This is the most important takeaway for me from Modi 1.0

Now that the second term of the Narendra Modi government has begun, there are wide-ranging reactions, from exuberance to despondency, depending upon whether one is his supporter or detractor. However, this post is not to discuss the report card of the PM on a plethora of welfare schemes and economic reforms he has set in motion, or to analyse the vitriol the Opposition, sections of intelligentsia, social media stalwarts and a large section of media worthies are spewing 24×7.

They are part of the media discourse.

This post is about what the past five years of Modi 1.0 means to me. It means hope and exhilaration. And the source of these emotions are some pictures that have appeared in the social media as well as in print and online media in the past couple of days, and years.

Two of them are most recent: the picture (above) of the nonagenarian mother of PM Modi clapping her hands when her son takes oath as the PM for the second time, and second one, the image of a penniless social worker on his bicycle and who beat not one but two multi-millionaire opponents at the polls (below).

A sadhu on his cycle
Living light the Sarangi way

The other pictures are some months old and are of the Padma Shri awardees—of grass root level social workers, farmers, micro-financiers, environmentalists and more, who themselves are simple folk from disadvantaged backgrounds. It is so heartwarming to see these awardees come to the Rashtrapati Bhavan in their flip-flops and rural attire, to be given all the respect by the First Citizen of India, who himself has risen from poverty to the highest office in the country.

That beatific smile!

We still have great sportsmen, the doctors, the scientists, social workers, artistes and other achievers among the Padma awardees but these unsung and unseen gems are also finding their place under the sun in the present India. These men and women might at best have featured in a news magazine or a TV show, but today, we the people can send their nominations for the Padma awards. Doesn’t that empower the ordinary citizen?

Compassion for cows

Just look at a small cross-section of the Padma Shri awardees in 2018-19:

  • Daitari Naik from Orissa, who single-handedly dug a 3 km canal with just a hoe and crowbar.
  • Madurai Chinna Pillai, who pioneered the microfinance movement in her village.
  • Shabbir Sayyad who has worked ceaselessly for cow protection for decades.
  • Jamuna Tudu, the tribal woman who is fighting the timber mafia.
  • And of course centurian Salumarada Thimmakka, who has planted thousands of trees, and blessed our President!
A planter of trees
The trees are her children

The message has gone loud and clear that the poor of India, across religion and castes are eligible for the highest awards and offices of the country. This is a new trend, in a new India, where poverty is no longer for showcasing in poverty-porn-tourism or for a highly polarised depiction of characters in Bollywood/Hollywood movies a la Slumdog Millionaire.  

The ‘liberal global citizens’, who rush to go ‘Awww’ over Obama or his wife standing in a supermarket queue,  lament that our leaders don’t emulate such simplicity. And then close their eyes to the fact that the mother of the PM still lives in her middle-class home, by choice. They don’t admire her or the PM, but castigate him for neglecting his mother! And in the very next breath they go ‘Awwww’ all over again at the ‘sibling banter’ that went viral, where they tease each other about using large and small choppers for their campaigning–as if they were discussing an ordinary bicycle vs an ATB! Oh, the wonderful world of political royalty and our ‘objective’, ‘secular’ and ‘liberal’ journalists!

Fighting the timber mafia
No fight is big enough to save the trees!

It is this chasm between the ‘royalty’ and the ‘cattle-class’ that is fast closing in today’s India. Naturally it is making the former in all sectors, including politics, feel insecure, threatened and desperate.  

But the poor and dignified working population of this country have seen what is within their reach—where a poor Dalit boy can rise to become the President of the country, a chaiwala can become the PM and a penniless social worker can defeat two millionaires at the polls. They see the endless possibilities that are available to them in this glorious country.

And this is the single most heart-warming and hope-inspiring takeaway for me from the last five years of the Modi government.

Welcome to the New India!

#ModiSarkar2 #ModiSwearingIn #Modi1.0

14 comments

  1. A wonderful read. Yes indeed, the zephyrs of socio-economic change have seeded hope among the hundreds of millions of deprived citizens, who have so far been a mere carefully sustained excuse for the privileged Club of Unholy Rulers – among whom many media worthies appear to have been Committee Members! – to divide and exploit the masses by caste, class, religion, language. Already the zephyrs gather strength; surely, ere long, the winds of empowerment will sweep away this Club of human leeches and cast them into the great dustbin of history …
    [apologies for being theatrical :)]

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    1. Oh just loved all the zephyrs that are wafting through your comment. No apologies needed for any amount of theatrics. Bring them on, I say! (Sorry for the delayed reply)

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  2. Such beautiful writing speaks volumes of work done by Modi dispensation and highlighted by you!Good to see our country heading in the right direction

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    1. Thank you, Rahul. We should all rise up to the challenge and showcase those of others who are working out of the limelight. They deserve a place under the sun too, don’t they? But when the government of the day recognises their effort, it is wonderful.

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  3. Heartwarming read, Zephyr! You are right, it’s only when the ordinary people (who are really the ones who do extraordinary things) get their due recognition that the country will truly make strides. And, one day, hopefully soon, no one will ask (or even think of) the ‘caste’ question. When it becomes irrelevant, and only a person’s character and actions truly matter, then will India truly awake into the heaven of freedom that Tagore spoke of.

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    1. Yes, that is the way one hopes it would soon be – when caste become irrelevant. Only there are vested interests which keep the issue alive, seeing ghosts where there are none. It is our collective responsibility to defeat these negative forces and triumph, to truly herald a renascent India.

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  4. Very well written Amma and completely resonate with the thoughts. Modi captured the average Indian by making believe that if he could do something as big, any Indian has the opportunity to stand up and fight for what is due. Which is in stark contrast with other parties have portrayed which is being handed something on a platter

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    1. Thank you Vineet. Yes, it kept prodding me so much, begging me for a post, that I wrote it 🙂 It is the reality today, whether one wants to see or acknowledge it or just be in denial. And the other parties didn’t hand anything on a platter to the common man, but to their own and their ecosystems. For the common folk, there were doles and alms, to keep them poor and beholden and as vote banks forever.

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  5. It is heartening to note that the yeoman service to noble causes rendered by the poor and disadvantaged class, with some without even a modicum of education, have not gone unnoticed by the present government for the first time.The national awards are eloquent testimony to its
    sincerity to appreciate and recognize good work done without any discrimination whatsoever.

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    1. It is not just about the awards, KP, as you would have noticed from the post. It is about the coming down to the earth of the haves, and the entitled classes and the boost in confidence the disadvantaged have got. It is not just about increasing reservations, it is about giving them dignity and respect, whether it is building them toilets or giving them Mudra loans to become ‘business’ people, as one vendor in Delhi had said proudly, rejecting the alms in the form of NYAY. That is the achievement of Modi 1.0

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  6. vijayaa108 · · Reply

    Extremely well analysed and insightful article. Thank you for highlighting all the positive points of our unsung heroes and heroines with the coming of श्री नमो.
    Absolutely spot-on on the desperation of the bought-over media! And Awww (pun intended) what a fall for the self-perceived ‘royalty’ and dignity and recognition for the cattle class.
    O what a fall

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    1. Thank you for your appreciation, Vijayaa. This is something that has been hitting me between the eyes every time I look at the picture of Salumarada Thaimmakka blessing our President. Could someone like her have had the confidence to do that in another era of the dynasts? What a great culture we have and how we have debased it over the centuries! The sold media is learning that it is so divorced from the ground realities that it is introspecting, or at least pretending to introspect, of late.

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  7. Rajendra M Ganatra · · Reply

    Brilliant account of how chasm between the (self-perceived) ‘royalty’ and the ‘cattle-class’ that is fast closing in today’s India. Indeed the false icons of the past are receding into history!

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    1. Thank you Rajendra. We need to celebrate every little and big achievement of the past term of Modi, for he is going in the right direction and giving the much needed confidence to ordinary citizens to rise up to the sky.

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