Smell of Change…

‘Modi…Modi…Modi’ : Decoding the psychology beneath the universal chant

PM Narendra Modi addressing the Indian-American community at the Madison Square Garden


As the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, donning a saffron jacket over a full-sleeved peach Kurta and chudidaar pyjama, enters the Madison Square Garden stadium to address the Indian-American community, the palms of the 20,000-strong audience rose to hem their respective mouths that screamed a maddening chant – ‘Modi…Modi…Modi’ – a chant which has now become constant, endemic and universal. It’s a chant that has transcended the boundaries of castes, language, religions, sex and cultures within India and has now travelled overseas to cast spell on the minds of the powerful Indian Diaspora spread all across the globe. People are passionate in chanting the name and fanatic in defending its appeal.

It’s important to understand what makes Modi so special among his followers; why a man in his mid-60’s is considered the ideal among a population that is predominantly young; what makes people, who are traditionally mad for cricket and Bollywood stars, getting swooned for him. The answer lies in the intricacies of the time.

Today, India is an emerging superpower. It’s the biggest democracy, one of the largest economies, one of the biggest military powers, one of the few privileged nuclear-haves and a powerful conqueror of the outer space in the world. It’s the second largest market of the world in terms of demand and constitutes probably the best pool of human resource globally. It’s a global IT powerhouse and a world leader in software technology. The Indian Diaspora spread across the nook and corner of the planet has proved its capacities and the voices of overseas Indian communities have emerged as important voices within their respective countries and societies. Today, India has come up as the global favorite for trade and investment and no country in the world, howsoever mighty and resourceful it may be, can afford to overlook India.

Yet, India wasn’t a pretty picture because the nation as a political community presented a somber countenance. The nation yearned for a strong leadership. The political leadership, over the years was a dud and was short on the X-factor; it lacked initiatives and looked disconnected with time. The leadership was unimaginative, uninspiring and thoroughly disappointing. A good many Indians felt distraught, disgusted and disillusioned with the political process and looked away from it. People wanted a strong man in the helm of affair; the young India wanted a leader who could be youthful, assertive and decisive; the well-off citizens of the nation wanted a leader who could protect their wealth, the middle class wanted freedom from corruption, the youth wanted jobs and the poors and destitute in villages wanted creation of more opportunities to improve their life situations. But, the leadership looked lost and clueless.

A great number of Indians in India and beyond its boundaries had long back started to deconstruct the essentials of a true leader for the emerging nation and on the basis of this deconstruction, had constructed the image of an ‘ideal’ leader capable of providing leadership to the emerging power called India. Since long, they were looking for a person that could be cast into this image but there was none. Now, with the gradual emergence of Narendra Modi on national scene, the long quest of Indians, desperate for their ‘constructed’ notion of a leader, seemed to be over. Narendra Modi truly came out as the man of the moment and in him the restless Indians found the contours of a great leader India was poised to witness after a pretty long time. No wonder the desperate India cried out ‘Modi, Modi’ and soon it became a razing chant. The chant, renting the air in each part of the diverse nation he visited, symbolized the hope, confidence and optimism of a billion plus population around him.

Modi successfully cultivated his image as a strong leader. He used his resources well and marketed himself with immaculate precision. He built up his persona and over the years it grew well enough to fit in the mould of the leadership ‘construct’ that this impatient nation had so passionately created. He parachuted into this mould and customized himself as per its dimension. He sounded strong, bold and confident. He connected not only with the urban affluent society or with the job-seekers of small towns or with the salaried middle class and with the destitute villagers but also with the religious inner core of a deeply-religious society and talked unashamedly of the religion of majority – something which is considered next to blasphemy in a country fed on the constant doses of Nehruvian construct of secularism. He came up as an unashamed Hindu apologist yet beautifully camouflaged his religious appeal behind his leitmotif of development. Thus, the pied piper of Gujarat had captured the imagination of a billion-plus population. His machineries worked upon his successfully crafted image of a saviour and the masses fell for him.

Thus, the chant of ‘Modi…Modi…Modi’ is the cheerful rant and optimist roar of a zealous population long disillusioned with an inactive, non-performing political leadership and hence the cry will keep resonating the airs over the Indian sub-continent and elsewhere so long the dream merchant carries the potentials to deliver on his promises.

Krishnakumar@ThoughtPourri 2014


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