TIME magazine cover features PM Modi with controversial headline ‘India’s Chief Divider’

Prime Minister Narendra Modi graced the cover of US news magazine TIME for its May 20, 2019 edition. Titled ‘India’s Chief Divider’, the cover features a caricature of Modi. In the cover story “Can the world’s largest democracy endure another five years of a Modi government?” Journalist Aatish Taseer talks about the rise of populism in democracies like Turkey, Brazil, Britain, the United States and India.

The article begins with the sentence: “Of the great democracies to fall into populism, India was the first”. Under Prime Minister Modi, history said that “the nation’s most fundamental norms, such as the character of the Indian state, its founding fathers, the place of minorities and its institutions, from universities to businesses to the media, proved to be severely suspicious.

“…Under Modi, minorities of all stripes – from liberals and lower castes to Muslims and Christians – have come under attack,” it read. Speaking about the economic promises made by Modi during the 2014 elections, the writer says, “Not only did Modi’s economic miracle not materialize, but he also contributed to creating an atmosphere of toxic religious nationalism in India.”

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The author also adds that Modi is “lucky to be blessed with such a weak opposition – a motley coalition of parties, led by Congress, with no other goal but to defeat him.” “Modi will never again represent the myriad dreams and aspirations of 2014. He was a messiah then, ushering in a future too bright to be seen, part of the Hindu renaissance, part of South Korea’s economic program. Now he is just a politician who broke his promises, seeking re-election. Whatever else can be said about the election, hope is not on the menu,” the article read.

In 2015, Modi appeared on the cover of TIME when the magazine did an exclusive interview with him after he became prime minister. He also graced the cover of the magazine in 2012 when he was Chief Minister of Gujarat.

Amanda P. Whitten