Modi the Great
|Image from Indian Express|
P Chidambaram recently called Modi a dictator and compared him to Hitler. He is one among many Indians to do so. I am one of the humbler ones in that galaxy of those who stand in awe of Modi’s rise to imperial eminence.
I’m still haunted by what Modi said after he secured a thumping victory in 2019. “This is the 21st century,” he said, “and this is new India.” For a moment I choose to forget that he took India back to the medieval period. Let me continue to be haunted by that 2019 victory speech. “Our victory in today’s election is followed by chants of ‘Modi! Modi! Modi!’” Just imagine Modi saying that. If you can’t imagine search for that speech on YouTube and watch it. “This is not a victory for Modi,” he went on. “This is a victory for the aspirations of every citizen of this country craving for honesty.” Wow!
Modi shouting “Modi! Modi! Modi!” is what has kept haunting me. No one on the planet loves himself as much as Modi does, I think. Or is it self-hatred? Narcissism is the other side of self-hatred, one psychologist told me once accusing me of both narcissism and self-hatred. Forget me now. Let’s return to the century’s luminary.
He boasted about his 56-inch chest. Mine is a modest 35 inches. I have one reason at least to admire Modi. The world admired him for many other reasons too. Decisiveness, for one. “Modi govt very decisive, will change system: Sukhbir Badal” was a headline in Free Press Journal on 21 Sept 2014. When the Rafale deal was finally made, defence minister Rajnath Singh made the headline: “Rafale acquisition possible due to Modi’s decisiveness.” Modi’s decisiveness has made many a headline from the time he ascended the throne in Indraprastha.
Sanjay Gandhi was the most decisive politician in India before Narendra Modi. He was a class 10 dropout too. Making decisions is quite easy when you don’t possess much grey matter. Complexities don’t bother you. Hit and kick. As simple as that.
Most dictators did that. They were very decisive for sure.
Just look at a few of the momentous decisions that Modi took as PM. Make in India, Demonetisation, Surgical Strike, Smart Cities, Namami Gange, Lockdown, Vocal for Local… They were all imposed on the nation with pomp and pomposity. Forget that none of them did any good. Most of them never materialised. Those which did materialise made beggars of Indians. As Aakar Patel puts it, “The Modi years are littered with the corpses of projects taken up and discarded once a new toy had been identified.”
Have you seen Kim Jong-un playing with toys? He acquires a godman look in my nightmares.
I’m not the only one to have these nightmares.
Ashish Nandy, well-known political psychologist, met Modi in 2002, long before Modi became anybody. After the meeting Nandy said, “Modi, it gives me no pleasure to tell the readers, met virtually all the criteria that psychiatrists, psycho-analysts and psychologists had set up after years of empirical work on the authoritarian personality. He had the same mix of puritanical rigidity, narrowing of emotional life, massive use of the ego defence of projection, denial and fear of his own passions combined with fantasies of violence – all set within the matrix of clear paranoid and obsessive personality traits…. I came out of the interview shaken and told Yagnik (fellow interviewer) that, for the first time, I had met a textbook case of a fascist.” [Obituary of a culture]
Fascist. That was in 2002. Now, 20 years later, what does Nandy think? I don’t know. I guess no one is allowed to think in India nowadays. Do you know how many people are in Indian jails for the crime of thinking?
PS. Written for Indispire Edition 402: The line between democrat and dictator can be quite thin. Is India gliding away from democracy? #DemocraticDictator