Millennium Post

Between the gaps in Modi mantra

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Narendra Modi’s insistence on good governance is not a sham, though his emphasis on that governance being ‘pro-people’ remains a matter of furious debate. The Modi mantra, however, keeps changing form, and the latest shape that his words of administrative wisdom have taken is ‘India first.’ Modi, in a speech, delivered via videoconference to righteously indignant Indian Americans, has declared that his brand of secularism happens to be ‘India First’, which, if decoded can fall through so many stools of interpretation that it need not mean anything at all. Yet, for the sake of giving the thrice-victorious Gujarat chief minister some benefit of doubt, it can be assumed that he meant the relentless march of ‘development’, economic and industrial growth, the increase in living standards and reduction of poverty. This is the model of development that the corporate India wholeheartedly endorses, the only form of growth comprehended by the transnational business and service classes of Indian origin, whether residing in this country, or its vastly expanded diaspora all across the world. Modi’s version of progress has clearly moved up the ladder; his all-encompassing vision now beholding the whole of India, instead of the coastal state of Gujarat that made him the man he now is.

Nonetheless, howsoever he wants to project it, Narendra Modi has no inkling about the basic tenets of ‘secularism’, and he’s egged on by those who do not, in fact, care much about it either. In a sweeping stroke of logical fallacy, Modi has confused majoritarian economic betterment with the comprehensive compound of political, economic, religious and cultural freedom, in other words, secularism. While Modi’s Gujarat is relatively free of corruption and has moved up several notches in the efficiency quotient, his recalcitrant lack of remorse for the 2002 pogrom is more than a mere blot in the paper. It signifies his blindness towards moral, ethical and human rights that might get trampled under the heavy boots of ironhanded authoritarianism. Although comparisons with Adolf Hitler might truly be farfetched, Narendra Modi’s invoking of menagerie of zoological metaphors, such as the snake around Shiva and the mouse mascot of Ganesha, all lifted from the gilded frames of Hindu iconography, to indicate his idea of ‘inclusiveness’ is as myopic as Maggie Thatcher’s in 1980s Britain, who simply refused to acknowledge the issues staring at the immigrants. Further, claims that ‘Modi’s social contract is akin to Lee Kuan Yew’s in Singapore’ are also hollow, because India is hardly a dilapidated ‘island city’ without a historic character, upon which the one-dimensional stamp of progress can be block-printed all over. If Modi indeed has to take over the reins of this motley country sutured along state borders, he has to begin with appreciating the true meaning of secularism.
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