Modi banner towers above. © David Danelo
India Calling
What Does A Modi Win Mean?

History’s largest election ended this week, results are to be released on May 16, and Narendra Modi looks set to win big. His victory will undoubtedly have consequences for U.S.-India relations.

Published on: May 15, 2014
David J. Danelo is the director of field research at the Foreign Policy Research Institute.
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  • Breif2

    “With Modi as India’s leader, a future Hillary Clinton presidency would present a worst-case scenario for U.S.-India relations.”

    Not to worry, Hillary will present him with a “reset button”. Voila! Instant comity. (On the downside, after a few years India will foment unrest in Pakistan and start annexing parts of it. But that will be Bush’s fault.)

    • WhoAmI

      So this Great American Mind Thinks , that India already struggling with 160 million Muslims like to annex Pakistan to add another 170 million muslims to its population what great Idea. Only american can deliver these kind marvels

  • carvak

    this “analysis” is a good example of pitfalls of india-us relationship. it will be dangerous to underestimate the complexity of india , to come to a conclusion after a superficial and erroneous reading of past and present and taking too seriously the american analogies .
    if the americans think india-us relation is very important, the least that can be expected is clear understanding of india. this article certainly lacks that . as a result the erroneous statements are too many to counter in a comment.

    • El Gringo

      A clear understanding of India…now there is an oxymoron if I have ever seen one.

      • Kalyan Chakravarthy A

        Did you just manage to look at yourself in mirror???

    • Kalyan Chakravarthy A

      Probably you are one of those few readers I came across who had a sensible thought process.

  • Aaja

    BJP(Modi) won the election today.
    …………India voted for change

  • Khandu Patel

    America’s treatment of Hindus and India will not be lost on Modi, at least I hope not. In many cases under Obama, that has been less than flattering. The withdrawal of visa to Modi and the treatment of the diplomat Khobragade are two cases in point. The American people as opposed to some in the establishment will find in Modi a friend. Modi should not be in a hurry to visit America. His overwhelming mission should be to deal with economic management. A great deal can be achieved by engaging India’s real friends who have already expressed an interest in partnering India. If America cannot match them, there will be little point in chasing America.

    • ShadrachSmith

      I would love to see India and America have closer ties, but India doesn’t want them. Our cultural values clash. The Indian characteristic sense of duty contrasts sharply with the American sense of responsibility. I will give an example and hope for constructive comment.


      The Bhagavad Gita begins with a man losing a crooked dice game, and then delivering up his wife and daughters to the cheat. Americans would see the man’s duty as anything but delivering his wife and daughters to the vile use of a bad man. An American’s responsibility to care for his wife and daughter far outweigh the duty to pay a gambling debt.


      Looking at the same thing and seeing different moral values makes it hard for Americans to understand Indian Hindu thought. Any constructive thoughts?

      • Khandu Patel

        The dice game you are talking about is in the Maharashtra, the Hindu epic in which Bhagavad Gita is incorporated. As far as the dice game is concerned, it is what Hindu kings did at the time, in much the same way as the British aristocracy dissipated their inherited wealth. The idea of a promise has strong religious and social sanction, but the Maharashtra story is one in which the execution of the promise was put to a stop by the intervention of the God, Krishna. I do not think any modern day Hindu could or would be allowed to do such a thing. This story is as old as Greek myths, and should be treated in the same way.

        I do not know what moral values you are talking about. Hindu family values more closely resemble Western Christian values than Muslim ones.

        • ShadrachSmith

          Thank you, that answers a point that has bothered me for years.

          I agree about the similarities in values, I want your opinion about why Russia has seemed a more natural fit for Hindu values than America. I have my own opinion but it may will be as ignorant as my question about the debt story. I would rather hear your opinion first.

          • Kalyan Chakravarthy A

            I am not a criticiser of US but if you dig the history, US was always intimidated by Russia. Watch your Hollywood anything to do with nuclear stuff the first suspect – Russians.

            With all due respect SSmith, US is nothing short of but a hypocrite country. Fact of the matter is they are concerned only with ways and means of retaining the super power status but not other issues of the world.

            What did US do in Iraq?

            Modi in one of his interviews stated that he will make America STAND IN A QUEUE to get Indian Visas.

            I am desperately waiting for that day.

            Before you counter my comment, please remember the DHARMA of the UNIVERSE – Nothing is ever built to last. HUMANITY PREVAILS OVER POWER.

          • Khandu Patel

            Civility in discourse please! S Smith has asked for explanations quite reasonably, and it is our duty to be as helpful as possible. It is certainly not my intention to shout S Smith down, and I hope the explanation takes us all forward in our understanding of each other. The objective of statesmanship is to achieve the goals of advancing our countries interests. It is in both our best interests to earn trust and respect. I expect America will come to understand that it is very important that Indians expect that of America, and that India would respond generously in return. All these talk about dharma is irrelevant, best to keep on track on the subject being discussed.

          • ShadrachSmith

            Your protection is kind, but unnecessary 🙂

          • ShadrachSmith

            Your enthusiasm exceeds your scholarship. You are welcome to the discussion, but you should listen more and speak less. No offense intended 🙂

          • Khandu Patel

            Hindu traditional values are as old as the Hindu civilisation which had its origins 10,000 years ago. Those traditional values were also shared by the West but which now follow modern relativistic morality. Russia stills swears by very similar traditional Judeo Christian moral ethics. Many in the West including American Christians are more comfortable with Russian and Hindu moral traditional values. As I see it, the loud voices of the modernists have drowned out the fact that there is very little difference between Russian, Hindu and American traditional values. Under American exceptionalism, all other value systems are questioned and to be exploited. The reverence that some in America’s establishment have for Arab and Muslim culture and which then denigrates Hindu and Russian values exploit them for geopolitical advantage. America’s policy on Ukraine is redefining global politics. I see no reason why India would be supportive of such policy which is exploiting for short term gain Russia’s difficulties with its heartland, when it so much important to have Russia as a bulwark against Chinese expansion.

          • ShadrachSmith

            Re: modern relativistic morality in America

            Tell me about it. My political philosophy is from Hayek more than anything else. His Constitution of Liberty is the best analysis of the proper functions of government I have ever found. America has drifted far from that. I am also a believer in Machiavelli’s cycle of government theory where newly founded republics become corrupted by factional interests which causes a slide into an even more corrupt Oligarchy which decays into the hereditary right to corruption known as an Aristocracy, which can only be restrained by the powers of a Monarchy. Which, if the people are lucky, is replaced by a Republic and the cycle starts again. The cycle is always different, but always the same. America is on the downhill slide from the highest peak of any civilization to date, but we are well on our way to a corrupted Oligarchy none the less.

            Re: American exceptionalism

            It is real, or was. I would observe that every human who walks the earth in some semblance of political freedom today does so because of the projection of American Foreign Policy by American Military might. That is a simple historical fact. I would say that the world is a better place because America exists. That is an exceptional achievement, as nations go.

            Each member of the family of nations shares a natural resentment against the strongest brother, and that is only natural. America began as a merchant nation, and that is our one true calling. As the premier merchant nation (at least for now) America’s only real foreign interest is keeping the shipping lanes open for honest commerce: and that my friend, is a thankless job 🙂

            Re: My theory of the difference

            Indians and the Rus share a value that the individual has strong duties to the state, think Hobbes’ Leviathan. Those Americans who still admire the principles of America’s founding (and we are fewer every day) see government as the collective organization of the individual right to lawful defense of their life, liberty and property.

            Because India feels more duty (Hindus that you are) to the government than Americans, they feel closer to the Rus, who have always loved a good tyrant. America is the example of the western rule: that which is not prohibited is allowed. That rule does not translate easily, so some in India translate it as does Balram Halwai in the White Tiger.

            Niall Ferguson’s book Civilization explores the difficulties of exporting the western rule as well as anybody. Dinesh D’Souza is another excellent author on this subject.

            I am pleased to find a scholarly mind with an interest in this subject because the world would be a better place with US-India poles, but I just don’t see a way to make that happen,

          • Khandu Patel

            India and America has civilisational differences which is equally the case as regards Russia and China. The American people were touched by the British overlordship of India and were able to empathise with Indians from their own colonial experience. When Nehru took India on the socialist path, the divide between India and America became a chasm. It is not as if Indians are any more socialists or capitalists. The global context provides the capitalist context for India. I am less likely to defer to traditional description of Hindus. Indian similarity with Russia is a useful one but has its limitations. The Russian tyrant shares a common genre with other European rulers eg Kaiser with the Roman Caesar. The American President was designed on the same lines. That is as European as one can get. India has thrown up Emperors but they only managed to exercise untrammelled authority over the entire India in 500 years of 10,000 years of history. The reality of Indian anarchy is unparalleled in the history of the world. Modi who has just been elected as Prime Minister has a role more akin to the original rajan role of the tribal chief rather than any tyrant. All this goes to show that a strong central authority is necessary, whether it is parliamentary or presidential.

          • Arush Thakur

            “I would now ask your opinion about why Russia has seemed a more natural
            fit for Hindu values than America.”.
            Just The 1971 war. Which Create great ties with Russia then Us

          • ShadrachSmith

            Fair point.

          • WhoAmI

            @SSmith : Even Nazis, British, Considered themselves exceptional, some how they are special to rule this world and tell others how to behave , Interesting to note US is in the same line.

  • SRM

    There is no mention of Lord Shiva in the Mahabharata. It is Lord Vishnu who is the central character of the Mahabharata. Lord Shiva is a part of the Ramayana or the Shiv Puran. Also, Lord Shiva in Hinduism represents destruction. It is Lord Vishnu who is the ‘Benefactor / Preserver’ and Lord Brahma who is the ‘Creator’.

  • Media Mentions

    I can’t wait to see how this turns out. No way is such a big change with a leader having so much authority in such an influential country going to end up lukewarm in the news. Judging by what I’ve read today (some favourite titles:, there is every reason to be optimistic, and I just hope that we won’t find ourselves disappointed.

  • Nikhil Roy

    This is the only article in a foreign media which perfectly read the Indian voter’s mind.I am not gay but I really love this author.

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