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).
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.
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?
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!
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!
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