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Modi a ‘calculated risk,’ says Indian business leader

May 19th, 2014
02:51 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

India is taking a “calculated risk” with the election of Narendra Modi as prime minister, Indian business leader and public intellectual Gurcharan Das told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Monday.

“It’s obviously a risk you take when you bring in a strong person. But I believe that India has enough constraints of a pugnacious press, a fiercely independent judicial system, and a disobedient people, that I think the chances of getting a dictator are diminished as a result of some of these.”

Modi, leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party, claimed victory in a landslide election last Friday. He has drawn praise for the economic revitalization of Gujarat, his home state, but criticism over his Hindu nationalism and alleged role in anti-Muslim mob violence a decade ago, when he was chief minister of Gujarat.

Das voted for Modi, but says the decision “took a lot of agonizing.”

“I feel he’s grown. I hope he has grown. And I feel we are taking a risk, but it’s a calculated risk that the country is taking.”

The potential benefit of that risk, according to Das, is an economic kick-start for India.

The country has seen lacklustre GDP growth, for a developing country, at just under five percent annualized growth in 2013. That is far less, for example, than China’s 7.7% last year.

Modi, Das told Amanpour, is the country’s “best chance” to revive growth.

“His core competence is the ability to implement, to get things done. Indians are big talkers, but they are not big doers.

“And for the first time I think we have a person who is a genuine – who is a leader in that sense that he monitors projects, that he gets into the messy details. He motivates people. He encourages people. And then he holds them accountable.”

India’s major problem is that government is “all gummed up,” Das said.

“There are hundreds and hundreds of projects that are paralyzed and stopped because of various reasons. And so just doing that itself, without major reforms, just getting things done, I think, will get the economy kick-started.”

Looming over the excitement remains Modi’s role in Gujarat’s late-2001 violence. He was critized for not doing enough to stop the violence, in which more than 1,000 people – mostly Muslims – were killed.

A Supreme Court-ordered investigation absolved him of blame last year. Modi subsequently expressed regret over the riots but was criticized for not apologizing.

Apologizing, Das said, would be the “wise” and “magnanimous” thing to do.

“In his very first speech, he said that he’s a leader of all Indians. But he needs to go further. And this is why, frankly, I agonized about voting for him.”

“I feel that perhaps he – that he has changed,” Das said. “Gujarat used to have a riot every year. For the last ten years…there’s been no riot.”

The threat India faces, Das said, is not China, nor long-time rival Pakistsan.

“The threat is that the Muslim minority of India has been…the least fundamentalized Muslim minority in the world, and we’d like to keep it that way. And let’s hope he [Modi] doesn’t do anything that would change that.”


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • India • Latest Episode
soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. Abdul Tanveer Khan

    Mr Modi's colossal victory in the largest secular democracy on earth by the largest number of votes in human history can not be ignored any longer by his critics and detractors. This would also include us here in the United States.

    President Obama needs to urgently repair the Bush era debacle of denying visas to Mr Modi as soon as possible. This is because Mr Modi was cleared by the courts in India for any wrong doing and was not held responsible for actions taken by others in a communal riot situation resulting in both Hindu and Muslim deaths, any more than President Obama is personally responsible for the Benghazi incident.

    We have no right convicting a man in court of public opinion when he was clearly found not guilty of any crime by the legal courts. It is that simple. President Obama and CNN, and the media need to embrace Mr. Modi, a duly elected leader of the largest secular republic on earth to set a good example for others to follow by quashing racial discrimination, bigotry and Hinduphobia.

    May 19, 2014 at 4:40 pm | Reply
  2. Wayang Kulit

    India is too divided. Even Ghandi or Neru could not unite India. Let's see what Mr. Modi can achive. We will see a new leader soon or at least in the next election. This has been the trend in India.

    May 19, 2014 at 11:31 pm | Reply
  3. explorer71

    Sure Wayang. India is "divided".

    May 20, 2014 at 1:49 am | Reply
  4. Parmeshwari Choudhary

    Dear Christine,Hindus are peace loving people and so is Mr.Modi.A Hindu can not be a fundamentalist as he believes the soul of every living being to be a particle of the Almighty.India has been facing terrorism for very long and the threat persists continuously.India has gladly and optimistically voted for Mr Modi because he has proved his capability.Three inquiries were set up against him by the previous Govts to investigate his role in riots that erupted after a train full of Hindu pilgrims was burnt ,but nothing was found against him.Even the supreme court of India has declared him innocent.
    India has been ruled by Congress almost continuously .An oligarchy has been created around that party,including media,of the people having vested interests in perpetuity of power in the hands of Congress.The congress does not have any mass leader and it maligns every one who seems to be a challenge.Mr Modi was a greater challenge so was maligned greatly.It is well known that Indian media is not impartial.
    This Mr Gurcharan Das has bestowed lot of praises on Modi that could have been better headline.That could have also shown some respect towards the judgement of Indian people.May be he voted for Modi with agony but masses have voted happily and enthusiastically,as is clear by amazingly high voter turn-out in scorching heat.

    May 20, 2014 at 8:24 am | Reply
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    I looked up the CNN to get an objective report on Indian election 2014 & Modi because the other channels were dishing the usual third rate stuff which is nauseating for its very poor and motivated,mendacious and coloured views, hectoring and low language. But I was more dis appointed. The CNN seems to be biased, closed mind and hostile to Indian interests. Here is some stuff you should read: Modi's Biggest Achievement, And, India Elects & Delivers Stable Government available on https://Vaaniyog.wordpress.com

    May 20, 2014 at 1:56 pm | Reply
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