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Secularism, COVID Handling: Modi's Feature on TIME's List a Darker Shade of Grey

As PM Narendra Modi featured in the TIME's 100 list for the 5th time, Fareed Zakaria has penned a scathing review.

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"Pushing India away from secularism, mishandling the COVID-19 pandemic, eroding the rights of India's Muslims..." - TIME magazine's 100 Most Influential People 2021 list is here and the mention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the list for the fifth time is now in a darker shade of grey.

Journalist Fareed Zakaria, who penned Modi's feature, has gone from calling him a 'charismatic leader' in 2014 when he first appeared on the list, to now a leader who has "pushed the country away from secularism and toward Hindu nationalism.”

Zakaria wrote and I quote: "In addition to eroding the rights of India’s Muslim minority, Modi’s government has imprisoned and intimidated journalists who shine a light on its abuses and has passed laws crippling India’s thousands of NGOs and advocacy groups. It was responsible for 70% of the Internet shutdowns on the planet in 2020."

Zakaria also wrote that despite mishandling the COVID-19 pandemic and the death toll being much higher that what is reported, while Modi's approval ratings did take a dent, they still stand at a high number of 71%.

But Modi is not the only Indian on the list.

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Mamata Banerjee

Mamata Banerjee has also featured on the list this time. Featured in 2012 earlier and now in 2021, the 'street-fighter' tag has stuck with Didi. Veteran journalist Barkha Dutt, who penned her profile, said that Banerjee “has become the face of fierceness in Indian politics" and that she “stood like a fortress against the expansionist ambition of Narendra Modi, a seemingly invincible Prime Minister” "despite the money and men of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party”.

She said that Banerjee does not just lead the Trinamool Congress, “she is the party” and her “street-fighter spirit and self-made life in a patriarchal culture” set her apart.

Adar Poonawalla

The vaccine baron has been described by journalist Abhishyant Kidangoor as somebody who “sought to meet the moment” from the beginning of the pandemic and that his company's assurance of vaccines was the “backbone of the plan for global vaccine access.”

“But over the course of this year, a series of issues – a fire at his plant in Pune, India; trouble securing necessary raw materials; and a vaccine export ban amid India’s second wave of Covid-19 – slowed his ambitions, and left many countries scrambling to find other sources of the vaccines,” Kidangoor wrote, adding that the pandemic is not over yet, and Poonawalla could still help end it.
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Xi Jinping

TIME magazine got the former Mongolian President and PM Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj to write about Xi Jinping, who had this to say about the Chinese President – “Jinping is charismatic in person and dangerous and autocratic on the world stage. He can be benign and evil."

While saying that Jinping lacks arrogance and treats world leaders as his equals, Elbegdorj also said that he has "no illusions about President Xi’s policy as a whole" and that he "totally disagrees with what the Chinese Communist Party is doing to ethnic minorities in China."

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar

Vetaran Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid has described Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar as somebody who the Taliban sees as "a charismatic military leader and a deeply pious figure."

Crediting him for the amnesty offered to members of the former regime and the lack of bloodshed when the Taliban entered Kabul, Rashid says Baradar is "a quiet, secretive man who rarely gives public statements or interviews, but nonetheless Baradar represents a more moderate current within the Taliban, the one that will be thrust into the limelight to win Western support and desperately needed financial aid. The question is whether the man who coaxed the Americans out of Afghanistan can sway his own movement."

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Joe Biden

US President Joe Biden has been showered praises upon by one of his contemporaries and former presidential election candidate Bernie Sanders. The US senator said that he and Biden might have strong disagreements, but acknowledged that Biden is thinking big "in the midst of a horrific pandemic, economic collapse, grotesque levels of income and wealth inequality, racial tension, extreme-weather disasters and dangerous attacks on American democracy."

Perhaps the issue went to the press before Biden’s leadership during the US’s messy exit from Afghanistan could be commented upon.

Donald Trump

Former TIME Editor-in-Chief Nancy Gibbs came down heavily on the former US president, comparing him to Richard Nixon and calling him "a menace to the Constitution." That scathing take leaves little more to be said.

The other personalities in the TIME 2021 list include… Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, actresses Kate Winslett, Scarlett Johansson, former pop sensation Britney Spears, sportspersons, Naomi Osaka, Simone Biles, Apple chief Tim Cook, and naturally Elon Musk.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Published: 
Edited By :Padmashree Pande
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