14 Jun, 2015
Pankaj Mishra: Modi should learn from the Chinese their deliberate rejection of self-promotion – The Hindu
Fortunately, India is too diverse a place for any Modi to flourish. A truly authoritarian leader like Suharto won’t be able to flourish for long in India. Sixty five years of deeply flawed democratic processes have nevertheless created an India where someone like Mr. Modi can enjoy only limited successes.
And he still seems to be struggling after one year in power and too many trips abroad. In China, he looked as he has looked on his other foreign jaunts — a man still savouring his new power, enjoying its trappings, and getting too addicted to fawning NRIs. The Chinese cannot but be wary of Mr. Modi and his over-the-top bonding with Shinzo Abe, the most aggressively nationalist leader Japan has known in years. And India itself will not become a major player in China’s neighbourhood simply because Mr. Modi has visited it and played the Mongolian fiddle. China’s neighbours are economically dependent on it, and India can’t change that reality. Nor should India try while it is itself knocking on China’s doors for some cash. The one thing Mr. Modi and his fans really should learn from the Chinese is their deliberate rejection of self-promotion and posturing. The Chinese in their 30 years of uninterrupted self-strengthening refrained from making any great claims for their power and influence. On the contrary, Chinese leaders played down their strength and emphasised the problems before them. They certainly did not seek affirmation from overseas Chinese. In any case, we know that for India to become an attractive option for China’s neighbours we need Mr. Modi to set aside his fiddle, get away from insecure NRIs, do ghar vapsi and then stay at home for a while and attend to its myriad challenges.