14 May, 2017
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Exclusive Interview With Narendra Modi: ‘We Are Natural Allies’
Courtesy: Time magazine
Following are the excerpts from, the exclusive interview of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with TIME editor Nancy Gibbs, Asia editor Zoher Abdoolcarim and South Asia bureau chief Nikhil Kumar in New Delhi.
It is important to know what the PM Modi talked about his ambitions for India, about the global war on terrorism to what personally moves him.
On what he has learned so far about running India: The biggest challenge was that I was new to the federal government structures. Different departments tend to work in silos—each department seems to [be] a government in itself. My effort has been to break these silos down, [so that] everybody … looks at a problem in a collective manner. I see the federal government not as an assembled entity but as an organic entity.
On how he sees the U.S.: We are natural allies … [It’s not] what India can do for the U.S., what the U.S. can do for India … The way we should look at it is what India and the U.S. can together do for the world … strengthening democratic values all over.
On India’s sometimes tense relations with China: For nearly three decades there has been, by and large, peace and tranquility on the India-China border. Not a single bullet has been fired for over a quarter-century. Both countries are showing great maturity and a commitment to economic cooperation.
On the possibility of the Taliban’s returning to power in Afghanistan: The drawdown of U.S. troops is, of course, an independent decision of the American government, but in the interest of a stable government in Afghanistan, it would be important to hold consultations with the Afghan government to understand their security needs as the U.S. troops draw down.
On tackling the threat of terrorism: We should not look at terrorism from the nameplates—which group they belong to, what is their geographical location, who are the victims. These individual groups or names will keep changing. Today you are looking at the Taliban or ISIS; tomorrow you might be looking at another name.
We should pass the U.N.’s Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism. At least it will clearly establish whom you view as a terrorist and whom you don’t. We need to delink terrorism from religion—to isolate terrorists who use this interchange of arguments between terrorism and religion.
Several countries used to see terrorism as a law-and-order situation of individual countries. We should see it as something that is a fight for human values.
On whether economic reforms have gone far and fast enough: [This time] last year, nothing seemed to be happening in the government. There seemed to be a complete policy paralysis … There was no leadership. My government’s coming to power should be viewed in the context of the developments of the 10 years of the last government vs. 10 months of my government … The whole world is, once again, excited and enthusiastic about India and the opportunities that India represents. Whether it is the IMF, the World Bank, Moody’s or other credit agencies, they are all saying in one voice that India has a great economic future.
On whether he would like to have the kind of authoritarian power that China’s leader has: India is a democracy; it is in our DNA. As far as the different political parties are concerned, I firmly believe that they have the maturity and wisdom to make decisions that are in the best interests of the nation. So if you were to ask me whether you need a dictatorship to run India, No, you do not. Whether you need a powerful person who believes in concentrating power, No, you do not. If you were to ask me to choose between democratic values and wealth, power, prosperity and fame, I will very easily and without any doubt choose democratic values.
On India’s religious diversity, which some citizens believe is under siege: My philosophy, the philosophy of my party and the philosophy of my government is Sabka saath, sabka vikas—“Together with all, progress for all.” Take everybody together and move toward inclusive growth. Wherever a [negative] view might have been expressed [about] a minority religion, we have immediately negated that. So far as the government is concerned, there is only one holy book, which is the constitution of India. The unity and the integrity of the country are the topmost priorities. All religions and all communities have the same rights, and it is my responsibility to ensure their complete and total protection. My government will not tolerate or accept any discrimination based on caste, creed and religion.
On what influences him: [Chokes and tears up.] This touches my deepest core. I was born in a very poor family. I used to sell tea in a railway coach as a child. My mother used to wash utensils and do lowly household work in the houses of others to earn a livelihood. I have seen poverty very closely. I have lived in poverty. As a child, my entire childhood was steeped in poverty. For me, poverty, in a way, was the first inspiration of my life … I decided that I would not live for myself but would live for others.
Coming up… from Time Magazine
- Full Interview of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
- How Narendra Modi Wants to Change India
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