Modi phenomenon and the two Indias
Modi is seen as the leader by doers and achievers while he is hated by hangers on with colonial values who depend on patronage from the ruling family calling itself the Congress. They fear having to live in a world where they have to compete on performance.
Guest column by Madhu Purnima Kishwar
Editor’s introduction: Narendra Modi is admired by many in India and abroad, but hated by some. These had combined forces and exerted influence to have U.S. visa denied to Modi when he was invited to visit America by some Indian-American business leaders. The lead in this was taken by some Indian Christian groups camouflaged behind Left-Liberal sounding labels. The most prominent of these was the Christian fanatic and Hindu baiter called Biju Mathew calling himself a Marxist intellectual. (These pseudo intellectuals manage to gain credibility in the Indian media by flaunting their association with some non-descript American university like Biju Mathew with the Rider College and Angana Chatterji with the California Institute of Integral Studies.)
It is important also to recognize the importance of the NRIs or the Indian Diaspora. Except for church groups and Indians in theological seminaries in Europe and America it consists of the crème de la crème especially in India. (Other than a few academics in rapidly sinking humanities disciplines one has to be Leftist and anti-Hindu for academic survival.) In economic terms they are said to be worth about a trillion dollars almost the size of the Indian economy. They look to Modi as their leader and Gujarat as the model for future.
There are really two Indias today— the India of achievers, and India of patronage that as we shall soon see harks back to colonial days and the White Man’s Burden, which firmly believes in the superiority of white-skinned people, or even half-whites like Rahul Gandhi and their fitness to rule because of their skin color. (This would make Dr. Martin Luther King turn in his grave.)
To them birth and privilege are more desirable in a leader than achievement, in fact they dread achievers, for achievers set standards for themselves and to others. This is what makes them engage in relentless Modi-bashing and go to such lengths as visa denial. Because they think like themselves, visiting a ‘white’ country like America (which it is not) is an honor coveted by everyone.
The Modi-bashers almost fit a stereotype. Their values are colonial values— of the White Man’s Burden in particular. They feel deep within themselves that they, brownskins can never be equal to a whiteskin and it is in his or her interest to seek and live by patronage under residual colonial institutions. These thrive on the fringes of the vast patronage network of 10 Janpath and its extension called the Congress party. It is really a colonial hangover in post-colonial India. Its attraction is it is headed by a white person and children (and a son-in-law) who are at least half white. To understand the mindset of this anachronism it helps to recall an infamous ditty of more than a century ago about the young Lord Curzon:
My name is George Nathaniel Curzon,
I am a most superior person.
My cheeks are pink, my hair is sleek,
I dine at Blenheim twice a week.
Blenheim was the home of the Duke of Marlborough, then regarded as the most aristocratic residence in England. In genuflecting to Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, these modern day courtiers are really paying tribute to the values upheld by the likes of Curzon, the most imperialistic of the Viceroys of India. (But unlike Rahul or any member of the Gandhi family, Curzon was a brilliant student at Oxford and became a distinguished author.)
It is nostalgia for colonial values that makes educated Indians flock to 10 Janpath and seek its patronage. They feel threatened by the rise of Narendra Modi and the values he and his supporters represent— achievement, self reliance and self respect. They want a world where birth and connections matter more than talent and achievement. Loss of patronage is what they fear most, which they feel is their fate if Modi ever assumes the leadership role. So they will stop at nothing to stop Modi from rising to the stop. In this the English language media has joined hands for it too has much to lose. The following is excerpted from a recent column by Dr. Madhu Kishwar that appeared in Outlook. It has been edited with comments to suit FOLKS. NSR
Anti-Modi crusaders run their rabid campaigns blindfolded
… when I went to Gujarat to do a small reality check first hand, I was appalled at the wide gap between the … propaganda and the reality on the ground… That gave me the first glimpse of the power of Modi the doer, an able administrator capable of delivering what he promised. Gujarat riots of 2002 converted Modi bashing into an extremely rewarding career advancement strategy for media persons, NGO activists, academics and sundry intellectuals. Conversely, you are condemned to lifelong perdition, treated as a political and intellectual outcast subject to unending vilification campaigns starting with being labelled a fascist if you dare say one word either in defence of Modi or suggest a bit of caution to Modi bashers.
As the Congress party seems on decline there is increasing desperation in the air for all those who have survived on the Party’s patronage. The possibility of Modi emerging as a winner has put them in panic. That is why the media in general and TV anchors in particular have gone so overboard in demonizing Modi that even people like me who have been consistent critics of BJP feel revolted enough to say: “This has gone too far. Please don’t manipulate us beyond our tolerance limit.”
We would be guilty of the worst form of intellectual cowardice if we kept quiet now. Let me illustrate why I say this from examining some of the key charges against Modi.
Riots under Congress before 2002
The most unforgivable crime attributed to Modi is that he orchestrated the “ethnic cleansing” of Muslims in 2002. He is alleged to be a man with a fascist mindset with Muslims of Gujarat supposedly living as an endangered minority in perpetual fear and insecurity. Interestingly this charge is most loudly and aggressively leveled by NGO activists who have received massive support— financial material and political form the Congress party and its governments as well as powerful international donor agencies. [Sic: Especially Christian outfits operating under various names. NSR]
As far as riots, communal massacres and divisive politics is concerned, no party in India dares match the track record of Congress party in post independence years. It starts with gross mishandling of Kashmir through rigged elections, installing puppet regimes and then misusing the army to deal with the resulting popular discontent and disaffection. The result is for all to see—tens of thousands of killings and ‘disappearance’ of Kashmiri Muslims, near total cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits from the valley, and permanent regional and communal polarisation in the state. …
Even with regard to Muslims, the riots politically orchestrated by the Congress in Jamshedpur, Bhiwandi, Bhagalpur, Hyderabad, Bokaro, Meerut, Malliana, Mumbai, Nellie and a host of other towns and cities as well as the most recent riots in Assam—all under Congress rule are not forgotten by the Muslim community which has stopped being a captive vote bank of the Congress.
Godhra: Congress culpability, media collusion
Media collaborates with the Congress party in trying to make the country forget that the guilty of all these massacres have not been punished. Gujarat itself was a tinderbox since the 1960s ever exploding into communal and caste riots after Indira Gandhi assumed power at the centre and Gujarat was ruled by her hand-picked chief ministers. Congress not only sowed the seeds of communal discord but also harvested several bloody crops from those poisonous seeds. The killings in 1969 and 1985 were on much larger scale and the violence lasted far longer than in 2002. By contrast BJP tried harvesting only one crop—that too in collaboration with the Congress party. The difference is the Congress party has not learnt any lessons whereas Modi became far wiser from the blunder of 2002.
Those pillorying Modi for 2002, display total amnesia over the fact that Congressmen and women had gleefully joined VHP/BJP goons in the 2002 massacre as well. It has consistently projected 2002 riots as a one way massacre of Muslims by Hindus. But as per figures given by the Congress party’s minister of state for home Shri Prakash Jaiswal on 11 May 2005 in Parliament, those killed included 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus while 223 persons were reported missing. But anti- Modi brigade routinely overstates the case by talking of “thousands of Muslims” being butchered without every acknowledging Hindu casualties.
Nor is the death of 59 Hindus burnt to death at Godhra railway station ever treated with the same seriousness. In fact, many among the Modi-bashers brazenly allege that the Godhra train massacre was a VHP/BJP conspiracy, even though several known Congressmen have been convicted by the courts for that mass murder.
Numerous Congressmen have been indicted by courts and sent to jail, not only for their role in the Godhra train massacre but also in subsequent riots in Ahmedabad and other cities. However, there is studied silence in the media when Congressmen are indicted for the violence. But indictment of BJP leaders is gloated over for days on end.
I seriously believe that the dubious role of the Congress party in Gujarat riots needs to be thoroughly investigated by an independent credible agency. There is far more to it than has come out thus far because of media complicity. [Sic: Dr. Kishwar has shown great courage in raising the issue of Congress culpability in Godhra massacre and post-Godhra riots. NSR]
Denying Modi’s development record in Gujarat
Another charge repeated over and over again is that Modi’s model of development is not “inclusive”. Firstly, this implies that development in Congress ruled states is “inclusive” when we are witnessing daily exposes of the Congress party —promoting crony capitalism and indulging in unashamed loot of public money and natural resources.
During the run up to the Gujarat Assembly elections, national TV channels vied with each other to convince us that rural Gujarat is reeling under water scarcity, crop failures, droughts anti-farmer policies of the Modi government, especially with regard to tribal areas. Compare this to the information provided to me by Chairman of the National Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices — Dr Ashok Gulati — among the most knowledgeable and respected farm policy experts in India, appointed to this post by none other than Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. I quote from an interview he gave me in January 2012.
“While in large parts of India agriculture is in deep crisis and growing at 2% per annum, the rate of growth in Gujarat has been over 10%. A major factor for this consistent growth is the efficiency and speed with which Gujarat government has worked to spread irrigation. The check dam movement started by a religious leader in Gujarat has been carried forward in a determined manner by Modi’s government. He got all manners of civil society organisations as well as village and caste panchayats involved in building 120,000 check dams. He also started the Khet Talawadi programme for creating a pond in every field. He told the farmers, I will give you funds under NREGA to build a pond on your farm if you earmark 5% of your land for this purpose. As a result of this mass participation in recharging groundwater, Gujarat is the only state in the country where water table is rising while it is fast depleting in most other states of India.”
While in other states, NREGA has created major distortions in the farm sector, made farm labour scarce and farming non-viable, in Gujarat it has given major boost to farm sector through careful targeted use of NREGA funds for improving productivity of individual farms instead of siphoning off funds through corrupt means.
Moreover, Gujarat government is providing 90% subsidy for drip irrigation in order to being about efficient water utilisation. This too has spread fast because of proactive approach of Gujarat government. As a result even in water scarce tribal areas farmers are harvesting three crops a year. …Does one hear one good word in the media on this account?
[Sic: The latest to deny development in Gujarat is that self-appointed know-all ‘Justice’ Markandeya Katju. In doing so the ‘Honorable’ Katju was only parroting Rahul Gandhi’s wisdom. One of his pearls of wisdom was that India is a land of immigrants. Its intended audience was probably Sonia Gandhi, but it is a commentary on the ‘Honorable’ Justice Markandeya Katju. NSR]
Are Gujarati Muslims Endangered Minority?
Even the Prime Minister of India joins the unholy chorus and tells Muslims in Gujarat that they are unsafe in this state, unless they vote Congress back to power. Such irresponsible statements are expected from NGOs playing to international galleries who fund and support them but coming from national media or the PM of India, it is a shocker. Apart from other considerations, does he realize how much legitimacy such falsehoods lend to jihadi terrorists of Pakistan? [Sic: This is what was used by anti-Modi forces in the U.S. in asking senators to support visa denial. NSR]
…The kid glove treatment and patronage Shiv Sainiks and MNS get in Congress ruled Maharashtra is not the surest recipe for Muslim wellbeing. That Bal Thackeray himself was propped up by Congressmen to finish the communists and trade-unions in Bombay or that Raj Thackeray gets soft-treatment because his MNS is seen as a spoiler that divides the ant-Congress vote in Maharashtra, thus helping Congress electorally, is of course never mentioned in media discourse. One can list endless such examples. Have Sonia Gandhi or Rahul ever been taken to task on this account?
…Even the highly partisan Sachar committee report provides concrete evidence that Muslims of Gujarat are doing far better than Muslims of Congress or Left ruled states in matters of education, jobs, business opportunities as well as crime-free environment. Recently, the Times of India reported that Gujarat with a 9 % Muslim population has 10% Muslim personnel in its police stations. No other state matches this figure. …Not a single TV channel thought this vital piece of information worth 5 minutes discussion even though it belies the myth of systematic discrimination against Muslims.
Today Muslims of Gujarat are clearly scripting a new role for themselves and a new equation not just with Modi but also those who want to keep scratching their wounds and encashing their real and imaginary vulnerabilities. They are letting the world know that they can speak for themselves and manage their affairs without the help of manipulative mediators.
Today Narendra Modi is seen as the leader by the new India of confident achievers. Both he and his followers are envied and feared by the non-achieving hangers-on of the old colonial order and its hangover. They hold up a non-achiever like Rahul Gandhi as the Great White Hope to protect them. Dr. Madhu Kishwar has made her case eloquently. To it I will only add a question: “Would Gujarat have been a safer place for everyone including Muslims, if instead of Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi had been the CM in 2002? NSR