All Eyes on India

With the 2024 Lok Sabha Elections being the largest election in the world right now, it is not only a reflection of India’s internal political dynamics but also a focal point for international media, offering a kaleidoscope of views that range from admiration to criticism
By Barish Raman

THE ongoing Lok Sabha Elections in India are currently recognized as the largest electoral event in the world, highlighting India’s position with the most extensive voter base globally. The country will witness a staggering 969 million eligible voters, surpassing 10% of the global population. India boasts the largest electorate in the world, with a significant portion comprising 18 million first-time voters. Amidst this spotlight, we observe a nuanced portrayal of the Indian political sphere, revealing diverse and, at times, opposing narratives, which stand in contrast to the typically positive coverage by Indian media.

For the first time in a long time, India has become the recipient of abundant media attention due to its geopolitical relevance in today’s time and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is greatly aware of this and undoubtedly adept at handling it, who we can say even revels in it. This is evident in his recent interview with Newsweek, an American magazine. During an interview with Newsweek, the Prime Minister surprised the team by inviting them to feel his vest, made from recycled plastic bottles. This simple act reflected Modi’s mix of innovation and tradition, embodied in the iconic Nehru-style garment now called ‘Modi Jackets’. Beyond fashion, these jackets symbolise Modi’s leadership, blending modernization with ancient customs. Despite controversies, Modi’s optimism and effective communication resonate with millions in India. Through initiatives like the radio program Mann Ki Baat, he connects with ordinary citizens, fostering hope for India’s future. In the story of India’s progress, Modi stands as a key figure, poised to harness demographic advantages and infrastructure investments, driving India’s global presence.

However, most international media coverage does not present a very positive outlook towards the current Modi regime. The esteemed media group Al Jazeera has published an op-ed comparing Modi to the character of Dictator Aladeen from Sasha Baron Cohen’s acclaimed comedy film ‘The Dictator’. Beyond such outright slander, there is also negative and critical coverage from mainstream American and British media outlets, as well as other European organisations like The Economist, DW from Germany, France24, and Le Monde. The latter has specifically highlighted what it perceives as the ‘undemocratic’ and Islamophobic nature of the BJP’s campaign over the past decade. The Economist magazine writes, ‘Narendra Modi’s illiberalism may imperil India’s economic progress’. PBS, the esteemed Public Broadcast System in the USA, which aims to educate audiences, has underscored the accountability of the general public regarding the Indian election and has elucidated the undemocratic nature of the election, as well as Kejriwal’s recent arrest. Surprisingly, the arrest of the opposition leader has indeed come under international scrutiny. Meanwhile, British outlets like the BBC and The Guardian have highlighted the debilitating unemployment crisis in India, labelling the current scenario as ‘Electoral Autocracy’ and criticising the ‘second-class’ treatment of religious minorities. ‘The mother of democracy is not in good shape,’ writes the Financial Times. Bloomberg has stated, ‘Modi Is Making India’s Polls All About Himself’, noting that the ruling party’s manifesto offers 24 ‘guarantees’, all in the name of the Prime Minister. 

It is ironic that even media that is rather infamous for being overtly rightist in nature, like Fox News in the USA, has not necessarily put out a very positive representation of the current political landscape of India, with Fox News even acknowledging how critics have opted for calling India a ‘hybrid regime’, which is neither a full democracy nor a full autocracy. 

In conclusion, the different views about India’s politics in international media show how complex democracy can be, especially in a huge country like India.  While Prime Minister Modi’s leadership garners both praise and criticism, the divergent perspectives reflect the multifaceted nature of India’s socio-political reality. As India’s elections continue to captivate global attention, it serves as a reminder of the importance of critical engagement and nuanced understanding in interpreting the dynamics of democracy in diverse contexts. Ultimately, the scrutiny faced by India on the global stage highlights the interconnectedness of nations and the shared responsibility in upholding democratic principles and human rights worldwide.

Barish Raman

The author is a young writer with a keen interest and strong base of expertise in society and psychology. She aims to shed light upon any topic in a manner that can empower a reader. She is fascinated with the ever changing dynamics of society and how they aff ect us. Barish is currently pursuing Psychology in Universitá Cattolica Del Sacro Cuore in Milan, Italy.

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