Modi should learn from the Chinese their deliberate rejection of self-promotion: Pankaj Mishra


Pankaj Mishra spoke to Basharat Peer about his exploration of China, the Indian encounter with China and East Asia, along with other issues: The Hindu

Pankaj Mishra
Pankaj Mishra

What we are seeing is a convergence between the East Asian and the Indian narratives, and the breakdown of the cold war binary of democracy and authoritarianism. India used to be the democratic exception and most other countries were authoritarian or dictatorships. Mr. Modi with his corporate chums is the greatest Indian exponent of capitalism with East Asian characteristics. I think one has to think of Mr. Modi along with Suharto, Lee Kwan Yew, and the CCP provincial bosses who then make it big in Beijing. These are all control freaks supported by the corporate and technocratic classes who prefer top-down solutions and rapid decision-making, and have contempt for anything that doesn’t directly advance their interests. So the rise of the middle class in Asia has assisted the growth of authoritarian populism rather than democracy.

Fortunately, India is too diverse a place for any Modi to flourish. A truly authoritarian leader like Suharto won’t be able to flourish for long in India. Sixty five years of deeply flawed democratic processes have nevertheless created an India where someone like Mr. Modi can enjoy only limited successes.

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