20 global media headlines that made PM Modi and his supporters squirm

A recent headline in Israeli newspaper Haaretz, fiercely independent and a critic of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, read, ‘India Under Modi Is Becoming a Brutal Authoritarian State’. Is Haaretz a part of an international conspiracy to discredit Prime Minister Modi? Modi and his supporters seem to think so.

A large number of unflattering headlines have appeared in international media in the run-up to the general election. It is possible that the PM and BJP’s echo chamber are referring to these reports on India as a ‘conspiracy’ against PM Modi.

A breathtaking list of some recent headlines was posted on Sunday by Pankaj Pachauri, the former media advisor to former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh. It provides a glimpse of how at least a part of the world views India and Modi.

People sceptical of the PM’s and BJP’s conspiracy theory say that whenever elections have taken place after 2016, they have heard similar trope from the PM: Meri Jaan ko khatra hai and Videshi Taakat Mujhe hatana chahtin hain.

They wonder what has happened to the world’s most popular and powerful leader known for hugging world leaders and claiming the leadership of the global south at the G-20 summit held in New Delhi in September, 2023, barely seven months ago?

What has happened in the last seven months to threaten India’s security and integrity, ask the sceptics. Arguably the most widely travelled Prime Minister is really unable to ward off threats after enjoying absolute majority and power for 10 years?

Modi supporters seem unsettled by the large number of unflattering headlines in international media. They are even more incensed at talks of ‘rules-based order’, threats to Indian democracy and all talk of dictatorship. On Sunday, 21 April, Swapan Dasgupta devoted his column in Sunday Times of India on the ‘western media out to delegitimise Modi’s victory’.

In Sunday Express on the same day another pro-Modi columnist Tavleen Singh took a swipe at foreign correspondents who, she writes, believe (mistakenly of course) that Rahul Gandhi is the only leader who can defeat Modi.

Conspiracy or not, Pachauri’s list of recent headlines in international media provides a telling picture of how Modi’s India is viewed by them. Here we provide a partial list shared by him. His link on X below this text provides the entire list:

  • Authoritarian drift in the world’s largest democracy (The Informant New Zealand )
  • Indian Democracy in Peril: Slide into Autocracy Likely to Continue (Nippon Japan)
  • Modi’s party using ‘authoritarian playbook’ to cripple opposition in India (The Independent, UK)
  • What Has Happened to the Rule of Law in India? (The Atlantic Magazine)
  • Modi is turning democracy into electoral authoritarianism. – Le Monde France
  • India is the future of the authoritarian internet” (The Daily Dot Austin Texas)
  • “Increasing Authoritarianism in India under Narendra Modi” (Australian Institute of International Affairs)
  • “Narendra Modi Is Developing a New Template for Authoritarian Control of the Internet (Jacobin Magazine)
  • India’s authoritarian leader with his own app (The Week, USA)
  • Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government is escalating its attack on civil rights (UK Guardian)
  • Modi’s India Is Where Global Democracy Dies (New York Times)
  • Lament for India’s descent into authoritarianism – Modi’s ethnic nationalism threatens to deepen divisions in the subcontinent” (Nikkei Asia)
  • Modi’s Slide Toward Autocracy – How Modi Is Using Hinduism to Turn India into an Autocracy” (Foreign Policy Magazine)
  • India can grow fast with or without Narendra Modi (Reuters)
  • Progressive South Is Rejecting Modi (Bloomberg)
  • The ‘mother of democracy’ is not in good shape (Financial Times)
  • Why is Biden silent on Modi and India’s slide toward autocracy? (LA Times)
  • The autocratic bent of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is clear (Le Monde, France)
  • India’s elections this year stand out for their ‘undemocratic nature’ (Foreign Policy Magazine)
  • India’s middle class warm to autocracy under Modi (The Press, New Zealand)

Given the nationalistic fervour whipped up in 2019 after the Pulwama terror attack, questions around which have not yet been answered, there is apprehension about what the Modi government may be up to next.

The complete list of headlines shared by Pankaj Pachauri can be seen in the following link:

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