For other views of India's new leader, see also comments from Ajay Raju Esq., the Dilworth Paxson co-CEO, who says Narendra Modi has excellent opportunities to make India richer and closer to the U.S., and with University of Pennsylvania Profs. Ania Loomba, Toorjo Ghose and Suvir Kaul, who question his record on development and minorities.
Kris Singh, the University of Pennsylvania engineering Ph.D. who founded and built Marlton-based Holtec International into a multinational power plant supplier, comments on Narendra Modi's elevation as Prime Minister of India after his BJP (Indian People's Party) won a majority in last week's elections:
In my view, Mr. Modi's landslide win represents a seismic shift in the Indian democracy with significant consequences to the rest of the world. For the first time in modern India's history , the promise of a competent government and rapid economic growth trounced the feudal forces of caste and regional interests. Those Indians at the bottom of the economic ladder, whose votes were previously bought with government largess in the name of socialism, rose by the tens of millions to spurn the welfare state. They voted to empower Mr Modi to give them " the fishing rod, not the fish." With Modi's win, the ghost of Socialism that had stalked the land has been finally exorcized by the people of India.
Holtec International's experience over the past two years with Mr. Modi's government in Gujarat gives me reason to be optimistic. Horror stories of stifling bureaucracy and widespread corruption had kept us from building a plant in India, even though the business logic -- a large domestic market and low labor costs -- was evidently compelling. Two years ago, hearing of Mr. Modi's Gujarat transformation, we ventured to begin establishment of a manufacturing plant in his state. To our pleasant surprise, we have met with a supportive bureaucracy and have encountered none of the filthy demands for a bribe by the state's mandarins which had kept us away. Our site construction work is on track to open the plant by year end in the coastal city of Dahej.
Encouraged by this early positive experience, we are planning to propose a much larger interaction with India in the nuclear energy sector. If our plans go foreword, our workers in the Delaware valley will be making large capital equipment for decades to come for building nuclear plants in India to meet that nation's exploding need for clean energy.
If Modi succeeds in strengthening capitalism and clean government in India, which I believe he will, then, as Reagan said, "a rising tide will lift all boats." Indians of all religious creeds and faiths will prosper.
Modi voters included millions of Muslims and other minorities who didn't buy into the canards spread by his socialist opponents.
In a larger context, Modi's success will validate democracy's power to effect momentous change through the ballot box in the developing world and will help re-assert it as a successful alternative to the Chinese model of the one-party state. Four-fifths of humankind in the developing world will be watching as the future unfolds.
Make no mistakes about it, the contours of the political alignment in the 21st century are beginning to be formed. In the evolving re-alignment, U.S., India, Japan and the European Union will show the path of economic success to the rest of the developing world governed by secular and democratic institutions, in contrast to the totalitarianism of Putin's Russia and Xi's China.
The term "Hindu-nationalist" defines Mr. Modi as much as "guerrilla Zionist " defined Menachem Begin and " Tory imperialist " defined Winston Churchill. Such characterizations are shallow and one dimensional.
(I questioned Singh on that point, noting that all three of those characterizations are accurate and important parts of each leader's identity. He said the emphasis on Modi's historic ties is unhelpful to the delicate relationship-building that will bring India and the West closer. From his reply:)
The media's relentless condemnation of Modi's passive posture during a religious riot in 2002 in his state (Gujarat) is a cause of chagrin for many of us, both of Indian descent and otherwise, in the business world. The ad nauseum depiction of the man as a Hindu-nationalist (translation: a threat to India's minorities) in our press is not helpful to people like us in forging business ties with India.