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OpinionsIndian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has emerged as a Global Leader

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has emerged as a Global Leader


Success of Delhi Summit has imparted a new dimension to PM's stature

By Harihar Swarup

With the success of the G20 summit in Delhi, is Narendra Modi, making a mark globally as Jawaharlal Nehru did on the stage after Independence? 's first Prime Minister had carved out a niche for the country as the leader of the non-aligned movement even though it was at that time seen as poor and backward. Today, Modi strides on the global stage at the head of the world's fifth largest economy.

Not long ago, Karan Singh, who had worked with every Prime Minister, compared Modi to Nehru. “(I suspect) he will never admit this but he would like to be another Nehru and surpass him.”

Many have often compared Modi to Indira Gandhi—not so much to Nehru, who the BJP-RSS love to dismiss. Indira, like Modi, was a strong leader, did not brook opposition, went beyond to become a mass leader, drew criticism for weakening institutions — and ruled through her PMO.

The erudite, Harrow—Cambridge—educated aristocratic Nehru, brought up in sprawling, Anand Bhavan, was loved by the Indian masses because he has thrown himself in freedom movement and gone to jail many times to secure Independence. One of the reasons why Mahatma Gandhi chose him as the Congress President in 1946, who later went on to become Prime Minister, was his ability to deal with British, which would smoothen India's transition to a free, sovereign nation.

The non-English speaking Modi with his chaiwalla background and OBC credential clawed his way up to the pinnacle of power—and with equal determination to the global high table. This is the story of devolution of power enabled by India's democracy—and it resonates with an aspirational India today. He is effectively leveraging India as a growing market and the West's need to contain China in the region. (The India-West Asia- Europe corridor announced at Delhi summit to counter China's Belt and Road initiative is the latest case in point).

Modi borrowed a leaf from Nehru book at G20 conclave despite two leaders being pole apart ideologically—Nehru the convinced secularist mindful of the rights of the minorities, and Modi with his Hindu civilizational project which may be further unpacked if he secures a third stint in power.

The five-day special session of Parliament gave more glimpse into BJP agenda for the future. Bharat vs India and “One nation, One Election” being a foretaste of what may come.

The world applauded India's deft diplomacy in managing to get the Delhi Declaration adopted. India managed to maintain its neutrality over Russia-Ukraine war which was expected to cast a shadow on the summit. Many were skeptical whether a Delhi Declaration would be possible, after China and Russia's top leaders Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin, had decided to give the event a miss.

Unlike Bali last year, the declaration this time did not condemn Russia for aggression. And though Ukraine was unhappy, its allies (US, UK, France and others) accepted it. Both sides wanted to keep India on the right side. Clearly, a majority (those not taking sides) prevailed. India enabled the Global south to come to centre stage, even as it also played a critical role in bringing the 55-nation African Union into the G20. China was not happy. Modi, like Nehru before him, had succeeded in walking neutral, middle path.

The G20h struck a high note for many Indians—and Modi showcased what India was capable of. The spectacle of the world leaders, led by Modi, standing together to pay homage to Father of nation, an apostle of non-violence at Raj Ghat sent its own message (Even as the Ukraine war continued to rage on, defying a solution. Or that the Gandhian institutions are under attack).

The Delhi summit, in evolving a consensus, showed, that India's Prime Minister has arrived on the world stage. It was only in 2013, when Modi was declared the BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate that people had wondered how he would handle issues of foreign policy in an increasingly complex world.

Modi seized every opening that India's presidency of G20 provided, to showcase India as a confident country, a rising power, a nation to be wooed, a preferred destination for investment. India's , culture, history, hospitality, its kaleidoscopic colours and diversity—captured at Bharat Mandapam and earlier in state capitals and smaller towns—were used to the full.

Even Chandrayyan—3 and subsequent Solar mission have struck all the right cords for India to be seen as a nation on the march. As is Modi's wont, everything had to be “bhavya” (grand), its message amplified for the maximum possible impact.

(IPA Service)


The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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