In "Post-American World" published in 2011, CNN GPS host Fareed Zakaria described India as a "powerful package" and claimed that his country of birth has been "peaceful, stable, and prosperous". It all changed on March 7, 2021, when Zakaria finally spoke out the ugly truth about his native land. "A central thrust of the government's illiberalism relates to its efforts to promote Hindu nationalism, singling out India's Muslim minority", said Zakaria. In a rare moment of candor, he even came close to acknowledging India's military occupation of Kashmir when he said: "In 2020, Kashmir's (Freedom House) score plummeted. Currently, it is rated as "not free," on par with dictatorships and police states".
|Freedom House 2021 Democracy Map. Source: Freedom House
While it was the first time that Zakaria used his global platform as CNN GPS host to criticize India, it seems that Prime Minister Modi's rule has been a source of great consternation for him. Speaking with Indian journalist Shekhar Gupta on The Print YouTube channel last year, Fareed Zakaria called the Indian state an “inefficient state”.“Indian government functions very poorly, even in comparison to other developing countries. Coronavirus has highlighted that reality, " he added. He did not clearly speak about the lynchings of Indian Muslims by people affiliated with the ruling BJP and the brutality of Indian military against Kashmiri Muslims, but he did ask: “What I wonder about (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi is, is he really bringing all of India along with him? He noted sadly:”India seems like roadkill for China".
Has New Delhi's abject failure in containing the coronavirus pandemic finally done what Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's extreme brutality and open hatred against Zakaria's fellow Indian Muslims could not do? Has he really had it with Hindu Nationalist government? While he has not used his perch on CNN to do it, it appears that he has started expressing his disapproval of the performance on other platforms.
Here are a few of the key points Fareed Zakaria made while speaking with Shekhar Gupta:
1. There’s no doubt in my mind that the Indian government, and by that I mean the Delhi government, has handled this crisis (COVID19) very poorly.
2. Indian government functions very poorly, even in comparison to other developing countries. Coronavirus has highlighted that reality.
3. In a way, India seems like roadkill for China’s obsession with absolute control over their borders. I do think there is an opportunity here for diplomacy. I don’t think India needs to be confrontational about it (the LAC issue), but of course it should push back.
4. It is now a bipolar world. US and China are way ahead of the rest of the world. For the long term, India needs to decide it’s position with China.
4. Turkey under Erdogan has become more confident and independent. It is culturally proud. It is telling Americans to buzz off.
5. Popularity of political leaders around the world is linked to their performance on the coronavirus pandemic. In India, however, the issues of religion and caste are still dominating.
6. What I wonder about (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi is, is he really bringing all of India along with him? How many Muslims in Indian government? Or South Indians in BJP? It is much less diverse than Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru's cabinet.
7. I have been very sad to see how Indian democracy has developed over the last few years. It has become an illiberal democracy.
8. The India media is slavishly pro-government. Self-censorship is widespread in India.
9. The Indian courts fold in cases where government takes serious interest.
It has become increasingly clear that India's loudest cheerleaders like Fareed Zakaria are now starting to see the stark reality of Modi's India as a big failure on multiple fronts. Indian state has failed to contain the deadly COVID19 pandemic. India's economy is in serious trouble. The country's democracy is in decline. India seems like a roadkill for China. This turn of events has created serious problems for Pakistani "liberals" who have long seen and often cited India as a successful example of "secular democracy" at work in South Asia.
Here's a video clip of Zakaria's March 7, 2020 show where he criticized India:
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