1. Narendra Modi & Donald Trump: The iron-fisted politics of two polarising world leaders

Narendra Modi & Donald Trump: The iron-fisted politics of two polarising world leaders

India and the US are co-dependent on each other in certain fields and it only seems fit that Trump calls up PM Modi to ensure the cordial relationship keeps moving in the right direction. And if the stories of their personal rise to power indicate anything, they will probably gel well.

By: | Updated: January 24, 2017 6:42 PM
Both Trump and Modi were outsiders to a national audience with politically incorrect statements and promises, fighting against corrupt and an incumbent regime.(Reuters) Both Trump and Modi were outsiders to a national audience with politically incorrect statements and promises, fighting against a corrupt and incumbent regime.(Reuters)

45th President of the United States of America, Donald Trump is to call Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday. India and the US are co-dependent on each other in certain fields and it only seems fit that Trump calls up PM Modi to ensure the cordial relationship keeps moving in the right direction. And if the stories of their personal rise to power indicate anything, they will probably gel well. How so? Well, both started as outsiders to a national audience with politically incorrect statements and promises, fighting against corrupt and elite incumbents, mobilising the media and then proceeding to beat it at its own game to finally take over power in two of the most diverse democracies in the world. They created a string of fear, suspicion and doubt among the masses to come to power. But that was all fair. Both tom-tommed the fact that they are cleaning up the mess before them, rooting out the rust that had taken place to make their countries great again; albeit without informing how. Both promised governments by the people and by the people only, albeit again representing themselves as icons of true governance.

Selective secularism

Except with a minor deep-seated problem with populists, only some people are the people. Trump has said it in the past – “the only important thing is the unification of the people because the other people don’t mean anything.” Now, obviously our beloved Prime Minister is a little more politically correct but anyone remembers the “Mandir Wahin Banaenge” byte in BJP’s 2014 election manifesto? There is also this minor issue of every voice of dissent being termed as ‘anti-nationals’.

Robin Hoods in denial

Also, both the leaders complain about the elite (that 1% corrupt in India) and the many others in the USA. PM Modi is known to be friendly to industrialists, even featuring on front page ads of private companies. And Trump has simply been a crony capitalist all his life. By doing so, they have created a “Robinhood” stature in the society thus making the oversimplification of important issues such as economy making it a mere slogan for people to chant (demonetisation).

Autocracy in democracy

Both the leaders have also somehow created a system of centralisation in the political parties they represent. Trump rose to power within the party decimating every other person who opposed him, while PM Modi has been more tactical in his approach. Modi remains the face and the only face of the BJP, whereas several leaders of the same stature had existed before.

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‘In your face’ politics

According to the New Yorker- “Populist politics is often constructed from a blend of nativism, bigotry, grandiosity, and coarse speech”. It, however, does possess a certain intimacy in its narrative. When Prime Minister Narendra Modi issued the ban on Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes, he made sure that you knew about it. You might not own a TV, but Modi reached out to your pockets and made sure you felt it. Trump has followed a different pattern to the same effect with his Twitter feed. “Americans wake up every morning to hear the President’s unpredictable voice in their news feeds—exhorting, bragging, promising, ranting, bullying”. And while most of its remains to be a rant for having a distasteful lunch, you still feel his influence in your life.

Willful ignorance

And while both the leaders seem sympathetic to the controversial problems faced by the people, they hardly speak about it. Trump does throw in a tweet once in a while stinking of bigotry, but Modi has made sure that his public persona doesn’t involve the crudeness of misogyny or sexism. Although, our esteemed leader has not even once spoken about the plight of the LGBT community. He has promised to increase women security following the heart-wrenching acts of crime committed against them but has seldom spoken against his often outright sexist cabinet. The USA faces the same problem as India, although only with the people who are not white (millions, btw) but president Trump sees building a wall as a healthy alternative.

Nationalists without a cause

Both leaders are extremely religious, often mistaking mythology for history and science (Ganesha’s plastic surgery and abortion laws), have portrayed a strong affection fo their inbuilt sense of nationalism and the army that protects its borders, often ignoring the crimes committed in the process.

Last but probably the biggest similarity between the two leaders is their habit to speak directly to the public, making them believe that they belong, their voices were heard, ignoring the parliamentary systems in place and a belief that “we know what’s best for business”. People, we are in middle of an era involving two of the most powerful authoritarian governments in recent memory.

  1. J
    Jaydev
    Jan 24, 2017 at 5:50 pm
    Are you kidding me !! Or has demonetization really made you off balance to write such and nonsensical article. Any sensible person worth his/ her salt knows the difference between Modi and Trump. Modi has scarified his life for serving the nation in whatever capacity and has been in public life for more than 20 years. And people have elected him as CM for 15 years and now as India's PM for 5 years. Do you have any realization about how hollow and misleading is your article and more shameful is the fact that Financial Express decided to publish it...
    Reply
    1. A
      Ajay
      Jan 24, 2017 at 1:45 pm
      For writing such a non-sensical piece of dung, how much were you paid or whose hidden agenda are you trying to propagate?BTW.....what are your credentials?
      Reply
      1. Bir Chilarai
        Jan 24, 2017 at 4:37 pm
        I don't understand. Do leaders become "polarizing" if they win an election? In Modi's case, it was a landslide if I remember right which means that an overwhelming majority of Indians voted for him. Is he to be blamed for "polarizing" the loser voters?
        Reply
        1. S
          Sahasrangshu Gupta
          Jan 24, 2017 at 1:03 pm
          Your statement on Narendra Modi is quite wrong.Modi was never a person outside national politics and did not start his political journey with' incorrect statement'. He was very much in the mainstream national political and social movements. He sacrificed his family life for the betterment of Indian society
          Reply
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            Amit
            Jan 24, 2017 at 7:31 pm
            These pressutes should be clearly calling the media houses as pro-congress, pro-bjp, etc.. why can't they talk straight and these self-proclaimed guardians want every other to be aligned to their way.. super illeberal bunchs, still at the elementary level of perception of things.
            Reply
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              Prakash
              Jan 24, 2017 at 8:07 pm
              I think Namo has more experience in politics than the age of RaGa.
              Reply
              1. S
                Subho Ghosal
                Jan 24, 2017 at 2:41 pm
                No wonder , after reading this article i fully agree with Mr. Trump's statement and opinion about journalists . The journalists are paid and thus can and will write any thing for a price .. Did we not hear a word from Mr. V K Singh about Journalists and created a lot of objections from them -- but it was a true statement . They can sell any one for a price .
                Reply
                1. Sumit T
                  Jan 24, 2017 at 3:16 pm
                  #Presutes #shameOnthePaidJournalists
                  Reply
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