The case for Narendra Modi

As a schoolboy growing up in the seventies, I realized early on that India was no place for commoners. That India was a country which provided little or no hope for a person from the middle class. At that time, India was a failed state, a basket case ruled by autocrats through a network of sycophants. All the exhortations in text books to be a patriotic Indian citizen felt hypocritical. Sare jahaan se achcha rang hollow. I was a disillusioned puppy. The brief moments of joy came when we won the occasional cricket match. So I decided to take care of myself and let everything else take care of itself. I left for the United States right after college. I took the first flight out. It was a no brainer.

Imagine how screwed up a country had to be for one of its impressionable young citizens to take the first flight out. Why did things come to such a pass?

Jawaharlal Nehru did many things in his distinguished life, not the least of which was to make huge personal sacrifices for our freedom cause. I was not around when freedom happened. But I was around when Nehru’s policies reverberated through a post independence India. It turns out that Nehru made a bad bet. His wager on socialism was a costly one which sentenced the citizens of his country to spend 50 years in dark and gloomy shadows. It was a bet which led an impressionable young college student to catch the first flight out.

Hindsight is 20/20. It’s easy to sit now and criticize Nehru for taking us down the garden path. The fact is that in a 1940-s post World War world, it wasn’t apparent that the capitalist US model would beat the socialist Soviet model. Nehru’s mistake is pardonable. I’d like to believe that he meant the best for us. What is unpardonable is to take Nehru’s deeply ideological socialism, and degenerate it into crass vote bank populism. It is unpardonable to stick your head in the sand and deny reality. It is unpardonable to go around telling people in 2013 that they have a right to this and that. Folks, it’s time to suck it up and admit that there is no such thing as a right to employment. It’s unpardonable to spend state coffers on freebies and deplete public sector bank funds by writing off farm loans. It’s unpardonable to invite foreign companies to your shores and then change rules on them retro-effectively. It’s unpardonable to be arrogant. It’s unpardonable to steal the people’s money. It’s unpardonable and insane to keep doing the same thing again and again and expect different results. The nine years of the UPA are frankly unpardonable, especially the last four, for the reason they have wasted critical time. It’s time for Congress and its MNREGA mindset to go. And if they persist with this vote bank socialist mindset, I’d like the Indian National Congress to be gone forever from this land.

It’s time to change the cast or the India story will die. We need someone else. This brings to me to the man – Narendra Modi.

Where the rubber hits the road

If you buy into what I’ve said above, the case for Narendra Modi begins to appear. Modi has a track record of successful governance in the real world. He has a reputation for being business friendly. Someone named Ratan Tata will attest to this. Millions of Gujaratis will agree. Narendra Modi has influenced the course of Gujarat towards its present prosperity. He has won two back to back elections without resorting to populism. One can debate endlessly as to whether he gets sole credit. In my book, he gets full credit since it happened on his watch. If we’re going to blame him for 2002 riots, it’s reasonable that we also give him credit for the good stuff which happened in his tenure. That’s the way things ought to work.

Instead of rattling off more reasons in his support, let me focus instead on where the rubber hits the road. There are essentially two questions about Narendra Modi which you have to answer for yourself. I’ve given my take below.

Can Narendra Modi repeat the success in Gujarat on a national scale?

Yes would an optimistic answer. Governing a state with a majority can be very different from administering a nation with the accompanying pressures of coalition dharma. But, this is one of those questions which have to be answered in a relative manner, taking into account the alternatives at our disposal. Modi is not an unreasonable bet considering that the alternatives are either a former Reserve Bank governor who has failed as a Prime Minister or a man who makes his case solely on a famous last name. I have little hesitation in recommending that we bet big on Modi on this front.

Is Modi good for India?

Now, this is a question that has to be answered in absolute terms. We cannot resort to the “the other guy is equally bad or worse” argument. This is a thorny unavoidable question and has to be answered honestly. And the answers can only be but deeply personal.

It’s hard to be objective on this. But, let me try. The answer is ‘I don’t really know.” The 2002 Gujarat riots are not the reason for my diffidence. In fact, the courts have ruled out Modi’s wrongdoing. If the courts have gone over this with a fine comb for a good part of a decade, perhaps it’s time to put this to rest and move on.

My ambivalence has to do with the fact that Modi has his roots in RSS, a pro-Hindu organization. The point I’m trying to make is that even if 2002 riots hadn’t happened, I might still be diffident about Modi’s ability to be a neutral, trusted leader of a country with close to 200 million Muslims.  If I was a Muslim, would I feel comfortable voting for Narendra Modi? As context, I used to live in the US and the open Christian bias of the right wing of the Republican party at times unnerved me. I am familiar with being in the minority in a large country.

I happen to believe that India is not just for Hindus. I don’t believe in Hindu Rashtra. I don’t even define myself as a Hindu anymore. I believe that India (and indeed the whole world) should be a place where like minded people can get together, be able to do amazing things and lead peaceful and dignified lives without fear of persecution. While I may or not believe in the greatness of Sanatana Dharma or Tibetan Buddhism, I certainly don’t wish to foist it upon unwilling recipients. I happen to believe that Hindutva or Zen (or whatever I call my poison) is a state of mind to be kept within the confines of my personal world, and not something to be broadcast from rooftops. This is my secularism.

I also believe that there are imbalances in India on this front. That we have gone far too long with a misguided notion of secularism which horrendously mixes matters of state and religion. I believe that balance has to be restored before my version of secularism can even see the light of day. Perhaps the wheel has to turn fully before it can come out of the ditch. And I believe that Modi will turn the wheel. So, if you are a Muslim, should you vote for Narendra Modi? If you deploy the utilitarian “bad for few, good for many” argument, you might. But it would be understandable if you chose not to. Like I said, this is a deeply personal choice.

Whichever way you go, it’s time to discard the failed socialism and dangerous secularism that Congress practices. It’s time for a new approach. If we don’t do that, I will guarantee you that another generation of impressionable young men and women from India will have no choice but to catch their first flights out of this country in about a decade from now.

61 Replies to “The case for Narendra Modi”

  1. I am not an Anti-Modi but I still have a little about his ability to repeat the Gujarat Development model(which is little illusiory) at National Level. Running a state and Running a country( with pseudo-secular coalition) are two different things.

  2. I am not an Anti-Modi but I still have a little about his ability to repeat the Gujarat Development model(which is little illusiory) at National Level. Running a state and Running a country( with pseudo-secular coalition) are two different things.

  3. A satisfying and thought provoking piece. I personally have serious reservations about what Modi stands for. Yet, it is hard to deny that in the present circumstances, he seems like the man. Appreciate the balance with which you have taken on the entire issue.

    You are right about the realities of the 40s and the decisions taken then. If there is one reason why we failed as a “developing nation,” it is probably because our best minds were at work developing other nations. Thankfully, much of the benefit from having done that is being redirected in different ways to the development of the future of India. The funding for the amazing success of Gujarat is perhaps almost entirely by the generations of those who took the first flight out.

    Modi has definitely established himself as an able administrator. He has also established himself as an extremely astute politician. What he will establish himself as in the longer-term history of India remains to be seen. Modi has mastered the art of biding his time. I face many situations in life where I am powerless to take the action I would like to. I bide my time.

  4. A satisfying and thought provoking piece. I personally have serious reservations about what Modi stands for. Yet, it is hard to deny that in the present circumstances, he seems like the man. Appreciate the balance with which you have taken on the entire issue.

    You are right about the realities of the 40s and the decisions taken then. If there is one reason why we failed as a “developing nation,” it is probably because our best minds were at work developing other nations. Thankfully, much of the benefit from having done that is being redirected in different ways to the development of the future of India. The funding for the amazing success of Gujarat is perhaps almost entirely by the generations of those who took the first flight out.

    Modi has definitely established himself as an able administrator. He has also established himself as an extremely astute politician. What he will establish himself as in the longer-term history of India remains to be seen. Modi has mastered the art of biding his time. I face many situations in life where I am powerless to take the action I would like to. I bide my time.

  5. Subho, astutely observed with regards to NRI role in Gujarat success. We have this habit in India of putting ourselves in situations which call for silver bullets and Hail Mary throws. Modi is one such silver bullet.

  6. Subho, astutely observed with regards to NRI role in Gujarat success. We have this habit in India of putting ourselves in situations which call for silver bullets and Hail Mary throws. Modi is one such silver bullet.

  7. http://caravanmagazine.in/reportage/emperor-uncrowned

    http://archive.tehelka.com/story_main35.asp?filename=Ne031107Thy_Hand.asp

    These are long-ish articles but please read before you start tatooing the Lotus.. I would love nothing more than a decisive leader after 9 years of unbelievable dithering. And from what we know, Modi certainly would provide a clean,decisive administration we all deserve.

    But there are some moral absolutes – there are certain “bad”s that you cannot excuse.

  8. http://caravanmagazine.in/reportage/emperor-uncrowned

    http://archive.tehelka.com/story_main35.asp?filename=Ne031107Thy_Hand.asp

    These are long-ish articles but please read before you start tatooing the Lotus.. I would love nothing more than a decisive leader after 9 years of unbelievable dithering. And from what we know, Modi certainly would provide a clean,decisive administration we all deserve.

    But there are some moral absolutes – there are certain “bad”s that you cannot excuse.

  9. * I’m a child of the 60s and 70s, like you. I too left for the US right after college (Pilani, in my case). But I cannot agree that this decision was a no-brainer, and that it was a “screwed up country” that forced me out.

    For one thing, I had a good job offer here and could have stayed. Choosing between the two alternatives was a dilemma I had to work out for myself (and for a while it could have gone the other way). For another, plenty of my college mates (better than half my batch, I think) stayed in India, and quickly made successful careers here — and are still doing well now.

    The point is, we all make personal choices. I think it is something of a copout to blame the country for the choices we make. And if we do, then equally well, the country is also to “blame” for the good things that happened to you, like for example your getting that fellowship at CMU. Or for your having the choice to go in the first place. After all, plenty of Indians didn’t have the choice to leave, even if they had wanted to.

    Besides, people are still leaving India today like you did a generation ago, in particular from Gujarat too. (In fact far more people go as undergrads than in your and my time). Why are they leaving? Is a screwed up country (or state) still forcing them out?

    At some point, we take responsibility for our own choices. Disillusioned or not.

    * Whether Nehru made a bad bet, “dark and gloomy shadows” is not how plenty of folks I know, your age and older, would describe the India they grew up in. I realize your mileage may vary, but that’s the point: please don’t speak for all citizens of the country. Those folks I am referring to made meaningful, satisfying careers in that same India. I’m thinking of IAS officers, bankers, ad people, journalists, doctors, engineers … in short, about the same gamut of professions you find now.

    And the other thing about Nehru is this: Perhaps much of what he embarked on was, in hindsight as you say, wrong-headed. Perhaps it’s true that we should value the lessons of that hindsight. Yet it’s also true that the institutions Nehru built are what gave you your wings. What is the lesson from hindsight about those?

    * I believe, like you, that we should be rid of the Congress. (I first thought so in 1975-77, so it’s an idea with a long pedigree). But thankfully, that hardly tells me I should turn to Modi.

    * About Modi: We can indeed debate endlessly about what he has done for Gujarat, about his deeds in ’02, on and on. I see no point getting into that debate here.

    For me, though, one thing stands out and these years later, I cannot see any way to suppress its implications. In 2007, Modi actually appointed Maya Kodnani as his Minister of Women’s Development and Child Welfare. He did this despite knowing what she had done in 2002 (for which she is now serving time). Yes, the Gujarat Government Modi headed, in which Kodnani served, actually filed an affidavit in the High Court in 2009 saying Kodnani “was the leader of mob … she was instigating the mob to commit crime and therefore she was playing the main role.” What’s more, “she is a minister in the present government, so there are ample chances of tampering with prosecution witnesses by way of giving threat.” (See this article http://is.gd/n0CL1D)

    A man who knowingly appoints a murderer as Minister of Women’s Development and Child Welfare is not a man I want to see as PM of this country.

    It’s that simple.

  10. * I’m a child of the 60s and 70s, like you. I too left for the US right after college (Pilani, in my case). But I cannot agree that this decision was a no-brainer, and that it was a “screwed up country” that forced me out.

    For one thing, I had a good job offer here and could have stayed. Choosing between the two alternatives was a dilemma I had to work out for myself (and for a while it could have gone the other way). For another, plenty of my college mates (better than half my batch, I think) stayed in India, and quickly made successful careers here — and are still doing well now.

    The point is, we all make personal choices. I think it is something of a copout to blame the country for the choices we make. And if we do, then equally well, the country is also to “blame” for the good things that happened to you, like for example your getting that fellowship at CMU. Or for your having the choice to go in the first place. After all, plenty of Indians didn’t have the choice to leave, even if they had wanted to.

    Besides, people are still leaving India today like you did a generation ago, in particular from Gujarat too. (In fact far more people go as undergrads than in your and my time). Why are they leaving? Is a screwed up country (or state) still forcing them out?

    At some point, we take responsibility for our own choices. Disillusioned or not.

    * Whether Nehru made a bad bet, “dark and gloomy shadows” is not how plenty of folks I know, your age and older, would describe the India they grew up in. I realize your mileage may vary, but that’s the point: please don’t speak for all citizens of the country. Those folks I am referring to made meaningful, satisfying careers in that same India. I’m thinking of IAS officers, bankers, ad people, journalists, doctors, engineers … in short, about the same gamut of professions you find now.

    And the other thing about Nehru is this: Perhaps much of what he embarked on was, in hindsight as you say, wrong-headed. Perhaps it’s true that we should value the lessons of that hindsight. Yet it’s also true that the institutions Nehru built are what gave you your wings. What is the lesson from hindsight about those?

    * I believe, like you, that we should be rid of the Congress. (I first thought so in 1975-77, so it’s an idea with a long pedigree). But thankfully, that hardly tells me I should turn to Modi.

    * About Modi: We can indeed debate endlessly about what he has done for Gujarat, about his deeds in ’02, on and on. I see no point getting into that debate here.

    For me, though, one thing stands out and these years later, I cannot see any way to suppress its implications. In 2007, Modi actually appointed Maya Kodnani as his Minister of Women’s Development and Child Welfare. He did this despite knowing what she had done in 2002 (for which she is now serving time). Yes, the Gujarat Government Modi headed, in which Kodnani served, actually filed an affidavit in the High Court in 2009 saying Kodnani “was the leader of mob … she was instigating the mob to commit crime and therefore she was playing the main role.” What’s more, “she is a minister in the present government, so there are ample chances of tampering with prosecution witnesses by way of giving threat.” (See this article http://is.gd/n0CL1D)

    A man who knowingly appoints a murderer as Minister of Women’s Development and Child Welfare is not a man I want to see as PM of this country.

    It’s that simple.

  11. Just to drive the point home, my friend, this sentence from an article I did when Kodnani was sentenced: “Overseeing the welfare of Gujarat’s children and its women’s development for a period a few years ago was a lady doctor who, a few years before that, had led the murder of 90+ Gujaratis, including 34 children and 32 women.”

    Modi it was who put her in position to do that overseeing.

  12. Just to drive the point home, my friend, this sentence from an article I did when Kodnani was sentenced: “Overseeing the welfare of Gujarat’s children and its women’s development for a period a few years ago was a lady doctor who, a few years before that, had led the murder of 90+ Gujaratis, including 34 children and 32 women.”

    Modi it was who put her in position to do that overseeing.

  13. I read through the Caravan link two times. The other link doesn’t work.

    What I got was: The author says that
    1. Modi is an ambitious guy who broke RSS protocol to wangle his way into Gujarat CM role
    2. That he knew what was going on during 2002 and turned a blind eye
    3. That his business friendly reputation is more carefully cultivated than genuine
    4. The people of Gujarat seem to adore him apparently for no good reason (well at least the author hasn’t bothered to find out why).
    5. That Ashis Nandy – whose own judgement has at times been questionable – believes that Modi is a fascist based on one interaction from 20 years back.

    # 1, assuming it’s true (it’s probably true) – it’s not a crime to be ambitious.
    # 2 is conjecture. Your guess is as good as mine. This is where a pre-existing bias will tilt a person one way or the other in what they want to hear/believe. I prefer to go with what the courts have ruled. If the various committees and tribunals and courts have come up with nothing (not a shred) which is legally incriminating, I guess one has no choice but to go with it. Else to each his own kool aid. The interesting thing is that he has won back to back elections
    wrt # 3, I will point to Narayana Murthy and Ratan Tata, who are businessmen with integrity, who’ve spoken well of Modi. I can take the author’s word here or I can take those other gentlemen’s word. I’d prefer to go with the latter.
    # 4 is disappointing. I thought I was reading a well researched article. And then I realized I was reading a well researched article on Modi’s flaws. For example, it did not deal with the opinions of all those Gujaratis who voted for Modi at the depth it deserved. Because it would have taken away from the preconceived punch line? Why have large numbers of Gujarati Muslims voted for Modi? Interesting conundrum, isn’t it? That’s a much more interesting story if you ask me, than the well beaten ‘Modi is a monster’ thread. I would honestly like to know why the people of Gujarat adore Modi the guy with “blood on his hands”? Do I go with the opinion of a self-confessed riot tourism reporter who’s looking for a headline or those millions who live in the state and swear by their chief minister?
    # 5 is not worth talking about. The comparisons with Hitler are frankly more emotional than based on facts or reasoning.

    I agree that certain lines must not be crossed. At the same time, conjecture about a person’s culpability in murder is unfair. Modi’s guilt is not proven beyond reasonable doubt as of date. Of course, a murderer should not be made the leader of a country or a state or anything for that matter. A murderer belongs in jail. If this was really as cut and dried as that, there would not be such a raging national debate on Modi.

    Like I said, the question of ‘Is Modi good for India or not’ is a deeply personal choice.Each of us will have to try him in the court of our own personal opinion and make the decision. I have simply shared my take.

  14. I read through the Caravan link two times. The other link doesn’t work.

    What I got was: The author says that
    1. Modi is an ambitious guy who broke RSS protocol to wangle his way into Gujarat CM role
    2. That he knew what was going on during 2002 and turned a blind eye
    3. That his business friendly reputation is more carefully cultivated than genuine
    4. The people of Gujarat seem to adore him apparently for no good reason (well at least the author hasn’t bothered to find out why).
    5. That Ashis Nandy – whose own judgement has at times been questionable – believes that Modi is a fascist based on one interaction from 20 years back.

    # 1, assuming it’s true (it’s probably true) – it’s not a crime to be ambitious.
    # 2 is conjecture. Your guess is as good as mine. This is where a pre-existing bias will tilt a person one way or the other in what they want to hear/believe. I prefer to go with what the courts have ruled. If the various committees and tribunals and courts have come up with nothing (not a shred) which is legally incriminating, I guess one has no choice but to go with it. Else to each his own kool aid. The interesting thing is that he has won back to back elections
    wrt # 3, I will point to Narayana Murthy and Ratan Tata, who are businessmen with integrity, who’ve spoken well of Modi. I can take the author’s word here or I can take those other gentlemen’s word. I’d prefer to go with the latter.
    # 4 is disappointing. I thought I was reading a well researched article. And then I realized I was reading a well researched article on Modi’s flaws. For example, it did not deal with the opinions of all those Gujaratis who voted for Modi at the depth it deserved. Because it would have taken away from the preconceived punch line? Why have large numbers of Gujarati Muslims voted for Modi? Interesting conundrum, isn’t it? That’s a much more interesting story if you ask me, than the well beaten ‘Modi is a monster’ thread. I would honestly like to know why the people of Gujarat adore Modi the guy with “blood on his hands”? Do I go with the opinion of a self-confessed riot tourism reporter who’s looking for a headline or those millions who live in the state and swear by their chief minister?
    # 5 is not worth talking about. The comparisons with Hitler are frankly more emotional than based on facts or reasoning.

    I agree that certain lines must not be crossed. At the same time, conjecture about a person’s culpability in murder is unfair. Modi’s guilt is not proven beyond reasonable doubt as of date. Of course, a murderer should not be made the leader of a country or a state or anything for that matter. A murderer belongs in jail. If this was really as cut and dried as that, there would not be such a raging national debate on Modi.

    Like I said, the question of ‘Is Modi good for India or not’ is a deeply personal choice.Each of us will have to try him in the court of our own personal opinion and make the decision. I have simply shared my take.

  15. Thanks for writing in. Engagement is always a good thing, even if we end up agreeing to disagree.

    * On copout and responsibility. I appreciate the advice though I feel that your conjecture about my (in)ability to separate matters of personal and state responsibility are off the mark. While you’ve asked me to not ‘speak on behalf of all citizens of India’ you imaginatively speak on my behalf, which I will interpret as a sign of your concern for my well being. Let me put it this way: The choice between joining an IIM vs joining one of the highest paid jobs in the country vs going to the US (which were all options I had at that time) was a no brainer to me. Hey that’s me. And heck, this is not about you or me or who had better options and mileage and all those cool wonderful things. It’s about the nation as a whole in which a majority were screwed at that time. But your rather headmasterly point is taken in the right spirit. So let’s move on.

    * As you say, more people are going for undergrad from here than in the past. on the other hand, more successful professionals have returned to India from the US and other countries in recent times than in the past. Points and counter points can be made around this. But, it’s fair to say that India is a less screwed up country or to put it more positively, more vibrant now than it was in the 70’s/80’s.

    * “You’re thinking of IAS officers, bankers, ad people, journalists and engineers who have all had successful careers here.”
    Just so you know, that’s not all of India. I’m thinking of the other 90+ percent of the country which has lived in gloomy shadows for a good part of their lives. India was simply not the land of opportunity then. Who gets to speak for whom is a debatable matter. If you allow yourself to speak on behalf of all doctors, IAS officers, engineers etc (and me 🙂 ), certainly you can afford me the luxury of speaking on behalf of lesser privileged citizens (esp when there’s oodles of data backing up my claim). My point is that the socialism/big government bet has failed a large majority of the country. What are we going to do about it?

    Plus, while we’re on this ‘look ma, I’m so satisfied in India’ topic – I assure you that if India had not gone through the ’90s liberalization wave, all those who bet on India and stayed back would be feeling quite upset with their ‘fulfilling careers’ (and bank balances) right now. Look, all of us have successful doctor and IAS friends and more. Feel free to poll them on this question of ‘what if the liberalization wave hadn’t happened’

    * “Nehru built the IITs. You went to IIT because of which you were able to go to the US. Why are you being an ungrateful wretch? haven’t you learnt anything in hindsight from this?”
    I’m a little baffled by this line of thought that believes that IITians are not allowed to criticize Nehru and the notion that criticism is somehow correlated with ingratitude. I have many things to be thankful for. Jawaharlal Nehru’s vision for IITs is one of them.

    * I agree that voting against Congress is not equal to voting for Modi. Pray please elaborate on the alternatives. If we’re simply playing logic puzzles and mind games here, then you have a point. If we’re trying to figure out real answers to real problems, I’m afraid it’s not clear what options you’d like us to consider.

    * This last point related to Kodnani is really where you’ve actually made the case against Modi. You hang your hat on the hypothesis that by 2007 Modi knew what Kodnani had done in 2002 based on an affidavit filed in 2009. I’m afraid that (even if you may be right), you’re in the land of conjecture on this one. Unless you’re privy to some information that the rest of us are not, the timelines don’t match up. You say that Modi’s govt filed an affidavit saying ‘Kodanani was the leader of the mob’ which seems like they did the right thing. Would you give credit to Modi’s govt for that? And then Kodnani was forced to resign from her post. How about more credit for that? So, what exactly are you upset about?

    Look, I’m as concerned as the next guy in not having murderers as PMs, etc. In fact, if you can provide credible evidence (not Tehelka links, conspiracy theories or emotional diatribes 🙂 ) in support of Modi’s culpability in 2002 riots – I’d be most grateful to you for it would help correct a grievously wrong line of thought on my part. I remain as always open to new information.

  16. Thanks for writing in. Engagement is always a good thing, even if we end up agreeing to disagree.

    * On copout and responsibility. I appreciate the advice though I feel that your conjecture about my (in)ability to separate matters of personal and state responsibility are off the mark. While you’ve asked me to not ‘speak on behalf of all citizens of India’ you imaginatively speak on my behalf, which I will interpret as a sign of your concern for my well being. Let me put it this way: The choice between joining an IIM vs joining one of the highest paid jobs in the country vs going to the US (which were all options I had at that time) was a no brainer to me. Hey that’s me. And heck, this is not about you or me or who had better options and mileage and all those cool wonderful things. It’s about the nation as a whole in which a majority were screwed at that time. But your rather headmasterly point is taken in the right spirit. So let’s move on.

    * As you say, more people are going for undergrad from here than in the past. on the other hand, more successful professionals have returned to India from the US and other countries in recent times than in the past. Points and counter points can be made around this. But, it’s fair to say that India is a less screwed up country or to put it more positively, more vibrant now than it was in the 70’s/80’s.

    * “You’re thinking of IAS officers, bankers, ad people, journalists and engineers who have all had successful careers here.”
    Just so you know, that’s not all of India. I’m thinking of the other 90+ percent of the country which has lived in gloomy shadows for a good part of their lives. India was simply not the land of opportunity then. Who gets to speak for whom is a debatable matter. If you allow yourself to speak on behalf of all doctors, IAS officers, engineers etc (and me 🙂 ), certainly you can afford me the luxury of speaking on behalf of lesser privileged citizens (esp when there’s oodles of data backing up my claim). My point is that the socialism/big government bet has failed a large majority of the country. What are we going to do about it?

    Plus, while we’re on this ‘look ma, I’m so satisfied in India’ topic – I assure you that if India had not gone through the ’90s liberalization wave, all those who bet on India and stayed back would be feeling quite upset with their ‘fulfilling careers’ (and bank balances) right now. Look, all of us have successful doctor and IAS friends and more. Feel free to poll them on this question of ‘what if the liberalization wave hadn’t happened’

    * “Nehru built the IITs. You went to IIT because of which you were able to go to the US. Why are you being an ungrateful wretch? haven’t you learnt anything in hindsight from this?”
    I’m a little baffled by this line of thought that believes that IITians are not allowed to criticize Nehru and the notion that criticism is somehow correlated with ingratitude. I have many things to be thankful for. Jawaharlal Nehru’s vision for IITs is one of them.

    * I agree that voting against Congress is not equal to voting for Modi. Pray please elaborate on the alternatives. If we’re simply playing logic puzzles and mind games here, then you have a point. If we’re trying to figure out real answers to real problems, I’m afraid it’s not clear what options you’d like us to consider.

    * This last point related to Kodnani is really where you’ve actually made the case against Modi. You hang your hat on the hypothesis that by 2007 Modi knew what Kodnani had done in 2002 based on an affidavit filed in 2009. I’m afraid that (even if you may be right), you’re in the land of conjecture on this one. Unless you’re privy to some information that the rest of us are not, the timelines don’t match up. You say that Modi’s govt filed an affidavit saying ‘Kodanani was the leader of the mob’ which seems like they did the right thing. Would you give credit to Modi’s govt for that? And then Kodnani was forced to resign from her post. How about more credit for that? So, what exactly are you upset about?

    Look, I’m as concerned as the next guy in not having murderers as PMs, etc. In fact, if you can provide credible evidence (not Tehelka links, conspiracy theories or emotional diatribes 🙂 ) in support of Modi’s culpability in 2002 riots – I’d be most grateful to you for it would help correct a grievously wrong line of thought on my part. I remain as always open to new information.

  17. Let me see. Your first two sentences were: “As a schoolboy growing up in the seventies, I realized early on that India was no place for commoners. That India was a country which provided little or no hope for a person from the middle class.”

    A little further on, you wrote: “Imagine how screwed up a country had to be for one of its impressionable young citizens to take the first flight out.”

    All right, so I suggest (headmasterly perhaps) that plenty of other schoolboys just like you, impressionable young citizens just like you, from the middle class just like you, did NOT take the first flight out. If your flight suggests a “screwed up country”, what does their staying behind suggest?

    Besides, I’ll go out on a limb and claim that you were in a tiny minority of “impressionable young citizens” in this country who took a flight out. What does that suggest?

    Besides too, if your taking flight means this was a screwed up country, how come plenty of people (e.g. undergrads) taking flights out now doesn’t mean the same thing? How come now it’s “less screwed up”? Your own logic suggests the opposite.

    Besides three, you mentioned *you* leaving, and what that said about the country. (“It was a bet which led an impressionable young college student to catch the first flight out”). When I pointed out that plenty of people like you (which is why I mentioned IAS, engineers, journalists, etc) did not leave, suddenly you’re “thinking about the other 90+ percent”? Eh?

    You’re allowed to criticise Nehru. Nobody stopped you.

    Alternatives to Congress? I choose mine, you can choose yours. My cards stay close to my chest. That’s the way I like it.

    You think the timelines don’t match up? Well, an FIR was filed against Kodnani — a BJP MLA at the time, remember — on March 17 2002, but her name was “kept out of all chargesheets so far” (covered widely at the time, mentioned in the book “Gujarat: The Making of a Tragedy”, edited by Siddharth Varadarajan, page 86 — check online here http://is.gd/y2xGUu). Nothing happened about this for well over five years, Kodnani got re-elected and Modi made her a Minister, then the SIT mentioned her deeds and Modi’s government filed that affidavit.

    There is no way to slice this so it looks good for Mr M. Why was her name kept out of the chargesheets? Why, despite accounts/FIRs/eyewitnesses, was there no attempt to investigate the charges against her for over five years? Why was she in fact made Minister? Why was it only after the SIT said things about her that Modi’s government woke up to her guilt?

    Like I said, no way to slice it. Please note I said nothing about “having a murderer as PM”, so please don’t try (your last para) to make me answer that. What I did say was this is a man who appointed a murderer as his Minister. That kind of man, I don’t want as PM.

    Peace to you.

  18. Let me see. Your first two sentences were: “As a schoolboy growing up in the seventies, I realized early on that India was no place for commoners. That India was a country which provided little or no hope for a person from the middle class.”

    A little further on, you wrote: “Imagine how screwed up a country had to be for one of its impressionable young citizens to take the first flight out.”

    All right, so I suggest (headmasterly perhaps) that plenty of other schoolboys just like you, impressionable young citizens just like you, from the middle class just like you, did NOT take the first flight out. If your flight suggests a “screwed up country”, what does their staying behind suggest?

    Besides, I’ll go out on a limb and claim that you were in a tiny minority of “impressionable young citizens” in this country who took a flight out. What does that suggest?

    Besides too, if your taking flight means this was a screwed up country, how come plenty of people (e.g. undergrads) taking flights out now doesn’t mean the same thing? How come now it’s “less screwed up”? Your own logic suggests the opposite.

    Besides three, you mentioned *you* leaving, and what that said about the country. (“It was a bet which led an impressionable young college student to catch the first flight out”). When I pointed out that plenty of people like you (which is why I mentioned IAS, engineers, journalists, etc) did not leave, suddenly you’re “thinking about the other 90+ percent”? Eh?

    You’re allowed to criticise Nehru. Nobody stopped you.

    Alternatives to Congress? I choose mine, you can choose yours. My cards stay close to my chest. That’s the way I like it.

    You think the timelines don’t match up? Well, an FIR was filed against Kodnani — a BJP MLA at the time, remember — on March 17 2002, but her name was “kept out of all chargesheets so far” (covered widely at the time, mentioned in the book “Gujarat: The Making of a Tragedy”, edited by Siddharth Varadarajan, page 86 — check online here http://is.gd/y2xGUu). Nothing happened about this for well over five years, Kodnani got re-elected and Modi made her a Minister, then the SIT mentioned her deeds and Modi’s government filed that affidavit.

    There is no way to slice this so it looks good for Mr M. Why was her name kept out of the chargesheets? Why, despite accounts/FIRs/eyewitnesses, was there no attempt to investigate the charges against her for over five years? Why was she in fact made Minister? Why was it only after the SIT said things about her that Modi’s government woke up to her guilt?

    Like I said, no way to slice it. Please note I said nothing about “having a murderer as PM”, so please don’t try (your last para) to make me answer that. What I did say was this is a man who appointed a murderer as his Minister. That kind of man, I don’t want as PM.

    Peace to you.

  19. Living in the US, I am not as up to date or as invested in the issue of Modi. But I have a few points to make here…

    It appears that the central point over which your ambivalence about Modi moves to his favor is the fact that the courts did not pin anything on him. Of course he would have been careful not to be implicated. There are plenty of like minded people surrounding him who need no instruction about what he would like to see happen. As you know there has been massive witness initimidation and clearly even though a huge number of atrocities were committed there have been just a handful of convictions. As one of the articles above claims – one of his inner circle was assasinated. So by that logic there are several 1000 murderers and rapists in Gujurat who also get a pass because the courts have not found them guilty or complicit?

    To me the bigger issue is what has happened since ? Why are some 15-20K Muslims still living in refugee camps today ? Could the great statesman not have helped make amends and restore to many of these people their ancestral homes and properties ? Not even for the cynical purpose of burnishing his image and claiming he cares about what happened to them? There are people alive today who can name their rapists and molesters and arsonists – but no justice ? Could Mr. Modi not easily grease the wheels of justice – so does he not care or is he not capable enough ? And which of these excuses makes him a good man to run the country ?
    It tells you that he is happy to send the message that “Muslims not welcome here” and there are sadly hordes of his adulating followers who like this image.

    If there is one thing that will take India backwards in terms of economic development and progress it will be communal violence. It has the potential to spread like wildfire and all politicians who play to the Hindutva superiority or any other non-secular agenda are just plain dangerous. I think it is clear that Modi will do this.

    I have heard many smart and informed people (like yourself) who have decided to accept Modi largely as the only alternative to the incompetent government right now and found reasons to justify it as the ‘best for India’ right now. I think some lines should not be crossed as othes have said above. It is this resigned acceptance that will keep a real candidate from emerging or ever running. We face the same in the US – I stopped voting for either major party years ago. Lonely in this endeavour unfortunately.

    I would not be so optimistic of the great Gujurat model applying elsewhere. I personally believe Gujuratis are the most skilled business community in India (give them a moderate disadvantage and they will still come out on top making money!). Give them a few advantages like Modi did and there is no chance of failure. Look at Gujurati communities anywhere in the world.

    In your favor are a few arguments I need to learn more about – Ratan Tata’s take on him. I will ask some of my Parsi family and friends about this. And the Muslim votes for him.

    Last point – he has the charismatic personality of a television evangelist, with the political skills and PR machine of a professional modern politician. As I have learned in US politics – with enough money and good TV personna you can get away with anything. Speaking a convincing lie over and over eventually renders it true. As you know he has hired PR firms in the US to continue to help his reputation here and fund raise. Unprecedented for an Indian politician. The US state dept has repeatedly refused him a visa and he will eventually create a powerful enough lobby here to break that ban.
    I have never trusted charismatic people who start promoting themselves…..usually religious con men.

  20. Living in the US, I am not as up to date or as invested in the issue of Modi. But I have a few points to make here…

    It appears that the central point over which your ambivalence about Modi moves to his favor is the fact that the courts did not pin anything on him. Of course he would have been careful not to be implicated. There are plenty of like minded people surrounding him who need no instruction about what he would like to see happen. As you know there has been massive witness initimidation and clearly even though a huge number of atrocities were committed there have been just a handful of convictions. As one of the articles above claims – one of his inner circle was assasinated. So by that logic there are several 1000 murderers and rapists in Gujurat who also get a pass because the courts have not found them guilty or complicit?

    To me the bigger issue is what has happened since ? Why are some 15-20K Muslims still living in refugee camps today ? Could the great statesman not have helped make amends and restore to many of these people their ancestral homes and properties ? Not even for the cynical purpose of burnishing his image and claiming he cares about what happened to them? There are people alive today who can name their rapists and molesters and arsonists – but no justice ? Could Mr. Modi not easily grease the wheels of justice – so does he not care or is he not capable enough ? And which of these excuses makes him a good man to run the country ?
    It tells you that he is happy to send the message that “Muslims not welcome here” and there are sadly hordes of his adulating followers who like this image.

    If there is one thing that will take India backwards in terms of economic development and progress it will be communal violence. It has the potential to spread like wildfire and all politicians who play to the Hindutva superiority or any other non-secular agenda are just plain dangerous. I think it is clear that Modi will do this.

    I have heard many smart and informed people (like yourself) who have decided to accept Modi largely as the only alternative to the incompetent government right now and found reasons to justify it as the ‘best for India’ right now. I think some lines should not be crossed as othes have said above. It is this resigned acceptance that will keep a real candidate from emerging or ever running. We face the same in the US – I stopped voting for either major party years ago. Lonely in this endeavour unfortunately.

    I would not be so optimistic of the great Gujurat model applying elsewhere. I personally believe Gujuratis are the most skilled business community in India (give them a moderate disadvantage and they will still come out on top making money!). Give them a few advantages like Modi did and there is no chance of failure. Look at Gujurati communities anywhere in the world.

    In your favor are a few arguments I need to learn more about – Ratan Tata’s take on him. I will ask some of my Parsi family and friends about this. And the Muslim votes for him.

    Last point – he has the charismatic personality of a television evangelist, with the political skills and PR machine of a professional modern politician. As I have learned in US politics – with enough money and good TV personna you can get away with anything. Speaking a convincing lie over and over eventually renders it true. As you know he has hired PR firms in the US to continue to help his reputation here and fund raise. Unprecedented for an Indian politician. The US state dept has repeatedly refused him a visa and he will eventually create a powerful enough lobby here to break that ban.
    I have never trusted charismatic people who start promoting themselves…..usually religious con men.

  21. There’s far too much hate in your writing for me to believe your last line. Hate – not anger or annoyance.

    Your Kafila article was similarly written and similarly irrational. Those comments that questioned your reasoning have been moderated out at Kafila! That says a lot about Kafila and you.

    It is apparent that you’ve bottled all your anti-something hate, aimed it at Modi and used Kodnani’s case as an excuse to shoot at him. You are in no position to know the truth about the Gujarat riots since you do not have access to the facts though you do seem to have read lots of the stories about 2002.

    The reasons why Kodnani was made a minister, why the cases against her continued, why the SIT did find information and why the Gujarat govt chose to prosecute her are all out of your reach. None of us can know why they did what they did, we can only conjecture. All you can be confident of is that this govt did not protect her the way other govts. protect their own – for example in Bengal and Delhi.

    Your words say a lot about you Dilip D’Souza but very little about anything else.

  22. I came to this site after following a tweet!

    Srini, I wish more power to your words – it’s wonderful to have an objective voice, filled with the joy and music of life, offer rational thoughts to discuss. I hope other bloggers take on the same spirit.

    My best wishes to you.

  23. I don’t control Kafila.

    In my experience, those who complain about comments being moderated out anywhere never made those comments in the first place.

    I do know some things about the 2002 violence in Gujarat, learned firsthand from travelling there at the time.

    I am tired of governments protecting their own. This, with other similar reasons, is why folks like me turned away in disgust, as far back as 1977, from the Congress. To our dismay, we found over the years that the BJP is no different. Case in point: Kodnani being made Minister by Modi.

    If “none of us can know why they did what they did”, that still does not absolve me from my duty as a citizen, of thinking for myself and asking questions.

    You want to think this amounts to hate, please be my guest. I still say, to the author of this post and to you, “Peace to you.”

  24. I don’t control Kafila.

    In my experience, those who complain about comments being moderated out anywhere never made those comments in the first place.

    I do know some things about the 2002 violence in Gujarat, learned firsthand from travelling there at the time.

    I am tired of governments protecting their own. This, with other similar reasons, is why folks like me turned away in disgust, as far back as 1977, from the Congress. To our dismay, we found over the years that the BJP is no different. Case in point: Kodnani being made Minister by Modi.

    If “none of us can know why they did what they did”, that still does not absolve me from my duty as a citizen, of thinking for myself and asking questions.

    You want to think this amounts to hate, please be my guest. I still say, to the author of this post and to you, “Peace to you.”

  25. Hi Daraius, I hear you. To a good extent, I agree that the case for Modi rests on a lack of alternative, and that’s a trap we usually fall into as voters. We have this habit in India of putting ourselves in tight situations which call for unpleasant decisions every so often. And I agree that there are certain lines which are not to be crossed.

    Modi seems to evoke strong fan boy and hate reactions, and it’s hard to find an objective voice amid all of that. I’m really not sure who/what to believe anymore. People are out there trying to score points and not really adding facts or new insights to the debate.

    Like I said, it comes down to how each of us judges him in the court of our personal opinion. And I am not, for a moment, saying that applying personal opinion to a decision as critical as who’s going to run the country is wrong. But we have to recognize that it’s personal opinion at the end of the day and not insist that it’s a factually supported one or that we have monopoly over the truth. For those of us who want to put aside personal opinion and conjecture in judging Modi, there is frankly little choice but to go with the facts. ie the courts have exonerated him.

    This Modi affair is quite amazing in how it’s polarizing. Reminds me of how voters view Hillary Clinton (no, I’m not saying Modi = Hillary. quite poles apart. 🙂 ) in the US. What I’ve observed is that people are going to polarize if they want to polarize. They’re going to find emotional/irrational reasons to do so. GWB was a polarizing figure and he divided America. Obama (who I thought did *not* have a polarizing temperament) beat out Clinton (a polarizing figure) and even that didn’t stop America from splitting even further.

    It’s all disgusting, i agree. The truth is that no politician can be trusted. I’m not saying we trust Modi or anyone else. Trust is too strong a word. Vote is a better word 🙂 They are all devious and manipulative. In fact, we’d be hard pressed to find (in India) politicians who are not involved in dubious or criminal activities. So the question is: where do we draw the moral line? At theft of public money? At a few murders here and there? At genocide? Whose moral line do I follow? How do I judge breach of moral standards?

    It’s the economy stupid – to paraphrase Bill C. When the economy goes down the toilet, that’s when the crazies get to come out and play. The sooner we fix things and move the country along, we will unleash forces which will weed out polarizing figures like Modi and hypocritical figures (like Congress) in the political arena over time. If we don’t, I can see fellows worse than Modi and Congress coming along. That’s where I’m coming from.

    Do share what you hear about Ratan Tata on Modi. I was referring to RT’s public statements. Here’s a link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oKjkDynHNps

    I saw one of RT’s interviews live on TV when he said that people who don’t invest in Gujarat are dumb and he gave full credit to Modi for Gujarat’s economic success.

    This is another issue that perplexes me – which is that someone like Ratan Tata, who I hold in high esteem for his personal and professional integrity, willingly invested in Gujarat. Ratan Tata is a guy who’s held morality over business from all I’ve read about him. He doesn’t mind not making money if he has to do it the immoral way. I have a hard time believing that he would have invested in Gujarat if he had been personally convinced of Modi’s guilt or complicity in people being killed. it’s stuff like this adds up in Modi’s favor. Let me know what you hear.

    If there is good information or a different way to think about this, I’m completely open to reconsidering my entire position on this.

    Thanks for writing, man.

  26. Hi Daraius, I hear you. To a good extent, I agree that the case for Modi rests on a lack of alternative, and that’s a trap we usually fall into as voters. We have this habit in India of putting ourselves in tight situations which call for unpleasant decisions every so often. And I agree that there are certain lines which are not to be crossed.

    Modi seems to evoke strong fan boy and hate reactions, and it’s hard to find an objective voice amid all of that. I’m really not sure who/what to believe anymore. People are out there trying to score points and not really adding facts or new insights to the debate.

    Like I said, it comes down to how each of us judges him in the court of our personal opinion. And I am not, for a moment, saying that applying personal opinion to a decision as critical as who’s going to run the country is wrong. But we have to recognize that it’s personal opinion at the end of the day and not insist that it’s a factually supported one or that we have monopoly over the truth. For those of us who want to put aside personal opinion and conjecture in judging Modi, there is frankly little choice but to go with the facts. ie the courts have exonerated him.

    This Modi affair is quite amazing in how it’s polarizing. Reminds me of how voters view Hillary Clinton (no, I’m not saying Modi = Hillary. quite poles apart. 🙂 ) in the US. What I’ve observed is that people are going to polarize if they want to polarize. They’re going to find emotional/irrational reasons to do so. GWB was a polarizing figure and he divided America. Obama (who I thought did *not* have a polarizing temperament) beat out Clinton (a polarizing figure) and even that didn’t stop America from splitting even further.

    It’s all disgusting, i agree. The truth is that no politician can be trusted. I’m not saying we trust Modi or anyone else. Trust is too strong a word. Vote is a better word 🙂 They are all devious and manipulative. In fact, we’d be hard pressed to find (in India) politicians who are not involved in dubious or criminal activities. So the question is: where do we draw the moral line? At theft of public money? At a few murders here and there? At genocide? Whose moral line do I follow? How do I judge breach of moral standards?

    It’s the economy stupid – to paraphrase Bill C. When the economy goes down the toilet, that’s when the crazies get to come out and play. The sooner we fix things and move the country along, we will unleash forces which will weed out polarizing figures like Modi and hypocritical figures (like Congress) in the political arena over time. If we don’t, I can see fellows worse than Modi and Congress coming along. That’s where I’m coming from.

    Do share what you hear about Ratan Tata on Modi. I was referring to RT’s public statements. Here’s a link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oKjkDynHNps

    I saw one of RT’s interviews live on TV when he said that people who don’t invest in Gujarat are dumb and he gave full credit to Modi for Gujarat’s economic success.

    This is another issue that perplexes me – which is that someone like Ratan Tata, who I hold in high esteem for his personal and professional integrity, willingly invested in Gujarat. Ratan Tata is a guy who’s held morality over business from all I’ve read about him. He doesn’t mind not making money if he has to do it the immoral way. I have a hard time believing that he would have invested in Gujarat if he had been personally convinced of Modi’s guilt or complicity in people being killed. it’s stuff like this adds up in Modi’s favor. Let me know what you hear.

    If there is good information or a different way to think about this, I’m completely open to reconsidering my entire position on this.

    Thanks for writing, man.

  27. Thanks much for your wishes! I appreciate it.

    I think we all mean well for the country and try to be good citizens. But somehow somewhere along the line, we shut ourselves out of listening to what our fellow citizens have to say. I believe debate is a good thing if it’s meant to illuminate and not score petty points over each other. 🙂 Thanks again! And my best wishes to you too!

  28. Thanks much for your wishes! I appreciate it.

    I think we all mean well for the country and try to be good citizens. But somehow somewhere along the line, we shut ourselves out of listening to what our fellow citizens have to say. I believe debate is a good thing if it’s meant to illuminate and not score petty points over each other. 🙂 Thanks again! And my best wishes to you too!

  29. uff Dilip, you could have cooled down! Okay – Kafila can be happily ignored. But that doesn’t explain why you call me a liar in your point 2. Hate a bit?

    Point 3: I’m not sure if you’re actually saying that you went to Gujarat and got the whole truth and then, uh, decided that in 2013 you would blame Modi for a decision he makes in 2007 which is completely against something that will happen in 2009. No worries, I’m not asking for an explanation.

    Point 4: Kodnani’s case is not in point. You are choosing to make it one based on conjecture (or worse) but not on fact. If one is honest, one knows that there is no further one can go on Kodnani, which could be why the SIT let it go. Modi may be guilty or he may not. At the moment, as a result of a Supreme Court Investigation, he gets the benefit of the doubt.

    Point 5: never mind – you’ve just put yourself on a tee with that one. I think it best not to sully an excellent What Ho! post with more negativity.

    Sir, we are all passionately motivated to do what’s right for our country. Going irrationally after Modi (or those who speak in favour of him) doesn’t seem to help the country. But it will help the Congress.

  30. I don’t have anything to add here, but it’s nice to read well structured thoughts of intelligent people for a change.

  31. I don’t have anything to add here, but it’s nice to read well structured thoughts of intelligent people for a change.

  32. Well written article. I agree on the need for periodic change in India’s central executive setup and their philosophy for India. I believe there cannot be one philosophy fit for all times and aspects of society anyway. However, I am concerned that the discussion may be drifting to suggest that an individual, Modi or other, can effect the course corrections needed. As a parliamentary democracy, India needs to believe more in grass roots change at every level. I am afraid that no matter Modi or Manmohan, we will continue with the leadership and local ownership ills that plague our society and impact the lives of every individual.

    Gujarati’s, more than Modi, must have the larger role and reason for their model and success. Leaders at best can be inspirational, supportive, enabling in a democracy on a highly plural state such as India.

    I suggest that people should talk more about their MLAs, and MPs and elect them irrespective of their affiliations to Modi or Sonia or Advani or Jaya, etc., and only based on their individual ability to deliver and affiliation to their constituency. In many pockets of success in India, there seems distinct possibility that this was more of a factor than in some high authority leader at the top.

  33. Hi Thiru, that’s quite a different way to look at this. Agree that MLA/MPs should be elected based on their individual merits and track records.. The way things work however is that the leader at the top (whether it’s a PM in India or a Prez in the US) sets the agenda and tone by influencing/driving policy and allocating budget and in general being a cheerleader for the country. To your point, execution happens on the ground. Which is why I believe that the belief that Modi can repeat his success in Gujarat on a national scale is an optimistic one. He will have limited success. Based on what we’ve seen from other parties, I’d personally go for limited success over zero.

    Agree that we need to move away from personality/cult based politics. We seem to be a long way off from there. My hypothesis is that – as the middle class grows to about 40-50pct of the population (currently about 10-15 pct), we will see fundamental changes in people voting patterns (along the lines you describe). Any one who moves the needle towards growing the size of the middle class becomes an obvious choice in the interim (barring major character flaws, of course).

    Thanks for writing back!

  34. While Modi is a leader capable of delivering like no other I see the point the you are trying to make.
    I agree with what you say about taking the first flight out as my parents did the same and yes returning to India till 2005 was something I did not look forward to much.
    Modi is a strong leader , decisive like Indira (from what I read and heard ). Free market economics have opened up avenues like no other and people are becoming richer and more well off. The economic growth has been good for our people and there is a shift of people from the lower to the middle class and their preferences to strong decisive leaders.
    The lower classes having seen others become successful are waiting for opportunities that the economy may throw up.
    They understand that they too can make it to the big leagues without being born with a silver spoon.
    It is this class along with a huge chunk of the middle class that will vote for him.
    Is it big enough to take him to Delhi is a question that will be answered in 2014.
    As for the 2002 riots , I agree that if the courts have cleared him after 12 years of hounding from NGOs to the Media , he must be innocent as the opposition has a very potent tool in the book i.e the CBI to hound any and all opponents.
    Also the recent allocation of so much air time to the encounter case leads me to believe there is something fishy when everyone from the IB to Headley has agreed that she was a terrorist which is the main bone of contention between the CBI and IB , not whether the encounter was staged or not.
    .
    The article however was great and enjoyed reading it.

  35. While Modi is a leader capable of delivering like no other I see the point the you are trying to make.
    I agree with what you say about taking the first flight out as my parents did the same and yes returning to India till 2005 was something I did not look forward to much.
    Modi is a strong leader , decisive like Indira (from what I read and heard ). Free market economics have opened up avenues like no other and people are becoming richer and more well off. The economic growth has been good for our people and there is a shift of people from the lower to the middle class and their preferences to strong decisive leaders.
    The lower classes having seen others become successful are waiting for opportunities that the economy may throw up.
    They understand that they too can make it to the big leagues without being born with a silver spoon.
    It is this class along with a huge chunk of the middle class that will vote for him.
    Is it big enough to take him to Delhi is a question that will be answered in 2014.
    As for the 2002 riots , I agree that if the courts have cleared him after 12 years of hounding from NGOs to the Media , he must be innocent as the opposition has a very potent tool in the book i.e the CBI to hound any and all opponents.
    Also the recent allocation of so much air time to the encounter case leads me to believe there is something fishy when everyone from the IB to Headley has agreed that she was a terrorist which is the main bone of contention between the CBI and IB , not whether the encounter was staged or not.
    .
    The article however was great and enjoyed reading it.

  36. We can confidently claim the state of this nation to be hopeless if we give the existing government yet another term. Most of us have very strong doubt that the deep rooted evils in our country are beyond redemption. We can safely have it confirmed if a third term were to happen.

    I think Modi is one of the very few politicians who think they have a job at hand when they rule. I really hope we are sensible enough to give him a chance.

    This post reminded me a discussion I had with my dad years back when I got the chance to vote for the first time. I said I was going to vote for the Congress because I wanted a nation free from communal violence. What a lopsided and ill informed view to hold!!
    What ensued was a 2 hr discourse at the end of which I changed my mind.

  37. We can confidently claim the state of this nation to be hopeless if we give the existing government yet another term. Most of us have very strong doubt that the deep rooted evils in our country are beyond redemption. We can safely have it confirmed if a third term were to happen.

    I think Modi is one of the very few politicians who think they have a job at hand when they rule. I really hope we are sensible enough to give him a chance.

    This post reminded me a discussion I had with my dad years back when I got the chance to vote for the first time. I said I was going to vote for the Congress because I wanted a nation free from communal violence. What a lopsided and ill informed view to hold!!
    What ensued was a 2 hr discourse at the end of which I changed my mind.

  38. Smart people can respond to different situations differently, not every problem has the same solution. And if you can think of this, surely Modi and his team can too, no?

  39. Smart people can respond to different situations differently, not every problem has the same solution. And if you can think of this, surely Modi and his team can too, no?

  40. The write-up is the resounding echo of the feelings of the vast majority of the Indians. Whether I am a Hindu or a Muslim or a Christian, if I believe that I am first an Indian and confine my religious thoughts within the four walls of my pooja room, I will definitely be accommodative enough to credit Modi with what he has achieved in Gujarat and is capable of replicating itself successfully on a much wider canvass, that is Bharat. . The political parties of all shades try to give him a bad name due to what happened inspite of him in 2002 , and then try to hang him up on the nearest lamp post. It is unfortunate that his words are anathema for the political class and what ever he says is turned, out of context just to crucify him. , But, I am sure the electorate can see through the deceptive prism of secularism , being propagated by a lack- lustre ,, policy-deficit political party, which has, to our dismay, has tried to ride on the mirage of secularism, appeasement, and fake all-inclusiveness as their policy. ,

  41. The write-up is the resounding echo of the feelings of the vast majority of the Indians. Whether I am a Hindu or a Muslim or a Christian, if I believe that I am first an Indian and confine my religious thoughts within the four walls of my pooja room, I will definitely be accommodative enough to credit Modi with what he has achieved in Gujarat and is capable of replicating itself successfully on a much wider canvass, that is Bharat. . The political parties of all shades try to give him a bad name due to what happened inspite of him in 2002 , and then try to hang him up on the nearest lamp post. It is unfortunate that his words are anathema for the political class and what ever he says is turned, out of context just to crucify him. , But, I am sure the electorate can see through the deceptive prism of secularism , being propagated by a lack- lustre ,, policy-deficit political party, which has, to our dismay, has tried to ride on the mirage of secularism, appeasement, and fake all-inclusiveness as their policy. ,

  42. As a 25 year old engineer cum MBA ( not IIT/IIM standards mind you ) eeking a living in India, I cant help but feel intellectually a little challenged to comment here. By the standards set by our mainstream media and used to comments written in SMS language and capital letters, this article and the comments below it were positively enlightening. Though not used to the grammatical perfection or the diplomatic niceties that this blog offers, I end up feeling that the arguements posted remain the same. Modi is just as polarising in an intellectual discussion as on a bar stool in a pub. Arguements and counter arguements still remain a matter of perception, of inherent prejudices. Simply put, while most discussions center on which side of the fence the person is, here the discussion seems rooted on where the fence should be placed. Stimulating yes, but the same thing in the end.
    Personally I support Modi with a conviction not based on serious study of facts, or of claims and counter claims, but a willingness to suffer the consequences of risking change. The fear of remaining static in a stagnating society while the world runs forward outweighs the possibility of communal disharmony in my mind. I might be thinking only of me, but then I believe in objectivism.
    For more of my thoughts on Modi feel free to read here http://bit.ly/16DtOpw ( Do not expect the high standards you maintain sir. )
    The only part of the article I could not confirm with completely was the absolute rejection of the Nehruvian socialist model. Here I do not claim any knowledge based on research or experience, only perceptions borrowed from articles such as this one, and some better and some much worse. But an essential point which you failed to address were the factors which led to Nehru choosing what he chose. India has already been bled dry by the British and did not have the resources to straightaway start an economy based on capitalistic competition. To expect a few Tatas and Birlas to do overnight wonders would have been a gamble. Nehru’s prerogative then must have been and correctly so the alleviation of poverty and suffering that was the state of the common man. The top down trickle of capitalism would have taken too long and caused too much suffering. Beset by the ravages of partition and famine, with a population that had lost a generation of education and material advancement to the independance struggle, did Nehru have the choice of waiting for capitalism. Did he not have a higher responsibility to the people he led to independance and put their faith in him than to the future generations. Capitalism was by no means a guarantee of success either. All factors considered, the choice made by Nehru seems to be exactly the kind of reasoning that leads me and you to root for Modi today. With a lack of absolutes in his choices, Nehru would have been hard pressed to choose a different path.

  43. Hi there! came here from URT. I really like the way you write. However, I would disagree about certain points on Mr. Modi.

    1. You start by assuming that Modi has done something unprecedented in Gujarat. But Gujarat’s growth rate is not the best and it is not the largest economy either.

    2. You say courts have not found anything against him. The SIT report does not directly incriminate him, but there are many questions that need to be discussed. Mr. Modi is eager to call it a clean chit, because it is in his interest. But why are you calling it a clean chit? Especially, after you have displayed admirable critical thinking facility over all?

    3. I do not support Congress. But I did not see any explanation about secularism gone too far as mentioned in your article. Do you mean that secularism is not good now, and needs to be suspended (bad for some and good for many) for some time? Then taking your logic, freedom of speech should also be abolished because some people misuse it. Would you support restricting a fundamental right because of misuse?

    4. Why do you think that there is no alternative to Modi? In BJP there is Shivnath Chouhan, Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj. Outside BJP, there is Nitish (who has done some of the good things Modi has done like high growth rate etc.), leaders from Kerala (which ranks highest on HDI and equitable growth) etc. As a politically objective thinker, I hope you will keep your options open unlike the fanatic followers of Rahul and Modi.

    5. When you say that Congress’s socialist mindset needs to be countered, you did not mention that retail FDI was opposed by Mr. Modi’s party. Similarly, Food Security Bill for BJP-ruled MP was introduced in 2008. Apart from a passing mention of MNREGA, could you please explain how BJP’s policies will be different from Congress’?

    6. Also, do you think we need to change the establishment of the traditional parties and formations (UPA and NDA) and look for new organizations without the baggage of corruption, riots and mass murder?

    I appreciate your attention to detail and politeness in replies in general! 🙂

  44. Hi there! came here from URT. I really like the way you write. However, I would disagree about certain points on Mr. Modi.

    1. You start by assuming that Modi has done something unprecedented in Gujarat. But Gujarat’s growth rate is not the best and it is not the largest economy either.

    2. You say courts have not found anything against him. The SIT report does not directly incriminate him, but there are many questions that need to be discussed. Mr. Modi is eager to call it a clean chit, because it is in his interest. But why are you calling it a clean chit? Especially, after you have displayed admirable critical thinking facility over all?

    3. I do not support Congress. But I did not see any explanation about secularism gone too far as mentioned in your article. Do you mean that secularism is not good now, and needs to be suspended (bad for some and good for many) for some time? Then taking your logic, freedom of speech should also be abolished because some people misuse it. Would you support restricting a fundamental right because of misuse?

    4. Why do you think that there is no alternative to Modi? In BJP there is Shivnath Chouhan, Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj. Outside BJP, there is Nitish (who has done some of the good things Modi has done like high growth rate etc.), leaders from Kerala (which ranks highest on HDI and equitable growth) etc. As a politically objective thinker, I hope you will keep your options open unlike the fanatic followers of Rahul and Modi.

    5. When you say that Congress’s socialist mindset needs to be countered, you did not mention that retail FDI was opposed by Mr. Modi’s party. Similarly, Food Security Bill for BJP-ruled MP was introduced in 2008. Apart from a passing mention of MNREGA, could you please explain how BJP’s policies will be different from Congress’?

    6. Also, do you think we need to change the establishment of the traditional parties and formations (UPA and NDA) and look for new organizations without the baggage of corruption, riots and mass murder?

    I appreciate your attention to detail and politeness in replies in general! 🙂

  45. Thank you Yethin for writing in. I hear you. You have said something honestly that a lot of people will secretly relate to “I support Modi with a conviction not based on serious study of facts, or of claims and counter claims, but a willingness to suffer the consequences of risking change.”

    With respect to Pandit Nehru, I have not “blamed” him. Like I said in the article, hindsight is 20/20.

    I will check out you write up on Modi this weekend. Take care and have a good one.

  46. Thank you Yethin for writing in. I hear you. You have said something honestly that a lot of people will secretly relate to “I support Modi with a conviction not based on serious study of facts, or of claims and counter claims, but a willingness to suffer the consequences of risking change.”

    With respect to Pandit Nehru, I have not “blamed” him. Like I said in the article, hindsight is 20/20.

    I will check out you write up on Modi this weekend. Take care and have a good one.

  47. Hi there.

    #1: No. I have not assumed anything extraordinary about Modi. I merely stated my view that he seems a better bet than others given his track record. If there are candidates with better governance track records, let them step forward and we can assess their relative merits.

    #2: I have not given Modi a “clean chit.” In fact, I don’t even know what that means. What I said was that if the courts have cleared him, I will go with what the courts say rather than hearsay from both sides of the fence.

    #3: I am not advocating “banning secularism.” If you read carefully, I have said that my version of secularism cannot see the light of day until current imbalances are addressed.

    #4: In my view, Modi appears to possess that combination of governance skills & ability to win elections. If there are others, let them bubble up through the process and we can evaluate them. Personally, I don’t have much regard for the Jaitleys and Sushma Swarajs of BJP, who are no better than Congress politicians and also have no serious governance track records under their belts. I’ve heard of Chouhan but have not seen him step forward confidently. It’s hard to make a case for a man who has not stepped forward to make his own case.

    #5: Modi/BJP need to speak more about how they will be different. I have not heard a good articulation (yet) on what Modi stands for (beyond rhetoric). Most people don’t care about the issues. We have personality driven politics in India. But I agree that there is a small but critical number of fence sitters who will need to hear about Modi’s stance on FDI, free speech rights, his first 12 month priorities, etc..

    #6: The answer is an obvious yes. The fact that we have ended up with a Rahul or Manmohan vs Modi choice in 2014 speaks poorly of how our democracy has functioned over the years. The less obvious aspect is how do we go about it? One way forward is pure focus on economic growth (even if it means electing “nationalists” like Modi) and grow the middle class to the point where the voting patterns change and self correct the political process. It’s about the economy I think. And we must make a few unpleasant choices to get there. Electing Modi could be one such choice.

    Many thanks for writing in. All criticism and comments have been taken in the right spirit 🙂 All the best to you and us!

  48. Hi there.

    #1: No. I have not assumed anything extraordinary about Modi. I merely stated my view that he seems a better bet than others given his track record. If there are candidates with better governance track records, let them step forward and we can assess their relative merits.

    #2: I have not given Modi a “clean chit.” In fact, I don’t even know what that means. What I said was that if the courts have cleared him, I will go with what the courts say rather than hearsay from both sides of the fence.

    #3: I am not advocating “banning secularism.” If you read carefully, I have said that my version of secularism cannot see the light of day until current imbalances are addressed.

    #4: In my view, Modi appears to possess that combination of governance skills & ability to win elections. If there are others, let them bubble up through the process and we can evaluate them. Personally, I don’t have much regard for the Jaitleys and Sushma Swarajs of BJP, who are no better than Congress politicians and also have no serious governance track records under their belts. I’ve heard of Chouhan but have not seen him step forward confidently. It’s hard to make a case for a man who has not stepped forward to make his own case.

    #5: Modi/BJP need to speak more about how they will be different. I have not heard a good articulation (yet) on what Modi stands for (beyond rhetoric). Most people don’t care about the issues. We have personality driven politics in India. But I agree that there is a small but critical number of fence sitters who will need to hear about Modi’s stance on FDI, free speech rights, his first 12 month priorities, etc..

    #6: The answer is an obvious yes. The fact that we have ended up with a Rahul or Manmohan vs Modi choice in 2014 speaks poorly of how our democracy has functioned over the years. The less obvious aspect is how do we go about it? One way forward is pure focus on economic growth (even if it means electing “nationalists” like Modi) and grow the middle class to the point where the voting patterns change and self correct the political process. It’s about the economy I think. And we must make a few unpleasant choices to get there. Electing Modi could be one such choice.

    Many thanks for writing in. All criticism and comments have been taken in the right spirit 🙂 All the best to you and us!

  49. True. That’s what we’re hoping Modi and team will do. Adapt and do a good job. In the meanwhile, we must agree that it is not certain that he can pull it off.

  50. True. That’s what we’re hoping Modi and team will do. Adapt and do a good job. In the meanwhile, we must agree that it is not certain that he can pull it off.

  51. I am willing to accept that Gujarat has seen significant economic development post 2002 under his rule. But I cannot understand how the economic development can compensate for his role (really the lack of it) in the riots. I do not see anything in the media about the systems/plans he has in place to contain any kind of a riot.
    I see a leader neither in Modi nor in Rahul.

  52. I am willing to accept that Gujarat has seen significant economic development post 2002 under his rule. But I cannot understand how the economic development can compensate for his role (really the lack of it) in the riots. I do not see anything in the media about the systems/plans he has in place to contain any kind of a riot.
    I see a leader neither in Modi nor in Rahul.

  53. Thanks for writing.

    Your question is a fair one. The role Narendra Modi played (or not) seems to lie in the eye of the beholder. Quite a few have made up their minds either way (for/against). I’d prefer to go with the courts who have ruled out his culpability. If that changes in the future, I will change my mind too.

    I saw this interview online – of Barry Gardiner, a Brit MP by an NDTV person. I think Mr. Gardiner has articulated a few thoughts on Modi pretty well. Please take a look.

    http://t.co/hyX08gNIbW

    Thanks.

  54. Thanks for writing.

    Your question is a fair one. The role Narendra Modi played (or not) seems to lie in the eye of the beholder. Quite a few have made up their minds either way (for/against). I’d prefer to go with the courts who have ruled out his culpability. If that changes in the future, I will change my mind too.

    I saw this interview online – of Barry Gardiner, a Brit MP by an NDTV person. I think Mr. Gardiner has articulated a few thoughts on Modi pretty well. Please take a look.

    http://t.co/hyX08gNIbW

    Thanks.

Comments are closed.