Thinking Citizen Blog — The Narendra Modi Election Surprise — What Should Every Thinking Citizen Know?

John Muresianu
5 min readJun 10, 2024

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Thinking Citizen Blog — Monday is Foreign Policy Day

Today’s Topic: The Narendra Modi Election Surprise — what should every thinking citizen know?

Narendra Modi has been in in power since 2014 and “has become only the second leader in Indian history to be serve a third term as prime minister.” However, the surprise in last week’s election was how slim his victory was. “Suddenly his aura of invincibility has been shattered.” (NYT)

Today, a few more details on the result of last week’s election, plus some background notes on Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, and south India.

What do you know about Indian politics, geography, and history that the rest of us should but probably don’t?

Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.

THE BIG SURPRISE WAS THAT HE LOST HALF HIS SEATS IN UTTAR PRADESH, THE LARGEST INDIAN STATE (population 240 million, largest of any Indian state, and the largest political subdivision in the world, with a population greater than all but four countries outside of India)

1. Uttar Pradesh is “considered to be the epicentre of Hindu nationalism, the epicentre of his political power.”

2. Why the loss of seats? First, “middling” economic performance. “The top 30% have doing quite well, but rural wages have been stagnant.”

3. A second factor was better coordination between Modi’s opponents: the Congress Party of Rahul Gandhi and the Samajwadi Party of Akhilesh Yadav.

NB: A third factor — “fatigue with Hindu Nationalism….Indian voters decided, look we can tolerate intolerance up to a point. After that it becomes a deal breaker.”

THE NUMBERS — A SUPER MAJORITY OF TWO THIRDS WAS EXPECTED BUT HIS PARTY, THE BJP ONLY WON 240 OUT OF 543

1. With its allies, the BJP has 293 seats.

2. The Indian National Congres won a total of 90 seats, a gain of 63.

3. The Smajwadi Party won 37 seats, a gain of 32.

NB: The last time a Prime Minister earned a third term was Jawaharlal Nehru (1889–1964), the “Architect of Modern India” who served from 1947 to 1964 (when he died of a heart attack). Nehru’s birthday is a national holiday called “Children’s Day” because of his fondness for children.

THE DYNAMIC SOUTHERN STATES OF INDIA HAVE OPPOSED MODI’S NATIONALISM

1. “Five states across southern India account for roughly 20% of the country’s population and 30% of its economy. They are the heartbeat of India’s manufacturing and high-tech sectors. They are ethnically diverse and proudly multilingual. They empower women with educational and employment opportunities and have a long history of progressive politics. “Not one of them is controlled by Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party — a stark rejection of its Hindu-nationalist agenda that enjoys wide support in northern India.”

2. Kerala: population 30 million, highest literacy rate (96%), highest life expectancy (77.3 years).

3.. Tamil Nadu: population: 72 million, literacy rate 80%, life expectancy 74 years. Karnataka: population: 61 million, literacy rate 75%, life expectancy, 69 years. Biggest city: Bangalore, 13 million metropolitan population, the fourth largest in India after Delhi (33 million) Mumbai (24 million) and Kolkata (15 million).

NB: Andra Pradesh: population 50 million, literacy, 67%, life expectancy, 70 years

FOOTNOTE — GUJARAT — Modi’s home base — an economic powerhouse

1. Prior to serving as Prime Minister of India, Modi he was the chief minister of Gujarat from 2001 to 2014.

2. Gujarat is a state on the northwestern coast of India with a population of 63 million. It has the highest exports of any Indian state and accounts for a third of all exports!

3. It has the longest coastline of any state in India thanks to the Kathiawar Peninsula to the northwest of which is the Gulf of Kutch and to the east, the Gulf of Khambat.

NB: To the northwest Gujarat borders the Sind province of Pakistan. To the northeast, the state of Rajasthan.

To the south the “union territory” of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu. To the southeast, Maharastra. To the east, Madhya Pradesh.

How Modi will lead with a coalition government, and what voters want

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2024/06/03/world/india-election-results

Narendra Modi — Wikipedia

Gujarat — Wikipedia

Kathiawar — Wikipedia

Uttar Pradesh — Wikipedia

Lok Sabha — Wikipedia

Children’s Day (India) — Wikipedia

Why voters in southern India are more resistant to Modi’s Hindu-centric politics

Karnataka — Wikipedia

Tamil Nadu — Wikipedia

Kerala — Wikipedia

Why south India outperforms the north

QUOTE OF THE MONTH — Have you made your own Bible yet?

“Make your own Bible. Select and collect all the words and sentences that in all your readings have been to you like the blast of a trumpet.”

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

My spin — then periodically review, re-rank, and exchange your list with those you love. I call this the “Orion Exchange” because seven is about as many as any human can digest at a time. Game?

ATTACHMENTS BELOW:

#1 A graphic guide to justice (9 metaphors on one page).

#2 “39 Songs, Prayers, and Poems: the Keys to the Hearts of Seven Billion People” — Adams House Senior Common Room Presentation, (11/17/20)

#3 Israel-Palestine Handout

NB: Palestine Orion (Decision) — let’s exchange Orions, let’s find Rumi’s field (“Beyond all ideas of right and wrong, there is a field. Meet me there” Rumi, 13 century Persian Sufi mystic)

Here is a link to the last four years of posts organized by theme: (including the book on foreign policy)

PDF with headlines — Google Drive

YOUR TURN

Please share the coolest or most important thing you learned in the last week, month, or year related to foreign policy.

Or, even better, the coolest or most important thing you learned in our life related to foreign policy.

This is your chance to make someone else’s day. And to consolidate in your memory something important you might otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply than otherwise about something dear to your heart. Continuity is the key to depth of thought.

The prospect of imminent publication, like hanging and final exams, concentrates the mind. A useful life long habit.

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John Muresianu

Passionate about education, thinking citizenship, art, and passing bits on of wisdom of a long lifetime.