India Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s historic visit to Israel is notable on several fronts.
There’s a particularly shrewd insight into this transformation of relations between India and Israel by Nirpal Dhaliwal in Ha’aretz (yes, really). He writes:
While Jawarhalal Nehru, India’s first prime minister, fought for freedom from Britain, he and the wider political establishment that surrounded him were very much creations of the British and inheritors of their limited thinking.
A product of Harrow, Cambridge and London’s Inner Temple, Nehru swallowed the grandstanding logic of Britain’s bourgeois Left, adopting their ideas on many issues, from five-year economic plans to India’s foreign policy – including, of course, a coldness towards Israel, refusing diplomatic ties with a ‘colonial’ state and supporting the Palestinians instead.
This same pomposity compelled him to lecture the Americans on their moral failures while simultaneously asking them to give his people the food that his own policies could not provide: a tradition continued by his daughter, Indira Gandhi, who also enjoyed lecturing the world while failing to meet her population’s most basic needs.
Narendra Modi, however, is a very different character. He is neither the product of privilege nor of a British education, but the barefooted son of a chai-wallah who has clawed his way to the Prime Minister’s office, with a clearer and far more authentic understanding of his people’s needs than any Indian leader to date. For him, the national interest will always take priority over any political fashion.
Goodbye to the British Raj, eh…