Modi for India

imagesI have a mental “Wall of Shame” with pictures of the world’s baddies (and relish X-ing out the face of any who (like Qaddafi) goes down). In 2002, Narendra Modi earned a spot on that wall.

That was the year of a veritable pogrom by (majority) Hindus against (minority) Muslims in the Indian state of Gujarat. It was horrible; a thousand or more died. The state’s recently elected leader was Modi, of the BJP, a Hindu nationalist political party.

Narendra Modi

Narendra Modi

It would be too much to call him responsible for the atrocities – but only just. He was certainly responsible for doing way too little (almost nothing) to stop them. And ever since, he’s refused to express any remorse over what happened.

Now Narendra Modi is the BJP’s candidate for India’s prime minister.

India, since 2004, and for most of the time since independence, has been run by the Congress Party; and the party has been run by the Gandhi family dynasty (no relation to the Mahatma; it’s Nehru’s descendants).

Manmohan Singh

Manmohan Singh

The current party chief is Sonia Gandhi, the Italian-born widow of the assassinated Rajiv; she sensibly passed up the prime minister’s post in favor of Manmohan Singh, a well-intentioned technocrat who had played a big role in India’s early 1990s economic reforms. Previously India had been mired in stultifying socialism, “the license raj,” and the consequent “Hindu rate of growth” (i.e., very little growth at all).

That had kept India as the poster country for squalid poverty – a country where most people didn’t even have toilets and went in the streets. images-1Half still do. But the mentioned reforms undid socialism’s worst effects, boosted economic growth, and began lifting millions out of poverty.

It’s true, and inevitable, that the progress has been very uneven, great numbers remain in deprivation, and inequality may even have increased as more have grown rich. But the country as a whole is richer, the middle class is expanding, and poverty numbers have been shrinking. It’s simply due to a freer economy. Lefties hating market economics will try to insist India’s poverty has worsened. That’s nonsense.

I heard anti-capitalist crusader Arundhati Roy indict a litany of alleged evils of free market economics in India. I kept thinking: she’s missing it completely. Nothing she denounced is actually free market economics; to the contrary, it’s non-free market economics, it’s India’s culture of cronyism, corruption, and over-regulation that stifles competition and economic opportunity; it’s government perverting the free market. Unknown-2So fixated was Roy on demonizing “capitalism” that she couldn’t see this Indian elephant in the room.

Which, despite the 1990s reforms, is still there. India’s growth has been slipping back down toward the “Hindu” rate. Desperately needed is another round of reform, to attack the true problems behind Ms. Roy’s indictment, and further open up the economy. But the 81-year-old Singh and his Congress party government seem to have completely run out of steam, paralyzed by inertia and populist political pandering, as well as cronyism and corruption.

Unknown-3Waiting in the party’s bullpen is the next Gandhi scion, Sonia’s son Rahul – a nothingburger who nobody, not even he, can imagine leading a nation of a billion people. India has had enough of the Gandhis and their Congress party.

Which brings us back to Narendra Modi. Who, in contrast to the Gandhis, is a self-made man from low-caste antecedents. And who has done in Gujarat what so desperately needs doing for all India: he’s curbed corruption, run the state effectively, opened up its economy, slashed stifling regulation, and attracted investment. Unlike typical Indian politicians, Modi eschews all language of wealth redistribution, talking instead of wealth creation. And it hasn’t been just talk. Under Modi, Gujarat’s economic growth and improvement, and consequent poverty reduction, have greatly outpaced the rest of India’s.

Yet Modi continues unrepentant about the 2002 riots, and his BJP remains a Hindu supremacy party. Bad stuff; though Modi has softened his Hinduist rhetoric, now insisting leaders must be secular, and that economic development trumps religious factionalism. And if he won’t apologize to Muslims, he seeks to change the subject: “I want to ask poor Muslim brothers whether they want to quarrel with poor Hindus or fight against poverty. I want to ask poor Hindus whether their concern is disputes with poor Muslims or the fight against poverty. . . Let’s defeat poverty together.”images-3

We do not live in Heaven where perfection reigns. Human life is messily imperfect and often presents us with problematic choices. But choose we must. India should vote for its future, not its past, and choose Modi.

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One Response to “Modi for India”

  1. modiforpm Says:

    Narendra Modi is an able and sincere leader who is having a donative with full conviction to transform India into a strong financial strength. He is headpiece, good motivator and commands respect for everyone. In India in the hope that Modi becomes the PM of India with clean and effective governance.

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