Asia's Week: Modi, The Hindus And An Indian Sunrise

Feb 15 2014, 7:46am CST | by

India is now occupying even American minds. The U.S. State Department is warming to Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi as he looms the favorite in the spring national elections.  This week brought an emissary with flowers to his door instead of the previous brickbats from Washington over past rights abuses in his territory.  Why, he might soon actually be allowed to visit Queens, New York for some expat curry.

Modi’s emergence on the world stage has paralleled that of the mercurial anti-corruption crusader Arvind Kejriwal, who shot into the chief minister position in Delhi but this week suddenly bowed out, blaming political encumbrances on the carrying out of his mission. While many Indians may still see Kejriwal as a gust of cleaner air, self-martyring tendencies are not so appealing in a head of state.  Assuming the ruling Congress Party coalition cannot get a handle on India’s overall economy and honesty issues  in rapid order, it appears more than ever that Modi’s BJP forces will take the ballot.

Because the BJP is known as a Hindu nationalist party, another Indian phenomenon drew special notice this week, as the Penguin publishing house pulled back there on the controversial book, The Hindus.  Partisans of India’s dominant religion have registered offense at its various portrayals. The apparent cave-in to censorious impulses in turn brought howls in defense of speech rights from others of Indian extraction, along with apprehension about what more restraints might lie ahead in a Modi-led nation.

At the same time, India’s enfeebled economy, previously only a source of U.S. worry when it came to exporting  techie visa holders, came under attack for its solar power prowess.  Or rather, as the complaint to the World Trade Organization had it, the access to the Indian solar market that was being denied  to American suppliers.  Seeing as solar has been a frequent rub between the U.S. and China, India thus could take satisfaction from being elevated into the Chinese industrial threat category.

And this, before the business-friendly Modi  even gets near  7 Race Course Road as a prime minister.

Source: Forbes Business


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