‘Left-Wing Dictatorships vs Right-Wing Dictatorships’: A Modi test of Indian Democracy

Under whom class struggle and redistribution of wealth happens? Who fosters social divisions often leading to violence and instability?

As India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to win a third term in the election that got underway on April 19, he often is reported to be evoking polarising opinions. Some hail him as a transformative leader, while his critics cry about his unverified authoritarian tendencies.

Remarkably, for many, Modi may embody the paradox of being a “good dictator” in the world’s largest democracy.

In my opinion, this characterisation often stems from Modi’s ability to implement decisive policies and reforms, bypassing bureaucratic inertia and political opposition, to achieve tangible progress for India.

- Advertisement -

One must be clear that the concept of labelling leaders as “dictators” or “fascists” often emanates from Leftist ideology, which tends to present right-wing or nationalist leaders as authoritarian. If you dare not to hop on the Leftist bandwagon, well, prepare to be stamped with the labels of “dictator” or “fascist” faster than you can blink!

Prof. Anand Ranganathan’s views on the Left’s “big lie” and the “hypocrisy of our saviours of Democracy” are essential listening for all.

One must also remember that it is truly the Left that puts an extensive emphasis on total government control and pushes for welfare programs that can lead to inefficiencies and excessive bureaucracy putting the reign in in the hands of few. Under the ruse of class struggle and redistribution of wealth, the Left tends to foster social divisions often leading to violence and instability.

In the case of Modi, fear left-wing authoritarianism pseudo-intellectuals argue that his policies and governance style undermine secularism, suppress dissent, and centralise power, thereby fitting their criteria for authoritarianism. It’s surprising, but a lot of these really ‘big lies’ actually end up working as these narratives are pushed through the a system of set anti-India channels.

However, one can clearly see that in a country like India, this interpretation can be overly simplistic and sometimes ignores the broader context of such leadership. In fact, earlier this year, Pew Research conducted a survey to test two authoritarian models of government: a system in which a strong leader can make decisions without interference from parliament or the courts (“authoritarian leader”) and a system in which the military rules the country (“military rule”).

The survey showed that 85% of people in India supported rule by a strong leader for good governance with 79% of Indians having a positive opinion about Modi. Despite overwhelming support for autocracy and technocracy, a total of 72% of Indian respondents said that they are satisfied with how democracy is working in their country.

- Advertisement -

So, it is up to the voters to essentially distinguish between genuine authoritarianism and good governance aimed at implementing necessary reforms in complex, diverse societies like India.

Modi’s political journey is a remarkable tale of perseverance, strategic acumen and good governance. Rising through the ranks, he became the Chief Minister of Gujarat in 2001, a position he held for over a decade, transforming the state into an economic powerhouse. In 2014, Modi led the BJP to a historic victory in the national elections, becoming the Prime Minister of India. And then re-elected in 2019 with an even larger mandate, Modi continues to be a dominant force in Indian politics, championing his vision of a ‘New India’.

Modi’s knowledge of the rural-urban divide, oratory skills and confident demeanour have significantly contributed to his widespread appeal. He is well-known for his strategic acumen and has successfully cultivated an image of a self-made leader, rising from humble beginnings as a chai-wallah (tea seller) to become the Prime Minister. This narrative of self-reliance and determination appeals to many Indians espe

Domestically, one of the clear hallmarks of Modi’s tenure as Prime Minister has been his commitment to internal economic reforms, digital innovation, the rapid expansion of the highway network, modernisation of railways, modernisation of medical and educational research facilities, development of smart cities, fast-tracking large-scale infrastructure projects, enacting broad social welfare schemes, initiatives to tackle climate change, and delivering clean energy, all testaments to his good governance capability.

However, Modi’s governance style has drawn criticism for its so-called authoritarian undertones, especially with the abrogation of Article 370, the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC). Despite these controversies, Modi’s governance has yielded positive outcomes, contributing to his reputation as a “good dictator.”

His ability to implement decisive policies in favour of India effectively, often in the face of substantial opposition from both local and global anti-India forces, sets him apart as a leader who can navigate the complexities of the world’s largest democracy while pushing through significant and much-needed reforms.

Internationally, India’s foreign policy under Modi has emphasised South-South cooperation, leveraging India’s growing economic and technological capabilities to foster partnerships across Asia, Africa, and Latin America, global clean energy alliances, infrastructure development aid, counter-terrorism initiatives to her regional stability, and proactive engagement in forums such as QUAD, BRICS, and the G20 to amplify and advocate for more equitable balanced global governance.

Further, addressing issues like global climate change, trade imbalances, access to innovative technology, focus on strengthening external strategic and diplomatic position, and pushing for global reforms leveraging India’s stature as leader of Global South are testaments to his vision as a leader of Global South.

It was no surprise that during a major public event in Sydney in May 2023, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese called Modi “the boss.”

This remark was not just a gesture of mateship or dosti between the two nations but a recognition of Modi’s impactful governance and his role in strengthening India’s international partnerships. Albanese’s comment underscores the robust relationship between India and Australia and acknowledges Modi’s stature as a formidable and respected leader of Global South in the international arena.

Post-2024, as India continues to evolve, the balance between democratic principles and decisive leadership will remain a critical aspect of Modi’s legacy. Modi may exemplify the paradox of a “good dictator” to his critics within the framework of the world’s largest democracy and Leftist ideology which tend to stifle growth, innovation and freedom.

Support Our Journalism

Global Indian Diaspora needs fair, non-hyphenated, and questioning journalism, packed with on-ground reporting. The Australia Today – with exceptional reporters, columnists, and editors – is doing just that. Sustaining this needs support from wonderful readers like you.

Whether you live in Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States of America, or India you can take a paid subscription by clicking Patreon Buy an annual ‘The Australia Today Membership’ to support independent journalism and get special benefits.