With reference to “Note ban and the allure of authoritarian populism” (January 11), Ashoka Mody and Michael Walton begin by stating that “India’s demonetisation has the surreal quality of the post-truth world”. But the writers themselves indulge in some fact-free fantasising when they call the US President-elect Donald Trump Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “friend”. Despite the surface similarities such as the use of Twitter and a penchant for addressing people directly, as cited by the writers, there is no evidence as yet of anything more than a simple, almost pro-forma, acknowledgement of each other by the two leaders. India-born Trump supporters such as Shalabh Kumar have expressed a hope that Modi and Trump meet soon, but that has not elicited any response so far from either of their entourages. In fact, since Modi has effusively referred to outgoing President Obama as “my friend Barack” more than once, it seems unlikely that he will be in a hurry to embrace Trump. That may still happen, as nations and their leaders famously have only permanent interests and not friends or enemies, but to claim Modi-Trump “friendship” as reality is premature.
The writers say that Modi’s “attack on the rich is an expression of solidarity with the poor” in the post-truth world. It beggars one’s imagination to think that Trump, in a post-truth or any other world, would ever attack the rich, leave alone seek the image of “confiscating the ill-gotten wealth of the rich and distributing it to the poor” as the writers think Modi does.
Since the writers are keen to seek possible overlaps between Modi and Trump, I am surprised they do not mention the most obvious and undeniable one: November 8 was the day of Modi’s unprecedented decision on demonetisation and Trump’s improbable victory. Did the two “friends” plan this coincidence, one wonders!
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