News / Asia

India Swears In PM as South Asian Leaders Watch

  • India's new prime minister Narendra Modi signs after taking the oath of office at the presidential palace in New Delhi, May 26, 2014.
  • Indians gather to watch the swearing in ceremony of their new prime minister Narendra Modi on a large television by a street corner, New Delhi, May 26, 2014.
  • Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif waves as he arrives to attend the swearing in ceremony of India’s prime minister elect Narendra Modi in New Delhi, May 26, 2014.
  • Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai disembarks from his plane upon his arrival at the airport in New Delhi, May 26, 2014.
  • Sri Lanka's President Mahinda Rajapaksa waves upon his arrival at the airport in New Delhi, May 26, 2014.
  • Indian Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi walks at the Mahatma Gandhi memorial after paying the flower tribute at Rajghat, ahead of his swearing-in ceremony in New Delhi, May 26, 2014.
  • Indian Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi scatters rose petals at the Mahatma Gandhi memorial at Rajghat ahead of his swearing-in ceremony in New Delhi, India, May 26, 2014.
  • Supporters of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) wearing masks of Indian Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi participate in a celebration rally ahead of his swearing-in ceremony, Mumbai, May 26, 2014.
  • Bharatiya Janata Party supporters wearing masks of India’s next prime minister Narendra Modi, celebrate his inauguration in Mumbai, May 26, 2014.
Narendra Modi Sworn In as India's Prime Minister, May 26, 2014.
VOA News
Narendra Modi’s decisive electoral victory signals a tectonic shift in Indian politics, but it’s still an open question whether the new prime minister will favor hardline nationalist policies over critical economic reforms, analysts tell VOA.

Modi was sworn in to office on Monday in an elaborate ceremony in New Delhi attended by, among others, Narwaz Sharif, the prime minister of regional rival, Pakistan.

The invitation for Sharif to attend the ceremony was seen as a magnanimous gesture by Modi, analysts say.
Narendra Modi
 
  • Sworn in as prime minister on May 26, 2014
  • Member of main Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party
  • As a child, helped his father sell tea at a railway station
  • Became chief minister of Gujarat state in 2001
  • Criticized for handling of deadly Hindu-Muslim riots in 2002
  • 63 years old; unmarried; has no children
Modi’s past, however, and the Muslim-hostile policies of his Bharatiya Janata Party, has made some experts worry that his ascension to power could mean South Asia will see another dangerous spiral of tension between the two nuclear-armed adversaries.

“Which Modi are we going to get?” Michael Kugelman, a scholar at the Washington-based Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, said during the VOA news program ‘Encounter.’ “Modi the hardline Hindu nationalist or Modi the pragmatic economic reformer?”

The BJP won a landslide victory over his main opponent, the Congress Party, giving the BJP an outright majority of seats in parliament. That means Modi’s government won’t be hobbled by coalition deals with other regional parties.

Lisa Curtis, a scholar at the Heritage Foundation, a Washington think-tank, said on the Encounter program that despite the conciliatory gestures, there are hardline currents under the surface in both Pakistan and India.

“If we God forbid have some kind of major attack in India, I think we’re going to see a tougher response from a BJP government than we would have expected to see under Congress,” Curtis said.

Modi wasn’t looking to pick a fight with Pakistan, Curtis said.
 
But, she said, Sharif “will have to ensure that the military backs him in anything he does with India. He’s learned the hard way that he certainly [can’t] defy the Pakistan military. In terms of the Pakistan military calculations, it’s unclear if they’re interested in having Pakistan engage a BJP government or not.”

Modi, 63, is the long-time governor of the western state of Gujarat, which was racked by sectarian violence in 2002 that killed hundreds of Muslims and Hindus. Many blamed Modi for not doing more to stop the rioting. A Supreme Court panel later cleared him of complicity.

Analysts say BJP’s victory was a rebuke to the Congress Party, which many voters blamed for the stagnating economy and a raft of corruption scandals.

“It showed people were tired of the Congress Party, the malaise that had set in with that government, the sense that the Congress government was out of touch with people’s concerns, about corruption or slowing economic growth,” Curtis said.

“Essentially, Indians have concluded that it was time for something new and I think, so keen they were they for having something new, that they were willing to overlook, including some Muslims, they were willing to overlook some of Modi’s baggage,” Kugelman said.

India’s relationship with the United States, and its other regional rival, China, will also be coming under the microscope with the BJP’s victory.

Ties with Washington have cooled in recent years and for the moment, the onus will be on the US to reach out to Modi, particularly since his U.S. visa was revoked as a result of the 2002 Gujarat riots.

“As long as the US makes clear that it wants to engage with Modi and willing to move forward and not dwell on the past, I think we’ll see the BJP reciprocate and there will be opportunities to move forward,” Curtis said.
  • India's new prime minister Narendra Modi signs after taking the oath of office at the presidential palace in New Delhi, May 26, 2014.
  • Indians gather to watch the swearing in ceremony of their new prime minister Narendra Modi on a large television by a street corner, New Delhi, May 26, 2014.
  • Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif waves as he arrives to attend the swearing in ceremony of India’s prime minister elect Narendra Modi in New Delhi, May 26, 2014.
  • Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai disembarks from his plane upon his arrival at the airport in New Delhi, May 26, 2014.
  • Sri Lanka's President Mahinda Rajapaksa waves upon his arrival at the airport in New Delhi, May 26, 2014.
  • Indian Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi walks at the Mahatma Gandhi memorial after paying the flower tribute at Rajghat, ahead of his swearing-in ceremony in New Delhi, May 26, 2014.
  • Indian Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi scatters rose petals at the Mahatma Gandhi memorial at Rajghat ahead of his swearing-in ceremony in New Delhi, India, May 26, 2014.
  • Supporters of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) wearing masks of Indian Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi participate in a celebration rally ahead of his swearing-in ceremony, Mumbai, May 26, 2014.
  • Bharatiya Janata Party supporters wearing masks of India’s next prime minister Narendra Modi, celebrate his inauguration in Mumbai, May 26, 2014.
Kugelman said President Barack Obama’s administration will have to launch a “charm offensive” to kick-start bilateral relations; for example, sending a senior-level government delegation to India in coming months, and replacing the recently resigned U.S. ambassador.

President Obama called Modi on May 16 to congratulate him and invite him to visit the United States

“The U.S.-Indian relationship will never be a perfect relationship, I think it has been oversold in many ways over the years, but Modi is a good person and offers a fresh start for U.S.-Indian relations,” he said.

The heads of Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives, Mauritius and the speaker of Bangladesh’s parliament also attended the ceremony.  Indian commentators called it a “South Asia moment.” 

In living up to his pledge of overhauling the government, Modi will head a leaner administration with 44 ministers, in contrast to the 77 ministers in the outgoing government. 

Anjana Pasricha contributed to this report from New Delhi.

You May Like

Photogallery Pope Condemns IS 'Persecution' of Minorities

Pope delivers annual 'Urbi et Orbi' (to the city and the world) blessing, appeals for end to conflicts in Africa, dialogue in Middle East, condemns Taliban attack in Pakistan More

China Reduces Number of Crimes Punishable by Death

Earlier this year China announced plans to remove nine crimes from the list of capital offenses, including counterfeiting, fraudulent fund-raising and forcing others into prostitution More

Analysis: For N. Koreans, Parody Has Grave Tone

Most North Koreans who might see 'The Interview' would be horribly offended, outraged, and confused More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Estimates Rising of Foreign Fighters in Iraq, Syriai
X
Jeff Seldin
December 24, 2014 11:38 PM
Foreign fighters are making more of a mark on the battles raging across Syria and Iraq than initially thought. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more.
Video

Video Estimates Rising of Foreign Fighters in Iraq, Syria

Foreign fighters are making more of a mark on the battles raging across Syria and Iraq than initially thought. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more.
Video

Video Russians Head Into Holiday Facing Economic Malaise

Russian preparations for the New Year holiday are clouded by economic recession and a tumbling currency, the ruble. Nonetheless, people in the Russian capital appear to be in a festive mood. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Mombasa in Holiday Tourism Slump Due to Security Fears

Kenya's usually popular beachside tourist destination of Mombasa is seeing a much slower holiday season this year due to fears of insecurity as the country has suffered from a string of terror attacks linked to Somali militants. Mohammed Yusuf reports for VOA on how businessmen and tourists feel about the situation.
Video

Video For Somalis, 2014 Marked by Political Instability Within Government

While Somalia has long been torn apart by warfare and violence, this year one of the country's biggest challenges has come from within the government, as political infighting curtails the country's progress, threatens security gains and disappoints the international community. VOA's Gabe Joselow report.
Video

Video US Political Shift Could Affect Iran Nuclear Talks

Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to resolve Iran’s nuclear crisis are continuing into 2015 after Iran and six world powers failed to agree by a November deadline. U.S. domestic politics, however, could complicate efforts to reach a deal in the new year. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video NYSE: The Icon of Capitalism

From its humble beginnings in 1792 to its status as an economic bellweather for the world, the New York Stock Exchange is an integral part of the story of America. VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from Wall Street.
Video

Video Islamic State Emergence Transforms Syria and Iraq in 2014

The emergence of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria as a potent force in early 2014 changed the dynamics of the region. Their brutal methods - including executions and forced slavery - horrified the international community, drawing Western forces into the conflict. It also splintered the war in Syria, where more than 200,000 Syrians have died in the conflict. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell looks back at a deadly year in the region -- and what 2015 may hold.
Video

Video Massive Study Provides Best Look at Greenland Ice Loss Yet

The Greenland ice sheet is melting faster than predicted, according to a new study released in the Proceedings of the National Academic of Sciences that combines NASA satellite data and aerial missions. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the finding means coastal communities worldwide could be at greater risk, sooner, from the impact of rising seas.
Video

Video US Marines, Toys for Tots Bring Christmas Joy

Christmas is a time for giving in the United States, especially to young children who look forward to getting presents. But some families don't have money to buy gifts. For nearly 70 years, a U.S. Marines-sponsored program has donated toys and distributed them to underprivileged children during the holiday season. VOA's Deborah Block tells us about the annual Toys for Tots program.
Video

Video France Rocked by Attacks as Fear of ISIS-Inspired Terror Grows

Eleven people were injured, two seriously, when a man drove his car into crowds of pedestrians Sunday night in the French city of Dijon, shouting ‘God is Great’ in Arabic. It’s the latest in a series of apparent ‘lone-wolf’ terror attacks in the West. Henry Ridgwell looks at the growing threat of attacks, which security experts say are likely inspired by the so-called "Islamic State" terror group.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid