Sunday, December 25, 2016

Fact File – V (Note Bandi) 22nd, Dec. 2016

Narendra Modi - Demonetization or Demonization / jkgr ;k vkQr

Experts View :

Hero Worship Hurts Democracy

Back in 2005, a knowledgeable Gujarati journalist wrote of how ‘Narendra Modi thinks a detergent named development will wash away the memory of 2002”. While focusing on new infrastructure and industrial projects in his state, the then chief minister of Gujarat launched what the journalist called ‘a massive self publicity drive, publishing calendars, booklets and posters where his own photograph appeared prominently alongside words and statistics speaking of Gujarat’s achievement under his leadership. Modi has made sure that in Gujarat no one can escape noticing him, remarked the journalist.

Since May 2014, this self-publicity drive has been extended to the nation as a whole. In fact the process began before the general elections, when, through social media and his speeches when, Narendra Modi successfully projected himself as the sole and singular alternative to a (Visibly) corrupt UPA regime.

Hero-worship is not uncommon in India Indeed, we tend to excessively venerate high achievers in many fields. Consider the extraordinarily large and devoted fan following of Sachin Tendulkar and Lata Mangeshkar.

Nehru was her issuing a warning to himself. Twelve years later, in his remarkable last speech to the Constituent Assembly, BR Ambedkar issued a warning to all Indians, when, invoking John Stuart Mill, he asked them not ‘to lay their liberties at the feet of even a great man, or to trust him with powers which enable him to subvert their institutions’. There was’ nothing wrong’, said Ambedkar, ‘in being grateful to great men who have rendered life-long services to the country. But there are limits to gratefulness. He worried that in India, ‘Bhakti or what may be called the path of devotion or hero-worship plays a part in its politics unequalled in magnitude by the part it plays in the politics of any other country in the world. Bhakti in religion may be a road to the salvation of the soul. But in politics, Bhakti or hero-worship is a sure road to degradation and to eventual dictatorship.

Indian democracy is now too robust to be destroyed by a single individual. But it can still be severely damaged. That is why this personality cult of Narendra Modi must be challenged (and checked) before it goes much further.

Ram Chandra Guha

A Great Historian  

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