Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech on India’s Independence Day this year marked a departure from his predecessor’s addresses.
According to two Indian-American experts on South Asia, predecessors who had traditionally put aside partisan differences and concentrated on the significance of the nation’s founding father, MK Gandhi, and the nonviolent movement, Indian democracy, and the need for tolerance and inclusion.
Dinsha Mistree, a research fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution, and Sumit Ganguly, a magazine columnist, and professor of political science at Indiana University Bloomington, wrote jointly in the American magazine Foreign Policy that while Modi largely adhered to this formula, “this year’s speech signalled how Modi is trying to redefine what it means to be an Indian.”
According to the article titled: Modi is Rewriting India’s National Narrative, “These freedom fighters operated independently of Gandhi and the Indian National Congress, undermining Gandhi and nonviolence within India’s independence movement.”
It claimed that by emphasizing these in his address, Modi “subtly resisted the mainstream narrative and Gandhi’s pivotal position in it.”
Second, the experts noted that while Modi mentioned inclusion in terms of geography and gender, he missed mentioning secularism or religious tolerance.
The article claims that Modi intended to characterize Indians as Hindus instead.
Modi in his speech said, “This is our legacy. How can we not be proud of this heritage? We are those people who see Shiva (a Hindu god) in every living being.”
“We are those who see the divine in the plants. We are the people who consider the rivers as our mother. We are those people who see Shankar in every stone.”
Traditionally, India’s Independence Day has offered a chance to consider the atrocities of colonialism and the perils of religious strife while simultaneously honouring the vitality of the nation’s democracy. The deviation that India’s modern leaders have made from these guiding principles is evident in Modi’s statement this week.