The conferment of the Seoul Peace Prize 2018 on Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a feather in his cap and a recognition of India’s growing clout in the comity of nations. It amounts to the endorsement of India’s growth story in the current context where India is rated as the world’s fastest growing economy.
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It is all too easy for the cynics to dismiss it as inconsequential in the climate of negativity that prevails in the country. But that the South Korean award committee called him the ‘perfect candidate for the award’ and made the choice after assessing over 100 candidates proposed by over 1,300 nominators from around the world for his contribution to high economic growth in India and world through ‘Modinomics’ is an index of his acceptability.
Modi is the 14th recipient of the biennial award and the first Indian to be chosen for it. Earlier recipients have included former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and renowned international relief organizations like Doctors Without Borders and Oxfam.
The conferment of the award on Modi is for dedication to improving international cooperation, raising global economic growth, accelerating the Human Development of the people of India by fostering economic growth in the world’s fastest growing large economy and furthering the development of democracy through anti-corruption and social integration efforts.”
The award also credited Modi’s contribution towards regional and global peace through a proactive foreign policy with countries around the world under the ‘Modi Doctrine’ and the ‘Act East Policy.’
Modi has often been criticised within the country for his various foreign tours in the over four years that he has been in office but the cold reality is that every visit of his has increased goodwill for India in the countries that he visited. He has struck a rapport with most leaders on the international stage and has forged ties with the Indian diaspora in the US, the UK, in Australia, Japan and other countries that he has visited.
The investment climate for induction of funds into India may not have been particularly rosy but a climate of goodwill has been created which is conducive to long-term economic exchanges and ties.
Although there’s a groundswell of dissatisfaction within the country on the hardships that the people were subjected to as a result of demonetisation, the Seoul awards committee lauded Modi’s initiatives to make the government cleaner through anti-corruption measures and demonetisation.
It is also a fact that unlike during UPA times when there was a plethora of corruption scandals that dogged the government and exposed its vulnerability, in the over four years of Modi rule there is relatively a cleaner environment in terms of corrupt practices that came into the open. Yet, there is indeed a long way to go in cleaning up public life, and in ensuring greater accountability.
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The culture of tax evasion and malpractices in circumventing compliance in various fields is still very strong. Hoarders and blackmarketeers still rule the roost and the politician-bureaucrat-criminal nexus continues to play havoc with poor enforcement of laws.
India is still abysmally placed in the human development indices internationally but there has been some improvement, though not a notable one, in some of the key indicators.
The Modi government’s work in the field of education still leaves a lot to be desired and even as agenda-setting goes on, it is imperative that the performance bar be raised.
Yet, the fact that India is the fastest growing economy in the world is cause enough for the country to celebrate and it would be mean and petty to deny that Modi has played a stellar role in giving a boost to the economy through his brand of economics which is labelled as ‘Modinomics.’