Kennedy compared Nehru with Lincoln !

Ever since Narendra Modi took over as our Prime Minister almost all important world leaders have been praising him.   Last year American President Barack Obama described him as “ the leader of the world’s largest democracy” who “reflects the dynamism and potential of India’s rise,” has “an ambitious vision to reduce extreme poverty, improve education, empower women and girls and unleash India’s true economic potential” and “transcends the ancient and the modern—a devotee of yoga who connects with Indian citizens on Twitter and imagines a ‘digital India.’ ”

In a media interview during his recent sojourn in India, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said “India now has more foreign direct investment than China.  India is probably going to grow around 7.5 per cent this year. We think even higher next year…… The reason… he ( Prime Minister Narendra Modi ) does something that all great leaders should do, that is set ambitious targets, set deadlines for those targets and then hold your staff accountable for those targets…”. 

I hope such praises are not injecting any sense of  complacency into the thinking of the current dispensation in New Delhi. It  is a common practice in diplomacy to eulogize and cultivate  whoever is in  power in another state  . History bears out what all Sir Thomas Roe, English ambassador to the court of Mogul Emperor Jahangir, did to cultivate the King.

In the post-Independence landscape, the successive dispensations in Washington have sought to cultivate their counterparts in New Delhi. In 1956  American President Dwight D Eisenhower described our first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru  as  `a great humanist  ' and  showed an understanding and acceptance of his doctrine of neutrality. In November 1961 President John. F.  Kennedy  compared Nehru with Abraham Lincoln and FD Roosevelt .  President Jimmy Carter escorted Prime Minister Morarji  Desai on a private visit to the Lincoln Memorial .

President Ronald Regan was very warm to Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi  (July 1980) and Rajiv Gandhi (June 1985). His personal chemistry with Madam Gandhi did "wonders for the atmospherics” of Indo-US relations. British Premier Margaret Thatcher too admired  her and recalled “I lunched with Indira Gandhi in her own modest home, where she insisted on seeing that her guests were all looked after and clearing away the plates while discussing matters of high politics.”

Besides, the Modi government ought to know the foreigners’ praises matter little in the realm of power politics at home . Notwithstanding all those choicest Western praises for former Prime Minister P V Narsimha Rao, his Congress Party lost the electoral battle in 1996.  What will matter in the case of the present government finally is if it makes any qualitative difference in the area of people’s welfare and economy .

Prime Minister Modi must do something concrete on the home-ground to end poverty, illiteracy, casteism, communalism, insurgency, terrorism and weaker sections’ rights violations still prevalent in our Republic .  His ideas for a second green revolution ( focus on protein rich pulse), a second white revolution (  cattle and live stocks), a saffron revolution ( solar energy) and a blue revolution ( clean water ) are highly commendable. His government could work hard to  make them real .

The Modi government must concentrate urgently on poverty alleviation to wipe off the continuing tears of our masses. Pertinently, a leading Indian economist finds the reforms regime in India has created a state concerned mainly with the interests of globalised capital  and the domestic corporate-financial oligarchy aligned with it.  The income squeeze on the peasants has been accompanied by a taking over of their land for “infrastructure” and “industrial” projects, often at throwaway prices and against their wishes.  The percentage of the rural population with food intake below 2,200 calories per person per day ( poverty benchmark ) was 58.5 in 1993-94. It  increased to 68 in 2011-12. The percentage of the urban population below 2,100 calories per person per day (poverty benchmark) was 57 in 1993-94 . This increased to 65 in 2011-12.

Knowledgeable sources say the praises the Modi government has so far attracted abroad are yet to reflect themselves in any major breakthrough on our foreign policy front . New Delhi is still far off from achieving a permanent membership in the United Nations Security Council. Chinese President Xi Jinping remains opposed to India on the issue of its membership in several key world bodies . At the recent Nuclear Suppliers’ Group plenary in Seoul, China and several other nations opposed India’ entry into this club . Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharief wishes to have India’s Kashmir as his nation’s .