An impartial observer, a Vulcan perhaps with some contextual background information on India, would surely note one striking fact about the Indian political scene from what gets generally reported in the main stream media. That fact is the near universal fear and loathing that one man evokes in a particular group of people. Upon closer inspection, the Vulcan will further notice that although the said group is heterogeneous in many respects, they all have one thing in common. Reflecting further on an easily observable set of other facts, the Vulcan will be forced to a conclusion which forms the subject of this brief piece.
Let me begin with the set of facts. First, India is an extremely poor country. This is common knowledge since not only does everyone know it but also that everyone knows everyone knows it. The visiting Vulcan will also see for himself. The evidence is all around and I will not waste any time in repeating them here.
Second, India has – and always had – the potential to become a prosperous and developed nation. India is not destined to be poor for the lack of any of the principal ingredients necessary for prosperity such as resource endowments, human capital, domestic peace, and the absence of external invasion.
Third, the necessary processes for the prosperity of a nation are well-understood. Economies are complex entities which do not lend themselves to laboratory experiments for us to figure out how they work and under which conditions they fail. Fortunately for us, for well over a century, natural experiments have been conducted in different parts of the world on scores of countries which reveal the nature and causes of the wealth and poverty of nations.
Let’s use a cooking analogy. The second fact tells us that the necessary ingredients are there, and the third fact tells us that good recipes are known. But if, analogous to the first fact (that India is an extremely poor country), it happens that the outcome is an unpalatable dish, then we have some explaining to do. There could be two reasons for the disastrous outcome. It could be that the cooks are thoroughly incompetent. Or it could be that the cooks are somehow not interested in cooking something edible. Perhaps the cooks are in the kitchen to steal the ingredients and cooking well is not what they are primarily interested in.
It can be argued that India is not just poor but is an impoverished country. India’s poverty is not an accidental outcome of unfortunate circumstances but is the result of conscious human design and decades of effort. It arises not from benign neglect or unconscious omission but a well-orchestrated set of actions which flow from the malign objectives of those who have been in positions of power and control. India is therefore not just poor but has been impoverished.
The impoverishment of India is the consequence of the actions of a set of people in control. The set comprises primarily of those who are in political control of the country such as the leaders of the political parties (in and out of power) but it is not limited to them. It includes the entrenched bureaucracy and the opinion makers in the media such as television and print. The government exercises near-total control of not just the economy but also control of those that influence public opinion. The media are effectively controlled by the government because the government has the power to shut down any channel that is recalcitrant and disobedient. The media therefore has to serve its master, the government, or else they cannot survive.
So now back to the impartial observer. He notes that the government is nearly all-powerful and that the people in government are in it to enrich themselves and their helpers. Anything or anyone which threatens this system would be as welcome as the police in a drunken fraternity party. The most important task would be to discredit the interloper and get him evicted so that the party can continue.
The ties that bind the partiers in our case are the shared interest in raping the country to enrich them. Although the goal may not be to impoverish the country, the general welfare of the people is something they are quite willing to sacrifice for their own narrow interests.
The group of people who want this system of exploitation and extraction, as has been noted before, is heterogeneous. What they have in common is their desire to enrich themselves at the expense of the larger interests of the nation. So they share their opposition to the one person who has the passion and the ability to upset the fun party that they are having. They all share a common fear and loathing of the one man – Shri Narendra Modi – who can put an end to the exploitation of India and make India prosperous.
Shri Narendra Modi is a unique individual. He does not care for personal enrichment for a variety of reasons that we need not go into here. No one is really selfless. We all have objectives. What distinguishes one from another is the objective, not the fact that we have objectives. Shri Modi’s objective is, to put it succinctly, the prosperity of the nation. He’s a nationalist whose passion is general welfare, and it is evident from what he has been working for – and achieved – in his home state of Gujarat.
To any dispassionate observer, he has what India needs in terms of leadership. But to the entrenched interests, to those for whom the status quo is just wonderful, to them he is their worst nightmare. He inspires the type of fear and loathing that unhinges reason among the group that is currently at the top enjoying the fruits of being in control of the whole corrupt system. The corrupt system imposes misery on hundreds of millions but that is of no consequence to them. They want their billions of dollars neatly salted away in off-shore banks even if it means that hundreds of millions waste away in unimaginably miserable poverty.
The conclusion is inescapable for the impartial observer: that the reason that Shri Narendra Modi inspires fear and loathing is not because of any objective reason but because he threatens the game that those currently in power are playing so profitably for themselves. In their desperation to avoid the fate that awaits them (jail), they huddle and figure that attack is the best form of defence. They impose a discipline of making sure that everyone is focused on attacking Shri Modi. Anyone stepping out of line is severely and instantly punished. Go read the news reports to see how devastating the response is to any politician even slightly praising Shri Modi. The consequences are certain and swift – generally ending the person’s political career. In most cases, those who step out of the party line are quick to retract their statements and bend over for the ritual flogging.
The media honchos are not that tactless. They are consistent in their expressed loathing of Shri Modi. After all, they are trained in following scripts when speaking and don’t shoot their mouths off like average people do. They know how to flatter those in power. They didn’t get there by accident – they earned their badges for brown-nosing and you better believe it.
The bottom line is this: Shri Modi is bad for those who are India’s enemies and consequently he is good for India. Even if you know nothing about him, you can deduce this fact logically. The reason they hound him is that he can upset the nice little game they have, the game that has impoverished India. Anyone can be forgiven for any sins but upsetting this extractive game is entirely unforgivable.
I hope Shri Modi continues to inspire fear and loathing among those who are currently in power. As the Vulcan observer may put it, “May You Live Long and Prosper.”