As Prime Minister Narendra Modi completed his trip to the United States on Saturday, he was welcomed back to Delhi with much fanfare, with the Bharatiya Janata Party organising a grand reception for him. While in the US, Modi had attended a rally with the US president Donald Trump and also spoke at the United Nations.
As Modi got off his aeroplane in Delhi, he addressed a crowd on a stage built for the purpose. His own website described it a “rousing reception”.
He argued that since he took office in 2014, respect for India has gone up around the world. He claimed that at the UN meeting in New York, “everyone has ‘Howdy Modi’ on their lips” – a reference to the rally he attended with Trump in Houston last Sunday.
Much of the Indian coverage of Modi’s trip supported his arguments. In fact, the coverage was breathless in how it claimed that Modi had swept the United States.
The English-language television news channel Republic as well as Times Now painted a picture of public celebrations breaking out on the streets of New York in the wake of Modi’s speech at the United Nations.
The Hindi news channel Aaj Tak covered the Saturday touchdown of Modi in Delhi as a grand celebration. Calling the prime minister a vishwavijeta, world champion, the channel also mocked Pakistan with the headline, “Saw this Imran? Will we ever see such a welcome in Pakistan?” Modi is being welcomed in Delhi since he had such an impactful trip, read another headline.
Much the same happened at another Hindi news channels, ABP News which also called Modi a “world champion” as it showed visuals of him touching down in Delhi.
The Indian media’s reporting was so feverish on this that columnist Tavleen Singh, a self-confessed Modi supporter wrote that the coverage had her feeling “slightly ashamed”. The Indian media’s reporting, wrote Singh, tried to give off the impression that “Modi had received a welcome that no foreign leader before him had ever received in America”.
Meanwhile, in the US....
In the United States, however, there was hardly anything of the fervour for Modi described in the Indian media. Modi’s Friday UN address did not get covered in mainstream media outlets. In fact, ironically, Imran Khan’s speech got a fair bit more coverage, given his apocalyptic visions of war in the subcontinent sparked off by the Kashmir crisis.
Meanwhile, the one key result for India that was expected from Modi’s trip turned out to be a non-starter: the US and India were unable to agree on a free trade deal.
Clarifications: The strap of this article has been amended to clarify that this article focuses on the media coverage of Modi’s United Nations address.