OPINION: Dark Shadow over Indian Democracy—Modi’s negative reputation in TIME Magazine

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by Musthafa Thalthodi

Audio Article

It will become the biggest hurdle for Modi in the domestic politics…

TIME Magazine in the US has announced the 100 most influential people in the world in the year 2020. There are three persons from India. Shaheen Bagh fame Bilkis Deedi featured in Icons category, Bollywood actor Ayushman Khurana in the Artist category, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Leaders category.

There are other three more persons from Indian origin namely, CEO of Alphabet Sunder Pichai, Microbiologist from Cambridge Professor Ravindra Gupta, and Kamala Harris, Democratic vice presidential candidate in the US election.

Notably, the Prime Minister of India has been hailed as the man under whom ‘the world’s most vibrant democracy fell deeper into shadow‘. This is the first time that an Indian Prime Minister or any other incumbent has been elected from India for such a negative reputation.

In 1999, Time published a list of the 100 greatest men of the twentieth century. Two of them were Indians. One, as everyone guesses, is Gandhiji, the Father of the Nation. Another was Mother Teresa, who was born in Albania and lived and died in India. It is noteworthy that Nelson Mandela, who made Gandhiji his political mentor, and Albert Einstein, who was so fascinated by Gandhiji’s glory, are on the list.

TIME Magazine ‘Man of the Year’ award was first introduced in 1927. In the fourth year, 1930, Time chose Gandhiji as Man of the Year. He is the only Indian to be named as TIME Person of the Year so far.

TIME considered Narendra Modi for the Man of the Year in 2014, but it changed to Ebola fighters for their tireless acts of courage and mercy, for buying the world time to boost its defenses, for risking, for persisting, for sacrificing and saving.

It was the Dandi Yatra that led to Gandhiji’s selection. From 12th March 1930 to 6th April 1930, Gandhiji led a 384 km long Salt Satyagraha march from Sabarmati Ashram in Gujarat to Dandi beach in Navarasi town in Gujarat state with 79 loyal followers. The magazine described him as ‘Saint Gandhi’ and later named him as one of the 25 Political Icons of all time. TIME wrote that Gandhiji’s mark on world history in 1930 would undoubtedly loom the largest of all in the world history. That was one hundred percent true.

There are other world leaders who have captured the world’s attention in the year 2020 and included in TIME list. Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, US President Donald Trump, Brazilian President Bolsonaro, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese President Xi Jinping. None of them were recognized as the agents of the hatred.

However, they awarded the Man of the Year in 1936 for a person for his notoriety. That was Adolf Hitler, the biggest vampire the world has ever seen. Modi and his gurus find Hitler as their role model. It may be a poetic justice of the times to pay homage to Modi with the same coin of Hitler.

This insult will not only give sleepless nights to Narendra Modi or the Sangh Parivar organizations who are behind him, rather it will become the biggest hurdle for Modi in the domestic politics.

In Gujarat state, Modi had easily won three elections consecutively in the wake of the 2002 genocide. A wall was built between the two religions. Modi’s loudacity and enmity against Muslims led to mass annihilation of the Muslim minority in the state. The entire Muslim business and industrial establishment in the city of Ahmedabad was looted and burnt to ashes, the residents were burned alive and the remaining 1.5 lac Muslims were thrown into slums in their covered clothes. Modi compared his feelings to the owner of a car which involved in an accident and a puppy dies under car’s tires.

Today in Gujarat, Muslims have been alienated in a way that is unacceptable to any party. Modi was made the Prime Minister to execute this policy against Muslim minority for the whole of India. That is why, the Sangh Parivar has been chanting the slogan ‘Don’t forget Gujarat’. That is why, almost fifty more people were killed from the same community in Delhi last February. All are same script. Three days to kill and loot. Both incidents happened in the month of February. And in both pogrom, the culprits are safe and the victims are under judicial trials!

TIME’s editor Karl Vick wrote a stinging critique about the Prime Minister, “The key to democracy is not, in fact, free elections. Those only tell who got the most votes. More important is the rights of those who did not vote for the winner. India has been the world’s largest democracy for more than seven decades. Its population of 1.3 billion includes Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and other religious sects. All have abided in India, which the Dalai Lama (who has spent most of his life in refuge there) has lauded as an example of harmony and stability”.

Vick further said, “Narendra Modi has brought all that into doubt. Though almost all of India’s Prime Ministers have come from the nearly 80% of the population that is Hindu, only Modi has governed as if no one else matters. First elected on a populist promise of empowerment, his Hindu-¬nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party rejected not only elitism but also pluralism, specifically targeting India’s Muslims. The crucible of the pandemic became a pretense for stifling dissent. And the world’s most vibrant democracy fell deeper into shadow”.

With more than 100 million viewers, TIME Magazine is one of the world’s leading media brands. TIME conducts research and premium events such as the 100 Most Influential People in the World, Man of the Year, First of Inventions, Best Discoveries, Best Places in the World, TIME 100 Summit, Gala, TIME 100 Health Summit, and more.

Forbes Magazine’s list of the richest people in the world has been wide accepted by all, and the same way TIME Magazine’s list also been well received. Therefore, it is time for India to reconsider its political maneuvers.

Mustafa Thalthodi is an academician and social worker from south-Indian state of Kerala.