The Modi debate, and the rise of Indian mutants

While the actions of PM do impact our lives in some distant way, but today everything seems to be originating from Modi. The omnipresence of Modi is such that he pops up on my office lunch table discussion alongside my salad, he comes up in my WhatsApp group along with other work related messages, he makes an awkward appearance in my friend circle where suddenly a long standing friendship is put at stake depending on which side I take. I just need to know if you like Modi or hate him, and then everything you about the government will follow the same predictable arguments, the selective data picking to support the extreme ideology, and no counter arguments will make you change their mind.

Amongst the many so-called achievements of Narendra Modi, he can be credited with creation of two new species of Indians – the Bhakts and the Liberals (but are better labeled as Libtards to protect the word ‘Liberal’ from abuse). This sudden mutation of Indians happened only with the unexpected arrival of Modi as the PM. For a long time we were all happily united in our hate for whoever was the ruling party, and had gotten used to the political apathy. But now there is a great divide and everyone is forced to pick sides.

Understanding the Libtard

Understanding the Libtard

Modi’s elevation as the representative of India shook us all. It was as if the Libtards had bought the tickets on the wrong flight and the pilot just told them of the new destination, and the Bhakts heard someone who sounds like them and started rejoicing. Both are unreasonably excited, because the destination isn’t probably what everyone fears or hopes it will be, only the pilot knows, and he himself is only trying to survive. Before Modi, all politics was a routine exercise of manipulating the poor and the marginalised, and politics of appeasement. We had come to expect the political class to speak a certain way, had made peace with corruption, never expected political leaders to take a firm stand on things. Government was assumed to be self-serving and no scams or allegations of crony capitalism surprised us. And then something changed with Modi’s arrival, and now no one is able to forecast how India will move ahead.

Both the extreme groups assume that they know what Modi is going to do. The Libtards wait for that dark future when they will be proven right finally, and the Bhakts think their version of the future is already here. The Bhakts see the Messiah who can do no wrong and read into his actions and words more than he says,  and the Libtards can see the evil at work and who can do no right. But both seem to be getting increasingly confused, because Modi is quite unpredictable. The only predictable thing about him is that he is a man of action – maybe too much of that action sometimes. Nothing is easy in a democracy, esp where public institutions are weak and there is lethargy and apathy seeped into the government system from years of neglect. Moving in ANY direction is fraught with challenges, and he sometimes tries to move too fast and the system is unable to cope. But this blog is less about understanding Modi, but more about understanding the two Indian Mutants.

Bhakts blind love

The Bhakts blind love

Modi, with his poor grasp of english, his modest background, is almost an affront to all those liberally educated elites, who cant see him representing them. A Prime minister who does not shy away from handing Gita to dignitaries, or who draws his strength from Yoga, and operates with a work ethic derived from scriptures is shocking to the liberal educated elite – these are seen an religiously infused action. The Libtards with their western ideology and lifestyle have started feeling like a minority in an India where the larger majority seems more aligned with Modi. So modi has become their enemy, all that he stands for needs to be coloured saffron – as if something was wrong with saffron as a color. The Bhakts are getting it wrong too. They trace the rise of Modi, and see his past as some sort of validation of their own orthodox thinking, as some validation of their conservative mindsets. Their worst side is finding an expression with the intolerance that seems to be erupting like an ugly rash across India.

Of the two, I had better expectations from the Libtards because they are better educated and hopefully with better critical-thinking skills. But they have become the new orthodoxy – the ones who foam-at-the-mouth, and their affliction is even more severe than the original Bhakts. The paranoia that seems to have gripped them feels more real than what is happening out there. Every little scrap of news is the seen as the start of the end. I think this disconnect from reality is the result of the deep conditioning that we all go through in India where the western outlook is ingrained in us, and all Indian cultural context is scrubbed out of us – the more eductaed we are the more this scrubbing is. Thus anything emanating from Hinduism (a pure geography construct as the religious leaders keep trying to stress again and again) is seen as primitive and regressive.  English is seen as a passport to social acceptance, and anything in Hindi/ regional languages is looked down upon. Working in media, I still see this bias where the marketing professionals feel that Hindi is uncool – they will even write their Hindi message in the english script to look premium. Fortunately this is not where the large majority of Indians are. Those less educated, or from the older generation seem to still have a grasp of this essential Indianness. As a country we are making a slight detour towards that essential Indianness, and it is for the better.

Rationally, given the level of poverty and poor political leadership till now in India, we should have lost hope in democracy long ago and India should have be in the middle of a civil war. But while India is ranked 134th on its per capita income, is still ranked at top 32 countries in democracy index. The entire debate on Modi is led by a minority of people on extremes on both sides of the divide. The large wiser majority are in the middle of the debate, and see everything with a uniquely Indian perspective.

To be able to have a dialogue in an open way, to accept the loss of an election, and to respect the wishes of the majority of population is a rarest of rare phenomenon in this world. For Indians to co-exist happily despite such diversity and illiteracy is a miracle. In India this is the result of the essential value of ‘tolerance’ deeply embedded in the culture, and which will never wash away. Modi is a cunning and intelligent politician who fully grasps this, a simple point that both the Bhakts and Libtards miss.

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