May 2024 \ News \ News
Western Media Truce?

Washington: Newsweek’s recent cover story marks a significant break from the widespread skepticism in the Western media about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s role in India’s rise, and raises the question if an inflection point has been reached in this contentious relationship. Many Western media outlets have been critical of Narendra Modi from his time as Chief Minister of Gujarat.

Newsweek’s cover story -- titled ‘Unstoppable’ on the cover and “Modi’s Moment: How Narendra Modi is Changing India and the World’ inside -- seeks to explain the Prime Minister to the cynical Western audience and in a way prepares them for five more years of India under his leadership.

The UK’s Financial Times considered the possibility of a third term in a December 2023 story based on an interview with the Prime Minister. It said if PM Modi wins again, it will be a “vindication for Modi’s legions of supporters, who say he has built India’s economy and global esteem, and improved hundreds of millions of people’s lives”.

The Prime Minister has done a few interviews with the foreign media. He spoke to Walter Russel Mead, an academic who is also a columnist with The Wall Street Journal, in February, which is after The Economist and before the Newsweek interviews.

Mead wrote about PM Modi’s “audacious plan” to marry Hindu nationalism with economic development, citing the tourism-led boom in Varanasi with the reopening of the access route to the Kashi Vishwanath Corridor, and the opening of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya.

“Just as cathedrals in medieval Europe promoted economic growth by attracting tourists and merchants, the Ram Mandir is intended to spark an economic boom,” he wrote. The Newsweek coverage is the lengthiest of the three, which is also more comprehensive where the Prime Minister’s defence of his work and actions are well displayed.

Significantly, it also raises the question that most of his supporters are asking: When will the Prime Minister get a fair deal from the Western media?

The article quotes Norwegian politician and peace negotiator Erik Solheim, who posted a Morning Consult survey that showed PM Modi’s approval rating at 78 per cent on X, and asked, “Maybe it is time for the Western media to give India and Modiji some positive coverage?”

There is also growing acknowledgment of the Prime Minister’s role. “The most visible improvements to India’s economy are in infrastructure. Mr. Modi’s gift for implementation has helped build up capacity exactly where India has missed it most,” the New York Times noted in a report this month explaining India’s growth story.

“The building boom started with transportation: The railways, ports, bridges, roads, airports. India is remaking itself rapidly. Some of the developments are truly eye-catching and are laying the tracks for faster growth. The hope is that local businesses will start investing more where the government has lent its muscle,” it said.

It also noted India’s rapid adaptation of technology in governance, saying: “This new organisation of India’s data, combined with a dense and cost-effective mobile network, has brought efficiencies that grease the gears of commerce. India is proudly exporting the basic framework of its digital architecture to other countries.”

The article also highlights India’s growth in the context of the world’s growing disenchantment with China-centric supply chains post the Covid-19 pandemic. And that incremental increase in economic numbers are significantly larger because of its sheer size at $3.7 trillion.

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