Prime Minister Modi changing perceptions in India

Insight

PM ModiIndia’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivers a speech from the Red Fort to mark the country’s 68th Independence Day in New Delhi on August 15, 2014. (Photo: AFP/Prakash Singh)

India’s prime minister Narendra Modi has writen his own rules after winning a historic mandate. Modi’s style have won him accolades, but his critics are waiting to see if it translates into results. CCTV America’s India correspondent Shweta Bajaj reports.

Prime Minister Modi changing perceptions in India

India's prime minister Narendra Modi has writen his own rules after winning a historic mandate. Modi's style have won him accolades, but his critics are waiting to see if it translates into results. CCTV America's India correspondent Shweta Bajaj reports.

Much was expected as Narendra Modi arrived this week to deliver his first Independence Day speech as India’s prime minister and for many, he did not disappoint. Unlike India’s previous prime ministers, he spoke extemporaneously, without a bullet proof cover, from the historic Red Fort’s ramparts.

In his address to the nation, Modi touched on a number of issues: violence against women, the economy, and helping the poor. He also spoke about topics rarely heard in speeches including gender equality, building toilets in every school for girls and cleanliness.

One think tank analyst pointed to a change in style, but not all of it was positive.

“His method of speaking to people, the reliance on e-governance, soliciting people’s opinion and so on and so forth, all of this suggests that he is trying to reduce distance between the common citizen and the government,” said Siddharth Vardarajan, a senior fellow at the Centre of Public Affairs and Critical Theory. “On the other hand, the media policy of the government has been rather remote and distant.”

Modi has ordered his ministers to work long hours. However, when it comes to India’s economy, observers are still waiting for sweeping market reforms.

The Prime Minister has been in office for nearly 100 days. Modi is using social media to get his message out, especially to young people. He has launched a website asking Indians to be part of the policy making process.

Modi has come under criticism recently for canceling high-level India-Pakistan talks.

“I think the government of India should have been more broadminded about these kinds of meetings, particularly when you know there are elements in Pakistan who don’t want this dialogue to proceed,” said Vardarajan.

For now Modi has appeared to have won the hearts of many in the country, but the newly-elected prime minister will be expected to show results, especially with foreign policy and the economy.

Dhruva Jaishankar is a Transatlantic Fellow with the Asia program of the German Marshall Fund, which aims to strengthen transatlantic cooperation on global challenges.

What might Modi's rule in India look like?

Dhruva Jaishankar is a Transatlantic Fellow with the Asia program of the German Marshall Fund, which aims to strengthen transatlantic cooperation on global challenges.