Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a grasp of populist politics, has introduced himself in many alternative guises — from a humble tea vendor to an ascetic who meditates in caves. Now his newest incarnation is as a rugged crusading environmentalist, which his authorities is claiming as a publicity coup even because it faces mounting scrutiny over its dealing with of Kashmir and the financial system.
In an hour-long episode on Monday evening of survival specialist Bear Grylls’s wildly well-liked tv sequence Man vs. Wild, Mr Modi was seen trekking by way of an Indian nationwide park the place tigers prowl, carrying a self-made weapon and floating throughout a river on a makeshift raft.
All through the present, Mr Modi outlined his imaginative and prescient for India’s position in environmental conservation and combating local weather change, instructed tales about his humble origins and revelled in displaying off his fearlessness to Mr Grylls, a former British particular forces soldier.
“You’re crucial man in India. My job is to maintain you alive . . . You don’t wish to be unarmed with a tiger,” Mr Grylls mentioned, as the 2 crafted a makeshift spear by fastening a knife to the tip of a wood pole earlier than setting off into the grasslands by foot.
“In your security, I am going to preserve this with me,” a grinning Mr Modi retorted, taking the spear from him earlier than occurring to say: “You need to by no means be afraid of nature.”
It’s turning into clear [Mr Modi’s Bharatiya Janata party] is in search of to construct a character cult round him
The looks on the worldwide present, which Mr Modi and his get together have promoted extensively because it was introduced two weeks in the past, is an extra increase to the prime minister’s rigorously cultivated model, highlighting the communications abilities which have helped flip him into one among India’s hottest post-independence leaders.
Mr Modi framed his look as a possibility to lift consciousness about India’s wildlife and the necessity to shield it in opposition to forces resembling local weather change. He spoke at size on the topic however gave few coverage particulars. He ended the present by praying with Mr Grylls.
“It was a proud second to see PM Modi share our civilisational values on setting conservation, coexistence & defending our wealthy wild life with the world,” Amit Shah, India’s dwelling minister, wrote on Twitter.
By a mix of all the things from public yoga shows and meditating to fiery speeches, Mr Modi has linked with massive numbers of Indians who see him as a powerful however sober chief. His unconventional however efficient publicity methods have drawn comparisons with leaders resembling Russia’s Vladimir Putin, well-known for his shirtless outside photograph appearances.
His detractors say he leads with a hardline Hindu ideology that has made life harder for minorities and that he doesn’t ship on a lot of his guarantees.
“It’s turning into clear [Mr Modi’s Bharatiya Janata party] is in search of to construct a character cult round him,” Vivan Marwaha, founding father of enterprise and political intelligence advisory Vantage Analytics, wrote on Twitter. Regardless of his flawed environmental file, Mr Marwaha continued, “he will probably be projected as a inexperienced saviour”.
Considerations a few slowing financial system have additionally clouded the early months of Mr Modi’s second time period, with the newest figures displaying gross home product development dropping to the bottom degree in 5 years at 5.eight per cent.
Fashionable help for Mr Modi was reaffirmed in Could, nonetheless, when he defied expectations by profitable nationwide elections with a good bigger margin than this primary victory in 2014.
The Bear Grylls episode aired at a time when his authorities is underneath worldwide scrutiny for its determination to revoke the autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir, India’s solely Muslim-majority state that had been granted freedoms together with the power to move its personal legal guidelines.
India has put a lot of Kashmir into lockdown and arrested a whole bunch within the course of. Its actions have prompted escalating stress with neighbouring Pakistan, which additionally claims Kashmir as its personal, and accuses India of belligerence. Mr Modi’s authorities says it’s righting a historic improper that may assist the state combine and develop.
For all his savoir faire as a communicator, Mr Modi’s determination to seem on Man vs. Wild dangers backfiring. Native media have extensively reported that Mr Modi was filming the present with Mr Grylls within the distant Jim Corbett Nationwide Park in northern India when a Pakistan-based militant group bombed an Indian convoy of paramilitary police in Kashmir, killing about 40 individuals, in February.
India’s opposition criticised Mr Modi for not responding swiftly sufficient to the assault, which introduced the 2 nations to the brink of armed battle within the weeks that adopted.