Modi's 'shame' claim sparks backlash in India

By AFP
Published: May 19, 2015
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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivers a speech during a South Korea-India CEO forum in Seoul on May 19, 2015. PHOTO AFP

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivers a speech during a South Korea-India CEO forum in Seoul on May 19, 2015. PHOTO AFP

NEW DELHI: India’s nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi sparked a social media backlash on Tuesday after claiming his compatriots had once felt “ashamed” of their country.

Modi made the comments in speeches to members of the Indian diaspora during his recent visits to Shanghai and Seoul, and they were intended to illustrate how far the country had come.

But many Indians interpreted the comments as unpatriotic and took to social media to lambast the Hindu nationalist leader, using the hashtag #ModiInsultsIndia.

“The first PM who openly admits that he is ashamed of being an Indian. Proud of Modiji,” tweeted user Scotchy Shashtri.

Read: India’s Modi arrives in South Korea on investment hunt

“Ppl may dislike many things happening in India. Go abroad for better opportunities. But they’re NOT ashamed of being Indian,” read another tweet by user Tinu Cherian Abraham.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) and South Korean President Park Geun-Hye (L) attend at a South Korea-India CEO forum in Seoul on May 19, 2015. PHOTO AFP

Modi’s comments, made during an official tour of East Asia, were a rare misstep by the Indian leader who has won praise for his often populist speeches.

“Earlier, you felt ashamed of being born Indian. Now you feel proud to represent the country,” he told hundreds of Indians in Shanghai.

After winning the first outright majority by any leader in three decades on May 16, 2014, Modi vowed “to make the 21st century India’s century” and turn it into a driver of the global economy.

Read: Visit to Asian giant: More than just diplomacy

The latest figures show India’s economy growing faster than China’s, with the IMF predicting expansion of 7.5 percent this year.

A spokesman for the opposition Congress party Sanjay Jha called Modi’s comments a “national disgrace” in a tweet.

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Reader Comments (30)

  • Pity
    May 19, 2015 - 5:44PM

    He should be appreciated for speaking the truth. Recommend

  • Naeem Khan
    May 19, 2015 - 7:14PM

    Come on guys, it was taken out of context, give him some credit for advancing India’s positive image. I wonder if some one in foreign press will ever ask him about the massacre of 2000 Muslims in Gujarat under his watch while he was the Chief Minister. It is amazing this guy is strutting around the world and preaching others to co-exist. Where are my dear Inidan trolls now.Recommend

  • Bobb Mack
    May 19, 2015 - 9:25PM

    Regardless of what he said he is quite an intelligent and mostly a tactful leader. No surprise that when he was on his way to China the media there described him as playing tricks!Recommend

  • Timorlane
    May 19, 2015 - 10:12PM

    He’s right. Now indians take pride in having elected as their

    prime minister a a chief minister who organized and led

    massacre of thousand of innocent unarmed people

    including infants and women in fascist hindu state

    gujarat Recommend

  • Sachha sardar
    May 19, 2015 - 10:59PM

    Dear all,
    This guy modi, sleeps for 5 hours a day. Works on holidays. Make other work. He has no corruption charges. Wants to realise a dream of resurgent india. Have never referred of caste, creed or religion. Always said 1.25 bil indians. Guys give him some credit for that.Recommend

  • shahid
    May 19, 2015 - 11:14PM

    He just spoke truth. No shame in accepting the bitter truth. Recommend

  • Sam
    May 19, 2015 - 11:20PM

    Modi got more deals done in 1 week in China and Korea than what manmohan Singh did in 10 years. These stories are just red herrings that are greedily gobbled by people who do not have an analytic mind.Recommend

  • Azi
    May 19, 2015 - 11:54PM

    They still are ashamed to be honest with you. And no matter how many people show their “backlash”, just have a look at the facts. In US, Indians are dying to get green cards/ citizenship/ H1s be it legally or illegally. Even Indian IT firms are trying their best to get these people out of the country by illegally filing for H1s/ green cards which was busted and resulted in a fine by US immigration. Out of all the nationalities that apply for work/ live in US, 70% are Indians.

    They show their nationalization while at the same time dying to leave the country, its ironic.Recommend

  • amartya Indian
    May 20, 2015 - 12:00AM

    he is being misquoted here. people who are commenting here should first watch the whole video of hi shanghai speech.Recommend

  • Engineer
    May 20, 2015 - 12:38AM

    @Timorlane Yes we are proud of him. Recommend

  • unbeleivable
    May 20, 2015 - 1:43AM

    Chest thumping nationalism tends to ignore the inconvenient – like whether the majority of the population doesn’t have access to toilets and clean drinking water. I suspect Modi is going to try and fix that .. if so he deserves Kudos.Recommend

  • qwerty
    May 20, 2015 - 2:22AM

    While #ModiInsultsIndia was among the top worldwide trends, a counter-offensive under #ModiIndiasPride is top trend in India..while ModiInsultsIndia is now INVISIBLE IN INDIARecommend

  • Gullu Badsha
    May 20, 2015 - 3:25AM

    @Sachha sardar:
    He has done what he wanted to do before being elected as PM. He can never get rid of the blood stains on his hands.Recommend

  • Gullu Badsha
    May 20, 2015 - 3:27AM

    @Sam:
    What does your analytic mind say about the blood on his hands.Recommend

  • Vivek
    May 20, 2015 - 4:39AM

    I am proud Indian and am always thankful to god on being born in India, Modiji might be talking for himself but at least not for me that is for sure. Recommend

  • Kishan
    May 20, 2015 - 7:50AM

    People talking about 2000 Muslims killed in Gujarat but not talking about 100 odd people burnt alive on train by 500 to 1000 Muslim in godhra which started the roits in Gujarat. Why they forget about it and just want to remember after roits. Recommend

  • Sam
    May 20, 2015 - 8:12AM

    @gullu – my analytic mind tells me that the blood on his hands pales in comparison to the blood on the hands of the leaders who are responsible for the deaths in Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Syria, Egypt, Palestine & so on. Recommend

  • the eddy
    May 20, 2015 - 8:56AM

    @unbeleivable:
    Chest thumping nationalism also makes people forget the issues in their own country like Minority exodus , persecution , Majority’s terrorism etc. & make them obsessed with what the Other country’s PM is doing or that other country’s internal matters.Recommend

  • the eddy
    May 20, 2015 - 8:58AM

    @Gullu Badsha:
    I was wondering why blood of Muslims is more important than the blood of non-Muslims killed by Muslims.Recommend

  • Deepak
    May 20, 2015 - 9:13AM

    @Sachha sardar:
    Every Indian PM works hard, and btw Manmohan Singh too never took a single holiday in his entire tenure of 10 years, so he isn’t doing something which his predecessors didn’t.

    How dare he talk about “National Pride”?

    This country is made by our greatest heroes, Right from Vivekanada, Bhagat Singh to Sardar Patel and Abdul Kalam, this to me is an insult to our heroes. Our love for India has nothing to do with this Modi!

    He can do whatever he wants, but stay away from something like this, we will humiliate him every time he does that! We respect his office, because we respect our motherland, and the day this ungrateful talks about motherland, we will hit back hard reminding him of what brought him where he is!Recommend

  • hellboy
    May 20, 2015 - 10:54AM

    @Naeem Khan: First you need to find out who started the riot by burning entire rail coach
    of pilgrims to ayodhya before talking about victim hood.Recommend

  • hellboy
    May 20, 2015 - 10:57AM

    @Timorlane: one sided view will take you nowhere .first you need to check who started the riot by burning alive the pilgrims to the ayodhya bounded rail coach by locking from outside.
    Innocent man women children were burned alive by mob of religion of peace and mercy.Recommend

  • Timorlane
    May 20, 2015 - 11:17AM

    @Vivek: Your gratefulness doesn’t seem to have been shared by

    more than 3000 unarmed innocent children, women and men

    charred to death in Gujarat by the fascist hindu terrorists

    massacring under the practical and

    vivid patronage of ModiRecommend

  • Ibrar
    May 20, 2015 - 5:56PM

    @Deepak:

    Regardless of how many heroes you have had what the prime minister has said was inappropriate and unjustly demoralising. If he truly believes that he is never ashamed of his own humble past he must promote the spirit that every Indian is proud of his country. However I think he must have some anger about his own poverty stricken origins and some element of associated shame which comes out in his full mouthed rhetorical addresses.

    Mannmohan Singh was a real gentleman who avoided boasting and had a more realistic vision. He was always calm and unruffled even when provoked and had a well thought out and balanced approach to issues including his true desire of peace with neighbours.Recommend

  • Truth Bites
    May 21, 2015 - 3:00AM

    Reality bites….. I’m from India settled overseas but listening to his comments it’s bit overrated on his part. First of all count how many Indians have left foreign lands for greener pastures in India. And out of those how many of them have truly adjusted to everyday living wars even getting highly paid. Were those guys were naturalized citizens or were on temporary visas. I can’t recall anyone in my circle who has left for India leaving their nice jobs in West. Having said that Mr. Modi must be counting on a select few like Amartya Sen who was recently ousted as a Vice Chancellor of an Indian University.

    Moreover a queue outside foreign embassies in India & queue inside Indian consulates in foreign should clear the picture…….

    ET PLEASE PUBLISH THIS…..Recommend

  • Truth Bites
    May 21, 2015 - 3:01AM

    Reality bites….. I’m from India settled overseas but listening to his comments it’s bit overrated on his part. First of all count how many Indians have left foreign lands for *greener pastures in India.* And out of those how many of them have truly adjusted to everyday living wars even getting highly paid. Were those guys were naturalized citizens or were on temporary visas. I can’t recall anyone in my circle who has left for India leaving their nice jobs in West. Having said that Mr. Modi must be counting on a select few like Amartya Sen who was recently ousted as a Vice Chancellor of an Indian University.

    Moreover a queue outside foreign embassies in India & queue inside Indian consulates in foreign should clear the picture…….

    ET PLEASE PUBLISH THIS…..Recommend

  • sehrish
    May 22, 2015 - 2:11PM

    The Indian PM’s remarks are a testimonial to the fact of flows in Indian domestic, regional and international policies. Subsequent Indian govts have not been able to take measures to ensure domestic and regional stability.Recommend

  • Muhammad
    May 22, 2015 - 3:28PM

    @Truth Bites:

    Your observation is consistant with Modi’s belief that Indians think that being born in India was a curse and punishment of God for sins.Recommend

  • Truth Bites
    May 22, 2015 - 7:48PM

    @Muhammad:
    Whatever way you want to take it you are free to do so. I never mentioned anywhere that I was cursed to be born there but certainly not so proud when we see other countries. We are in the news for wrong reasons & what people think about us “matters”. Being a father of a small girl, thinking of living in India send chills down my spine. If calling spade a spade is a crime then I plead guilty. It doesn’t matter what Modi or others think. The fact remains intact & open to everyone. But still somewhere in my mind I wish that fellows countrymen go through metamorphose & I will be more than happy to be proven wrong.Recommend

  • Muhammad
    May 22, 2015 - 10:27PM

    @Truth Bites:

    Thanks for explaining, much appreciated.
    Have good weekend.Recommend

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