

Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and India's next prime minister Narendra Modi addresses a gathering of supporters after his landslide victory in Vadodara, in the western Indian state of Gujarat, Friday, May 16, 2014. Modi will be India's next prime minister, winning the most decisive victory the country has seen in more than a quarter century and sweeping the long-dominant Congress party from power, partial results showed Friday. (AP)

Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and India’s next prime minister Narendra Modi addresses a gathering of supporters after his landslide victory in Vadodara, in the western Indian state of Gujarat, Friday, May 16, 2014. Modi will be India’s next prime minister, winning the most decisive victory the country has seen in more than a quarter century and sweeping the long-dominant Congress party from power, partial results showed Friday. (AP)

A huge landslide election win in India last week for the opposition party of Narendra Modi, India’s Hindu nationalist party.  It’s opposition no more.  In an historic vote, India turned out the Congress Party that has ruled for nearly all its decades of independence.  And it voted in a charismatic, super pro-business political leader who has vowed to rev up the economy, build a hundred new cities, cover India in high-speed rail, put it nose to nose with the economic dynamism of China.  India’s non-Hindus may well worry.  But it’s “game on” for Narendra Modi.  This hour On Point:  Modi’s India.

– Tom Ashbrook


Annie Gowen, India corespondent for the Washington Post. (@anniegowen)

Jayant Sinha, newly elected BJP member of India’s Lok Sabha in Jharkhand. Former businessman and Harvard University MBA recipient. (@jayantsinha)

Prashant Agrawal, investment consultant for Alixpartners and contributing editor for GQ India. (@agrawalprashant)

Zahir Janmohamed, freelance journalist. Former U.S. Congressional aide to Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN). (@ZahirJ)

Sonia Faleiro, writer and journalist. Author of “Beautiful Thing: Inside the Secret World of Bombay’s Dance Bars.” (@soniafaleiro)

From Tom’s Reading List

Washington Post: ‘We will take everybody along,’ Narendra Modi declares in victory speech in India – “After a grueling campaign, economic reformer and Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi is set to become India’s next prime minister, with his opposition party sweeping to a landmark victory. Modi, 63, chief minister of the western state of Gujarat, had campaigned on a message of hope and revitalization at a time when the country was dispirited by a stalled economy and a sense that its once-bright promise had dimmed.”

Quartz: There’s a simple reason Narendra Modi will be India’s next prime minister – “Some may argue about Gujarat’s growth record under Modi, but the voters of Gujarat have resoundingly elected Modi three times. India has undergone a quiet revolution in her states over the last decade. Chief ministers, essentially governors of states, that perform well are re-elected. Chief ministers who perform poorly are thrown out.Not surprisingly, Modi has now become one of the longest serving chief ministers in the country.”

New York Times: Modi Is No Champion Of India’s Women — “Winning Gujarat is a steppingstone to national victory, and the Nari Adalats could be a conduit to hundreds of thousands of rural women’s votes. Some local activists fear that Mr. Modi will attempt to install his cronies in the courts. [As] he becomes prime minister and nationalizes the system, one could envision this vehicle for justice becoming a political tool that conditions judicial relief on political support.”

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  • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

    One hopes that President Modi protects the rights of all Indian citizens, and that he protects the Indian democracy.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    And Hindustan is going to be different, how exactly?

    Forced vasectomies; rape of foreigners outlawed; defecation where citizens drink stopped through 19th century engineering practices; bovines no longer treated as prince and princesses; smoke the peace hookah with the neighbors; reduction of the vast civil service and the channeling of these people into productive employment; sweeping the refuse humans off of the streets; some other modern advance I’ve missed. So, how will the subcontinent be different? Exactly.

  • wauch

    Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine with a touch of Thatcher and Reagan supply-side economics comes to India.

    • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

      They need more Nomi Prins than Reagan/Thatcher. What do you want to do, devastate the region? Hoober Doober

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    Has India given up its dream of making a partnership with Afghanistan to pressure the Pakistan-held region of Kashmir? Is a settled peace over Kashmir then the end result?

  • John_Hamilton

    I spent some time in an ashram in India in late 1977-early 1978. It was election season in 1978, and auto rickshaws were driving by constantly with someone shouting from a bullhorn about the People’s Janata Party. They won. So this party’s victory is nothing new. You might want to look at the public record of how often they have won.

    And, of course, you might want to put this election result in the context of global climate change and the end of exponential growth of economic output. This is known as the systems approach, moving beyond dichotomous, isolated realities to looking at planetary phenomena in an interactive manner. I won’t hold my breath.

  • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

    Do we know President Modi’s policy to address climate change is?

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    The British-made & run Indian railways used to be the envy of the world. The Viceroy has long since left the region. Perhaps India should have rethought the heavy civilizing hand of the British raj before biting it. And sending it back to the cool climes of England.

    • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

      Really? They should have stayed a colony in order to keep well run trains?

    • 1Brett1

      Not that I am inclined to employ Godwin’s Law, but HItler’s Germany had well run railways…just saying, Hoober L. Boober.

      • http://alchemicalreaction.blogspot.com/ Alchemical Reaction

        Gay Moon Nazis in Antarctica with UFOs.

  • Ray in VT

    We sometimes compare India and China, and obviously there are a great many differences, culturally, historically and politically. As we look at the economic rise of China and also look at India, I wonder if one difference that we can look to, aside from the obvious ones such as how one is a one party dictatorship and the other is a multiparty democracy, is whether or not how Mao’s moves to destroy much of traditional Chinese culture and to “free” the Chinese from their history have allowed for a sort of change in China that India, which has retained its history, culture and traditions, has to struggle against.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    What does an average 4-6 ft. sea level rise over the next century do to India’s plans to bootstrap itself into the 20th century? Never mind the one the rest of us are living in.

    • Ray in VT

      Possible changes to tropical cyclone activity, and how that could affect the monsoon, also present potential challenges to land and food concerns.

      • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

        I’m interested in India’s PLANS for Global Heating. Now how they’re going to suffer. Anyone can wait for the waters to reach their armpits. Hoober Doober

    • आशुतोष ठाकुर

      I think you need to do some homework.

      Mr Modi is big on energy and he knows that solar energy is the future. He just completed Asia’s biggest solar energy plan in his Gujrat and he has already planned world’s biggest solar plant for India.

      He changes government buildings around his state to have solar panels and they should not use any electricity.

      You should also look at why US is dragging India because of solar enegry. If US is really serious about global worming then they should support India and not think about money all the times.

      So I guess now, its time to direct your question towards Mr Obama and ask him for his plans to reduce excessive energy/ fossil fuels uses in US.


      • Don_B1

        The group slowing the adoption of sustainable energy is the Republican Party, along with a few Democrats in states like West Virginia and Wyoming, which is currying favor from the fossil fuel industry.

        It is President Obama who has accomplished what has been done, from improved automobile efficiency to pollution controls on power plants, most in defiance of the fossil fuel industry. While it is certainly not enough, it is more than generally acknowledged.

        And the U.S. public does need to learn more about climate change, but the Mainstream Media is not helping, exactly. They seem to think they need the advertising dollars from that sector.

        Hopefully P.M. Modi will work to reduce the pollution throughout India that has it the most polluted cities in the world, worse than those in China. See the recent article in The New York Times.

  • As

    Best person to be our PM. Hats off to him.

    • Ray in VT

      I take it that you are Indian. Do you live there now? What do you think makes Mr. Modi the best person to be the Prime Minister? How do you feel that those who ran against him stack up and why?

      • Blue Liberal

        I’m an Indian & I live here now. Mr. Modi is the best prime minister because instead of talking religion or caste and other silly stuff, he is commited towards economic development through reforms and market liberalization.

        Only serious contenders against him where Mr. Kejriwal & Mr. Gandhi

        Kejriwal is a left-leaning anarchist(a self-proclaimed one)

        & Mr. Gandhi is an incompetent person talking populist measures and other out-dated socialist measures.

        Although as a +point for Mr. Kejriwal & Mr. Gandhi, they r social liberals as compared to Mr. Modi(a social conservative). But my nation today required economic development more than social liberalism.(I’d rather live in Qatar than Brazil)

      • आशुतोष ठाकुर

        Everyone in India knows that he is the best.

        Media has been after him for last 12 years. You hear about riots, have you EVER heard how riots started?

        No media talks about that because they don’t want to show the other side of the coin.

        60 people were burned to death by using petrol bombs, muslims did that, which killed 40 kids in the train!

        Are Hindus supposed to be beaten up in their own country?

        • Don_B1

          What you gave above was not even half the story. If you can get over your emotional response, part of the human system that leads to near continuous attack and counter-attack without end, maybe the understanding that the majority of muslims were not responsible for what happened. But it was the long-time oppression of muslims by Hindus that set the stage for a few to let their emotions get away. If both sides cannot see the injustices committed b by those on their sides, the horrors of what happened in Gujarat will be repeated yet again.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    You can count on the Obama administration to try and politically profit by the new Indian administration. It’s what it does best – trumpet the “good news” regardless of the outcomes. Or who suffers from them.

  • creaker

    India will go through a period of “relative” growth and advancement – not so much the Indian countryside will make any big changes but that much of the first world countryside will be depressing to look much more like the present Indian countryside.

  • X Y & Z

    It’s too soon to make that comparison. Obama has proven himself to be a failed and incompetent head of state, Modi hasn’t even taken office as head of state yet.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    New Indian business enterprise: The Boko Haram-Calcutta connection. Wives for sale. No reasonable offer refused!

    Everybody wins! You can probably find flash fund raising online. Sponsored by America’s SBA.

    • As

      Have you been smoking pot?

  • Guest

    Lame duck.

  • Cacimo

    Pretty shameful interview of Mr Sinha. I can only imagine how the left would react if after Obama first won the office of President the international journalist community had responded in such an insulting fashion. All the lefty wailing shows how out of touch journalists are with the populace.

    • Don_B1

      Maybe you are just a little out of touch with the part of the populace that you don’t associate with?

  • आशुतोष ठाकुर

    The girl “Gita” who called sounds so stupid. Modi is not there to stop street fights.

    People from west bengal needs to grow up and stop listing to Didi. Maybe try more fish!

  • आशुतोष ठाकुर

    I was expecting a balanced discussion however I forgot NPR is an american channel, I guess I was expecting something more.

    All the people you brought in are Anti-Modi. Salaman Rushdie, Arundhiti Roy, some american muslim guy in Gujrat.

    Well best of luck with whatever you guys are doing, if you think this is journalism.

  • आशुतोष ठाकुर

    When did Modi kill christian missionaries? Come on guys, at least report correct.

    • Faith Love

      Does the name Graham Steins sound familiar? Google it… not Modi and you’ll get relation with BJP

  • आशुतोष ठाकुर

    Can anyone tell me how did those riots begin? I have never heard about violent Hindus.

    What happened that Hindus got mad and killed muslims?

    • Sudhir Gokhale

      The Hindu Karsevaks were burnt alive in the train coach.This is where the spark was ignited. India’s Hindus are peaceful till you cross a certain limit of tolerance they have. If you cross that limit the hammer comes down hard.

      • Faith Love

        no, the spark was ignited at babri mosque demolition

        • Sudhir Gokhale

          The spark was ignited by Babar if you want to go back in history,

  • आशुतोष ठाकुर

    To be true, not many Indians respect Mr Gandhi. I don’t jave great respect for him.

    • As

      Who has respect for Pappu apart from his cronies

  • Grateful_American

    I was listening to OnPoint last night on NPR and heard this lady Sonia Faleiro’s opinions, that were outright appalling. All she had to say was negatives against Modi. True, Muslims were killed during the 2002 riots, but nobody mentions the Hindus killed prior to the riots, in that train.

    I know there are a lot of Congress supporters and Sonia Faleiro appeared to be one. What about the 1984 riots when thousands of Sikhs were killed by the supporters of the Congress, in retaliation for Indira Gandhi’s killing… Nobody then said that Rajeev Gandhi did not value human life!! Why?? There were so many Congressmen that asked their supporters to kill the Sikhs!!

    • Madmon

      Good observation!

    • Faith Love

      Funny, you mentioned some events and skipped the biggest event of Babri Mosque demolition, which is the black day of India. Was it really needed?! All communal riots happened since then as a chain and every time, more muslims died than hindus. Last year a verdict came to divide land of Babri Mosque to equally divide to 3 groups..hindus muslims and another group which is also hindu, when the entire property was legally in the name of muslim board. And funniest part, that the world does not know, is the case was filed in the name of an entity which is imaginary, an idol, not a human being. Can anybody believe that? That itself invalidate the case. But, it was given a judgement that everybody appreciated in India…but from the concept of law, it can never be divided equally when the paper is only in the name of muslim organization, which is registered. It was a not a good judgement, it was an insult to the constitution. But that’s not my point. My point is, there was NOT a single resistance or protest was done by muslims. They could legally proceed, but they didn’t. So, this is the level of tolerance Indian Muslims have, today everyone should remember.

      • Ved

        these questions are raised to Indian prime minister?

        come these question is never asked to newly elected Pakistan PM or Bangladeshi

        they are going to treat their minority Hindu in respective country. Why do not
        western countries intervene in Kashmir, Shimla issue?

        like, they do in Israel because it’s not their point of interest

      • Grateful_American

        To me, the 1984 Sikh killings come before the Babri Masjid incident. Thousands of Sikhs were killed and nobody went after Rajive Gandhi. Why? Yes, Babri Masjid should not have happened, but if the courts gave the judgement, abide by it. You write as if the Muslims have never been at fault and it is the Hindus that are the culprits. What about the recent spate of attacks ? Just take the 1993 attacks across Bombay, attacks on the Indian parliament, then the 2006 and 2011 bombings in Mumbai, bombings in Hyderabad, Bangalore…Are you justifying those??? All these were carried out by Muslim outfits. If you try to justify those as retaliation for the Babri Masjid or Godhra, all your argument of tolerance among Indian Muslims is down the drain.. Hardly everybody highlights these killing, but everybody conveniently remembers Godhra!

  • Sudhir Gokhale

    The riot that is blamed upon Modi was started by Muslims by burning Hindus inside a train coach. Their charred bodies were never displayed because of the media censorship. A section of Muslims in most states, even in United states, are not faithful to the land they live in. Look at the Fort Hood shooting or Boston bombings, for example. Look at the hacking of a soldier in Britain, the uproar over the Cartoon…. Have you heard the same kind of uproar about the abduction of 200 innocent girls by Boko Haram ?

    If you look at , on a daily basis, how many people die in acts of terrorism, you will find the Muslim nations or Muslim terrorists will be at the top.

    Have you seen any terrorism by Vietnamese or people of non Islamic origin ?

    The List of nations that were impacted by terrorism recently :


    • Madmon

      Muslims want secularism in every country except in their own countries. And, many Americans do not get it yet.

    • Faith Love

      Its true that Gujarat killing came after Godhra train fire, but Godhra case happened after Malegaon event, where muslims were killed and that happened since a temple probably in Varanasi had a blast, and that happened becoz of demolition of Babri mosque. Also, in godhra, the group of people from RSS who actually took part in babri mosque demolition, they were burnt, which is bad…but in Gujarat, innocent muslims were taken out from home killed….I don’t want to go into details. So…we can’t go back to history for chain of events… there were always tension between hindus and muslims in India…. however, it became dormant in late 80s. Its BJP, who awakened the monster in 1992 by babri mosque demolition…which was a great great disaster for the country as a whole. Terrorism by outsider or middle-east became a concern for India, but its not a big concern at all. There are much bigger concern, how rich Indians suck poor Indians, how indian corporates do not take care of the society and how govt have never looked into that. There are rapes, female foeticide everything still happening in India and also a lot in Gujarat, Modi’s state. there are TV shows for that..there is no way out to skip those in our discussion in this days of internet and global television.

  • Sudhir Gokhale

    Sonia Faleiro is lying.

    • Madmon

      Got too much time because her Christian name?

  • AU

    The ‘On Point’ guests do not represent the state of India correctly and the discussion overall sounds biased against Mr. Modi. The key words in Indian election in 2014 are ‘anti-corruption’ and ‘economic growth’, not ‘religion’. India always had religion, caste and class as dividers of its people, these dividers are not created by Mr. Modi. One cannot blame him if the divides still exist today, these are not going to vanish overnight. The riots were a black mark on India’s history, and Modi’s, but the Indian people themselves deserve some credit for the progress we are making everyday in the direction of a more equal, and tolerant society. We’re not all religious fanatics and the BJP is not all ‘Hindu’: If that were true, BJP would never have lost an election, considering Hindus are the majority of the Indian population. Religion is only one variable in a really complex problem.

    Modi’s focus is on country’s economic progress, and meeting that promise will be good enough for the entire population of the country, not just the Hindus. He is not the perfect candidate, but he’s the best we got at this point, the country is optimistic, after the Congress party’s miserable failings. India’s growth rate halved in the last 10 years under the Congress Party rule. Modi just won the largest democratic election in human history, and deserves some benefit of doubt from the West.

    • Madmon

      Agree, I am surprised to listen a lady named Gita, who was making fun of some RSS rituals with sticks while she had no idea what radical Muslims in India have been playing with? What a naive Hindu woman if she is really a Hindu?

  • marygrav

    The only reason the US is sucking up to India is to create a rift between China and India. And then too Jayant Sinha, like Chuck D stated none of his hero seem to be Western. Instead the guests say that China is the model. If they had choose the US everything would have been jake. Now the Indo-Eurcreans have to be won over.
    Remember when the people living on sidewalks were in the Indian Subcontenent. Now you can go into any major city and count the American homeless. We have no shame about our homeless communities here in America. We have finally caught of with the emeging Third World.

  • Peacefulfire

    I was very disappointed at the quality of this episode of on point. The task I ask expected Tom Ashbrook/OnPoint to do is provide elaborative understanding of the topic. But in my opinion OnPoint failed putting balanced lineup of speakers. They presented a completely biased or at very least very incompetent account of newly elected government.

    Also, one of guest – Sonia Faleiro, spouted out incorrect facts. Gave a spin on statistics the way it suits the argument. e.g. Only 31% voted and hence it is minority government. For a FPTP – First Past the post system that is always the case. By that definition, all the previous government were well below that 31% marks. She also mentioned, 90% of muslims voted against the government. This actually is 90% of muslims which is 15% of india’s total population. Other incidences she mentioned had nothing to do with Narendra Modi, but she conveniently made it sound like it was under his watch.

    Very disappointed on the quality. I followed the election very closely and hence had other independent perspective on this. This makes me wonder what other things I relied on “On point” and took it as truth and it wasn’t

    Again very disappointed.

    • Madmon

      Tom totally lost the control with Sonya because he did not know the facts and nor, he would let others to respond to Sonya’s vitriol. Indians have spoken and people like Sonya can take a hike. Modi is basically his own man and Indians should pay less attention to what other people think or say.

  • Faith Love

    Not a single fact that was told against Modi in this session, was wrong. But it will not be correct to say Modi is minority-hater, because the true minority haters in India are the people from majority religion. Modi went against minority and supported their killings, only because that is the only thing Indian majority love to see. It was his personal goal to become PM, showcasing Gujarat, that is why he did anything that he needed to stay in te business and win majorities heart. Its a bigger pleasure for most Indians to annihilate muslims, Christians and other minorities than having more jobs or removal of corruption. It even reflects in most of the comments below. What can you say about sm1 writing “Sonia got more time for her Christian name?” If this is the situation of modern educated internationally-exposed Indians, how can Modi or any other leader can ever manage or bring them in control?! Modi also played vote-bank politics, but others do with muslims and he did with hindus. Modi’s biggest contestant was Arvind Kejriwal, who has been trying to eradicate corruption, and make people follow their own constitution, laws and process – but neither media nor corporates nor educated society supported him, because this section loves corruption. Modi is pro-corporate, so there may be good things happening for the richer section, but there is no clear hope for the backward class…and its not sure to keep their mouth shut what steps Mr. Modi will be capable of taking.

  • Grateful_American

    Well, if you look at the current situation, there was no family hierarchy involved within the BJP. There was no preferential treatment for Modi, who happens to be from even a lower caste! What the Congress has done in the past is only project the Gandhis and then tried to appease the minorities. They tried even now to bring up Godhra time and again, when the courts have absolved him. If you saw Rahul Gandhi’s interview with Arnav Goswami, it was clear as to how ill-informed and useless Rahul Gandhi is.. There will always be detractors, but Mr. Modi has risen by his results in Gujarat. I hope he can do the same with India as a whole.

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