Deconstructing Modi Part 4

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[Previous part: Part 3]

In my last post on this topic, admittedly many eons ago, I had finished with a reference to Congress as Modi’s biggest polling agent.

Much of Modi’s support outside the BJP’s core base, I would suppose all but the most committed of Modi fanboys would accept this, stems from the performance (and lack of it) of the Congress-UPA government. Only those who have been given a Padmabhushan by this government or hope to be given one in the future would defend its inglorious legacy of slush and paralysis and so I would presume there is no need to put the history of the UPA under the scanner here. The UPA has been Rohit Sharma in New Zealand and most of us can agree with that.

The problem with the Congress is so basic, so deep is the cancer bonded with its DNA, that there is nothing much it can do about it in the near future. Which makes the job so much easier for Modi.

The Congress, ever since Sonia Gandhi firmly took over its reins and relegated reformers like Narasimha Rao to the dustbin of history, has become a party with one single obsession. Namely to perpetuate the Gandhi dynasty. Rahul Gandhi poses the greatest challenge to this, as his public pronouncements and singular ability to shirk responsibility, notwithstanding an army of cheerleaders throwing legs and waving their pompoms, has made him an object of more or less universal ridicule. If there has been something worse than the sight of Rahul Gandhi (he admittedly is funny, in an unintentionally subversive way) trying to act statesmanly, it is the naked display of sycophancy that goes on in parallel, almost like a real-life enactment of the fable of the Emperor with No Clothes (remember how the courtiers keep applauding the king’s excellent clothes even though he is stark naked). In the 70s when people were more enthralled by the Gandhis and in general more respectful of royal authority, this kind of tomfoolery might have had some political impact. Now this just makes people roll their eyes. Of course, such is the web of power inside the Congress, and props to Sonia Gandhi for that, that no single Congress leader, no matter how much more suitable he might be than Rahul Gandhi as a leader, will dare to make a play for the party leadership. Unless Sonia Gandhi chooses him as the next cipher.

Which should make Modi  happy.

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Us And Them

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Being a very filmy person (but you already knew that I suppose), my ideal of a reporter was the character played by Sekhar Suman in “Tridev” whose murder, while doing investigative journalism piece on the dangerous Bhujang, let loose a sequence of spectacular events, that included but was not limited to Sunny Deol looking at the camera and saying, in a deadpan voice, “Ek aur sipahi desh ke liye shaheed ho gaye”.

In real life, the only people who came close to that khadi-clad, jhola-carrying ideal were the guys at Tehelka. Or that’s the way I saw things when they did the match-fixing sting, blowing the lid off the conspiracy of silence in a most spectacular way. And if that was not enough, then went up against the might of the NDA government and in the process was almost finished off by them.

This was brave stuff. They wrote their pieces well. True they came across as  a bit  too sensational and full of themselves at times, but then again with that name what else could you do.

Then, over the years, I began to see a pattern.

That Tehelka chose its targets selectively. While the facade of fairness was sought to be kept, it was obvious which side of the political spectrum Tehelka was. Their editorial tone, over the years, became increasingly fundamentalist, which I define as those who split the world into “us” and “them”, with different standards for “us” (people who are ideologically aligned with our idea of the world) and different standards for “them” (those that are not).  In their defense, they couldn’t even lay claim left-wing counterculture street-cred any more, with what their big-ticket, big-business-sponsored “thinkfests” and the perception of them being aligned in pushing the agenda of the ruling party. Tehelka was big media now, and the edgy-independent paper posturing had worn thin.

And now the Tejpal story has broken, as grave charges of sexual assault have been levelled against Tarun Tejpal by a Tehelka staffer.

I was shocked.

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Deconstructing Modi Part 3

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[First part]

[Second part]

A few moons ago, there was this incident. A Muslim cleric decided to ambush Narendra Modi by offering a skullcap at a public political event. [Video] While Modi did not wear the skull-cap, he did wear the green Islamic shawl the cleric offered (this was not reported). This immediately set in motion the gears of nightly-news-outrage and morning-paper-editorializing.

[Drumroll]

“Modi has shown, as if it needed further showing, his communal and non-secular core.”

[Ominous music]

Nitish Kumar, who has of late discovered the dark side of Modi and whose absolute dreaminess has of late been discovered by sections of the Indian intelligentsia, said most famously:

To govern a country like India, you have to take everyone along; sometimes you will have to wear topi and sometimes tilak (kabhi topi bhi pehenni padhegi, kabhi tilak bhi lagana padega).

No discussion of Modi or of Indian politics can be complete without an ogle at the concept of “secularism”.

In India, politicians are expected to be “secular”, at least as far as demonstrations go, in the Nitish Kumar way of things, much more than they are expected to efficient or to be honest.

And the thing about Modi, he is not secular. After all, if he was, he would have worn that skullcap.

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Deconstructing Modi Part 2

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[Part 1 here]

Human beings love stereotypes. They simplify the complexity of the world by reducing complex problems, like understanding a human being and what makes him what he is, into a series of comparatively easy generalizations from which so-called logical conclusions can then be chained together .(“He is Bengali. Hence he must support Sourav Ganguly”) All of us do it, present company included, though we do not often fess up to them, because some types of stereotyping, if they fall within the set of politically incorrect no-no-s (sexist being the flavor of the season), bring about firm raps on knuckles or eternal hell-fire and damnation, whichever is quicker.

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Deconstructing Modi Part 1

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“Hospitality. Logicality. Technicality. Practicality. Sociality. Physicality. Legality. Regality. Geniality. Vitality. Totality. Originality. Punctuality. Spirituality. Immortality… WHO’S THE MAN? HE’s THE MAN. NaMo Namo “

                                                                         –The Namo Youth Anthem [Video]

As a purveyor of popular culture and the general state of things, one of my abiding interests lies in deconstructing extreme popularity.

What is “extremely popular?”

Here is how I look at it. When armies of strangers, with no direct stake in your well-being (your relatives , paid PR and those in it for quid pro quo do not count), spend countless hours of their mortal lives, risking Carpal Tunnel syndrome, ruptured arteries and the very sanity of their souls, verbally or virtually garroting anyone who doubts your absolute awesomeness, or make youth anthems with the words “Last Air Bender” delivered in an accent that makes Mallika Sherawat sound as authentically American as Clint Eastwood, that’s when you have made the cut of extremeness.

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Business Model For “Any Indian Political Party”

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So I have been doing a five-day workshop on entrepreneurship at the Smith School and as part of that, they taught us this thing called the Business Model Canvas to outline, concisely, the basics of a business model. In order to understand the concept, I made one for “Any Indian Political Party”. This is of course a work in progress, just like our political parties. [PLEASE CLICK ON THE PICTURE TO READ THE TEXT]

BusinessPlan