The Swearing-At Ceremony of Narendra Modi aka When it’s wrong to be Right


Since 2002, not a single reference to Gujarat has passed without association to The Riots. It’s turned into a conditioned reflex, just like we say earthquake when we hear of Latur, or many pairs of shoes and assorted pieces of jewellery all hidden away when Jayalalithaa is mentioned. And this bypasses even the earlier conditioned reflex – that of associating Gujarat with the Earthquake.

As if Godhra was the only place in India where riots took place…. there have been bloody riots all over India over the question of Religion, these are nothing new. State-sponsored, someone said? Hark back to 1984, New Delhi. I don’t think there was widespread demonization of Rajiv Gandhi, least of all by the mainstream media when he justified the riots spawned by his mother’s death with “When a great tree falls, the ground is bound to shake”, or some such similar line.

Which brings us to the much-maligned man of the moment. Mr. Modi. His is one name that brings up association with Hardline Hindutva (an oxymoron, but I don’t think most people care, or notice). That spells annihilation for the Minority (Er… what Minority? In India, we are all minorities). That brings up the nightmare of draconian laws like POTA being imposed.

That’s not surprising considering the conditioning process we’ve all undergone over the past five years – the mainstream media consider it to be their prerogative to keep it alive in public memory what happened in Gujarat in 2002 – Five years on, the old horse Gujarat continues to rake in the TRPs much, much more than the new-born brat that is Nandigram. Why, even RDB had a SanskritizedHindi-spouting evil politician who was easily distinguishable as a lookalike of the Merchant of Death. But I guess we can’t hold it against Rakeysh Mehra – he wasn’t making any statement; he was only putting together bits of Indian Pop-culture.

And that is not in the least surprising. Nehru, and before him, Macaulay coached us through a woefully inadequate instruction system to feel ashamed of our roots, our heathen polytheistic religion. Nehruvian and Gandhian secularism, which translates to its pseudo counterpart. So today it’s uncool to take pride in belonging to the Majority. Corollary, contrary to Minority-bashing being frowned on as politically incorrect, Majority-bashing is Cool, even a social necessity.

Naturally, when a news item came up, with live action, of the Majority inflicting blows on the Minority, just during the 24HourNewsChannel Explosion era, it was like manna for media moguls desperate for some news to telecast. It had all the necessary qualities for viewers to stay glued, that the Establishment was evil, that innocent lives were being lost, that there was widespread violence. For most of us, the gory images of Gujarat, splashed in newspapers and on TV screens were the first bits of live violence we’ve seen, and hence stay etched in memory.

And Modi, hitherto unknown, was cannoned to fame, as the architect behind it all. Within a few weeks, Gujarat, and its CM would too have faded into oblivion, just like the people of Nandigram. Except that it didn’t. Because the man stood his own. Refused to buckle under any pressure. Stood by what he did. Unapologetic. And ensured that his name and face turned bankable news items.

Since then he’s won his party two elections, both by large margins. Had Non-Resident Gujaratis swear by his commitment to Gujarat. Had someone no less than Ratan Tata saying “It is stupid if you’re not investing in Gujarat”.

So why is the Evil image still not washing off?

I mean, I know that’s a huge thing to forget, but hell, too much time has passed since then. And too much has happened. Especially with regard to Modi, and Gujarat. There has been more violence on the streets in Bangalore alone in the past year than in Gujarat in the past five years. And more terrorist activity, too.

So why is Modi still the Media’s favorite whipping boy?

Because shining light on his good points would be today’s equivalent of a Klansman dining with a Black. And that means hell for TRPs in the long run.

But the current stance of the mainstream media spells hell for India’s image abroad. And I don’t just mean Modi being denied a US visa.

The UPA government will not last forever. I guess Antonia Maino’s masterstroke of ruling the entire country by proxy, with marionettes in both the PM’s and President’s post has angered many citizens, and left most with no doubt of her Rasputin-like intentions. And the educated, who last time, didn’t turn up to vote, and hence lost the NDA an election will definitely vote in the next elections. Or people may vote for the BJP more out of lack of choice than anything else. Sometime soon, the BJP will be in power either at the Center or in some key states.

And such character assassination by the media doesn’t go well with foreign relations. People outside the country have their perception of India moulded mainly by what the Indian media says about it; case in question – Indian filmmaking is synonymous with Bollywood. So wouldn’t an outsider think twice before investing in a state, or worse, country, being ruled by what was (and possibly is) portrayed as a far-right minority-hating votebankPolitics-playing party? Or worse, if Modi did become PM, (which seems increasingly the possibility, considering his increasing stature as a development-oriented administrator, the CEO of Gujarat) wouldn’t other countries tread with care dealing with us? Or publicly denounce us?

The mainstream media, the one that shapes all our opinions, needs to do a volte-face on this now. There’s a lot more at stake than TRPs and political correctness.

About wanderlust

just your average books-and-music person who wants to change the world.
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20 Responses to The Swearing-At Ceremony of Narendra Modi aka When it’s wrong to be Right

  1. “The mainstream media, the one that shapes all our opinions, needs to do a volte-face on this now” agree. but will they? in all the probability, no, they wont. coz they dont think about the collective, but only about their TRP…

  2. Arjun says:

    “if Modi did become PM, (which seems increasingly the possibility, considering his increasing stature as a development-oriented administrator, the CEO of Gujarat)”

    This seems unlikely, atleast for another ten years. But you’re right, it doesn’t do for an ‘impartial’ media to be so biased against one man. I suppose it’s easier for me to say sitting here in Bangalore than for those on the ground in Gujarat, but, like you said, it’s time the media focused on something other than the riots when they cover Gujarat. Godhra might have made Modi, but Modi is more than just Hindutva (this is very poorly defined, by the way). They shouldn’t be so grudging to acknowledge that.

    Also, I don’t think anybody other than the media speculated about Modi’s prime ministerial aspirations. He never claimed he was bigger than the party, he never said “Ah, now for the PM’s seat!”, he never said he would be the next party president or anything. He delivered that very Rajini-like line:- “I am CM now and I will be CM forever. For me, CM means Common Man.”

    Somebody should poke Messrs. Sardesai, Ghose and Roy and wake them up.

    Your blog is very nice. You have one more fan in me.

  3. Pingback: The 3 things I learned today « |=Dead End=|

  4. harish says:

    Wow! Superb! We need people like you who articulate as well as you do to expose the myths proclaimed from the rooftops by our media. We, people who admire Modi for being what he is, are labeled using words that smack of intolerance.
    Modi was said to be arrogant. Even after the election results I read columns like these
    which will become more intolerant and arrogant. But the very next day, he said “it was time to show large heartedness” in reference to the rebels. Modi was dscribed as intolerant. I think it takes lot of courage to conduct yourself as gracefully as Modi did inspite of the below-the-belt-media-onslaught on you.
    Modi was alleged to be authoritative. If he has to be authoritative to get things done, so be it. If his authoritarianism was at the cost of the people he would not have got a renewed mandate.

    The country needs an able administrator, who is tough on terror, who is assertive and incorruptible. Modi, fortunately for us, fits exactly into each of these criteria. And the whole country has now come to know it. I don’t think this nation’s citizenry can be fooled by this secular-communal myth anymore. Gujarat proved this quite comprehensively. All these reasons make me believe Modi will be the PM in the near future. Maybe I am too optimistic. Let’s hope for the best.

  5. harish says:

    Errata: I have wrongly used ‘authoritative’ instead of ‘authoritarian’

  6. harish says:

    My comment has got deleted. 😦

  7. harish says:

    Oh sorry! Couldn’t see properly. O Comedy Of Errors!

  8. wanderlust says:

    @anoop:
    precisely… and this post said they need to worry about things more important than TRPs.
    @arjun:
    no.. it was media going overboard again… they have nothing better to fill 24 hours with. And apt comparison with Rajni.
    Fan? thanks! you made my day.
    @harish:
    I think what happened was, your first comment had in it two links, due to which WP automatically held it for moderation… after which I approved the comment, and you could see it again.

  9. harish says:

    This WordPress spam filter creates funny(or shall I say embarrassing) situations. You write a comment, it doesn’t come up, you ping the blog author to express your deepest dismay over the non-publication of your worthless but lengthy comment and by that time the intelligent author would have approved the comment as if he/she were blessed with prescience. That there is a spam filter working somehow doesn’t come to my mind when my comments don’t get published. This is the second time this is happening to me. 🙂

  10. Mudit says:

    Finally I feel that someone has expressed what I too feel but am afraid to admit to for the fear or being branded communal. I am not one for those of you who are wondering. i appreciate the changes Modi has brought in Gujarat be it development or less corruption(some say that the root cause of rebels in BJP was that he put a lid on their schemes to amass public money).

    I also agree with you that it is we(hey i could not vote, was under 18) who have to go out and show our support to the only party which gives a damn about the middle class by voting. It is saddening to think that we can only rue the fact that we did not the last time and now we have a boneless PM and a very shady party(The left) calling the shots.

    Great read!!

  11. Abhishek K says:

    whatever mood ten years down the lane…or on his day of death …ppl
    will remember him as the man behind Gujrat riots and not as a person who has tried to get some good things going in the State…..

  12. Pavan says:

    Yes, Modi has changed the whole face of Gujarat from this earthquake-struck state to one which is attracting more FDI than any of us in the Bihar of the south can imagine. Yes, economy-wise and infrastructure-wise Gujarat is doing better than ever before. Yes, most of the Indian billionaires we’re so proud of hail from around there.

    Modi is running the usual tyranny there. Hitler revolutionized Germany from the wreck that was left after the world war and transformed it into a new empire. Most of the German people loved him. Should we forget all else and praise him for just that?

    The Chinese economy is racing ahead thanks to it’s communist dictatorship who are able to bring in development because they don’t have to face the pitfalls that accompany the liberty that comes with democracy. Does that mean that we should we convert to a single party system and ensure economic prosperity and let human rights and trivial things like the right to information be forgotten?

    I’d rather live in a free state, a flawed state, one that inches forward rather than racing forward… as long as I have those few basic rights unquestionably granted to me. The press outside Gujarat criticizes the Modi government. Do you think anyone in Gujarat dares to raise their voice? I shudder to think of what will happen to the country when a madman like him will be the Prime Minister.

  13. wanderlust says:

    @Mudit:
    yes, until the advent of blogosphere, when I got exposed to points of view different from what the mainstream media was pandering, I too feared to even admit to myself I had such views. cultural terrorism, this is what it is.
    @Abhishek:
    Yeah, unless we get a rightwing mediahouse that gives us another point of view instead of merely licking leftist boots.
    @pavan:
    who ever told you that people in gujarat don’t have their basic rights? When was the last incident of violence against someone of a minority community BECAUSE (s)he was in the minority, reported in Gujarat? or that people in states other than gujarat do? Some minority goons attack an 80-year-old hindu leader in Orissa, and that incident is brushed under the carpet whilst the retaliation is well-publicized. And no one will admit that the people who died are all hindus.
    people think nothing of saying Ram doesn’t exist. And that people not in favor of the sethusamudram project are all anti-national hindu terrorists.
    Look at Mudit’s comment. People are SCARED to admit they are rightist. People (MSM and people who subscribe to it) dub RSS – a volunteer organization – neo-Nazi. Just because they apparently supported the Nazi idealogy. It, of course, is an ill-publicised truth that this came BEFORE hitler seized power, at a time when even Britain’s Conservatives subscribed to Nazism.
    There is so much of reverse discrimination against the so-called Majority community. In the form of reservations, no anti-forcibleConversion laws, apart from such terrorism by the Media and hence society of people who are not in favor of minority appeasement.
    a well-known author has her security under threat, and even the center is doing nothing to protect her; they are in fact holding her freedom to ransom.
    Is this being truly free?

    A terrorist who masterminded an attack on the parliament and proven guilty is being “shown compassion”, along with the media showing shots of his wife and kids… pleas for clemency on that front which might even get approved – is this the sort of freedom you want, where you have to tread carefully coz you might be blown up any moment – there is no deterrent to blowing citizens up.

    I simply can not subscribe to this sort of a flawed state, where terrorists get freedoms such as this.

    And in this state of affairs, I don’t even see any development happening that might at some perverse level justify this. We are not developing socially, economically, militarily – nothing. And don’t even raise the issue of the N-Deal which the present govt. wants to push ahead – it is against the interests of India. we don’t depend on uranium like the deal will make us do, we use thorium, which is already available in abundant amounts on the coasts. And it is better for our development if we develop our own technology and infrastructure instead of being dependent on a foreign country which might be averse to our own interests.

    And why is modi a mass-murderer again? No one levelled that allegation against rajiv gandhi. but that’s beside the point, as this link will show .

    I don’t blame you for holding the point of view you hold, it’s just the conditioning by the media of which not just you, but millions of other indians are victims.

  14. moody crab says:

    First of all, we live in a Democratic country (thank God for that). Hence, we should respect the verdict given by the people of Gujrat. Atleast, Narendra Modi and the BJP don’t play vote-bank politics. And yes, people who are politically confused are easily led astray by our biased media.

    @wanderlust
    Hardline Hindutva is nothing but an Oxymoron.

    @mudit
    You hit the nail on its head when you say that people are scared to express their political leaning towards the right.

  15. Vikram says:

    Priya,

    Your post is very thoughtful. Kudos!

    I feel that Modi might have won only because of the vilification. In a way, the English media has done him and Gujarat a great favor by demonizing him. I admire his knack of converting anything opposed to him as being opposed to Gujarat.

    I recollect this on NDTV coverage on Dec 23rd. The Congress guy tried hard to explain that Gujarat accounts for just 5% of India, and therefore is hardly an indicator of what’s coming their way in 2009 (It’s a different matter that I see this as an inevitable fact). Rajeev Pratap Rudy (of BJP) immediately caught the hook and accused him of denigrating/humiliating/insulting Gujarati pride because he could not digest the progress made by Modi. He went to the extent of accusing that Congress wants Gujarat separated from India! Shrewd strategy of the Moditva bandwagon, I must say.

    After the Gujarat results, I have indeed felt a marked departure from the vilification of Modi by the media. If Modi wants to become the PM, maybe he would be only too happy to have the English media going against him left and right!

    Vikram

  16. Vishnu says:

    First things first, I would deeply appreciate modi for only one remarkable ability he has, his administrative capabilities. Kudos to him for uplifting Gujarat from the state it was in (after earthquake) to this prosperous position that it is in now. I also admit that media frankly has gone overboard in portraying him as a tyrant. There are many more valid points in your blog like Majority-bashing and so on…
    But facts shall remain facts, Modi is a murderer he turned a blind eye to defenseless people during riots. Under his very nose he allowed a mob rule to prevail that wantonly killed and destroyed many Muslims. Muslims were no less cruel themselves either since considerable number of Hindus were killed too. The perpetrators of crime against Muslims were backed by members of Modi government and this fact is widely documented all over. The evidence of his tyranny is spread all over the streets of Naroda Patia. How can you deny this? How can people all over the country be calm over this issue if justice is not met or the victims compensated for the losses. Ever heard of the story of Kausar Bano (not to be mistaken as the wife of Sohrabuddin)? Kausar Bano from Naroda Patia was raped, her womb torn apart and eight month old foetus taken out in front of her and then slashed into two pieces and thrown into fire along with that hapless lady. Where have you ever seen or heard such outrageous acts of violence? I sincerely hope not on the streets of Bangalore in the past 5 yrs. Why hasn’t modi shown evidence of his innocence in public atleast once in 5 yrs to clear his name? Because there is none. He is guilty of all the misdeeds that he is being accused of. His defiance and refusal to amend for these acts is what appalls the entire country. Not 5, even 50 yrs of silence and able administration will never wipe out those misdeeds. Modi might never find a reason to repent or face defeat but facts remain facts that he is a murdered in the garb of an able administrator. Maybe Rajiv Gandhi has far more blood on his hands but that doesn’t mean Modi can get away with 2002 Gujarat riots.
    @moody crap
    Since when has BJP not been a party which indulges in vote-bank politics. For its own vote bank gain it has perpetrated the most horrific acts of communal violence that shook this nation. Ayodha Babri mosque demolition has polarized this country like never before. And those so called disciplinary force in khaki’s (RSS members) and VHP were the ones who were unable to control the crowd that tore apart the mosque. As a result of that gangsters like Dawood went ahead with those bomb blasts in Mumbai resulting in deaths of many innocent people and again riots which took many more lives.
    Ultimately what I want to say is I don’t know or claim if muslims on the whole are saints abhorring violence but its the state and its machinery that has to deal with law breakers. But sadly our country has seen successive governments which have shown no ability to do that, at the same time when Hindus or other parties indulge in riots the country the government cannot watch shamelessly and helplessly or worse aid the perpetrators of violence. For a country that was born out of non-violent ideals what we are being made to accept today is so repulsive even to think of.

  17. wanderlust says:

    @vishnu:
    do peruse that link i mentioned in a comment above. no modern-day nero fiddled when gujarat burned.
    violence in bangalore… there was one for annavaru’s death. one for saddam’s hanging. reports say they were both instigated by LeT sleeper cell in the city.
    and you speak as if the Bombay Blasts were a very logical and acceptable reaction to the masjid demolition. why kill so many innocent civilians, like cowards? they could have targeted the RSS directly? Or Advani, if they perceived him responsible? Why kill civilians who had absolutely nothing to do with all this?
    Why do you say “Hindus or other parties”? It is a proven fact that Hindus only get violent in retaliation, and never instigate riots. Including in the Gujarat violence.
    About your last sentence.. we were also born of secular ideals. Why aren’t we allowed to practise our religion peacefully, especially when we are all-inclusive and tolerant and our customs and practices don’t affect anybody?
    And I firmly believe non-violence by itself is something that cannot sustain itself.

  18. Vishnu says:

    Looks like I wrote a little bit extra in the end and the discussion seem to have digressed, so let me make few things clear. I never intended to portray Bombay Blasts as a logical and acceptable reaction although my words might have conveyed such a meaning, my apologies for the same. For all your questions about the blasts my answer is this, because Dawood and his bunch of thugs are criminals and cowards of the highest degree. And our government and intelligence forces are so worthless that they can’t atleast assassinate him on foreign soil and show our courage to deal with foreign bred/supported terror (inspite of the fact that RAW has many agents within pakistan).
    Sleeper cells, cross border terrorism, terrorism based on religious feelings should be dealt with harshly with harsh rules such as POTA. If members of a certain community are known to be fomenting hatred towards the country (like the muslims in Godhra) they have to be dealt with by the state. In addition to the fact that successive governments pandering to the interests of vote bank politics have failed to do the very same thing, we see that organizations with extreme views conduct armed processions on the streets in the name of rath yatras and what not instigating and polarizing entire communities across INDIA. You said “Hindus get violent only in retaliation” what right do they have to get violent? What right do they have to retaliate? What is the state doing when Hindus were instigated in the first place? And pray how were Hindus instigated when they demolished Babri mosque?
    I don’t want a different rule for a different community I am equally sympathetic to every innocent citizen and I know that these right wing Hindu/Muslim organizations are nothing but an anathema to the society degrading it further with their extremist views.
    Finally in response to your last question, who didn’t allow you to practice your religion peacefully?

  19. wanderlust says:

    i’ve taken too long in replying to your comment, but here it is:
    polarizing entire communities… if any community is made to repeatedly feel ashamed of being what they are, by, of all agents, the Government, in the form of adverse policies and divisive politics, it is only natural they rally together and call to be united against such oppression. Religion will stop being an issue only if the government and its policies create conducive situations – like giving the Majority community its rightful place in the society.
    >>What right do they have to retaliate?
    it’s called self-preservation.
    >>And pray how were Hindus instigated when they demolished Babri mosque
    the reply to that would be a very long history lesson, peppered with soundbytes from naipaul and nirad chaudhuri. i suggest you read it up elsewhere.
    >>Finally in response to your last question
    George W Bush can safely credit his christian upbringing for what he is; can a hindu politician do that without being branded a hindutvawadi or an rss sympathizer?
    why is rightist a bad word in India?
    dravid attended some RSS opening ceremony for some yoga center or something, where he spoke about the benefits of surya namaskar. He was asked to apologize for sympathizing with the RSS.
    there are no suitable anti-ForcibleConversion laws.
    i can simply go on and on. hope you got the point.

  20. Anupam says:

    Hmm.. late as I maybe, I would still say

    I am disappointed in a forward person of our generation leaning so far to right wing policies. The verdict thankfully has been otherwise.

    The riots in Gujrat and the Anti-Sikh riots were pogroms to say the least. They can be put on the world map as some of the worst massacres ever, along with Jalianwala Bagh and the violence that followed partition.

    A party which has come into power by reactionary forces following the destruction of a monument which happened to be a mosque is definitely communal and definitely playing vote bank politics.

    The Congress, in its part, has been just as bad when it comes to these matters, from Indira Gandhi’s time. There is nothing that separates the two parties in these matters.

    Recent developments, however, have swung the times in favour of the Congress. It is currently performing better with a decent cabinet as against the grumbling feisty goons of the opposition.

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