Would bet on Modi to transform India, including ‘newly integrated’ Kashmir: NYT columnist














Prime Minister Narendra Modi shared stage with US President Donald Trump at the mega ‘Howdy, Modi!’ event in Houston where the two leaders addressed a crowd of over 50,000 people and endorsed each other. The event grabbed the attention of international media, especially in the US, which noted the relations between India and America.

An Op-Ed piece in the New York Times by columnist Roger Cohen termed the event as “freighted with political significance” since it came less than two months after Modi, with strong backing from Parliament, revoked Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, eliminating the special autonomous status of the Kashmir region.

“Trump chose to signal approval by standing side-by-side with the prime minister,” wrote Cohen.

Defending India’s move to abrogate Article 370 Cohen said that the step “might pry open the stranglehold of corrupt local elites and offer a better future.”

Cohen has also said that he can bet on Prime Minister Narendra Modi to transform India including the “newly integrated” Kashmir region.

In his column titled “Don’t mess with Modi in Texas”, a reference to ‘Howdy, Modi!’ event, published in The New York Times, Cohen wrote, “The question, however, is whether Modi had any choice in Kashmir and whether, over time, the revocation of an article conceived as temporary breaks the Kashmiri logjam, pries open the stranglehold of corrupt local elites and offers a better future. I think it might.

Terming Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a “self-made man”, Cohen said, he would bet on him to transform India including the “newly integrated” Kashmir region.

“Modi will not turn back from his elimination of Kashmir’s autonomy. That phase of Indian history is over,” Cohen wrote.

Cohen focused on the two leaders and wrote: “Trump and Modi are both forceful, media-savvy politicians. But they are not alike. Modi, a self-made man from a poor family, is measured, ascetic, not driven by impulse. Trump was born on third base. He’s erratic, guided by the devouring needs of his ego. I’d bet on Modi to transform India, all of it, including the newly integrated Kashmir region.”

However, the columnist has also criticised detentions and communication restrictions imposed in Kashmir in the aftermath of the abrogation of Article 370. These restrictions since then have been gradually eased since then and the region has been limping back to normalcy.

“Still, by Kashmiri standards, bloodshed has been limited; and India insists the communications blackout was intended to block social-media incitement to more violence,” wrote Cohen.

The newspaper piece quoted Indian External Affairs Minister, S Jaishankar as saying that last 70 years did not work in Kashmir and it would “Einsteinian insanity” to do the same thing and expect a different.

“We revoked a temporary constitutional provision that slowed down development, created alienation, led to separatism, fed terrorism and ended up as a deadly national security problem. We know the last 70years did not work in Kashmir. It has bled us. It would be Einsteinian insanity to do the same thing and expect a different result,” Cohen quoted EAM.

Cohen said the reaction of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has been “wild” and that his bluff has been called out.

“Suggesting Modi has sympathy for the Third Reich, comparing him to a Fascist leader and stating that he may commit “genocide,” is to protest too much. Raising the possibility of nuclear war is reckless. All this suggests his bluff has been called,” wrote Cohen.

Cohen says it remain open questions whether Pakistan can ever transparently demonstrate that its intelligence services have stopped finding uses for radical Islamism in its various violent forms, remain open questions,” he said.

Cohen also said the US President could not “resist” an audience of more than 50,000, on the eve of an election year.

“Who could resist an audience of more than 50,000 Indian-Americans packed into a Texas football stadium? Not Donald Trump, on the eve of an election year, so he joined the “Howdy, Modi!” party here to proclaim, with the Indian prime minister, a great future of shared values and mutual reinforcement for the world’s two largest democracies,” he wrote.

“The President got his biggest cheer by saying the United States was determined to help protect India from the threat of “radical Islamic terrorism.”

As for Modi, he brought the house down when he declared that his “new India” was bidding farewell to open defecation, taxes that are an obstacle to jobs, 350,000 shell companies, 80 million fake names used to defraud the government and — wait for it — Article 370,” he wrote.

Saying that Pakistan’s covert backing of “militant groups” in Kashmir goes back decades, Cohen also mentioned the comments made by Prime Minister wherein he took a jibe at Pakistan.

“India’s actions within its boundaries are causing discomfort to some people who are unable to manage their own country. These people have put their hatred for India at the centre of their political agenda,” Cohen quoted PM Modi as saying.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Donald Trump addressed ‘Howdy Modi’ event at the NRG stadium.

On August 5, the Indian government had announced the abrogation of Article 370 and simultaneously the bifurcation of state into two Union Territories.

Since then, Pakistan and its leaders have gone on sabre-rattling with its leaders warning of nuclear war. Islamabad has also unsuccessfully tried to internationalise the issue.

India on its part has made it clear that the issue is strictly internal to India.

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