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Sunday, May 18, 2014

Modi Understood Young India Better

By Swapan Dasgupta

Under normal circumstances, the declaration of results at the end of a long and bitterly contested election is followed by an onrush of platitudes affirming the “maturity of the voters”, the reinforcement of “democratic values” and the opening of a “new chapter” of parliamentary politics. It is not that such ritualistic self-praise was completely absent last Friday morning as the Electronic Voting Machines began revealing the preferences of India’s many millions of voters. However, the usual quota of anodyne remarks and self-satisfied we-told-you-so comments were replaced by two developments that happened in rapid succession. First, by 9.30 am—barely 90 minutes after counting began—it was sufficiently clear that Narendra Modi was going to be India’s next Prime Minister. The NDA, it was evident, was coasting to a majority. Secondly, around 11am or thereabouts, another far more dramatic trend became visible: the BJP was on its way to crossing the magic 272 mark on its own.

That Indian voters had got over their infatuation with fractious coalition politics and were ready to repose full faith in one side should have been greeted with whoops of delight. After all, there is nothing like an unambiguous verdict to facilitate decision-making and political accountability. Unfortunately, the quantum of excitement that this development should have produced was felt more in the outside world than among the assembled punditry in the TV studios. Where the cameras and bright lights were positioned, the mood was one of nervous tension. In one channel the mood, it was reported, was distinctly funereal. Democracy, it somehow seemed, was good only if the outcome was along predictable lines. On May 16, Narendra Modi played the role of party pooper. He spoiled what was planned as a long day and possibly long night of speculation and posturing.

That Modi was, well, a politician cut from a very different cloth was always known. That he played by his own set of rules that often appeared incomprehensible or even outlandish was also known. His relationship with the fourth pillar of democracy had also been awkward: he was the man who was hated, feared and yet never out of gaze. For years on end, viewers and readers had grown accustomed to Breaking News scrolls that began with the mandatory “In a big blow to Modi…” When he won the 2002 election and came to Delhi, self-righteous reporters boycotted his lunch and boasted about their walkout for months thereafter. Lofty editors with a sense of social superiority used to routinely dub him “mass murderer” with the same condescending sneer that Mani Shankar Aiyar reserved for his infamous “chaiwala” expression. Yes, Modi was every cub reporter’s punching bag, the man who was not merely the outsider but even an outlander.

The prospect of such a man becoming the presiding political deity of Lutyens’ Delhi and living in the same bungalow that once housed Rajiv Gandhi filled the beautiful people with the same disgust that Indira Gandhi felt on realising that the palatial residence of her iconic father would now be occupied by Lal Bahadur Shastri. In 1964, the Nehru-Gandhi family ensured that Teen Murti House was unilaterally declared a monument to the late Jawaharlal. In the more egalitarian 2014, plotting a backdoor coup was out of the question. So the entire Congress Lok Sabha contingent from Uttar Pradesh—basically the mother-son duo—admitted to their party’s ignominious defeat but refused to utter the dreaded chaiwala’s name in their perfunctory congratulation to the “new government”.

The erstwhile first family set the tone. By the late afternoon, as the enormity of the change effected by the hoi-polloi began to sink in, the derisiveness began in right earnest. From “you will have to speak in Gujarati now” and “let’s write the final uncensored article” to “enjoy the last drink”, snobbish black humour took over. By the evening, huddled groups were shedding copious tears over what they visualised as the lifeless body of secularism.

Ok, I may be exaggerating the state of disorientation at not merely Modi’s victory but the complete decimation of the Congress. But not entirely. Around midnight, I went to the BBC studios for a recording of a programme on India’s elections for Newsnight. Over the long-distance link I heard the lament of artist Sir Anish Kapoor over the results. He despaired over the fact that India was now going to be led by a “mass murderer”. “This is not the India I grew up in”, he said.

He’s damn right. This was not the entitled world of the Doon School alumnus. Somewhere along the way democracy has finally kicked in. The age of deference is well and truly over. And it has been replaced by an India bursting with raw energy, demanding the standards of life Sir Anish takes for granted and proclaiming ‘dil mange more’.


India has been changing with the same intensity as the flag-waving T20 game. Economists have often invoked the potential of India’s demographic dividend but they have always shied away from addressing its socio-political ramifications. Modi is no trained sociologist but he understood what Young India meant far better than the dynasts who dominate the top echelons of the Congress hierarchy. To the entitled world he appeared brash, crude and outlandish and hardly prime ministerial. To the youngsters in the dusty small towns bursting with aimless energy, he was an icon who spoke their language and articulated their anger. On Friday, he did what the punditry thought was unimaginable: he encashed the demographic dividend politically.

Sunday Pioneer, May 18, 2014

14 comments:

drisyadrisya said...

well written, made a great read

However, I think the point of demonizing India outside has to be now much more seriously dealt with. In as much as the terrorists must now be plotting serial blasts and plane hijacks as soon as Modi takes oath, these intellectual terrorists must be planning what they are best at.. to demonize India in the media

Ajitabh Chaudhuri said...

Fantastically Captured Sir!
Its high time the pseudo secularists realize that this is not a verdict out of a communal agenda but by a nation who is deperately dreaming of living in a Great India we only caught the glimpse of under Vajpayee ji

Hoping for Modi to come with a great cabinet and deliver on his promises

Anonymous said...

Why it has become difficult to hear and accept something which is logical and true ,but said by some body whom many are not able to accept,
Have we become so hypocritically insensitive?

ROHIT SHARMA said...

No words to write or comment on the article you just wrote swapan da.
I am a regular reader of your blog past for two years. Never did was I so moved that I am today.
This truly sums up the change India witnessed in past week.
The aspirational India exists and was long wailing to be get heard and voice its views.
I just want to quote from your article I remember you wrote last year that MODI IS AN IDEA WHOSE TIME HAS COME.

Raghu Shetty said...

Super, Swapan ji, I have been listening to those TV Debates. You have described aptly. Still they are spitting venom.
I really admire you for representing our views.
My sincere thanks to you.

Raghu Shetty.

Anonymous said...

Really we Indian are not yet out of our slave mentality.We have served British 200 years,mughal 200 years and congress 67 years so we have created a class which believes in slavery is best option.Sir Anish Kapoor living in Londoan cudnt know ground reality of India.He cannot fathom with idea of liberation of India from Foreigners rule.This slass of intelligentsia Intelelctuals are responsible for th mess in India who never cared for mass.They just lives like leeches selfish blood sucking creatures.Now Modijee changed whole idea attitude and ground.So theya re angry on him.

GauravDP said...

I sometimes wonder, when and exactly how did pandering to malcontents of a particular religious community came to be posited as "liberal, politically
correct" discourse (the Right way of thinking!). There are religious minorities the world over, but none other than one community has been so
consistently appeased so far, projected as deprived victims, by the "secular" "intelligentsia", especially the left-leaning ones when simple rationality
and intellectual ethics suggest that secularism should be completely independent of religion. I have a suspicion that this strain of thought emerged in
pre-war Europe, especially England in particular, and has attained such proportions that, in a Christian-majority continent, people are hesitant to use
the greetings "Merry Christmas" and instead say "Happy Holidays", for fear of offending those of that particular denomination (that's precisely what it
is, other religious minorities would peacefully co-exist with Christian festivals and religious imagery so long as their own religious affiliations were not
affected). I remember Sunanda K. Dutta Ray having highlighted precisely this aspect of present-day Britain in an article in The Telegraph (Kolkata).
In India, of course, the beautiful people, born, as it were, to the manor, picked this strain of charlatanry as Indians always do, emulate the worst
aspects of Western culture without imbibing the values that took them to their heights, and used this as a useful contrivance to keep a certain
privileged class in power as long as it can. I would request Swapan and his fellow travellers to investigate the historical origins of this fraudulent
intellectual discourse, trace its beneficiaries and create a platform where this monumental fraud of thought can be thoroughly debunked
and discredited.

PIYUSH said...

Brilliant sir...u nailed it

Anonymous said...

You hit the nail on the head, as usual. Perhaps the likes of Sir Anish are worried that an India under Modi will no longer be as deferential and affordable in terms of pounds sterling as it is now, that they will get less bang for their elite buck. Most of their peers in India, well fattened by the Nehru-Gandhis might also fear the advent of leaner times under Modi. If these people really worried about being ruled by 'mass murderers' they'd never have lived and thrived under the likes of Rajiv Gandhi.

ManipalBlog said...

Excellent views and analysis of the situation. Sometimes I feel that the upper echelons of the media and the so called "Intellectuals" have to get off their high horses.

kuloor gopal nayak said...

Friday the 16th once I realized that we are having a spectacular victory I retired after 15 months of relentless duty on the networks. At the age of 73 the feeling of a lost decade was never easy to let go.Infact I never wanted to bother about the goings on here onwards as I am very confident Modi will rise to the occasion to delver. I just happen to find your piecs here. Well it is a classic in touch Thank you Swapan for putting our feelings in such a nice way. thank you k g nayak

Anonymous said...

Young India cares 2 hoots for these Sir's , Lord's & Rai Bahadur's. The constitution doesn't endorses these scraps & the Brit's amuse themselves with these types.

Venkat said...

Brilliant article. It's high India gets a Right wing English media on the lines of Fox News in USA. This will bring some sort of balance and keeps these so called liberal hypocrites in check.

America ready to welcome modi said...

I think he believes in today's youth which is more important. He knows this youth is future of our country and understanding them is really important.