It is fashionable among liberals to find similarities between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump. Since there are several superficial resemblances between the two, the conclusions derived by liberals are that both are abominable Rightists beyond the pale, and that both are cut from the same cloth. Wrong conclusions following erroneous premises. It is time to, as Ayn Rand taught us, check liberals’ premises.
That there are similarities between Modi and Trump is indisputable. Both are outsiders—the former in Luteyns Delhi, the latter in the Beltway. Left-libbers of India hate Modi; Left-libbers of the world hate Trump. Bidding adieu to even the semblance of objectivity, media Brahmins and academics in our country portrayed Modi as an ogre who would destroy India; thought leaders in America were even more vicious against Trump. Both leaders are from political parties that are generally regarded as conservative. Both men have been depicted as anti-Muslim. The similarities, however, end here.
For, while Modi has reneged on almost all promises, Trump has been trying to redeem his pledges from Day One.
Consider the case of Modi. Whatever happened to achhe din? To ‘maximum governance, minimum government’? To ‘the business of government is not business’? To ending graft and throwing the corrupt behind bars? To bringing back black money stashed in overseas banks? To standing up to the China’s bullying and Pakistan’s mischief? And these were unexceptional promises, which the intellectual class would have found difficult to slam, unlike the Bharatiya Janata Party’s ‘core’ issues of Ram Temple, uniform civil code, and abrogation of Article 370.
Modi’s flip-flops since November 8, the day when he announced the demonetization of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes, have become legendary—from attack on black money and terror funding to cashless economy to less-cash economy to digitization to… Well, people did not vote him for digital economy, which was expanding anyway.
This is not to say that his government is worse than the preceding one; it is indeed much better than the Congress-led regime. But that is scarcely a compliment, for the defining features of UPA rule were shameless venality, monumental incompetence, and mindless populism. The point is that much more expected of the Modi government—and it has spectacularly failed to deliver even a fraction of what it promised.
Trump, on the other hand, wasted no time in making grand speeches, organizing jamborees, and indulging in symbolic measures. As if liberals’ psychopathic opposition to him were not enough, judges and mega-corporations have started troubling him. Last week, Federal Judge James Robart ruled against government, which had challenged a Seattle judge’s temporary nationwide stay on Trump’s ban on travelers from seven Muslim nations.
Robart, of course, was needling the government, which irritated Trump to the extent that he even questioned the judge’s credentials by referring to him as a “so-called judge.” He treeted: “The judge opens up our country to potential terrorists and others that do not have our best interests at heart. Bad people are very happy!” Further, the President said, “Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril. If something happens blame him and court system. People pouring in. Bad!”
Though Trump should have exhibited some deference to the judiciary and avoided a direct attack on the judge, his concern for national security is genuine. Trump’s difficulties are mounting. His administration may have to fight more legal battles, because Google, Facebook, Uber, Twitter, Netflix, and other prominent tech companies are reportedly planning to challenge his travel ban.
Yet, Trump doesn’t buckle under pressure; he takes arms against a sea of troubles, whether it is resistance from the judiciary, the corporate world, or the shenanigans of academics. So, when his supporter and Breitbart News senior editor Milo Yiannopoulos faced violent protests Berkeley University, where he was invited to speak last week, Trump threatened to cut funding to the varsity.
The long and the short of it is that while Trump has stood for principles like national security and free speech, Modi’s politics hasn’t shown respect only for expedience. The reason is not difficult to find. Trump is a Rightist, whereas Modi is a Leftist (see There is no Rightwing in India, http://www.thehinduchronicle.com/2016/12/no-rightwing-india/ and Modi is a revolutionary, http://www.thehinduchronicle.com/2016/12/modi-is-a-revolutionary/). Trump is impatient with the status quo and wants to change the existing policies; Modi wants to persist with the existing policy framework. This is the reason that while Trump delivers on his promises, Modi’s promises are honored more in the breach than in the observance.