Category Archives: quality of life

Modi and The Trough of Disillusionment

A couple of weeks ago, I landed safely in the torrential downpours of Mumbai, in the midst of one of the worst/best monsoon months in decades. The aromatic city was experiencing record breaking rainfall. There was no let up to the unique scent of the city either and as soon as I exited the airport, a heavy curtain of humidity smacked me in the face and tragically destroyed my hair. 

Par for the course. None of this was surprising or unexpected, it simply awakened memories of a couple of other soggy and muggy seasons that one can only find in the incomparable Mumbai. Seasons that I had actually managed to live through.

The next day, I woke up to the Indian TV channels showcasing the Prime Minister (PM) of India setting all kinds of world records with yoga.  It is now in the record books for all to see – the largest yoga lesson in the world involved 35,985 participants at an event organised by the Government of India (personally driven by the PM) on the occasion of the first International Day of Yoga (also personally driven by the PM) in New Delhi. 

International_Yoga_Day_2015_in_New_Delhi

It was yet another superb public relations victory for the just over one-year old PM of India – the rare, the uncommon, the one and only Narendra Modi.

Don’t ask me why but I am incredibly interested in politics and always curious about people’s opinions on the topic, whether here or there. So during the few days that I was in India, I had to ask the question.  It was the same question for every one I had the opportunity to meet, especially in Mumbai, the financial capital of India. I was genuinely curious to hear the unvarnished opinions of people I knew – these opinions usually bear very little resemblance to what we read in the news, and there’s nothing quite like that firsthand interaction.

My question, which I repeated several times during my short visit was – “So, how do you think Modi is doing?”

After all, it has been over a year since he was crowned PM with a clean and victorious sweep across India and amidst the most positive of expectations and ambitious of mandates. Not really hard to contemplate, given the excruciatingly dismal and corrupt rule of the Congress government over two atrocious terms in office. That was what the people of India were trying to get away from.

If there was one representative emotion above all during his election victory, it was embodied in the word, Hope.  [But let’s not get too ahead of ourselves and start comparing him to Obama, please].

So, just over a year later, what do people think?  Here are some of the responses I received from a diverse cross section of avid supporters and non-supporters:

“Nothing has changed”.

“Give him some time. At least, corruption is down”.  [Not sure how this is measured but that does appear to be a prevailing sentiment that this government is not as blatantly and hugely corrupt as the previous one].

“We’re tired of waiting for change”.

“Modi has been true to form”.   [This was not a positive opinion].

“He’s realizing that governing India is not the same as governing Gujarat.  He cannot control all the states and local governments which is where the man on the street is actually affected”.

“We have to be patient”.

“He’s busy trying to suppress his dissenters, even those in his own party and administration. He does this by finding something shady.  And squeezing.”

“It is disturbing that we don’t hear anything from his next line of leadership. All media interactions are carefully choreographed”.

What (or who) is a better alternative?  Rahul Gandhi??!

When I followed up with specific questions on what they thought had been accomplished so far, it was hard to get any specific answers.

Sadly and perhaps most telling was the disappointment in the eyes of the most passionate (past?) supporter of Modi with whom I admit I have been known to engage in loud and violent debates, way back when.

This is India. I thought Modi would make some big changes.  India cannot change.”

Most interestingly (and I never thought I would say this), despite all my misgivings, I actually have a more positive view about Modi and his potential to transform India than he does. Huh. This is shocking to me. Am I  eating some of that P.R. dog food that is being thrown around so liberally?

But based on the various opinions I heard during this trip, it appears that Mr. Modi’s PR juggernaut is not all that it is cut out to be. In fact, it needs some serious work.

Sigh, I also doubt that I will be downloading the official Narendra Modi app anytime soon. Seriously!  Did I just say P.R.?

Official_Mobile_App_of_Prime_Minister_Narendra_Modi_launched

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Additonal reading on PM’s PR:

Narendra Modi visit: The elaborate marketing strategy behind the Indian PM’s rock-star status, April 2015

Also see: What can we learn from Narendra Modi’s PR style? January 2015

Photo Attribution:

Yoga day: Official photo By Narendra Modi (International Yoga Day) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Modi app: Official photo By Narendra Modi [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Listen Up – It’s Monica’s Turn

Who doesn’t remember the scandal that consumed the nation and the world in the late ’90s? The infamous adventures, the trials and tribulations of Monica Lewinsky-Bill Clinton, and the virtual megaphone and media storm that made it a top news story for several weeks.

While some of us thought it was much ado about nothing, there is no question that it provided tremendous ammunition to the Clinton haters and the worldwide media at large.

Incredibly, more than fifteen years have passed since that time, the scandal became old news and Monica Lewinsky had virtually disappeared into obscurity. 

Until, that is, she decided to take a very deliberate and decisive step to re-emerge into the public eye.

After reading about it, I finally had the privilege (yes, it was) of watching her TED talk from March. In just about a month, that talk has garnered views in the range of 3.4 million so, this may all be old news to you.

Just in case it isn’t, or you have not yet had the opportunity to watch her talk, I would encourage you to do so.

It’s calledThe Price of Shame“, and if anyone knows what that is, it is undoubtedly Ms. Lewinsky. Her talk articulates the horrific experience she went through and the incredible humiliation she had to suffer through. But it is centered around communicating this to people simply so that others who make mistakes in life never have to go through that kind of public shame, ridicule and judgement.

She communicates a message that is related to her experience but geared towards how we treat others who make mistakes in life, how easy it is to bully and get bullied in cyberspace, and her plea for all of us to use empathy and compassion so that others may never suffer the public shame she did.  

Perhaps it will only be curiosity about the public figure she became that will cause you to watch her speak, but I believe you will be as impressed with her eloquence and courage as I was.

[Click on the image below to view the TED talk].

monica ted talk

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With Hillary Clinton’s run for the Presidency, there is little doubt in my mind that there will be an encore of sorts, with the many haters coming out of whatever dark pit they have been hiding in, to blow-up the old scandal anew.  [Watch this space at this time next year]. 

I just wish they could/would listen to the meaningful messages from this strong woman before they started with their public hating and spewing. All over again.

We can always dream, right?

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