Ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took the centre stage of power to lead the world’s largest democracy of the world, he has embarked upon a journey to bring about swift change in the way diplomacy works in the power corridors and amongst the public. In one way it can be said that PM Modi has brought a de-centralized approach to traditional Indian diplomacy. The human touch that used to be missing in the conventional and age-old diplomacy has been ignited by him.
In using soft diplomacy, PM Modi has very subtly incorporated the use of language to reach out to his contemporary counterparts, and it should not come as surprise to anyone here in India especially. India has great diversity with a plethora of languages. PM Modi has shown appreciation of this diversity and nurtured it by addressing his rallies with small sentences in the local language in places– from Kashmir to Tamil Nadu, and Meghalaya to Maharashtra.
While holding these rallies PM Modi ensures that whichever state he is visiting, he starts and ends the speech in the local language. He has taken it a notch further by wearing the traditional ensemble of the state on few occasions too.
The best part is that being one of the most followed political leaders in the world– with the second-largest following– Modi is noticed worldwide for his tweets in beautiful Indian scripts and languages. Even better- when he visits foreign nations, he sends out tweets in their respective language too. At the Howdy, Modi! event held last year in Houston, Texas, PM Modi while addressing the massive Indian diaspora along with Donald Trump used eight Indian languages to say that everything in India was fine. He said so on the basis of the name of the event ‘Howdy Modi’, which in Texan would roughly translate to ‘How do you do, Modi?’ PM Modi said “Everything is fine” in Gujarati, Punjabi, Bangla, Marathi, Telugu, among others whilst simultaneously putting to bed all the controversy that Hindi was being imposed by his government on the people. This was one among the many subtle messages which the Prime Minister conveyed through his address to the huge gathering. Making such a statement in the presence of a global audience, more so in the presence of Donald Trump speaks volumes about how PM Modi has mastered the art of conveying his message and opinion on any given matter, so as to have a far-reaching impact. Besides, the use of different Indian languages must have definitely invoked a sense of pride among the Indian-American community, and Indians around the world at large, that the Prime Minister is speaking in various languages and thus showcasing India’s rich cultural and lingual diversity to the world.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is known for greeting the world leaders he meets in a special way. When PM Modi visited Israel in 2017, he was received at the Ben Gurion airport by Netanyahu, who said in Hindi, “Aapka swagat hai, mere dost (Welcome, my friend)” to which appreciating the special welcome accorded to him, Modi spoke a few words in Hebrew, starting with “Shalom (hello), I am happy to be here.”
Before that Modi tweeted in Hebrew before leaving for Israel. “Hello Israel! Today I begin a special & historic visit with the aim of further strengthening the relations between India and Israel,” the translated version of the tweet said.
שלום עם ישראל! היום אני מתחיל ביקור מיוחד והיסטורי במטרה לחזק את הקשר בין הודו וישראל. pic.twitter.com/WpqmTtHscM
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) July 4, 2017
Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year in October chose three languages (English, Tamil, and Mandarin) to wish his second informal meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the coastal town of Mamallapuram.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) October 11, 2019
Last year in June, PM Modi congratulated the four people conferred with the Prime Minister’s Awards for Outstanding Contribution for Promotion and Development of Yoga -2019 by posting a congratulatory message on his official Twitter handle in six official UN languages – Spanish, French, Arabic, Russian, Chinese and English.
Congratulations to those who have been conferred the Prime Minister’s Awards for Outstanding Contribution for Promotion and Development of Yoga -2019.
We are immensely proud of their rich work to ensure more people embrace Yoga and our planet becomes healthier. #YogaDay2019
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) June 22, 2019
Noticeably world leaders have been picking up on this trait and this was best noticeable when Trump sent out tweets in Persian to the Iranian people. Before visiting India, Trump wrote a warm tweet in Hindi– and it looks like the leader of the most powerful country has realized how people-friendly it is to appreciate their culture and language.
— Billy D Twitmo refugee – Run off tRump🌊🌊🌊🌊🌊🌊 (@EugJHawk) February 24, 2020
Donald Trump’s team has also taken a leaf out of Narendra Modi’s book of oratory-diplomacy and it was evidently on display at the Motera Stadium yesterday where the President of the oldest democracy started off his speech with Namaste and also tried taking the names of Swami Vivekananda, Sachin Tendulkar, and Virat Kohli. Even though his pronunciation might not have been exactly top-notch (Read: Soo-chin) and was subjected to memes and a lot of social media chatter, it showed one thing that Trump was willing to take the less charted road and either way, his faux pas brought him, admirers, only.
For Narendra Modi, the examples are plenty that ranges from Madison square garden to Dubai international stadium to the Allphones arena to Motera stadium where he has time and again won the diplomacy battle with his unique yet novice approach. He might be generous in his diplomacy but when it comes to actual administrative work concerning the nation, the Prime Minister is a hard-taskmaster and does not concede an inch, as it was iterated by President Trump.