Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Was Modi at Madison a good idea?

Recently, the Gujarat CM Anandiben Patel toured Mumbai and addressed a group of industrialists and investors on the 108th anniversary of Indian Merchants’ Chamber. Her address which was partly in Gujarati and which implored the industrialists to invest in Gujarat which she alleged was less congested and has better infrastructure than Mumbai, has become a major political flashpoint in Maharashtra with all major parties such as the ShivSena, MNS and Congress criticising it.

Interestingly during her speech, Anandiben said "Jyare Narendrabhai US maa jai ne Hindi maa bhanshan aapi shake, toh hoon Mumbai maa avi Gujarati maa boli shaku chu (When Narendrabhai can speak in Hindi in the US, I can certainly speak in Gujarati in Mumbai)"

Now this brings up the question about how Modi's show of strength in the US is going to be perceived in the US. He addressed a massive rally in Hindi!! Just as Anandiben's remarks were unwelcome in Mumbai, it would not be wrong for many US citizens to feel betrayed seeing their Indian origin fellow US citizens flock to Madison Square Garden and showing their allegiance to Modi and India.

It won't be a surprise if the more conservative US politicians now urge lesser immigration from India since Indian origin immigrants shall be seen to be less loyal and less assimilative. Similarly, a case can be made that though 'Make in India' is undoubtedly a much needed and welcome initiative, it could have been done in a more subtle way in industry meetings and smaller closed events rather than a public push.

If a major US company actually moves some significant manufacturing facility from the US to India, causing job losses in the US, I am sure the Modi in US euphoria shall die down real quick.

In his broadside against Modi Govt's foreign policy in an Indian Express Op-Ed, Salman Khurshid has articulated this stance well and I shall end with his words -

Diaspora is a blessing in disguise but it may sometimes need to remain disguised to be a blessing for itself.

Modi should keep this in mind in future...

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