Sunday, May 5, 2013

The NaMo Story



Book Review
Author: Kingshuk Nag
Pblisher: Roli Books, Delhi (2013)
Pages: 188       Price: Rs 295

Politics, like administration, is much about managing people.  While an administrator usually has to deal with people of a particular kind or profession, a politician has to deal with people of all kinds.  Dealing with people of all kinds requires a special art or skill.  Can that skill be described as ‘a criminal mind controlled by a superficial legal framework’?

This was the first thought that struck me as I put aside Kinshuk Nag’s biography of Narendra Modi which I borrowed from a student of mine.  Nag does not describe Modi as a self-controlled criminal.  He quotes an anonymous officer who had served in Modi’s intelligence set-up, “He (Modi) is well versed in Chanakya niti and the techniques of saam, daam, dand, bhed (equality, enticement, punishment, and sowing dissension) and uses them to good effect.”

It is precisely such people who become successful political leaders.  Especially in a state whose people are predominantly merchants.  Every Gujarati wants to be a trader.  No Gujarati wants to be in the police or the army.  Gujaratis are not a martial race.  The mercantile classes have a superficial approach to relationships.  They can smile at the devil or their own potential killer provided the latter are good customers.  Such people, however, suffer from a sense of insecurity.  Hence they need some henchmen at their side equipped with a machine gun.  Narendra Modi emerged as that henchman of the mercantile Gujarati.

But people of other states don’t suffer from such insecurity problems.  Hence NaMo’s machine guns won’t be popular in those states.  That’s why Modi had to change his image as the Hindu warrior to “Mahatma Modi” in the recent years when Prime Ministerial ambitions raised their natural heads in his genes.  He conducted sadbhavana yatras and fasts in order to woo the minority communities, particularly the Muslims.  But people are not as foolish as Modi imagines them to be.  Hence his histrionic yatras and fasts didn’t yield much political harvest.  Moreover, he realised the dilemma whose horns he had embraced unwittingly:  If he goes out of his way to woo the minorities, he may lose his popularity in Gujarat.  If he doesn’t, he may never sit on the chair occupied for long by a “Maun Mohan Singh”.

Nag’s book ends with Modi’s voyage to China (Nov 2011) where he was welcomed in the National Hall of People “where heads of states of national government are normally received.”   Modi is also trying to establish strong links with Canada and the USA.  In the final chapter we are reminded that NaMo’s new mask will be that of the Mahatma. 

The book is interesting to read.  But it remains a mere journalistic approach to biography.  Nag is a journalist with the Times of India.  The Times of India has a unique way of trivialising anything and also commercialising anything.  Nag has not commercialised NaMo’s biography though he has approached it in a very superficial way.  Is it because Mr Modi has nothing deep within him?  It can’t be.  Because he wouldn’t have become what he is unless there is something within even if that something be diabolic.  Nag has not explored that something.  Nag also doesn’t tell us much about Modi’s childhood and family background except that he was born in a low caste family as the son of a tea vendor at Vadnagar railway station.

The book does not inspire us in any way.  Maybe Narendra Modi cannot inspire anyone much.  But I’m sure even the devil can be made inspiring by a good writer.  Read Milton’s Paradise Lost, if you don’t believe me.  I think Nag should have probed the depths of Modi’s psyche instead of merely presenting the history of the man and his work from a journalist’s point of view.  


17 comments:

  1. yesterday,hearing the one-on-one interview of Uma Bharti in Sidhi Baat,She was asked ,Why Modi is growing popular?
    She said,"It is the insecurity and lack of governance of UPA II which has haunted the people of India and In search of a bold and powerful leader people of India are liking him very much."It wouldn't be wrong to say that there are many states who have registered rapid development and many leaders who have won years after years say,Naveen Pattnayak.

    NIce post . :)

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    1. True, Modi is capable of giving the security feeling that people long for. He has a macho personality which attracts not only the Gujaratis. If he suppresses his communal feelings and focuses on genuine development (development of all irrespective of caste, creed...), he has a fair chance of occupying the top sea.

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    2. I am not his blind supported Tomichan but I have been forced to believe he has it in him coz I saw what Gujarat has become and the minority dominated areas are also well developed ..( i mean, i thought BJP will not bother) that was the only result ..Modi tookover Congress seats and many more from constituencies dominated by minorities .
      The way you said .,... he has lot of makeover to be done .. eradicate the fear of promoting riots yet again once and if he gets power and build that confidence !!
      I am developing an iniclination towards him being the PM .. to be honest .!!

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    3. If someone does good things I will never hesitate to accept that. The media has given us different images of Mr Modi. Even the development that he brought, according to many reports, is lop-sided. I can keep my fingers crossed.

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    4. Not all Gujaratis are cowards . There are Rajputs in Gujarat also . Rajputs are the most courageous people in India . Rajputs are the warrior caste found predominantly in the states of Rajasthan , Gujarat , Uttar Pradesh , Madhya Pradesh , Bihar , Haryana , Punjab etc . Many Rajputs of Gujarat have served in the army . The first Chief of staff of Indian Army was the Maharaja of Jamnagar . He was a Rajput by caste . His name was Rajendrasinhji Jadeja . He also fought in the second world war .

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    5. Not all Gujaratis are cowards . There are Rajputs in Gujarat also . Rajputs are the most courageous people in India . Rajputs are the warrior caste found predominantly in the states of Rajasthan , Gujarat , Uttar Pradesh , Madhya Pradesh , Bihar , Haryana , Punjab etc . Many Rajputs of Gujarat have served in the army . The first Chief of staff of Indian Army was the Maharaja of Jamnagar . He was a Rajput by caste . His name was Rajendrasinhji Jadeja . He also fought in the second world war .

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    6. Not all Gujaratis are cowards . There are Rajputs in Gujarat also . Rajputs are the most courageous people in India . Rajputs are the warrior caste found predominantly in the states of Rajasthan , Gujarat , Uttar Pradesh , Madhya Pradesh , Bihar , Haryana , Punjab etc . Many Rajputs of Gujarat have served in the army . The first Chief of staff of Indian Army was the Maharaja of Jamnagar . He was a Rajput by caste . His name was Rajendrasinhji Jadeja . He also fought in the second world war .

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  2. A good review saved me the trouble of reading it. Loved the quote
    The Times of India has a unique way of trivialising anything and also commercialising anything.

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    1. Glad you found the review interesting. Thanks.

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  3. I neither love nor hate Modi. But the book in question is an obvious drivel. Mr Laloo Yadav would present a more natural pitch to his talents. Now, don't tell me Mr Yadav is not a potential PM candidate!

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    1. Why not, Uma? Mr Laloo Yadav drew the attention of the Harvard University!

      I think Nag wrote this book foreseeing Mr Modi becoming the PM or at least controversial in the process of trying to become.

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  4. Am not someone who drools much into politics or politicians...but must agree with your views...a good work makes the work of devil inspiring and whether anybody believes it or not...writers do bring out about the latent talent of a person...and presents in the way it should be presented...good or evil is only a matter of perception.

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    1. Politicians don't attract me too, Anjan. It's just that I happened to find a copy with a student... Moreover, I wanted to know what makes Modi tick?

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  5. Nice post Sir. Even I also want to know what makes Modi tick? Many people blindly say that only Modi can save India from this pathetic situation, but they don't have any answers on how? So, is it just a kind of myth? What to say? Intelligent people make fun of ignorant superstitious people, who used to wait for sometime whenever a cat would cross their way. But same intelligent people would go back home and would either try to show their respect towards the west direction or would light an agarbatti in front an idol.

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    1. You will have to wait till a good biographer comes along to write Modi's biography to know what really ticks him... As Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, historian, said, "Heroes do not make history; history makes heroes." The current situation in Gujarat has made Modi a hero. Does the current situation in India demand Modi as PM? If yes, history (of India) will make him a hero!

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  6. It seems rather political to comment .But i would rather vote Mr.Modi than to re-elect NCP. Stakes and expectations are high.Agree with the point that Mr.Modi uses all chanakya nitis to get work done.
    NANO project was cleverly bagged by Gujrat even when Maharashtra had all the resources.The kind of development seen in Gujrat is actually good in terms of industrial and technology.

    Then goes about the book sir i have read lot of articles and wiki pages about Mr.Modi .I read your replies to the comments.Would you suggest me to read this one? ..worth the time ?

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    1. I wouldn't recommend this book, Pavan, especially if you have read much about Modi already. The book doesn't go beyond journalistic articles. A biography should explore the personality, the deep cores of it, which this book fails to do.

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