Indian-American journalist Fareed Zakaria, who interviewed Indian Prime Minister last week, has suggested that Modi is “far too shrewd” to be distracted by nationalist symbolism which would derail his growth agenda and embroil him in unwanted controversies.
According to reports, Zakaria is said to be wondered in an opinion piece in the Washington Post if the problem with the new Prime Minister “turns out to be not that he is too bold but rather that he is not bold enough.”
Zakaria writes that Modi “radiates confidence.” He added, “ The public lauds him, world leaders court him and the Bombay Stock Exchange continues to soar.”
He asks, “But will this moment of euphoria translate into lasting gains? Can India become the world’s next economic powerhouse?”
Noting that the Indian leader’s “worldview has been shaped almost entirely from experience rather than formal schooling,” Zakaria writes, “Modi is extremely intelligent and focused but is different from most leaders.”
While stating that Modi is passionate about hygiene, Zakaria pointed out Modi’s stress on “India needed toilets first and temples later” during the election campaign and mentioned it as “a significant statement because Modi is seen as an ardent Hindu nationalist.”
He wrote that his Bharatiya Janata Party “platform still contains plans to build a temple in Ayodhya on the grounds of a destroyed mosque, an issue that has been extremely divisive in the country.”
“My sense, based on our conversation, is that Modi is far too shrewd to be distracted by nationalist symbolism, which would derail his growth agenda and embroil him in a series of controversies that he does not seek,” Zakaria wrote.
“He is straightforwardly pro-American and seems to harbour little ill will toward Washington for having refused to give him a visa for almost a decade,” wrote Zakaria, “Where Modi has under-performed, surprisingly, has been in his core competence – economics.” Suggesting, he wrote, “He has been slow to announce major reforms.”
“The stalled reform agenda might actually be an outgrowth of Modi`s great strength, his pragmatism,” he wrote suggesting “India has many bottlenecks, and delaying major and needed reforms may come back to haunt Modi.”
Citing BJP’s poor performance in a series of by-elections, Zakaria wrote “Already, Modi`s honeymoon is coming to an end at home.”
While concluding, he wrote, “It would be a strange irony if the problem with Narendra Modi turns out to be not that he is too bold but rather that he is not bold enough.”