The billionaire was speaking at the World Economic Forum at Davos
DAVOS — Nothing stings Narendra Modi more than international condemnation. A public relations disaster in the form of scathing remarks from one of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful investors and philanthropists, therefore, deals a body-blow to his carefully crafted image as a leader committed to “Sabka saath, sabka vikas”.
The Hungarian-American billionaire George Soros was speaking at the annual economic summit being held at Davos in Switzerland and addressing the subject of how nationalism was making headway, he said the “biggest setback” was being seen in India.
“Nationalism, far from being reversed, made further headway. The biggest and most frightening setback occurred in India where a democratically elected Narendra Modi is creating a Hindu nationalist state, imposing punitive measures on Kashmir, a semi-autonomous Muslim region, and threatening to deprive millions of Muslims of their citizenship,” said Soros.
Over the last few weeks several top businessmen, economists and intellectuals have spoken up against Modi.
In November 2019, industrialist Rahul Bajaj took the bull by its horns when he said that people in India are fearful of speaking out against the Modi government and that he wasn’t sure if the government can accept criticism in the right spirit.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella too did not mince words when he expressed displeasure with amendments to India’s citizenship laws. “I think what is happening is sad, primarily as sort of someone who grew up there … I think it’s just bad,” Nadella told BuzzFeed at an event in New York.
“And even a story like mine being possible in a country like this – I think, if anything, I would love to see a Bangladeshi immigrant who comes to India and creates the next unicorn in India or becomes the CEO of Infosys. That should be the aspiration. If I had to sort of mirror what happened to me in the US, I hope that’s what happens in India.”
Meanwhile, in December 2019, International Monetary Fund (IMF) Chief Economist Gita Gopinath had also warned that India needed to take urgent measures such as labour and land reforms and strengthening the financial system, to get its economy back on track lest the downturn have a global fallout. On Monday, January 20, while releasing its World Economic Outlook (WEO) the IMF slashed global growth projections for 2019 to 2.9 per cent and for 2020 to 3.3 per cent. India’s growth forecast was also downgraded for 2019 to 4.8 per cent from 6.1 per cent on the back of sharp decline in consumer demand, stress in the NBFC sector and sluggish credit growth, reported Business Today. She told India Today that India could be responsible for 8- percent of the global slowdown!
These are hits, that Modi’s “vikas-purush” image cannot afford to take. But will all this international criticism compel Modi to double down on his supremacist agenda and restore human rights of persecuted minorities across India, dignity to the people of Kashmir and Assam, and repeal the patently unconstitutional provisions of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA)? Or will his hubris finally become his undoing?