While writing about India's recent power crisis, the WSJ has profusely praised Gujarat's chief minister’s actions on the state’s electricity situation. However Narendra Modi is shunned by the US state department and still cannot get visa from the US
Your true colours emerge only in crisis, they say. The recent power crisis across North and East states in India has drawn lot of criticism from domestic as well as international experts and press. Wall Street Journal (WSJ), in an article, criticised Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his ways in the past to deal with power shortage.
It says: "If the past few months are any guide, Manmohan Singh will respond by ordering more coal to be shovelled into power plants for generation. The Prime Minister believes the problem is a shortage of coal for thermal plants, which provide the bulk of supply."
However, tucked away at the end of the blog are startling comments. Speaking about India's power situation, suddenly the article shower praises on Bihar's chief minister (CM) Nitish Kumar and Gujarat CM Narendra Modi. For Nitish Kumar, it says, "Bihar, previously a byword for poverty but now on its way up under the leadership of Nitish Kumar, last week moved to privatize power distribution in its biggest city."
The Journal was even more profuse in its praise for Narendra Modi. “But perhaps the greatest display of political gumption and policy creativity comes from Gujarat in the west. Chief Minister Narendra Modi's first victory was curbing the theft of power, one reason for transmission and distribution losses.” As Wall Street Journal noted, “Mr. Modi's real innovation, however, has been to set up a parallel distribution network to sell farmers electricity at competitive prices. Consumers can still access the old grid at subsidized prices, but they're increasingly turning to the new one for stable supply.”
According to the paper “Now Gujarat is the only Indian state that generates more power than it consumes. Consumer choice helps wean people off a de facto entitlement so that subsidized electricity can be phased out.” The Journal laments that while not all Chief Ministers will be as bold as Mr. Modi, but believes that India's states are the new laboratories for reform.
The paper says leaders like Narendra Modi offer a silver lining to the dark economic scenario. “The biggest lesson from the great blackout is that Delhi's failures don't necessarily doom the economy. Mr. Singh's fecklessness may deprive India of power today, but federalism gives the likes of Mr. Modi the ability to take initiative. For India to overcome its slump, the states need all the power they can get.”
It is indeed ironic that Wall Street Journal, as mainstream American establishment as one can get is profusely praising Modi. After all, the US state department has a policy of not allowing Narendra Modi to enter the US. In 2005 Narendra Modi was denied diplomatic visa to the US. In addition to this visa denial, his already granted B-1/B-2 visa was also revoked, under a section of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which makes any foreign government official who was responsible or "directly carried out, at any time, particularly severe violations of religious freedom" ineligible for the visa.
The Gujarat CM was also featured on the covers of the Time magazine. But even it did not change the stand of the US. In April, a spokesperson for the state department said, “The US position on the visa issue has not changed at all. If we do respond, it will be along familiar lines”.
It remains to be seen whether the US political and officialdom continue to shun Modi as he takes the centre stage in Indian politics.