GZERO Media logo

India: The World’s Savviest Politician Muscles Forward

India: The World’s Savviest Politician Muscles Forward

It was inevitable that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would make India's elections a referendum on Narendra Modi, and now that the vast majority of 600 million votes cast have been counted, it's clear he made the right call.

In 2014, his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won more seats in India's lower house of parliament than any party in 30 years. In this election, he appears to have exceeded that accomplishment, and he's now the first Indian leader in nearly half a century to win a single-party majority twice in a row.


Never mind that on his watch India's unemployment rate has reached its highest point since the 1970s or that farmers face a crisis as prices for their produce have plunged. Set aside the bungled policies on other pocketbook issues like taxes and the availability of cash. Or that promises on development goals have not been fully met.

Exit poll questionnaires reveal that hundreds of millions of Indians want a "strong" leader, one who makes them proud of their country, and Modi's five years in charge have persuaded them he's the man for the job. Many are inspired by his determination to bring religion and Hindu identity more directly into public life in a country where past governments have treated official secularism as a safeguard against communal violence.

His supporters want a leader who speaks to them directly and forcefully. He's done this with fiery speeches at raucous rallies to cheering crowds decked out in orange baseball caps adorned with the phrase "NaMo Again," amplifying his message for tens of millions of followers on social media. He's now the world's third most-followed world leader on Twitter and number one on both Facebook and Instagram.

The challenge: But now it's time for NaMo to pivot from the poetry of politics to the prose of policy. He'll set forth an ambitious agenda in coming days, something in keeping with the grandiose 100-plus-page policy document he issued following his victory five years ago.

His toughest challenges will come on land reform, which allows government to buy private land to build urgently needed infrastructure, and on policies that help business create the one million jobs per month that India needs for its growing population of young people.

The bottom line: Love Modi or hate him, don't underestimate his ability to sell his vision across the world's most diverse nation. He has proven once again he's among the savviest politicians alive today.

Wales, early 19th century: During breaks from his law studies, William Robert Grove indulges in his passion for science to become an inventor. On his honeymoon in Europe, he learns about the new energy source everyone's talking about: electricity. After learning that electricity allows water to be broken down into its two components, hydrogen and oxygen, his intuition leads him to an idea that ends up making him a pioneer of sustainable energy production.

Watch the story of William Robert Grove in Eni's MINDS series, where we travel through time seeking scientists.

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here, and as we head into the weekend, a Quick Take on, well, the first bombing campaign of the new Biden administration. You kind of knew it was going to happen. Against some Iranian-backed militias in Syria, looks like a couple of dozen, perhaps more killed, and some militia-connected military facilities destroyed. I think there are a few ways to look at this, maybe three different lenses.

More Show less

Afghanistan frustrated nineteenth-century British imperialists for 40 years, and ejected the Soviet army in 1989 after a bloody decade there. And though American and NATO forces ousted the Taliban government in 2001 over its support for al-Qaeda, there's no good reason for confidence that nearly 20 years of occupation have brought lasting results for security and development across the country.

But… could China succeed where other outsiders have failed – and without a costly and risky military presence? Is the promise of lucrative trade and investment enough to ensure a power-sharing deal among Afghanistan's warring factions?

More Show less

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective from Stockholm on Europe In 60 Seconds:

Is there a military coup ongoing in Armenia?

Well, it isn't a military coup as of yet, but it's not far from it either. This is the turmoil that is resulting from the war with Azerbaijan, which Armenia took a large death loss. What happened was that the head of the armed forces asked for the prime minister to resign. That was not quite a coup, but not very far from it. Now, the prime minister sacked the head of the armed forces, there's considerable uncertainty. Watch the space.

More Show less

In the fall of 2019, weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic would change the world, Ian Bremmer asked Dr. Fauci what kept him up at night and he described a "a pandemic-like respiratory infection." Fast-forward to late February 2021 and Dr. Fauci tells Ian, "I think we are living through much of that worst nightmare." Dr. Fauci returns to GZERO World to take stock of the nightmare year and to paint a picture of what the end of the pandemic could look like—and when it could finally arrive.

Catch the full episode of GZERO World, where Dr. Fauci discusses the latest in vaccine roll out, schools re-openings, and plenty more, on US public television stations nationwide, beginning Friday, February 26. Check local listings.

The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal

Biden strikes Syria. Now what?

Quick Take