How is the Indian Prime Minister doing
India's new prime minister : Narendra Modi sold people a dream
He knows about the power of images. When, after his triumphant election victory, he first steps onto the stairs to Parliament, Narendra Modi falls on his knees and touches the steps with his forehead as if in prayer. "Look here," he seems to want to say with these pictures, "I am not a disguised dictator, not a tyrant, but a democrat who bows in the deepest humility before Parliament, the temple of democracy."
Since the end of May, the sturdy 63-year-old with the white beard and rimless glasses has been India's 15th Prime Minister and thus head of government of 1.2 billion people. Modi was sworn in with plenty of pomp, 4,000 guests of honor listened reverently and quietly as he swore his oath of office in a solemn voice. "Together," he said in his inaugural address, "we will create a glorious future for India."
In fact, Narendra Modi skilfully used the opportunity for a diplomatic fresh start in South Asia. Because he invited Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to the ceremony. This has never happened before. Of all people, Modi, the Hindu hardliner who had raged against Pakistan during the election campaign, shook hands with the Islamic archenemy.
Can Modi be Trusted?
A few days ago the first meeting of the Indian House of Commons took place. But unease remains: Can you trust Modi? To this day, many Indians are still wondering who this man is who rose from being a poor tea seller to the head of the nuclear power India. Who dethroned the Gandhi dynasty, which had ruled almost monarchically for decades, and inflicted the worst defeat in its history on its congress party. Some adore as if he were the longed-for savior, and others so fear that they will leave the land.
In any case, everyone agrees on one thing: what India is experiencing is more than a change of government. It is a turning point, a turning point in the history of the country. For weeks the media have been outdoing each other with historical comparisons. Alternately, the bachelor Modi, who mostly dresses traditionally in kurtas, the Indian hanging shirts, is called India's Hitler, Putin, Reagan, Thatcher or Deng Xiaoping.
Compare with Barack Obama
He is even compared to Barack Obama. As Obama once did in the US, Modi embodies hope for change in India. According to Indian newspapers, the two heads of government will even meet for the first time in September to discuss the economic relations between the two countries. This is all the more remarkable given that the US had long declined any contact with Modi.
“Namo”, as his fans call him, looks like the cozy uncle next door. Anyone who wants to understand the fear of his critics, who warn that the blackest chapter in India's history could begin with him, has to go back twelve years. Modi's Hindu party BJP, which ruled India at the time, had just installed the hitherto unknown person as head of government of the state of Gujarat when there was violent clashes between Hindus and members of the Muslim minority after an attack on a train with Hindu pilgrims.
At that time Zakia Jafri was living with her husband Ehsan in Ahmedabad, the economic center of the state. It was February 28, 2002 when her world went up in flames. Since that morning, columns of smoke rose into the sky above the city of five million. Thousands of Hindu fanatics had gathered in front of the Jafris house. "Kill the Muslims," they chanted.
In fear of death, 90 people fled to the Jafris' house. Ehsan Jafri kept calling the police. But she got rid of him. Ehsan wasn't just anyone. The lawyer used to sit in Parliament in Delhi, he was well connected. People believed he could protect them. You were wrong.
Around 3:30 p.m., the mob stormed the house, dragged the 72-year-old into the street, chopped off his limbs bit by bit and set him on fire. 39 people, women, old people and children were burned. Only then did the police show up. “What, so many of you survived?” They would have said, says Zakia Jafri.
177 million Indians are Muslims
Radical Hindus hunted Muslims in Gujarat for weeks. 1,000 to 3,000 people died. The mob was armed not only with gas cylinders, gasoline bombs, and machetes, but also with mailing lists. The courts later acquitted Narendra Modi. But to this day, his opponents accuse him of watching the massacre without doing anything. Some believe that he tacitly tolerated it.
Today 177 million Indians are Muslim. On the one hand, this is the third largest Muslim population in the world, but in the country it is a minority that fears that it will be sidelined even further.
But there are also people like Mobashar Jawed, or “M.J.” for short, Akbar. He is one of the most famous journalists, writers and commentators in India. When he introduces a new book, Delhi’s political high society does the honors. He is also a Muslim. After the massacres in Gujarat, he called Modi a "Hitler". Modi "uses hatred as a political weapon," wrote Akbar. “In Hitler's case, the Jews were the enemy. In Modi's case, the Muslims are the enemy. "
Today, however, Akbar is one of the Hindu nationalists' biggest fans. On March 22, 2014, he joined Modi's BJP party and now acts as their press spokesman. Modi is the solution to the crisis India is in, he says. "Narendra Modi's leadership is essential for this country."
In fact, Modi has used the past decade to repair its image. He doesn't want to be seen as a Muslim hater, but as someone who puts an end to corruption, inflation and hopelessness. Who creates jobs, provides roads and electricity. Even the "Economist" grudgingly attested Modi that his victory represented "India's greatest chance of prosperity since independence" in 1947.
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