This post is based on an article published on the web site of the OPEN Magazine titled Why Money Loves Modi …and why he still can’t make it work for him in national politics (click).
It feels weird to publish two back-to-back posts highlighting the propagandist methods used by the Indian national media to show Narendra Modi in poor light. Ideally, I would not like to be seen as an advocate of Modi, for I am not. But, going by what I consider overwhelming amount of disinformation and propaganda that passes of as journalism in India, it is perhaps inescapable to look like a strong Modi-supporter even when one just logically points to the instances of manipulations used by the media.
I had just tweeted highlighting how the article was biased and with little substance, when I was pointed out by a fellow tweeter (who I respect for many reasons, including being reasonable and open to others’ reasoned speculations) that the article indeed did contain facts.
I had responded thus: (1) “There are many facts, few insinuations that cannot be verified, and some PoV-insertion. I can give examples of each. 🙂 ” (2) “..And then there are many facts, if included, will dilute the impression that the article was trying to create.”
It so turns out, in my knowledge, that the articles that can be best shown as prototypes on how to sway the public opinion using innocent-looking weasel words (click), glittering generalities (click) – prime examples of which in Indian context are “secularism”, “liberal”, “civil society”, obscurantism (click), etc., happen to be the ones written against Modi.
Wikipedia has a very nice template on propaganda techniques (click) that I have just discovered, and which I recommend as a minimum essential guide to all the readers who might want to
become successful ‘journalists’ in India read minds of the Indian journalists.
Anyway, my response to the article’s some of the points follows.
1. “Politically there are a number of places that are barred to Narendra Modi—they extend from Bihar to the US”
“number of”? And, “Bihar to the US” – meaning his entry is barred in all strips of land on the Globe that fall between Bihar to the US, or were the authors referring to some hierarchy wherein Bihar happens to be at the bottom and the US at the top? What would Modi have to do *politically* with the US? There might be a few places barred, but “number of” suggests as if he is an InterPol fugitive.
2. ““The Department of State is extremely sensitive to your concerns and we are cognizant of the human rights abuses Modi has committed.””
What Matthew Reynolds said has little bearing on how things are in India. Practically, what happens in the US has little bearing on what happens in India politically. [Remember, at least going by the title, this article was an attempt to show why Modi is a pariah in *India* and not the US].
3. “But doors barred by politics can be forced open by other levers, those of commerce.”
That’s the biggest contradiction of what the authors were trying to suggest in their article. And anyway, that is just another PoV-insertion.
4. “…Ratan Tata, whose embrace of Modi only grows stronger ever since Tata’s Nano factory moved to Gujarat.”
Another PoV-insertion, whether metaphorical or otherwise, there is no way to prove. Just a few days after the Radia tapes were leaked and Tata’s reputation had taken a severe beating, he had said that Manmohan Singh’s integrity as a prime minister is impeccable. So, that should mean Tata is supporting UPA also. Another example, where suppressing other facts leads to fallacious conclusions.
5. “This economic diplomacy is bearing fruit. … What’s more, this newfound warmth suddenly extends across the Canadian political spectrum”
Why does this “newfound warmth” have to be outcome of only of “economic diplomacy”? It is entirely possible that those in Canada also followed SIT’s investigations, Zaheera Shaikhs’ turning hostile, Teesta Setalvad’s assistant turning against her, revealing of the statistics of riots in which over 250 Hindus had also died apart from around 800 Muslims, the Supreme Court overseeing the investigations and lastly, just perhaps, they might have *freshly discovered* the concept of “innocent until proved guilty”. Had any of these countries barred Rajiv Gandhi from entering their territories? So, just perhaps, they were anyway not so consistent in respecting religious rights in the first place. It was always about pressure from “advocacy groups”. So, if Canada might have had ulterior motives in *allowing* Modi a visa, why is it not possible that the US might have had ulterior motives in *rejecting* Modi a visa. Advocacy is not a one-way street.
6. “…Modi was photographed in a warm handclasp with Canadian Liberal MP Ruby Dhalla”
See the penultimate photograph (click). The handclasp did not look at all as warm as the authors suggest. It was at best a finger-grasp. And frankly to my eyes, Modi, more than warm, looks hesitant or afraid of something. Anyway, what’s this grasp’s relevance?
7. “…only 5 per cent of investments proposed in the 2009 summit have materialised so far”
Which implies that Modi after all is not making as much money as it is seeming to everyone. In which case, the basic premise of the article that it is *money* that Modi is using to muscle his way into the national politics stands greatly weakened.
8. “Since Modi is the only political master in Gujarat, there are no politicians whose palms need be greased.”
Are the authors trying to insinuate then that the only political master whose palms need to be greased is Modi? I won’t ask for evidence; I do think of it as a plausibility. But the fact is, if a “political master” himself gets his palms greased, there is no way others below him in the power hierarchy will stay silent. And then, so much development (if it has indeed happened) would not happen, because without coordination from those lower down the power hierarchy, nothing significant can happen.
9. “Clearly, this was a summit that was not about the state government, bureaucrats or even other state BJP politicians, it was about one man: Narendrabhai Modi.”
Another useless PoV. If it was all about promoting Modi, why did the industrialists from India as well as abroad throw in so much money (if they did, which they must have to keep the premise of the article tenable)?
10. ““When I met Narendra Modi, I was surprised. He knew everything about the GVK Group. In fact, he was advising us on where to set up the business, where we can acquire the raw materials and so on. He is the best advisor for business. I was very impressed by his knowledge.””
An absolute useless digression from the main theme of the article. In fact, all the endorsements by the industrialists mentioned in the article fall in the same category. Perhaps, they were just included to connect Modi with the ‘high-flying’ industrialists (that is my speculation).
11. Every single thing written about what photographers said about Modi is impossible to verify for the readers. It might be as much true as it might be fiction. Also, I wonder if his attempts at grooming himself is the reason he remains a pariah in national politics (which again, is a PoV-insertion by the authors).
12. “The slick, suave Modi, now endowed with a more luxuriant head of hair (the cause of which Open could not verify)”
ROFL! As if everything else written in the article could be verified by ‘The Open’! 😀
13. “The subtle shift in Modi’s pitch was directed not at the businessmen he was addressing—they were already sold—but politicians and people outside Gujarat.”
Another attempt at mind-reading of Modi – a job that should be best left to professional Oracles and not attempted by amateurs.
14. “The same go-it-alone, get-the-job-done persona that works so well for big business is not so effective in a top-heavy party, which has achieved a semblance of equilibrium at the top in the past one year, with different roles assigned to its leaders. Modi’s hardline approach leaves little room for the manoeuvrability central to coalition politics.”
Perhaps, the only sane observation that is relevant to the topic in the entire article. This “manoeuvrability central to coalition politics” is extremely vital to recover the funds expended in election campaigns and to prepare for any subsequent elections, otherwise, allies will not support the coalition when such a need arises. Of course, that is my PoV.
15. “Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj created a stir within her party when she said Bihar did not need Narendra Modi’s magic in the election; the BJP had another Modi, the Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi, there”
Did the authors take into consideration the possibility that “Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha” might have her personal political ambitions, and in light of which Narendra Modi, if he decides to enter National Politics, that is, would be one of the strongest contenders for her? Or do the authors think that the BJP is also like some other party, where only one or two persons decide who to *appoint* as the Prime Minister eliminating any need for other politicians to compete openly with each other?
16. “where Nitish had worked hard to please the state’s Muslims” AND “Nitish won re-election on the slogan of development.”
So, Nitish won because he had worked hard to please the state’s Muslims or because he had used the slogan of development, or are both one and the same according to the authors? More important, how is it again relevant to the article? It is quite possible, Nitish Kumar wanted to restrict BJP’s presence in Bihar, otherwise his bargaining power would be weakened. BJP had won substantial portions of the seats that the NDA-JDU combine had won, and their “success ratio” (fraction of seats contested, which they won) was much better than JDU’s. Perhaps, therein lied Nitish’s discomfort. Of course, that too is my PoV. But I get surprised, that most of these mind reader-cum-journalists, do not even entertain such simple possibilities.
17. “True to his reputation, Modi spoke of Afzal Guru’s much-delayed hanging at the rally.”
What kind of reputation is needed to speak about Afzal Guru’s much-delayed hanging?
18. “The next day, in the same city in Punjab, even Prime Minister Manmohan Singh did not miss the opportunity to take a swipe at Nitish: “There is no doubt that Nitish Kumar professes to be a secular leader. But yesterday, after seeing him shake hands with Modi, a doubt did arise in my mind,””
The mind readers ought to know that when the entire article is about the *power dynamics of national politics*, the opinion of a politician who cannot win a single Lok Sabha seat does not count. Yes, had the issue been of Dr. Singh’s area of apparent expertise, i.e., Economics and how to best govern, then *perhaps* his opinion would be of some relevance.
19. “Yet, something crucial has changed within the NDA. With his second consecutive Assembly election win in Bihar, denying Lalu Prasad power yet again, Nitish has replaced Modi as the NDA’s ‘more acceptable’ prime ministerial prospect for the future.”
A needless presumption that either of the two leaders would actually be interested in becoming the Prime Minister. And another presumption is that the decision-making body within the BJP and/or NDA is thinking of only these two persons as prime ministerial candidates and no one else. But of course, the authors are mind readers. My bad!
20. “Whatever big business might say, Nitish Kumar’s slogan of ‘inclusive development’ resonates far louder through the country than Modi’s brand of development.”
Auditory hallucinations. Oops… am I turning a mind reader, here? 😉