Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US, during which he was seen as a statesman at the UN General Assembly, as a Rockstar performing to a largely expatriate Indian audience at the iconic Madison Square Gardens (with a minor sideshow thrown in at the Central Park) peaking into a per-sonal meeting with President Obama over two days that culminated in unusual scenes of bonhomie between the two at the Martin Luther King Centre, has thrown the country into a paroxysm of excite-ment over a foreign visit the like of which has not been seen at any time in the history of independent India.
The Indian media, that the UPA had allowed to grow into a veritable government by itself, found that Modi had no time for it and that no free trips or lunches could be expected from a govern-ment that came into power in May this year. The so-called guild of Editors, long used to being pampered by a supine government led by Manmohan Singh, found itself out in the cold.
Now, they had to make a scramble for flights into the US as also to set up makeshift studios from where to bring the events live to their audiences in India. There were no ringside seats for them and each sound-byte was becoming difficult to obtain from the official contingent that accompanied the Prime Minister.
The resulting frustration brought the worst out of media celebrities like Rajdeep Sardesai, who not only lost his cool and behaved like a street-thug but also tried to cover it all up with protestations of injured innocence. The other celebrity Barkha Dutt, with her characteristic arms-flailing like some windmill, was reduced to asking idiotic questions of US Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.
The elitist Indian press has since been in overdrive mode to run down the visit with Congress minions like Mani Shankar Aiyar, Shashi Tharoor, Manish Tewari, etc., venting their frustrations and heaping ridicule on the PM. Thoughtlessly, they have even heaped scorn on President Obama’s charming gesture of greeting the Indian Prime Minister in his own Gujarati language. Known scholarly charlatans like Ram Guha and Gopalkrishna Gandhi have added their own bit of poison to the debate with their writings that find prominent place in the elitist English language press; while pretenders like Hartosh Singh Bal do not wish to be left out in the race for the prize of bringing their own country down in international esteem.
One must give credit to these elements and their masters in India and abroad for having recognised Modi as a real threat to them, almost immediately after he was sent by Advani to Gujarat as the Chief Minister in 2001. The witch-hunt against Modi that commenced with the events unleashed by the burning of the Sabarmati Express in February 2002 has been most unrelenting; almost as if a Savo-narola had been reincarnated and pressed into service. It is anybody’s guess as to how much money would have gone into this enterprise, but if ever an account is made, the figures will be truly astound-ing. How and from where all these resources were commandeered would be a fit subject for an inde-pendent study.
It would not surprise many if it comes out that the entire Sabarmati Express episode was a well-planned conspiracy at the highest levels and the subsequent riots engineered with the sole purpose of removing this threat to the perpetuation of family rule not only at the centre but also in various states in the country. Once a spark has been struck, it does not require the original striker to be present for it to engulf incendiary materials that come into encounter with it. The Godhra conspir-acy has not been fully analysed. It must be reinvestigated with full impartiality so that the people know the truth.
Modi has all along suffered the hostility of the elitist media and he has found his own ways of dealing with it. That is why he refuses to indulge them with studio interviews and press conferences. He finds it much easier to be in direct touch with the people. He is a great communicator, especially when speaking extempore, touching upon issues that are closest to the hearts of his audience. His latest method of speaking on the radio has completely cut the middlemen out of the communication chain, while his reach has expanded to almost 90% of the Indian people.
He also knows that his constituency is not any particular vote bank to which he needs to pander. His has been an inclusive campaign, notwithstanding his overt Hindu civilisational upbringing; and from the time he was chosen as the BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate, he has been speaking for all Indians. The impact of the fact that the BJP got elected with a majority on its own despite having practically no presence in the South (except Karnataka) and in the East, is lost on those who still keep talking about only 31% having voted for the party. Take the South and the East out of the equation and the numbers will change dramatically.
It was Abraham Lincoln, who wrote in 1862 that “The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so must we think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.” India too has been held in thrall by the subaltern elites who have not been able to throw off the yoke of intellectual slavery to their erstwhile colonial masters.
Narendra Modi, born after independence, and unencumbered by a Macaulayist conditioning, is discarding the dogmas of the past and acting anew. He is addressing the very constituency that had been marginalised by the colonialists and getting a refreshing response. He has thrown the entrenched power centres into dis-array while sweeping away the accumulated dust of the decades of neglect.
Modi’s foreign policy initiatives, beginning with the invitation to the heads of the SAARC nations to attend his swearing-in ceremony, and followed quickly by visits to Bhutan, Nepal and Japan, are based in realpolitik. He even got the Chinese President to come to Ahmedabad before New Delhi, and the standoff with the PLA in Ladakh too was handled with firmness. The UN rebuff to Nawaz Sharif was statesmanlike. The unprecedented reception for a foreign dignitary in New York must have had a great influence on President Obama’s interaction with him later in Washington.
Modi appears to have held his own on issues relating to WTO and the global war on terror. Those who lament that he got nothing more than a “kem chho” from President Obama are the eternal whiners who are unable to come to terms with the fact that a mere chaiwalla with no public school education, wholly untrained in Oxbridge English, is now occupying the highest seat of governance. Their des-peration shows in every utterance, and every day that passes adds to it. They have not yet figured out that Narendra Modi understands them much better than they do him, and that he has no need for their advice or approval.
Locked in their historical prejudice, wilful ignorance, a paucity of common sense, and a disastrous degree of intellectual arrogance, these elite have not realised that the future of India can only be secured with a robust and dynamic foreign policy. With a hostile and nuclear-armed Pakistan, seem-ingly on the verge of collapse, and a rampaging Islamic militancy engulfing the Arab world, India’s highest priority is to safeguard the country from an enemy who is driven not by expansionist desire but by religious dogma.
Narendra Modi has understood the grim reality of the threat, and hence has lost no time in building coalitions that can thwart the ambitions of the marauding hordes. If he has appeared to be a tad slow in addressing the domestic problems of better governance and less corrup-tion, it is because he feels that the foreign threats are more imminent which will have longer-lasting consequences. Foreign policy, therefore, needs to be put in the fast lane, and ahead of any other concern.
By: Vijaya Dar
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