Even Educated Indians Get Floored by Populist, Emotional Nonsense!

Blame it on Sycophancy and the Rise of Religious Majoritarianism in India

Sycophancy among Indians is a universal fact, with their hero-worshipping trait transcending education and profession.

From illiterates in Indian slums to professionals in the U.S. and everywhere, the common thread that binds them is their tendency to be easily stirred by emotional nonsense from the leaders they have taken a fancy to.

Modi in canadaFrom Indira Gandhi to Rajiv Gandhi and MGR to Jayalalitha, both party leaders and the public have swooned at their feet to their delight, with none discouraging the obsequious behaviour

The balanced few will not forget the “Indira is India” refrain that was heard too often among Congress circles. It started not long after then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s visit to Canada in 1973.

Wild Chants, Euphoric Sloganeering: So it was not a surprise when Indians in America greeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi with wild, loud chants and euphoric sloganeering during his Madison speech late last year.

It was a repeat show for Mr Modi on Wednesday in Toronto when he addressed the Indians there — at least based on what the Indian media have been showcasing.

Vicious Attacks on Past Leaders: Known for his populist speeches that sways even the so-called Indian intellectuals, Mr Modi laced his speech with such trash as “I will make the country Skill India and not Scam India” and “I have to clean the mess left behind by earlier Indian leaders.” Their mission was to “steal India”.

Any right-thinking India will be embarrassed by this kind of vicious attacks on a Prime Minister’s political rivals. But most Indians back home and overseas love that!

Self-aggrandizement spree: Such speeches on foreign soil attacking past leaders of the nation are not what is expected from a Prime Minister. The US and Canada are not Indian electoral campaign grounds for Mr Modi to go on a self-aggrandizement spree.

It is disgusting to see even educated Indians being bowled over by such blatantly self-promotion initiatives from Mr Modi.

Needless Half-Truths: There were also needless untruths (rather half-truths) in his speech, like when he said that he was the first Indian PM on a bilateral visit to Canada in 42 years. It may be technically correct, but in June 2010 then Indian Prime Minister visited Canada at the invitation of its Prime Minister, Stephen Harper.

What difference does it make whether the visit was standalone or a part of another mission?

Moreover, Mr Harper had visited India only in 2012 when too promises and bilateral agreements were signed. Precisely why a Canadian journalist had raised the question yesterday as to why promises being made now should be lent greater credibility.

Here is an interesting piece in The Hindustan Times capturing how Mr Modi revels in blowing his own trumpet by relying on half-truths.

DoubleTalk: When addressing foreign leaders, Mr Modi talks as if he is a patron saint of secularism and asserting how he was doing everything possible to keep India a level-playing field for people of all faiths.

He is wasting his energy as the Christian capitalistic West is least bothered about the attacks on churches in India. All that matters to them is the opportunity to make money from India.

But when Mr Modi talks to the Indian diaspora he calls all those critical of the attacks on churches and other minorities as pseudo-secularists.

The audience breaks into loud cheers, showing how religious majoritarianism has spread far and wide beyond Indian shores.

G Joslin Vethakumar

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