For the uninitiated, Modi (a.k.a Modiji, Chaiwalla, Narendra Modi) is the Prime Minister of India. He is the ‘effective’ Head of the State. Narendra Modi is probably the most famous Indian of the current decade. His fame and popularity, thanks to the power of social media, is unmatched by any politician in the world.
I was introduced to Modi when I was in 9th standard. I was heading a small group of four in my class and we had to create a scrap-book covering the current affairs in India. It was 2002 and a train carrying Hindu pilgrims had just been torched by some Muslims in Gujarat. The families and almost the entire Hindu community in Gujarat was on a killing spree targeting the Muslims. All that while, the then Chief Minister of Gujarat Mr. Narendra Modi was sitting somewhere in his house, playing a violin, or so it was said. ‘Dial Modi for Murder?’ read the front-page of a famous monthly magazine (don’t remember which one). I had pulled out my scissors to cut that headline out of the magazine and then used the cut-out in the scrapbook. I knew this fiery headline will bring me top marks and it did!
And then? 2014 happened. Narendra Modi entered the national politics as the prime ministerial candidate and the whole nation was divided, just like Gujarat was divided 12 years before 2014. Only that it wasn’t about Hindus vs Muslims anymore. It was about Modi’s supporters (later labelled Modi Bhakts) vs Modi haters (Libtards, anti-Modi brigade etc etc..) In the 12 years that had transpired, Modi had shot to fame by turning Gujarat into a forward-looking, industrialized, well-oiled state. “Go to Gujarat and see what he has done! It’s mindblowing” people used to say. Gujarat had indeed changed in many ways. Modi had been successful in cleansing his image. Also, in 2012, a Special Investigation Team (SIT) appointed by Supreme Court of India to carry out fair investigations into the events of 2002 had given a clean chit to Modi. He was officially declared ‘innocent’.
It’s 2017 and Modi has been our Prime Minister for 3 years. The BJP, a right-wing political party that Modi represents, has pushed many of its ‘right-wing’ agenda ever since. And this has driven a large number of people in India including leftists, communists, atheists, humanists, neutralists and many other -ists to feel uncomfortable and paranoid about what Modi will do to their freedom. That fear, somewhere deep inside, is affecting our society and our families.
Social media has given a massive platform people to voice their opinions publicly, and sometimes anonymously. It has not only made people vocal on issues on such platforms, but also under the roof of their own homes. It’s one thing that the country was divided when Modi became PM. It’s another that families are also getting divided. Family – the social vehicle or the fundamental structure of a society – has turned weak due to internal ideological clashes.
India has had a history of strong families. Our most successful businesses are owned by families. One family managed to rule India for 80% of its post-independence era. Joint families still exist in many parts. Majority of marriages are arranged by families. 28 year old bachelors like me still live with Dad and Mom.
But the Modi wave has been strong enough to rock these families. When Modi became PM, such ideological differences have led to divorces and marriages being cancelled in the eleventh hour. Another day, a friend texted me sharing how he shouldn’t have let his communist father and “Hindu Right Modi Bhakht” father-in-law strike a conversation over a few drinks. He said “I turned sober within a few seconds..” 😀
I’m predominantly neutral when it comes to ideologies. A Modi-hater of a brother ensured that I defend Modi just because I don’t like it when people complain about others endlessly, even when the target person is / may not be at fault. I’m like the Constitution of India (at least in this context). You can’t pronounce someone guilty unless proven to be. You should always give the ‘benefit of doubt’ to everyone. Many of our actions, especially our wrongdoings, can be linked to the circumstances we were in. So, I can’t take it when someone relentlessly accuses the other and finds fault in almost everything that someone does!
And it didn’t end there. The ideological war soon spread to other members in the family. I keep criticizing Modi for all his wrongs while my right-leaning Dad supports / defends him. He is that person whom you can almost call a Bhakt, but isn’t. He isn’t a Bhakt because his ego doesn’t let him follow anyone! 😀 So, my Modi-hating brother ended up fighting with my Dad, or it was the other way round. Whatever it was, we people weren’t the same again!
I have another brother. This one’s the eldest. He’s stuck somewhere between neutral and Left. He takes everything that Modi does with a pinch of salt. Demonetization, FDI, foreign affairs, surgical strikes – he’d like to wait for another breaking story finding fault in Modi’s actions rather than praising Modi beforehand. I mean, his ego or his ideological leanings doesn’t let him accept that Modi or his government was right in some particular thing. Share an article about Modi’s government trying to silence some voices and this brother of mine goes all “This is what I feared”. That differs from my other brother’s “I told you so!” or “What better can you expect? You voted for him, suffer!”
Ideologies are meant to build us humans into, well, better humans. Ideologies shouldn’t take over our lives, even politicians don’t stick to one ideology. They shouldn’t enter our living rooms and our bedrooms. What’d you do if you married someone only to realize later that she’s not a leftist like you? Should you divorce her because of that? Or should you fight with her every day before making out at night?
In all this melee, my Mom is stuck not knowing where to identify herself with. She happily plays Solitaire on her phone supporting whoever she feels like on a whim! Just tilts her head up for a millsecond and says “Correct.. He’s right”.