Skip to main content

Why PM Modi's TownHall is Path-Breaking?

There are certain acts which are more important for the intent than for the content. "I had a dream" of Dr. Martin Luther King, might not have a blue-print a plan for liberation of the down-trodden in the American society, but the intent was so strong, so potent that the content was sure to follow. 

Yesterday's Townhall by PM Narandra Modi is one such event in the Indian politics. I am not sure if PM himself realizes that. He has set in motion the wheels of democracy in a direction which going forward, has the potential to create something bigger than he is. 

In one swift stroke, he has established direct connect with the citizens. When was the last time we saw the PM talking directly to the citizens? Let us look at what this Townhall does to the polity at a broader level, instead of trying to lazily assess Modi's body-language and analyse his dress for the occasion. 

One, he allows questions to come from citizens. He chooses to answer. In an era, where we have cash for votes and where we have dubious Cash for questions in the parliament, this is a great step. We cannot wait to reach to our representatives and then wait in humility to raise the issue of bridges not built, schools not functioning and doctors not being available, while they are busy turning up for sessions in parliament drunk and when sober, filming the security set of the Parliament. We know where the buck stops, and we can reach that very place and ask questions. He has set a wheel of accountability in motion in our democracy, which can not be reversed, unless we are too stupid and those driven by agendas are too strong to make us forget this moment. I have a feeling that this will be asked from all future leaders. Forget the PM, even the Vice-president of opposition parties with 44 or 4 seats have never had the courage or humility to stand before audience and answer the question from the citizens. 

Secondly, he eliminates the middle-man. He does not talk at you, he talks to you. Last time, the previous PM wanted to reach out to the people, he would call the journalists to his home for a luncheon. So these reporters-turned-journalists-turned- opinion-makers- turned-lobbyists, will decide what questions were most important for the unwashed natives and take them to the power that be. The anticipating masses will wait outside for the next- days newspaper, or the evening TV exclusives to know what concerns have been raised and how they had been addressed. This kept the intellectual priesthood flourishing and the citizen out of the process. How much a Karan Thapar would be worried about Dalits and tribals is anyone's guess if one has seen the huge, huge bungalow he lives in, irrespective of what he writes in his columns? These meetings were affirmation of the position of journalists in the natural order of things. This is one reason why they hate Modi. He is reaching out to the people and making them redundant. They do not hate me and you, or the questions we ask, they hate the act of our asking the question. It is not the merit of our questions which bothers them, it is our status as the questioner which agitates our intellectuals. 

Thirdly, Modi brings forthrightness back into the political game. He does not shy away from the questions. This could be because he knows for sure his constituency. No matter what we pretend to be, with fresh slogans talking about Hindutva ki Talvaar (Sword of Hinduism), Hinduism is one religion which is inwardly directed. In Hinduism, there was always a separation of State and the Church, the basic premise of secular polity. The king was not the source of religious legitimacy, it rested with the sages from ancient times, who lived in totally isolated from political power. He is asked about Cow Vigilantes, and he minces no words. He is not liking the fact, hooliganism is covered with Cow protection. In Ramayana, when Valmiki's Ashram is attacked, he by all implications, runs a huge Ashram with a lot of students and trained on various things which I would presume also include martial arts. But he does not raise his own students to arms, he reaches to the King Dashrath, for a legitimate action on the Asuras. This has two messages, one illegal action on illegal act doesn't become legal by the noble motives it carry. Secondly, for the liberals, it also tells that when you tend to offend the faith of not only other religion, rather the human faith, by killing living animals, enjoying their flesh as a proof of your emancipation, you are become Asuras or devils. So while Modi has spoken on the vigilantes, next time when you dance around celebrating beef festivals, remember to keep your receipts or be ready to be jailed, for you are being Asuras. There can be no alternative reading to exonerate you.

The responses to Modi's stiff and open response, also makes few things about his followers very clear. One, the power of Modi comes from followers who are not fanatics. This gives him room to operate, to govern. Had he been a member of any other religion, as open in his religious beliefs as he is, he could not have gone unpunished, for such a response, where he essentially enforces the supremacy of the constitution and the law of the land over self-appointed vigilantes, even if latter runs under the pretext of protecting religion. It brings home the point that irrespective of best attempts fake moral righteousness of people trying to strive a balance with fanaticism and religious terrorism, Hinduism and intolerance is incongruous and impossible.  His response, and support affirms Hinduism as apolitical and tolerant religion. It also illustrates the lack of imagination of the so-called intellectuals, who sat on thrones because they held the ink and the paper captive, when they derided Modi supporters as Bhakts. Modi supporters have been most neutral supporters and most fearless in opposing the Modi government, if one compares them with the supporters of any other political parties. The question on Cow Vigilantes was asked by Chhabi, a vocal Modi supporter. Can you imagine a Laloo Yadav supporter asking him about the perils of casteist politics with reference to the development, and the supporters of Owaisi on the ghettoisation of Muslims, and about why should Muslims not be an equal citizen with common civil code- on a public platform? I don't know if many would remember the spokesperson of AAP, supposedly representative of common people, on a news-channel, stating- "You cannot question Arvind Kejriwal. We have got 67 out of 70 seats in Delhi" (this 67 out of 70 is a part of all their arguments). This exposes the fact that when the media derides their own viewer (or consumer of news) thus customers, as Bhakts, they are not being objective, they are merely being arrogant and insulting.

This is a major step in our democracy. We are moving from elite governance to mass governance, and thank you Mr. Modi for this. This step is historic and cannot be redone. Let's do more of it, maybe at least a quarterly Q&A with the PM, for this government and for the governments to come. George Barnard Shaw said, "Democracy is the device which ensures that we shall be governed no better than we deserve." Let us raise ourselves, it is the week of Independence day. Let us raise the level of our questioning, let us raise the level of our governance. We cannot leave this in the hands of those who for long have kept the public intellectual mind as their captive tool by holding the tight grip over public discourse. 

My other posts on similar subject:


Popular posts from this blog

कायस्थ- इतिहास एवं वर्तमान परिपेक्ष्य

सत्यम , दानम , क्षमा शीलमानृशंस्य तपो घृणा। दृश्यंते यत्र नागेंद्र स ब्राह्मण इति स्मृतः।। ( हे सर्पराज , जिसमें सत्य , दानशीलता , क्षमा , क्रूरतारहित भाव , तप एवं संवरण , एवं संवेदना हो , वह मनुष्य को ही ब्राह्मण मानना चाहिए। ) शुद्रे तु यद् भवेल्लक्षम द्विजे तच्च न विद्दयते। न वै शूद्रों भवेच्छुद्रो ब्रह्मणो न च ब्राह्मण : ।। ( यदि शूद्र में यह गुण हैं ( सत्य , दान , अक्रोध , अहिंसा , तप , संवरण एवं संवेदना ) और ब्राह्मण में यह गुण परिलक्षित ना हों तो वह शूद्र शूद्र नहीं , ब्राह्मण है ; और वह ब्राह्मण ब्राह्मण नहीं है। )  - युधिष्ठिर - नहुष संवाद , अजगर कांड , महाभारत , वन पर्व   वर्तमान परिपेक्ष्य में जिसे जाति कहा जाता है , वह वर्ण व्यवस्था का विकृत रूप है। सनातन धर्म का वर्ण जहाँ समाज को व्यवसाय एवं क्षमता के अनुरूप व्यवस्थित करने का प्रयास था और कर्म पर आधारित था , जाति उसी व्यवस्था का विघटित रूप बन कर जन्मगत व्यवस्था बन गई। जाति या कास्ट पुर्तगाल

Pathaan and Polarisation- Movie Review

Many have not seen Pathan, I have. I have a huge tolerance towards stupid movies and I love to watch all sort of movies. What has bothered me most about Pathaan is that in terms of content and characterisation, it is absolutely shoddy, much worse than much lampooned RaOne AND there is no review which openly tells you about it.  Most reviewers have reviewed the movie like a teenager, gushing over VFX generated body of ShahRukh Khan. This reminds me of my schoolmates bunking classes to watch tomato-sauce-laced movies of Ramsey brothers, gushing over semi-nude voluptuous actresses in the late 80s. Only difference being that those were school kids in class XII, with raging hormones and a stupefied intellect when a world around them was fast changing. Here we have middle-aged professional movie reviewers guiding people to their way in or out of Movie theatres. Their primary argument in favour of the movie is nothing but beefed up Shahrukh Khan and the gap between his earlier movie and this

बाल विवाह - हिंदू इतिहास और सत्य

  इतिहास का लेखन उसकी विसंगतियों की अनुक्रमिका नहीं वरन उसके समाज के आम रूप से स्वीकृत मान्यताओं एवं उस समाज के जननायकों द्वारा स्थापित मानदंडों के आधार पर होना चाहिए। परंतु जब लेखनी उन हाथों में हो जिनका मंतव्य शोध नहीं एक समाज को लज्जित करना भर हो तो समस्या गहन हो जाती है। जब प्रबुद्ध लोग कलम उठाते हैं और इस उद्देश्य के साथ उठाते हैं कि अप्रासंगिक एवं सदर्भहीन तथ्यों के माध्यम से समाज की वर्ग विभाजक रेखाओं को पुष्ट कर सकें तो हमारा कर्तव्य होता है कि हम सत्य को संदर्भ दें और अपने इतिहास के भले बुरे पक्षों को निर्विकार भाव से जाँचें।   बीते सप्ताह बाल विवाह को लेकर विदेशी सभ्यता में उठे प्रश्नों को भारत की सभ्यता पर प्रक्षेपित करके और उसकी स्वीकार्यता स्थापित करने पर बड़ी चर्चा रही। इस संदर्भ में   श्री ए एल बाशम से ले कर राजा राम मोहन रॉय तक चर्चा चली। बाशम की पुस्तक द वंडर दैट वाज इंडिया - को उद्धृत कर ले कहा गया कि हिं