Updated March 31st, 2024 at 10:54 IST

3 Reasons why PM Modi is Popular, according to The Economist

The publication cited three factors - class politics, economics and elite admiration for strongman rule as the reasons

Reported by: Business Desk
PM Modi in Ahmedabad | Image:ANI

The Modi Magic: Elites globally have a tendency to dislike populist leaders, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi is witnessing growing support among educated voters, according to international publication The Economist.

The publication cited three factors - class politics, economics and elite admiration for strongman rule as the reasons, in an article titled 'Why India's elites back Narendra Modi.”


Referring to the phenomenon as 'the Modi paradox', The Economist said Prime Minister Modi is often grouped with right-wing populists in the league of Donald Trump.

Modi, on the other hand, who is likely to claim electoral win a third time, is no ordinary strongman.


"In most places, support for anti-establishment populists, such as Trump, and policies such as Brexit tends to be inversely correlated with university education. Not in India. Call it the Modi paradox. It helps explain why he is the most popular leader of any major democracy today," it noted.

The article cited a Gallup survey to convey that in America, only 26 per cent of respondents with a university education gave their assent to Trump, as against 50 per cent of those without, but Modi swims against this tide.


The article also referred to a Pew Research survey, saying in 2017, 66 per cent of Indians with no more than a primary school education said they had a "very favourable" view of Modi, but this number reached 80 per cent 
among Indians who had atleast some level of higher education.

A Lokniti survey after the 2019 general election found that around 42 per cent of Indians with a degree backed PM Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party, as against 35 per cent of primary-school education holders.


Around the same time, The Economist said, PM Modi's triumph among the educated class is not at the cost of support among other groups.

Modi’s biggest inroads have been among lower-class voters, akin to any other populist leaders, according to Neelanjan Sircar, a political scientist at the Centre for Policy Research, who was quoted as saying in the article.


Even as Modi’s support pattern is comparable to other countries with less-educated or rural people having shifted towards the right, PM Modi has also been able to elevate his support among the educated unlike several of his counterparts abroad.

Economics was a major factor cited in the article, with India's strong GDP growth, even if unequally distributed, is driving a fast growth in the volume and capital of the Indian upper-middle class.


The Congress party was entitled to robust support among the upper-middle class during the fast-growing late 2000s, which took a slowdown as well as a row of corruption scandals in the 2010s to change things, it said.

"But Modi's tenure has increased India's economic and geopolitical standing in the world, too," it added.
Also, some believe a dose of strongman rule is exactly what India requires, pointing to China and the East Asian tigers.


Muscular governance can remove obstacles to economic growth, as per these experiences, it said.

However, the Prime Minister’s elite support base could be deterred by continued state weaponisation, as in the case of (Delhi Chief Minister Arvind) Kejriwal since most elites still say they believe in democracy.


It further said that elites feel that they will continue to back Modi until a credible alternative comes up.
"Most elites have lost faith in Congress and its leader, Rahul Gandhi, who is seen as dynastic and out of touch," it said.

A senior Congress official on the condition of anonymity said in the article that PM Modi "has taken our best ideas" such as distributing welfare payments digitally, and "executed them better" than his party could have done.


"A stronger opposition is probably the only thing that will cause India's elites to abandon Modi. But for now, that is nowhere in sight," it concluded.

India will go into voting for electing a new government in seven phases between April 19 and June 1, with the results to be announced on June 4.


(With PTI Inputs)


Published March 31st, 2024 at 10:54 IST