“This will surely put him in the dock. He will have a lot of explaining to do.” The glee in my friend’s voice, a professor was apparent while talking about the second wave of Covid19 facing us. She seemed high that the trouble for Modi has increased. She is not alone in this. There are many who today are less concerned with the spread of pandemic than how much trouble it will bring for Modi.
What is the cause and origin of this vitriolic hatred for one man? That too when he is trying to deal with crisis after crisis facing the nation and exhorting everyone to rise and fight? The Covid19 pandemic that has shaken us to the core, threatening our existence pales in comparison to that hatred. It is puzzling that people like my friend express such opinions openly and feel no compulsion in expressing a pleasure that he is in trouble and discuss threadbare how it will increase his difficulties. It makes one wonder why a section of our society generate such gut level hostility when he has done nothing to them.
When I was writing this article, a message began to make rounds after his speech. “The only take away from his speech is to take care of your own needs and don’t turn to the government. Imagine living under a government like that, God help us,” the message read. The satire was from an intellectual.
Why does Modi’s message, which exhorts us to rise up and fight, invite such comments? Indian leaders in the past have rarely spoken in this language to their people. For most of them their language was rarely arousing and passionate and failed to rise to the hour. We have no one whom we can call as a symbol of hope in our darkest times. They were nowhere near being crisis managers. Gandhi would withdraw into silence and start spinning his wheel looking for answers when faced with a crisis leaving people on their own. His bête noire Nehru withdrew by fantasizing during partition. During the Chinese invasion, I wonder if he ever said a word worth remembering to galvanize his people. Often he would sit with his head sunk between his hands, a picture of dejection. Most of our leaders failed us whom we needed to rally around and arise after coming out of centuries of slavery and colonialism. The irony is till today that we have never held them accountable for their inaction and passivity. We accepted passivity in our leaders as natural just like we did it in ourselves, something we rationalized as our fate, the justification down the centuries.
The period after that was no better. Indira Gandhi during the Bangladesh war rarely said something galvanizing. It was left to the Generals like Manekshaw. She declared emergency, imprisoning and torturing thousands and never owned up for it. Her son, Rajiv instead of taking charge after her assassination said that when a big tree falls, the earth shakes creating a fissure between the two communities that is yet to heal. Manmohan Singh after the terrorist attack in Bombay went so far as to allow the term ‘Hindu terror’. The policy was to wait and do nothing, perpetuate the passivity till the last wisp of memory fades away.
Narendra Modi is the first leader who doesn’t speak in that language. Historians may one day describe him as the first leader of Independent India with a non-slave mindset. He is a crisis manager who takes problems head on, in detail, calmly and stealthily to finish of the burdens of the past like abrogation of Article 370 or Ram temple. The world is not accustomed to see a Hindu leader from India who doesn’t beg and plead like Nehru or stand with folded hands like Manmohan Singh. He is someone who keeps a tab of every wound, every injury and answers back in a language without remaining defensive. Hindus of the past didn’t deal with crisis or calamity like he does. If we absorb it, the passivity that has characterized us may die out by next generation.
I remember an old saying about the British, “In peacetime they are impossible to manage but in a crisis they become united and bury all differences.” We the Indians, in a crisis come apart like seams of a cloth, becoming enemies of each other pleading with our external enemy to help us out. We blame, point faults at each other. Every enemy of India has known this from Alexander, Mohammed Ghori to the British in the present times. Only if this changes, we will never become slaves again. This is what I believe, Modi’s speeches may do to us.
Is it a fault in our genes that cannot be corrected or does it need a leadership who can correct this lacunae in our national character? I believe one reason for this hatred for Modi by every other liberal and intellectual educated in the colonial tradition is just that is his leadership holds a mirror to that flaw.
How will his addresses to the nation be evaluated? I believe it may change is in a subliminal not intellectual way, our national character. I also believe it may be a starting point which no other Indian leader has tried to do. If I visualize a Nehru, a Gandhi in the present scenarios, I visualize nothing but lack of direction, inefficiency and pleading helplessness.
Modi’s style of dealing with opposing forces is through containment and break up under weight of their own contradictions very unlike other leaders. His methods are not defensive but hit out at the enemy and therefore, termed as aggressive. I believe every detractor of his knows that and that is why he is such a threat.
Great leaders of history exhort and infuse their people to shake off their passivity and rise. They don’t promise freebies but ask for sacrifices from their people exhorting them to rise for the nation or a greater cause.
Eisenhower, Winston Churchill, Bismarck, Kennedy became a great leaders during a crisis. During the second world war Churchill led the British and asked them to not complain about shortages after he told them the path to victory needs many sacrifices. Their speeches didn’t promise entitlement but asked for struggle, fortitude and courage. Modi is doing the same. Maybe that is why, the desire to remove Modi has crossed all norms by his detractors. They even ask for help from Pakistan, China and USA forgetting India’s colonial history.
How will Narendra Modi be remembered in history? Will he be remembered as a leader who awakened his people from a slumber, something no leader before him tried in India? The mocking, the satire, the ridicule that he faces every time he tries to bring changes, how will it be seen by history? I believe it will be remembered as the wail of a people who were blindfolded by slavery of a thousand years whom he tried to liberate from chains and what Plato described in his famous of ‘myth of the cave’ – a people who could not see anything beyond the shadows on the wall and had to be led on.
Psychologist, Speaker and Author of ‘The Infidel Next Door’