India has tremendous social strengths, including pluralism, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has written in the prestigious Economist magazine in comments that come in the backdrop of a churning debate over rising intolerance and violence in the country.
This is the third time in the last two weeks that Modi has touched upon issues of diversity as he tries to parry criticism surrounding his perceived silence on alleged attempts by members of his party to inflame communal passions for electoral benefit.
Modi in The Economist: "India has tremendous social strengths, including pluralism..."— Adam Roberts (@ARobertsjourno) November 18, 2015
Modi’s reference to pluralism in India came in a piece for the magazine’s special edition titled “The World in 2016”. The excerpts were tweeted by the Economist’s Europe Business Correspondent, Adam Roberts.
Those interested to see where Modi writes for The Economist. It's in this publication: pic.twitter.com/eN5NwXSDp3— Adam Roberts (@ARobertsjourno) November 18, 2015
The PM also referred to the “great expectations” from his government which completes 18 months next week, amid some allegations that the government was starting to lose momentum gained from a landmark victory in the general elections last year.
“There is a sense of great expectation from our government. Inevitably, some of these expectations run ahead of us,” he said.
The Economist was broadly supportive of Modi’s electoral promise of jobs and unclogging the economy but has recently carried several pieces critical of what it sees as a derailment of the development narrative.
Recent columns in the magazine have described the BJP’s bruising Bihar loss as the “biggest setback” in Modi’s career and said the defeat had damaged the PM’s prestige, blaming him for the divisive poll campaign.
During his recently-concluded visit to the United Kingdom, Modi repeatedly invoked the themes of diversity and plurality, saying India was committed to protecting the lives and views of its citizens and wouldn’t accept any untoward incident.
“India is full of diversity. This diversity is our pride and it is our strength. Diversity is the speciality of India.” he told thousands of cheering audience members at the iconic Wembley stadium in London last week.
The government has come under searing attack from opposition parties and activists after a wave of violent incidents, including the mob lynching of a Muslim man in Uttar Pradesh over beef consumption rumours and the killing of Dalit children in Faridabad.
A number of senior BJP leaders have also made controversial statements around the incidents, triggering allegations that they were trying to drive a wedge between communities.
The saffron coalition was also clobbered in the Bihar polls by an avowedly secular Grand Alliance with some experts attributing the crushing defeat to the party’s fringe elements.
In his article, Modi also talked about the impact of India’s growth on environment, days before he attends a landmark conference in Paris aimed at forging a sweeping international accord to limit global emissions.
“We are conscious that our growth...will have some environmental impact,” he wrote.