Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Why Is Narendrabhai Afraid of the Indian Media?

Why Is Narendrabhai Afraid of the Indian Media?

The simple fact: Modi is a failure on his own terms.
Once again we are being told by Narendra Modi’s rabid fans that the
courts have exonerated him. Perhaps, idiocy is contagious among his
followers, but they seem to forget that no court can absolve him of
the most serious charge against him. It is the same charge that damns
Rajiv Gandhi, of deliberate inaction (if not active collusion, which
seems to be indicated but does require more evidence) while violence
was perpetrated against a minority. In both cases, this inaction was
witnessed by an entire country.

While it is true that most of those who embrace the word ‘secular’
have been far softer on Rajiv Gandhi than they have been on Modi, it
does not in any way dilute the charge against Modi. Even so, trying to
convince his followers of this is pointless. Those who intellectually
collude in murder are not going to wake up to their stupidity through
an exercise in logic.

Perhaps, that is why, far more than the SIT verdict, two recent write-
ups on Modi are more disturbing. One, of course, is the by now much-
cited Time cover, titled ‘Modi Means Business’, and the other by The
Brookings Institute Managing Director William J Antholis, titled
‘India’s Most Admired and Most Feared Politician’. It is interesting
to note the similarity between the two articles: neither can avoid
dealing with the blot on Modi’s image because of the events of 2002,
but both seem to suggest that his performance as an administrator of
the state has managed to counteract this blot to a great extent.
Inadvertently or not, this is precisely the take that Narendra Modi
and his publicity firm, APCO Worldwide (which has done well by a few
dictators and has former US ambassador to India Tim Roemer on staff),
would desire.

Modi’s decision to make himself available for both these pieces needs
to be seen in this context. It is something he does rarely, but in
these cases it makes sense. Writers for publications or think-tanks
based in the US are the most likely to accept Modi’s claims at face
value. This is something that no informed Indian journalist would
allow Modi to get away with. My surmise is Narendra Modi is afraid to
grant such an interview, because what are seen as his strengths are
the ones most easily exposed under scrutiny.

Let us consider them one at a time. The claim goes Narendra Modi is
‘incorruptible’. This is only an exercise in rhetoric, given that
Narendra Modi has shied away from appointing a Lokayukta precisely
because a number of his actions in government will not withstand
scrutiny. It is strange to claim incorruptibility for a man who
refuses to let any of his actions be subject to the normal checks and
balances of democratic governance. The ad hoc nature in which land was
awarded to industry, for example, will land Modi in trouble under any
independent Lokayukta.

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