The Economist launches new podcast The Modi Raj

The Economist has released The Modi Raj, a new eight-episode limited podcast series exploring the rise of Narendra Modi and his transformation of India.

The podcast was timed to coincide with India’s election, which saw Mr Modi win a third consecutive term as prime minister. He’s the first Indian leader since Jawaharlal Nehru, the country’s founder, to reach this landmark. But his reduced majority means his vision for India is facing its toughest test yet.

Hosted by international correspondent Avantika Chilkoti, The Modi Raj follows the leader’s journey from his modest upbringing as a tea seller’s son to his current position as one of the world’s most powerful politicians.

With Mr Modi as India’s prime minister, there was an economic boom for the country. He had approval from the international business community and India’s presence on the global stage was bolstered.

However, as the podcast lays out, Mr Modi’s chauvinistic, Hindu nationalism—grounded in his involvement with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, an all-male volunteer group originally inspired by European fascist movements—now may undermine a vibrant, democratic India.

Each episode follows Mr Modi’s rise and includes rare interviews with advisers, military leaders, tech CEOs, friends and personal staff, as well as victims of the Gujarat riots that took place as he administered the region.

Through these conversations, the podcast answers big questions on the nature of Mr Modi’s leadership.

“Modi’s success morphed India into a global economic powerhouse, but India’s poor are not feeling the same prosperity,” said Chilkoti, “Worse, Modi’s ties to the Hindu far-right and grip on India’s democratic institutions are crafting a precarious future for religious minorities, free speech and secularism in the country.

“Despite these concerning trends, he remains popular among the majority of India’s voters. Through this podcast, I aim to demystify Modi’s cult of personality and present the future of Modi’s India.”

The Economist’s editor-in-chief, Zanny Minton Beddoes added: “India’s growth under Modi cannot be denied or ignored. However, his increasing use of authoritarian tactics to silence opponents in India warrant serious examination.

“At The Economist, we remain dedicated to providing thorough and hard-hitting analysis of our world’s most powerful leaders. ‘The Modi Raj’ provides a much-needed perspective into Modi’s political career as the country prepares for his third term.”

The Modi Raj podcast series is available now.

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