The Met Office predicted a dust storm and thundershowers in the capital on 26 May. But only after 8 pm, the forecast said. Halfway through the oathtaking ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan, the heat got to Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. Last week, he anxiously tweeted about not being invited to the Narendra Modi show. On the muggy Monday evening, he wished for winter elections so that such open-air gala could be more tolerable, only to be snubbed by Kiran Bedi that the weather was pretty pleasant in Delhi, thank you.
Not everyone rattled out the oath as swiftly as Sushma Swaraj, who appeared to know it by heart. So, the president decided to speed things up by asking his secretary Omita Paul not to wait for every minister to finish signing the registers before calling the next one to take oath. “You announce. They will take time,” he prompted. It helped. The ceremony was over by 7.30 pm, well within the Met deadline. But the elements held even afterwards.
Every now and then, chants of “Jai Sri Ram” broke the protocol. For a change, superstars and celebrities were ushered to the back rows. A restless Salman Khan decided to put on his shades. Sunil Gavaskar stared motionless. Smriti Irani flaunted gorgeous lotus prints on her saree. Sadhvi Ritambhara kept smiling to herself and sang along as the brass band played the national anthem. The two Ambanis kept their distance. And Rahul Gandhi was estranged from his mother who sat next to former president Pratibha Patil in the front row.
By the time all 46 ministers took oath in the name of god, with 3,000 guests in attendance and millions watching live on television, the Indian polity had taken a pivotal turn. In his stately avatar, the new prime minister decided to swap his trademark Modi kurta for a more dapper affair. But that was a minor recalibration, given his masterstrokes of moves to pull off a grand coronation ceremony, with the attendance of SAARC neighbours — a celebration of democracy if you will — to appoint a matter-of-fact Cabinet that bore his signature all the way. | Read More>
No plan will work unless it is prefaced by a sharp cut in prevailing interest rates
Narendra Modi has been swept to power by a wave of hope larger than any that India has ever witnessed before. Never before has any party obtained an absolute majority in Parliament without winning at least 40 percent of the vote. The BJP has broken this barrier decisively by winning 52 percent of the seats with just over 30 percent of the vote in the 2014 General Election.
Modi is conscious of the trust the people have placed in him. And so far, he has not set a foot wrong. He has set up a relatively small ‘super Cabinet’ to manage groups of complementary, or interrelated, ministries and, by inviting Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to New Delhi for his swearing-in, along with other SAARC heads of government (as well as Afghanistan and Mauritius), he has sent out an unmistakable message that the Centre is back in control of foreign policy, and that it is the parliamentary and not the organisational wing of the ruling party that will control decision-making. | Read More>
New vision is likely to be pragmatic, not dogmatic; and practical, not ideological
Intrigued by India’s enigmatic new leader, the world is anxious about the foreign policy implications of someone who has held no national post, will lead the government of a billion-strong, nuclear-armed country with the world’s third-biggest economy in purchasing power parity ($5.4 trillion), and has spelt out his economic agenda but not his foreign policy priorities. It should stop worrying. Narendra Modi’s foreign policy is likely to be pragmatic, not dogmatic; practical, not ideological; and reciprocally assertive or accommodating.
The nature and margin of his victory gives him a rare opportunity to upend former New York governor Mario Cuomo’s oft-quoted 1985 aphorism. Having campaigned in prose, Modi could conduct his foreign policy in elegant poetry that combines robust defence of some traditional interests with abandonment of shibboleths past their use-by date and bold initiatives to break out of stagnant stalemates on others. | Read More>