Kudos to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for winning the TIME magazine’s online reader’s poll 2016 for the second time. He beat other popular ‘influencers’ around the world, winning 18% of the ‘yes’ votes, which included personalities such as Barrack Obama (7%), Donald Trump (7%), Julian Assange (7%), Hillary Clinton (4%), Mark Zuckerberg (2%), Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin, among many others.
The last time he won the same TIME online reader’s poll was in 2014 when he got 16% of the ‘yes’ votes. The fact that this year he has improved his score in a volatile world and a competitive field of leaders who are major influencers by themselves, speaks volumes about the Indian Prime Minister.
The Person of the Year for 2016 will be officially announced by TIME on 7 December and it remains to be seen whether Narendra Modi can win the title for 2016.
So what does this mean for Narendra Modi and India?
First, the fact that Narendra Modi has managed to remain in the international spotlight as a major global influencer in his two and a half years in office, is a significant outcome in itself and reflects well on India as a whole.
Secondly, winning it the second time in a span of two years shows his ability to successfully remain on the centrestage of global politics. His stature has risen and therefore the result must be seen in similar light. But does the result tell the whole story?
According to TIME, the online reader’s poll reflects the nominees’ maximum influence on news and the world events in the past one year, good or evil. The fact that Modi is a clear winner by a massive margin shows that he has been able to successfully capture people’s attention with his words and actions. In today’s world of competitive geo-politics, that’s a major achievement.
Analyzing the results
Online reader’s choice is a preference and not an opinion and carries due importance as it reflects people’s choice which may or may not conform with the judge’s final selection of the Person of the Year. It must however be pointed out that online polls are not necessarily a fair reflection as they are often subject to mass influencing and is skewed in favour of the nominee based on the country from where the person comes.
For instance, countries such as India and China which have large populations and an active online following tend to vote in large numbers for their country’s candidate. This gives an unfair advantage to a candidate who may come from a smaller country and/or with a less active online population, for instance say, Hungary or Mauritius.
In fact, this author received viral messages on WhatsApp exhorting patriotic Indians to come out and vote for Narendra Modi. So what chance would a competing candidate from Hungary or Mauritius have against Modi from India? This is a point to ponder, but must not demean the achievement of Narendra Modi himself, which is already well documented and internationally recognised.
The results of the poll show Narendra Modi garner 18% of the popular vote, well ahead of Barrack Obama, Trump or Assange, all whom received 7% of the ‘yes’ votes.
So how would one interpret the results? Is it that Modi has captured global attention more than Obama or Trump? Or are his actions a bigger influence on global politics than say what Obama or Trump achieved in 2016?
These are some of the questions that will weigh in when the final name of the Person of the year for 2016 is announced.
Demonetization and Person of the Year
PM Modi had it all going for him until he took that controversial decision on demonetisation that has fetched mixed reactions and whose impact can only be judged over time. Two questions stand out. One, does his popularity rating still stand where it did before the 8 November announcement or has the demonetization actually gone against him?
The ‘Person of the Year’ will be judged based on their impact as an ‘influencer’ and ‘newsmaker’ on the global stage in 2016. On both counts, PM Modi fulfills the criteria more than say Barrack Obama, Hillary Clinton or even Donald Trump, domestic opinion and politics notwithstanding.
Remember, TIME’s criteria weighs on international ‘influence’ and ‘news making’ record in 2016. So if this is the principle criteria, then Narendra Modi could only be challenged by Donald Trump. The latter having gone against popular perception to not only win the US Presidential Election but also capture global attention for his controversial remarks and opinions on a number of issues.
Using the same criteria, PM Modi has a strong chance as his demonetisation announcement has captured global attention and subsequent actions by his government have been closely monitored. The consequent long term impact will be closely followed by other countries and analysts for years to come and will most certainly stand out as a case study.
But for now, all eyes will be on the final name of the Person of the Year 2016 which is to be announced on 7 December, 2016.