The red-bordered US magazine, Time, that published a cover story before the Lok Sabha election calling Narendra Modi as the 'Divider in Chief', has in a quick about-face run a report with the heading, ‘Modi Has United India Like No Prime Minister in Decades’.
The article 'How has this supposedly divisive figure not only managed to keep power, but increase his levels of support?' and answered: 'A key factor is that Modi has managed to transcend India’s greatest fault line: the class divide.'
Manoj Ladwa, the columnist, credited Modi’s emergence as a unifier to his origins in a backward caste, a factor missed or deliberately omitted by the Western media obsessed with what they call upper caste domination.
'Narendra Modi was born into one of the most disadvantaged social groups,' he explained. 'In reaching the very top, he personifies the aspirational working classes and can self-identify with his country’s poorest citizens in a way that the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, who have led India for most of its 70 years since Independence, simply cannot.'
'Yet despite the strong and often unfair criticisms levelled against Modi’s policies both throughout his first term and this marathon election, no Prime Minister has united the electorate as much in close to five decades,' he said referring to Indira Gandhi’s 1971 victory.
The pre-election cover story by author and columnist Aatish Taseer was turned into campaign fodder and acclaimed by Modi’s critics as an indictment of him as a 'divider' by a global media powerhouse.
In reality, Time is an ailing magazine that has changed hands twice in a year--bought in March last year by Meredith, the publisher of magazines like Better Homes and Gardens, and All Recipes; it was sold again in September to tech entrepreneur Marc Benioff, the founder of Salesforce, and his wife.
Time’s flagship US edition did not bother run the Modi story as cover, and instead gave the spot to Elizabeth Warren, a candidate for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.
Taseer wrote in the cover story, 'Not only has Modi’s economic miracle failed to materialise, he has also helped create an atmosphere of poisonous religious nationalism in India.'
However, Ladwa writes: 'Through socially progressive policies, he has brought many Indians, both Hindus and religious minorities, out of poverty at a faster rate than in any previous generation.'
Ladwa is the founder and CEO of Britain-based media company India Inc., which publishes India Global Business.