Tue. Dec 7th, 2021

You claim in the main article “Modi is humiliated by India’s farmers” (FT View, 24 November) that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “face has tarnished his image as an undisturbed strongman”.

In fact, the opposite has happened. His U-turn on farm laws proved, if proof was ever needed, that he was not an elected despot or an authoritarian prime minister, but a humble man with an ear held firmly to the ground.

Martin Wolf, in an opinion piece in 2019 (“Chosen despots feed our fear and anger”, 24 April 2019) referred to Modi as an elected despot, because in his opinion, elected despots come to power when the democracy they represent happens to be weak or on the verge of collapse. But Indian democracy expanded, not diminished when Modi came to power – India began to liberalize its democracy in the 1980s, first by reversing many of the illiberal constitutional changes that took place during the 1970s state of emergency, and then by the level of management at town and municipal level. All this shows that the trajectory of Indian democracy was pointing upwards, not downwards when Modi won power.

Modi is a relatively inexperienced prime minister and thus may have shown many dictatorial streaks. But to demonize him with dubious evidence, as Wolf did in 2019 or the FT usually does, must ultimately give him more and not less credibility.

Simren Kaur
Jalandhar City, Punjab, India

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