Saturday, May 17, 2014

Is being 'Modi-fied' a good thing?

The verdict is out, the BJP led NDA, have won the 2014 Indian elections comprehensively and Mr. Narendra Modi, the symbol of hope to many and an object of dread to many more, is going to lead this country as the Prime Minister for the next five years. BJP have had such a thumping victory that they do not even need the co-operation of allies and other powerful regional players to form a government. This can be good or bad, depending on the motives of the party and their action on the long run.

If the newly formed government has very noble, progressive motives, then they could bring about drastic changes that could open the gates for great prosperity to this country, without any obstacles being placed by other regional parties, (which would have been the case had BJP not won over 272 seats and had to depend on their allies for the rest, therefore forming a coalition government). If they are indeed sinister, however and are against liberalism and secularism, then there would be very few powers who would be able to stop them from doing, what many people may perceive, as anti-social acts.

The main reason for such an one-sided victory for BJP led NDA in this election has to do with the previous government,  the Congress led NDA, not doing sufficient enough economically, to satisfy the needs of an aspiring, younger generation of Indians, a slew of corruption scandals, some well known members of the UPA government had gotten themselves into and a 'soft diplomatic' stance taken by the administrators in conflicts involving India's neighbors. All these collectively made the people of India, feel that they didn't get what they really deserved or what they were made to believe they could achieve.

Therefore people wanted a change and they had to look towards the other major player in Indian politics, the BJP led NDA, with smaller players like AAP just beginning to establish themselves.

While it is absolutely fair to look towards change, have people really voted for their preferred candidates after a thorough research? 

I'm really concerned with the kind of association some people have made with Mr. Narendra Modi and his opposition already without fully comprehending the real dynamics between all the power players and their history. It is completely fair to hope for a good leadership and it is understandable to expect that from Mr. Modi, considering the failure of his opposition in the past few years. I frankly don't know sufficiently about the gentleman and I couldn't make a proper judgement, as people who have been saying good things about him have been his ardent supporters and people who have been pointing his past flaws have been downright haters. I have failed to see a wise, neutral, level headed observer so far who could say if he is the right one for the throne or not. Maybe I don't see them because they've been branded pro or anti-modi, based on their statements by the supporters of the two sides.

So this entire article is not anti-Modi or pro-Modi. It's a short analysis on the sagacity of the voting masses. The points in favor of Modi include, him being an effective, business minded, administrator who could reset the economy of the country and lead India to a double digit growth figure, that was expected to happen during UPA I period, but did not happen due to corruption and several business ventures being halted behind red tapes, and that he was from a simple background, therefore knows the sufferings of the commoners, unlike the members of the UPA, a majority of whom, have been branded as the elites of the nation.

The points raised against him have been his tag of being an 'Hindu Nationalist', who could be, not so favorable towards members of other communities in the country (with the 2002 riots being stated as an example and Modi's regret (of not having done sufficiently to curb the violence), in his own words compared to that one experienced towards a dog run over by a car) and his authoritarian way of ruling in his own state Gujarat.

The so called 'Gujarat Model' of Mr. Modi has also been questioned time and time again, with stats proving that Gujarat wasn't even the no.1 state in different areas of development like infrastructure, literacy rates power, with states like Bihar, Kerala, Tamil Nadu also showing significant progresses in the said period. But Gujarat has been one of the top performing states in the country, the fact which nobody can question. What some people do question though, if the credit for the developments made in the state of Gujarat must go to Mr. Modi alone, as Gujarat has been doing well, prior to Mr. Modi's claim to power as well. Supporters of Mr. Modi have argued that maintaining such levels of growth over the years is by itself an achievement and therefore Mr. Modi deserves appreciation.

Then there was the comparison of Mr. Modi with the author of Mein Kampf, which the anti-Modi lot claimed as the ideal representation and the other side, brushed it aside as the Godwin's Law.

So such arguments have been made against and in favor of Modi over and over again in the past few months. Which side should the commoners believe and how could they know for sure? There is no other way but for people to individually make researches of their own, which of course many wouldn't bother doing, as it seems a strenuous job. But selecting the administrators of the country for the next five years is no game and is one of the greatest responsibilities, perhaps even the greatest responsibility.

But have people really understood its value and given importance to the task? Many have voted for Mr. Modi because of their disappointment with Congress led UPA for aforementioned reasons and because many pro-Modi people have given them hope that Mr. Modi would do a good job. Many have voted for the Congress, despite their poor show in the past few years, declaring that Congress is the lesser evil and they would rather deal with an economically stagnant, yet peaceful India, than a rich, but divisive India.

Are both these decisions right? Who is the lesser evil might change according to which side you are on, but isn't choosing the lesser evil, by itself, a deplorable and immature act? Unless one knows absolutely sure that one particular party would do a good job, they shouldn't vote for that party. Completely refraining from voting is an even worse crime, that many seem to do, claiming that they believe in none of the participating candidates. Their laziness is decorated with the veil of superior discernment. Have people forgotten the option of NOTA (None of the above?), which would have been the right option if they didn't know who would be a good choice to administer their country?

Many people (not all) have started believing that Mr. Modi will be the one to change their country for the good, just because some celebrities and powerful individuals have endorsed the gentleman. Once again, I do not mean to say that Mr. Modi will fail them or he would do them justice, but I question the discernment of the people who have accepted this belief based on others' words and not after their own analysis. Same goes to the people who have voted against Mr. Modi, on hearing the grave predictions made by powerful individuals, who are supporters of his opposition.

In social media, there seems to be more and more people with Mr. Modi's picture as their own profile picture and re-tweeting his quotes, a million times in a single day. Again, I do not declare this dedication and following as wrong, but have all these people started following Mr. Modi after knowing everything about him thoroughly, or have they claimed him as their role model, having been engulfed in the hype and wave created by his party people? I do not question the individuals who have known about him well and chosen him as their leader, but I do question the ones who have chosen him, just to be part of the hype happening all around. Same applies to those individuals who have been making anti-Modi statements online, without a proper analysis of their own.

Even friends and colleagues have turned against each other due to their differing ideologies and belief in political parties, as it happens during each and every election and this is not too surprising. But what if these friends and colleagues stick to the people whom they believe would do a good job and start to defend them till the end, even when they do something wrong, just because they want to save their face before their friends and colleagues who had a view and belief, opposite to their own, which had turned out to be right.

If supporters of Mr. Modi start to defend him when he really does something anti-social in the future or if he goes on to do some really wonderful things and anti- Modi people start to portray his actions in a bad manner and try to halt it, both would spell doom to the country. Ultimately it is the development of the nation in the right manner that should matter and people on both sides have to have the heart to accept their erroneous judgement, if what they believed, turned out to be false. This is the only request from an ignorant neutral (who hasn't made a proper discernment of his own) sitting on the fence and hoping for India's future to be a good one.

There is one important point to note though. People's expectations have been raised prior to this election, more than ever before. Therefore many genuinely believe to wake up to a transformed India, the day Mr. Modi makes his oath. But it's not going to be that easy and problems in India are so complex that it would take years for a complete transformation to happen. But steps towards that transformation can be seen in a matter of months, if Mr. Modi makes the right moves. Whatever it is, a choice as been made and it is important for people to remain patient and see what kind of steps are being made. One must not justify all moves or oppose all moves, based on their past beliefs. Every one of us is responsible for what is going to happen in the next few years and we must take up the blame, if things do turn out to be the opposite of what we believed would happen...and if things turn out to be right, well... its time to be humble.

 - A.Prashanth Narasimhan

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