How Modi conquered by raising the level of the game

Discussion in 'Politics & Society' started by WMD, Feb 6, 2013.

  1. WMD

    WMD Regular Member

    Jan 2, 2013
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    City of Temples
    How Modi conquered by raising the level of the game | Firstpost

    In the eyes of many people, Narendra Modi is a man with a past. At the Shri Ram College of Commerce, the place Modi chose for his first choreographed appearance on the national stage in Delhi, we saw a man with the future in mind: His own future and the future of the nation.

    Both looked good in the hands of India’s most-talked-about leader who has mastered the art of marketing himself very well – as Rahul Gandhi noted to his disadvantage during the Gujarat elections.

    The response of his audience – notwithstanding the protesters outside the venue who were obsessed only with his past – showed that for the youth of India, the future is more important than the past. They want to move on.

    Modi has offered himself for that role. For a nation sinking in despondency over crime, corruption, caste and communal conflict, Modi painted a broad-brush vision with development as the focus, not vote-bank politics.

    The contrast with all the ongoing hate-talk of the Togadias, Owaisis and caste-mullahs could not have been starker.

    Modi’s appeal was to the aspiring classes, those who have no patience with conflicts of identity, non-governance, non-performance and excuses for failure.

    This was encapsulated in his core message of hope and youth achievement: “Hum kisise se kam nahin hain.”

    Modi also enunciated his vision for government. “Government”, he said, “had no business to be in business.” This contrasts sharply with the Congress-fed belief in a mai-baap Sarkar.

    So what is the business of government? Modi’s answer: “Minimum government, maximum governance.”

    As an example, he offered the case of how he built India’s largest convention centre in Gandhinagar, the state capital in 152 days. He also reminded Delhi-ites that the coaches of the Delhi Metro were built in Gujarat, by an entrepreneur he did not particularly vibe well with, and whose factory he was happy to inaugurate nevertheless. His underlying suggestion to his audience was: the state works, irrespective of my likes and dislikes.

    His speech, which was peppered with anecdotes and examples of what he has achieved in Gujarat, might have seemed like repeated pats on his own back, but he packaged it differently: what Gujarat could achieve by itself, if translated to the national level by an able leader, would help India take its appointed place in the global league.

    He managed to make talk about Gujarat’s farmers, his achievements in animal husbandry and milk production interesting and relevant to a student audience in Delhi that could not be further removed from such a constituency. For in every Gujarat achievement he embedded a promise for India’s tomorrow.

    When he talked about his biennial Vibrant Gujarat summits, he talked not about the investments coming to Gujarat, but the presence of people representing 20 percent of GDP in Gandhinagar.

    When he talked of animal husbandry, he said efforts to extend veterinary services had resulted in the near eradication of 120 animal diseases. Implicit in this achievement in animal health is the promise: if I can do this for animals, what can I not do for the nation’s health?

    He also subtly played on the emotional card linking Gujarat to India: that the whole of India is fed by his state’s milk, and, more importantly, Gujarat ka namak. The implicit meaning of a nation partaking of Gujarat’s namak builds on the Indian’s emotional belief – something Bollywood never tires of airing – that if you have tasted someone’s salt, you are bonded together like blood brothers.

    His anecdotes also spoke of his future connect. He talked of a trip to Taiwan before he became CM of Gujarat, where one of the people he met asked him if India still had snake-charmers. His reply: we have become mouse charmers. The mouse he was referring to was the computer mouse.

    And while he was on the subject of computers, he made a political point. He said that the computer revolution, widely claimed by Congress to be Rajiv Gandhi’s brainchild, was the achievement of India’s youth, and not any of its politicians.

    Given the current anti-politician mood of Indian youth, who are all out on the streets, the subtler point was this: Modi was positioning himself as an outsider to Delhi politics who can set things right.

    In every other sentence he uttered, he brought in youth and youth power. He said while other parties were talking of the new age voter, he would like to talk of their new age power. He did not fail to bring in Swami Vivekananda in the context of youth power. Vivekananda is Modi’s passport both to secular politics and a Hindu icon who transcends geography.

    But in everything he said, Modi’s vision was about India’s place in the world – an aspiration every student could have identified with. Modi is one of the first political leaders to realise that India’s urban youth have sky-high aspirations, global dreams, and for this the world has to be their stage. He pandered to their dreams.

    While the Congress is bogged down with marketing poverty and delivering subsidies to the poor (“Aapka paise, Aapka Haath”), Modi’s appeal was to a different audience, an audience that does not want charity and official benevolence, but an enabling environment for conquering the world of success.

    To prove that his development model was not just about the rich, he managed to weave in a story about a Dalit who met Bill Clinton in Rajasthan during the latter’s visit. The Dalit apparently impressed the Clintons with the progress made in India. But this was also a subliminal memo that his development model was also about the most backward of Indians.

    The audience vibed well when Modi talked about competing with China based on skill, scale and speed.

    His final point was simple: the world won’t wait for us if we don’t change. And Modi offered himself as the change India’s youth, especially urban youth, wanted to see.
    If one were to contrast Modi’s performance with that of Rahul Gandhi’s at the Congress meet last month, it is a no-contest. Modi’s performance establishes him as the potential mascot of urban India, young India – the India that wants to leave its past of regrets and non—performance behind.

    Modi conquered his audience.
    parijataka and Raj30 like this.

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