We, the people of India, have voted in the next government under the leadership of Narendra Modi with a clear majority. India is all set for legislative stability for next 5 years.
This election was unique and electrifying in every sense. Political parties launched aggressive campaigns and tried every trick in the world to achieve victory. For the first time (in my memory) common people passionately debated issues across different topics like development, governance, economy, corruption, human rights, education, and even healthcare. The debates happened at homes, on the streets, in restaurants, and above all on social networks. I found it to be a very positive trend and I have no doubt that it will help in changing the political discourse in India. For any student of human behavior it presented a perfect opportunity to learn and decode from human reactions. Several alarming trends emerged from this elections and I was disappointed to see some of the reactions. This is my attempt to highlight the alarming trends and discuss them with an open mind.
Lack of objectivity: Debates on social media or otherwise lacked objectivity. ‘My party can do no wrong’ attitude prevailed. People selectively put out stories of other parties making stupid statements while conveniently ignoring statements or actions by their own party. It is important to have objectivity in discussing issues of national importance.
Fiction ruled over facts: It was disheartening to see educated (and otherwise sensible) people spreading fictional stories, photographs, and posters through social networks. Personal opinions were passed around as facts without providing any data points or providing very ill informed data points compiled by western journalists.
Intolerance towards opposite opinions: I observed that most debates started of well but as they progressed intolerance started surfacing. Rudeness, personal accusations, and calling names hijacked the real issues. In fact I personally was abused and subjected to rudeness on Facebook because I spoke in favour of Narendra Modi or against AAP. In fact some people decided that it was not worth having me as a their social connection as I was being communal. In effect my social network shrunk by 10 people who opted out of our connectivity. It demonstrated highest level of intolerance and felt like a my-way-or-highway situation.
Intolerance towards humour: Expressions or videos or photos used in humour were subjected to emotional responses rather than taking a moment to laugh at the chaos that prevailed in India. One person got angry and blocked me on Facebook because I posted rahulgandhiachievements.com or some journalist friends were rude to me because I posted a video called great Indian media circus showing Rahul, Kejriwal and Modi in a humourous way.
I found it extremely disappointing that my social group moved from just doing animated discussions to actually demonstrating animosity. Now that the elections are over all I can say is take it easy folks. You can continue to be animated if you want but forget animosity. We might have differences in terms of our idea of India but I’m sure none of us want India to fail. So please get back to business and help the next government build a better India.
(Photo credit: Pete Simon: https://flic.kr/p/68mZvD)
The biggest democratic exercise in the world started on 7th April and it will conclude on 16th May when the results of Indian national elections will be announced. Over 800 million people are eligible to vote and it is expected at least 400 million of them will actually vote. India has never seen an election like this and probably will not see it again in the near future. It has essentially come to down to one man versus intellectuals (some real and most self-appointed) from different religions, castes, regions and professions. Having said that all these intellectuals have one thing in common – their ideology (or call it politics) is focused on left or anti-right wing. They all claim to fight in the name of saving the ‘Idea of India’. They’re leaving no stone unturned in their fight against one man Narendra Modi (Chief Minister of Gujarat and Prime Ministerial candidate for BJP). So why are all these guys against Narendra Modi? This is my attempt to look at merit of their charges and evaluate whether the the opposition to Narendra Modi is really to save the ‘Idea of India’ or is there any other agenda.
Charge#1: Narendra Modi is a mass murderer
He is accused by the intellectuals, activists, NGOs and political opponents of masterminding a pogrom against muslims in Gujarat and initiating the riots. Let us look at the details of this charge closely. Firstly all these protectors of India conveniently forget to state that a train carrying Hindu passengers were burnt in Godhra and 59 passengers including women and children died in that incident. It happened on 27th February 2002. The situation across the state was quite tensed and the emotions and anger went out of control to spark the riots. There were mistakes done by both communities and out of the 1000 people who died 25% were Hindus (Intellectuals conveniently ignore this fact). Gujarat has historically had tensions and riots between different communities. Most of those riots were under the watch of Congress governments and BJP had nothing to do with them. Modi as a chief minister of the state did ask for help (in sending additional security forces to contain riots) from neighbouring state like Maharashtra & Madhya Pradesh (both ruled by congress at that point in time) but they refused. Army was called in almost immediately and riots were brought under control thereafter. Madhu Kishwar of Manushi has done a detailed account of riots and Modi’s alleged involvement. Please download it here and read it before you make your judgement. She is pro Modi now but you can’t refute the facts highlighted by her. Supreme court appointed Special Investigation Team couldn’t find anything against Narendra Modi. The court has acquitted him of all charges. The intellectuals argue that it is because of lack of procecutable evidence. I find no logic in that argument as our courts to run on whims and fancies of the intellectuals? Courts decide based on evidence in front of them and there is no evidence to prove the guilt then they have to pronounce non-guilty. For last 10 years a Congress led government (opposition party to BJP and Narendra Modi) has done everything possible to find evidence and present it to the court. And if they have failed to prove guilt of Narendra Modi then running a trial in media and calling him mass murderer is certainly against basic ‘Idea of India’. I have met several of these intellectuals and also some friends who form opinions based on information fed to them by some activist or NGO operating from London or Brussels or New York city. Most of these guys have never visited Gujarat. Some of them have visited Gujarat with a goal of riot tourism and have never really tried to understand the history of riots in Gujarat. Right after March 2002 all these intellectuals accused that Narendra Modi masterminded this pogrom and he is going to finish the muslim community in Gujarat. I suspect they had vested interest as at that point in time Congress party was trying hard to regain power in the center (and they indeed got it based on this fear psychosis). In last 12 years there hasn’t been a riot in Gujarat and Muslims in Gujarat are not finished but thriving. The ordinary muslim or hindu or christrian or sikh people don’t want riots because many of them depend on daily bread earning through small jobs and businesses. And when the riots happen their income goes down. It is the political leaders and parties with vested interests want riots to happen so that they can benefit from it. On the other side there have been several riots across India including the recent ones in Assam (a state ruled by Congress) and UP (a state ruled by Congress ally Samajwadi Party). I sincere request would to be go into details of India’s riot history, history of riots in Gujarat, rule of law over last 12 years in Gujarat and then make a judgement.
Charge#2: Narendra Modi is communal
Communal word is often overused and abused in India. Many people using this word don’t even understand the meaning of it. Dictionary definition reads: (a) shared or used by members of a group or community or (b) relating to or involving members of a commune. India is a secular country so question of majority or minority should not arise and there should not be any special treatment provided to any particular religion or race. Narendra Modi says the government has one one religion – India First. He further adds Development for All and Appeasement of None. What is the problem with that? Why should anybody enjoy special status or different laws based on their religion or race in a secular country. The intellectuals, NGOs and many political parties are opposed to his idea of India first because it eliminates vote bank politics. It also reduces their importance as many of them operate solely for the minorities. They want to create fear amongst minorities (largely muslims and to some extent christians) so that the status quo is maintained. It is done under the mask of secularism. Additionally they dislike him because he doesn’t get involved in pseudo symbolism of wearing a skull cap to appease a particular community and in a secular country you can’t fault that because he is allowed to follow his on own faith and that has nothing to do with the running the government. There is no specific proof that Narendra Modi is communal except what the intellectuals, NGOs and political parties say it on TV. Recently Mrs. Sonia Gandhi from Congress met Shahi Imam (religious leader of muslims) and asked for his support against Narendra Modi but she is considered secular. Shazia Ilmi from Aam Aadmi Party was caught on camera telling muslim leaders to be communal but she is considered secular. Many muslims have rejected these political parties and they’re now open to voting for Modi. In fact several muslims are part of Modi’s team including a prominent journalist like MJ Akbar who once equated Modi with Hitler after the 2002 riots but changed his opinion based on 10 years of scrutiny and legal process. Listen to his interview here.
Charge#3: Narendra Modi is corrupt
This is the latest charge and it is mainly accelerated by India’s most honest party (pun intended) – Aam Aadmi Party. Arvind Kejriwal started his crusade against corruption a few years ago by associating with social activist Anna Hazare. What started as a anti-corruption movement against the current congress ruled central government turned into a crusade against Narendra Modi. Kejriwal has conveniently forgotten all the frauds done by congress and in fact he took support from them to form a minority government in Delhi. Kejriwal started accusing that Narendra Modi & BJP is taking donations from Ambani and Adani. It is a fact that all political parties receive donations (money) from corporate & individual donors. And it happens across the globe. That doesn’t amount to corruption unless it is backed by solid proof. It makes me wonder why Kejriwal has not filed a public interest case against Modi given he has all the proof on Modi’s corruption. Wild allegations are easy to make and they’re dangerously misleading. Kejriwal’s own party has received money from individuals and non resident Indians. We can ask the same question to Kejriwal – what is the motive of these individuals who donated money to a new party. What returns do they expect? His standard answer is that people donating money to him are clean (by whose standard) and they are doing it for greater good of India (says who). Same argument can be used that Adani and Ambani are also doing it for greater good of India by supporting a candidate who they think will change India for better. Kejriwal is not an authority on honesty as he has lied many times and misled people at large. Here is a compilation prepared by his opponents on what they claim to be his lies. He hasn’t responded to any of these charges. He recently made allegations about Modi using private jets of Adani but he himself took a chartered flight provided by a media group under the pretext of a conference. The question that I would ask is what was the vested interest of that media house to send a chartered flight for Kejriwal. People who follow him say he is clean because he is from IIT. That is a weird logic as Rajat Gupta who was recently convicted in the USA for insider trading is also from IIT. So IIT education doesn’t give you a certificate in honesty.
Arvind Kejriwal’s own NGOs are funded by Ford Foundation. What is ford foundation’s interest in his NGOs? What is the source of money that comes from Ford Foundation? Is it clean? Arvind has not bothered to ask these questions.
Charge# 4: Narendra Modi has done no development in Gujarat
This is the most hilarious charge. Anyone who has visited Gujarat in last 10 years will tell you the difference. Electricity, roads, and water situation is better than the congress era in Gujarat. Is everything perfect in Gujarat? The answer is NO but is it better than most other parts of India? The answer is YES. Can we find other places that are better than Gujarat? I’m sure we can but that doesn’t take anything away from Narendra Modi. Has he marketed his achievements better than others? The answer is YES but there is nothing wrong in marketing your brand.
Charge# 5: India will disintegrate as he is the anti-thesis of ‘Idea of India’
Leading journalists, intellectuals, and NGOs are scaring people by saying the ‘Idea of India’ will be finished. Global publications like the Economist have joined the anti-Modi brigade because of his alleged role in Gujarat riots but the same Economist supported the Iraq war (with 100x more casualties) that was started only to serve the American & British interest. British publications like the Guardian is active interest in anti-Modi articles while their own Prime Minister is calling Britain a Christian state. Neither Economist nor the Guardian have the moral authority to question Narendra Modi or for that matter any other person who wants to fight elections in a democratic setup.
I have wondered for many days on this question of what is the ‘Idea of India’? I have searched a lot and haven’t managed to find a simple definition of it. In my humble opinion the Idea of India has been in practice for over 5000 years. Many people have come to our land and we have always accepted them, included them and nurtured them. History is witness to the fact that muslim’s came to India as invaders, ruled India for almost 7-8 centuries, performed atrocities on local population and now they’re part of our culture. And we don’t hate muslims. The Christians (British/Portuguese/French) came to India in search of trade, used all illegal means to obtain power, ruled us for 150 odd years, funded their industrial revolution & world war efforts through Indian money & men. We we got our independence they divided us but still we didn’t ask them to go. And we don’t hate christians. So whoever thinks India will disintegrate because of a new government is spreading lies and playing up fear factor. India is a secular country not because of minorities but it is because of majority population. Hindu religion was created by other religions and the original roots of native Indians are in Vedas where you can find salvation through whichever path you choose to follow. It is not about my way or highway. So Narendra Modi or any other leader can’t damage the ‘Idea of India’ as it is the people of India who nurture that idea.
So all this makes me wonder why so many so called intellectuals, media personalities, NGOs, politicians (including some from his own party), and even foreign media are opposed to this man. Is it because he is challenging the status quo and that essentially challenges their own positions. It has become a fight to defeat Narendra Modi rather than to elect a stable, capable government that will take India towards a better tomorrow in terms of economic growth, internal and external security, education, and skill development. There are many people outside India (including some very good friends and people who I respect for their capabilities) are advocating a fractured mandate. They’re advocating elections in another 18-24 months. They’re advocating anarchy. I ask why? Who benefits from anarchy and instability in India? Certainly our enemies benefit and other global superpowers who do not want India to succeed. Then a question comes to my mind – are all these intellectuals including my own friends working against the very idea of India (knowingly or unknowingly).
If you don’t like Modi don’t vote for him but don’t advocate instability in India. In my opinion it is better to vote for a candidate rather than being negative and voting against a candidate. Elections are all about electing and not about rejecting. For me I think Narendra Modi is the right candidate to lead India. I’m sure he will not be perfect but no human being is perfect. He deserves a chance and if he doesn’t perform we the people of India have the right to vote him out of power. People of Gujarat certainly think that he has delivered on most of their expectations as they’ve elected him 3 times successively with a solid majority. And after having lived in Gujarat for close to 22 years I can say it confidently that the people of Gujarat are not fools.