'Most powerful selfie ever': How Western media described Modi-Li photo

  • Agencies, New York/Beijing
  • Updated: May 16, 2015 11:42 IST

A selfie taken by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang at Beijing's Temple of Heaven is being described by the Western media as one of the most "power-packed" and most powerful selfies ever.

The Wall Street Journal, in a report headlined "Did Modi Just Take the Most Powerful Selfie in History", said the prime ministers of the world's two biggest countries "leaned on each other...for what may be the most politically power-packed selfie in history".

It described how Modi pulled out a smartphone during his visit to the temple on Friday, "extended his arm and cozied up with Chinese premier Li Keqiang for the shot".

"That put two of the most powerful people in countries with a combined population of around 2.5 billion people — more than one-third of humanity – in the same frame with no official photographer involved," the report said.

A tweet from CNBC said the "two world leaders just took the most-powerful selfie ever".

"The leaders of two of the world's fastest growing countries just made selfie history...Sure, a picture can say a thousand words — but it's not every day one can speak for over a third of the world's population," CNBC said in a report.

Modi, visiting China this week to boost economic ties and discuss a dragging border dispute, is known for being at ease with social media. He is one of the world's most followed on Twitter with 12.3 million followers.

But such spontaneous displays online are rare for leaders in China, where discussion of politicians' personal lives is taboo and details such as their exact birthdates are considered a state secret.

The selfie, which shows the leaders smiling shoulder to shoulder, with Li squinting slightly in the sunlight, was posted on Modi's Chinese microblog account .

An article in Forbes said the photo, which garnered more than 4,000 shares after Modi posted it on Twitter, was being "billed the selfie of the world's two mightiest".

"Modi and Li drive economic policy in their respective countries, two of the world's fastest-growing large economies," Forbes said in an article.

Combining the GDP of both countries, the selfie captures more than $10 trillion, it added.

Western media reports also noted that Modi was probably using a Virtual Private Network (VPN), software that allows him to go around the "Great Firewall", China's state-run censorship machine that is used to block Twitter, Facebook and Google.

The Wall Street Journal also noted that Modi is "no stranger to selfies" and had used one in his 2014 election campaign.

He was also the first world leader to use a Twitter Mirror, an exclusive app that produces autographed selfies and posts them to Twitter on his tours, it said.

Modi has taken selfies with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott during a visit to his country in November.

The report cited other powerful selfies that created records , including the 2014 Oscar selfie taken by host Ellen DeGeneres with Hollywood giants Meryl Streep, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Lupita Nyong'o, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie Pitt. The selfie received more than 921,000 retweets in less than 40 minutes and went on to get more than a million retweets.

In 2013, US President Barack Obama and Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron posed for a selfie with Denmark's Prime Minister Helle Thorning Schmidt at a memorial service for Nelson Mandela in South Africa, an image that was criticised by some who said it was inappropriate for the leaders to take a selfie at such a solemn occasion.

(With PTI and Reuters inputs)


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