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Monday, April 7, 2014

Why intellectuals are running scared of Modi

TBy Swapan Dasgupta

In democracies, a change of government is no big deal. In India, however, it is a rarity at the national level. In the 66 years of Independence, the Congress has nominally been excluded from power for only 10 years. More interestingly, no prime minister apart from Atal Bihari Vajpayee has been free of any Congress association. Yet, even in the six NDA years, the larger power structure at the Centre was never entirely Congress-mukt. Under Vajpayee, his extremely competent principal secretary Brajesh Mishra, a former diplomat from a prominent Congress family, ensured that the old Establishment was only nominally dispossessed. 

It is instructive to be mindful of the past when engaging with the prophecies of impending doom that seem to be dominating conversations of the beautiful people with a stake in next month’s electoral outcome. 

The doomsday narrative has captivated an influential section of the Delhi-based intelligentsia and its global friends. They have interpreted the fierce desire for change that is resonating in India as the harbinger of a new authoritarianism that will pander to corporate greed and religious intolerance. In the immediate aftermath of the December 2013 Assembly election, this anxiety was translated into a gush-gush endorsement of the Aam Aadmi Party. However, ever since the white-cap crusaders got drunk on media hype and made a series of tactical miscalculations, concern has given way to visible depression. If the Modi-is-coming jingle on TV is sending the NaMo army into bouts of premature celebration, it is proving psychologically devastating to the Praetorian guards of the “idea of India”. 

Of course, not all better-off Indians are living in dread of a possible ‘regime change’. Sensing imminent change, the financial markets are witnessing an unwarranted bull run. Opinion polls also indicate that the surge in the support for Narendra Modi is being primarily driven by aspirational Indians in the 18 to 35 age group. The social profile of the average Modi voter is that he is educated, young and seeking better opportunities. Moreover, support for Modi isn’t confined only to segments where the BJP has a footfall. The polls suggest NaMo is the buzzword throughout India and among all classes and social groups, including Dalits and adivasis but not Muslims. 

The question naturally arises: why is a very powerful section of the Establishment, particularly in academia and the media, so utterly unresponsive to the larger groundswell from below? Why did The Economist, for example, shoehorn itself into a distant election battle with a anyone-but-Modi editorial aimed at amused Indians? 

Earlier there was a fear that the Modi campaign would exacerbate social tensions and leave India emotionally polarized. However, Modi appears to have stuck to his pro-development and anti-Congress script faithfully and not been derailed by identity concerns. Indeed, apart from stray examples of local politicians allowing rhetorical flourishes to get the better of good sense, the 2014 campaign has been fierce but civil. There are pre-existing faultlines but the campaign hasn’t made them sharper. 

Yes, there are sharp differences between the BJP and the Congress on economic manage ment, national security and, at a pinch, foreign policy. That’s only natural and it is the articula tion of alternative perspectives that give mean ing to competitive politics. Nor is it the case that Modi champions a voodoo economics that inter national capital finds unappealing compared to the noblesse oblige of the Gandhis Both Margaret Thatcher in 1979 and Ronald Reagan in 1980 fought elections promising a break with ‘consensus politics’. At that time neither Britain nor the US witnessed agonized intellectuals threatening to go into self-exile if the voters chose discontinuity. So what’s unique about Modi? 

Part of the answer may lie in Modi’s out sider status. Over generations the Congress has nurtured and patronized an intellectual estab lishment that loosely shared its political as sumptions. These notables fear marginalization and consequent loss of social importance and political influence. They feared it in 1998 too but inveigled their way back, fiercely exploiting the strange desire of some BJP leaders to acquire social respectability. 

Modi, they believe, is cut from a very differ ent cloth. If elected, he may actually begin craft ing an alternative counter-Establishment and not give a damn for the prevailing wisdom in the boudoirs of Sujan Singh Park.

Sunday Times of India, April 6, 2014


rdx said...

Why shud ordinary Indian care about elites and intelligentsia? They have no regard/ respect for marginalised section. They have done nothing for the upliftment of an ordinary Indian. Paying lip service is their best try. I think these people are noise makers and nothing more. They are only concerned about their power and status.

Jayvs said...

Respected sir,
I am a big fan oof your writings and an admirer. I see a hope in you
among a sea of intellectual and writers whose writings smell bias and shows from where they get paid.

Yesterday night I saw a news item on NDTV(n I bet that it was shown only on NDTV) showing a press conference held by Press Club of India where they denounce Mr. Modi and called him a Fasivadi. one writer going to the exdtent of saying that he will leave India if Modi becomes PM(although retracted from his statement) and others saying that his rallies are being paid by corporate world (although they don't seem to see the rallies of congress).
I don't understand what is bothering these intellectuals, Modi is certainly not going to kill them nor he is going to throw them out. Probably they r not going to get their paychecks.
But this news article has left me amused and confused. Amused because intellectuals are one of the pillars of this countries democracy, they question government policies and let us know where the government is going wrong. I don't expect them to tell us who to vote for and who not? We are intelligent enough to take that decision. And if these men become bias how will our country survive?
And Confused because they are questioning Modi in whom I see a hope for my motherland. It confuses me and bothers me what if they are right? It confuses me because I see Mr. AB Vajpayee as a failed prime minister who did not do enough to get us rid of congress's ill wills. He was busy in pleasing his allies, and above all he did not give us the BJP governance that we hoped for. Hope people did not have any option but to give a split verdict which gave congress a chance to come back to power. I fear that hence confused.
Although has answered a lot of my question but still I would like you to throw some light on this.

Your admirer,
Jai vikas Singh


let them run...actually, THE MEDIA-english- AND THE ACADEMICIANS-again english-in DELHIalways have ARROGANCE ...that DELHI is INDIA...its their passtime to FILE a case,and they are THE PLAINTIFFS and THEY ARE THE JUDGES...
NO DISCUSSION..NO DEBATE. just passing the judgement..

Nishant Swaroop said...

Modi is well on his way to 7RCR. The not so intelligent intelligentsia is running amok to see the person they denigerated making it to the highest office. MMS has trashed the PMO and its authority into oblivion. It's upto Modi to resurrect its stature.

All the corrupt secularists must be punished. ABV govt gave a long rope to Gandhi family and India paid price for it for over a decade. Hope such people won't be spared and there won't be any back room deals with the devils.

Lets remember the Kurukshetra. People supporting and purporting Adharma must be eliminated no matter what the cost. Congress in its present form must be dissolved and reformed.


Dear swapan...
Dr.Umair from Aligarh Muslim university, i hav just read read yr article...Just want to ask you one question..please i want yr sincere reply not a political one...
Did Hitler was communal or rashtrawadi
Did Saddam Hussain was communal or nationalist
Did Ghaddafi was communal or nationalist
Did Sikh killings in golden temple was right
Did anti Sikh riots post Indira murder was right
Did Antimuslim rights and anti Sikh rights under congress or samajwadi party justified, Didn't they hav moral responsibility..If answer to all the above yes then..
Anti Muslim carnage and ethenic cleansing under Modi was also not right..he should apologize for riots from Muslims...but u all are favouring him blindly..i mean media because he is a hero no. One of corporate houses and all media is running by corporates..please giv me reply.. Email

Anonymous said...

BBC is exerting itself in whipping up Modi phobia.

In its so called election coverage its Mishal Hussain talks to certain muslims in Aligarh who are "scared of BJP & Narendra Modi". One of them said " this Gujarat model of development & successful economy is not acceptable..needs debates ..thrashing out...". Obviously this is music to Mishal Hussain.

Who is preventing such muslims of India from migrating to Timbaktu , Somalia & Nigeria. Let them thrash & thrash dragging Mishal Hussains, Rajdeep Slurdesais with them to Timbaktu. Our burden gets lightened.

Ghettoisation is another word. Muslims are experts in blame game. Have they ever admitted they WILLINGLY ghettoised themselves?
They whine as though HINDUS herded them in ghettos. Left unchallenged by Mishal Hussain predictably.

Now some Parsis have also come out blaming alleged infertility among their community on us HINDUS. To BBC's Jon Sopel one Parsi woman said "...we have contributed so much to India....".

I am thoroughly tired of all crying "we have contributed to this nation....". If that great quit India for UK along with BBC crew & contribute & CONTRIBUTE to UK.

Britain continues to treat Bharath as an extension of its empire still. That is queen's necklace...this was built by king george blah blah.....this is how BBC starts witheringly.

Sri.Narendra Modi & tea sellers gung-ho attitude made sanjoy mazumdars (bbc correspondent) see once again fascism hindutva.....

Why the same nit picky imperious are ever jubilant at cavalcade & allied anachronistic paraphernalia of UK's Royal Family ?? Including their "street parties"...

Anonymous said...

Already the opportunists who have joined BJP hurriedly are revealing their true colours.

Ram Vilas Paswan has said he does not endorse Sri.Ram Temple.

Thamizharuvi Manian who is one of those from Tamil Nadu working for BJP's alliance with various regional factions says he does not want (sic)Narendra Modi to call himself a Hindu. ...and that he is an indian.....(read secular). It is the same person who supported kollywood kamalhassan over his useless movie viswaroopam.

When war broke out in Sri Lanka , it was the same Thamizharuvi Manian who became so agitated bemoaning TAMILIAN solidarity. Now the word HINDU has become anathema to him.

Be it this Tamil speaker or charlatans like art of living cultist sssravishankar should NOT venture into politics.

Anonymous said...


When war broke out in Sri Lanka , it was the same Thamizharuvi Manian who became so agitated bemoaning lack of TAMILIAN solidarity.

Anonymous said...

I do not know how many of you watch BBC news channel. It is so overtly anti Narendra Modi & BJP.

Last time itself BJP would have won but for EVM tinkering. Britain was rumoured to be behind the manufactured victory of congress . Nothing has changed. BBC so arrogantly presumptuous. maintains "congress dynasty alone is fit to rule having given three prime ministers". It manages to get hold of some useless indian journalist who has nothing good to say about Sri.Narendra Modi. Britain does not want Bharath to reclaim its honour & pride becoming self reliant.

Why should bbc set BHARATH's agenda?

bbc suddenly finds fault with Sri.Narendra Modi's successful reign in Gujarat. Instead Jon Sopel acted shocked at Narendra Modi's marriage etc.

Everyone KNEW including digvijay singh. Whereas how many Indians know & knew about Indira Khan's (not Gandhi) two husbands ? Mohammed Yunus is the father of Sanjay her second son. For britain which has nothing GREAT to claim as its OWN save heavy plundering from colonized countries around congress dynasty is above board.

All the more reason for India under BJP to forge closer CORDIAL ties with ISRAEL & CHINA.

NEVER trust britain.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Sri.Jai Vikas Singh above.

Why did representatives from Britain rush forward to shake hands with Sri.Narendra Modi if not for business contracts ?

Yet bbc finds fault with Narendra Modi calling his support corporate based one. Only NOW I can personally empathize with what our Freedom Fighters must have felt.

BBC is scared of MUSLIMS supporting Narendra Modi. Hence desperately keeps mentioning "communal" & "riots of 2002".
Suddenly inflation , unemployment, youth population of India -none of these matter to bbc. congress dynasty & certain people touching the feet of congress Scindia's feet ALONE matter. bbc claims "India has always favoured feudal set up".

No wonder Kaanchi Paramacharya INCLUDED desired britain to QUIT India.

India should learn from CHINA. How not to genuflect before britain.

Anonymous said...

All these years bbc consulted only brinda karat , seema mustafa , vinod mehta , n(amak ha)ram of hindu thus peremptorily deciding the fate of us Indians.

Last evening also some woman reporter of hindu was badmouthing Narendra Modi to the delight of jon sopel. Claimed she "knows Modi" & is very "afraid". A secular reporter yapping " i have to think like a woman , a journalist , a secular...blah blah".

These good for nothing secular journos DO suffer from incurable delusions of grandeur.

Another male journalist decried young generation of India convincing jon sopel they are going to vote the same way their parents did ( read in favour of CONgress).

Britain's only occupation & pre occupation is to find fault with every country around.

AMERICA also is disliked by britain. With so much of jubilation one bbc reporter covering up "homeless" Americans living in deplorable conditions.

Britain's HATRED towards ISRAEL is well known to Sri.Swapan Dasgupta himself.

bbc finds everything faulty with BRAZIL for its forthcoming Olympics.

I understand why AFRICA does NOT like supercilious britain.

BJP governed Bharath should keep all these facts in mind & SPURN incorrigibly haughty britain.

Cool Guy said...

It's high-time the colonial sludge is cleared from the 2800 hectare LBZ, making way for a DR. Ambedkar Unversity, a hostel for NE students + +. Someone's gotta tell the Romans, the Gauls are coming (Namo Asterix & Amit Oblelix),

The question is... what about the not-so-secret, Kleptocracy club members in the BJP? Is the Modi/Rajnath duo capable of thwarting this faction (& the secularists who've jumped the bandwagon, who're in-reality the foot soldiers of these Kleptocracies? will the duo succumb? shall we again witness the congressi's repackaging & throwing 'Pappu on our face' & dejected India paying obeisance? would be grateful if responded by an article by you at your opportune time.