Modi, Myth, Marx

I have one question: How many people have dared to ask Mr. Amitabh Bachchan why he is endorsing the state of Gujarat as its brand ambassador when chief minister Narendra Modi is seen as the man behind the riots in the states?

Why this silence when our own people gloat about him, and yet the whole business about his popularity overseas is sought to be stopped in its track?

I have already discussed the Time magazine cover. Now the same magazine has a list of powerful people, and it is based on a poll. Modi is leading ahead of Lady Gaga. I suspect if he was on a list of the sexiest men, and the results were based on voting, he might have been leading there as well. It is a simple numbers game. And, converse logic.

In my mailbox there was this note:

Please find below web-link from Time Magazine dated March 29th, 2012 seeking your opinion whether Narendra Modi can be projected as next Prime Minister of India:

In my view, this CHEAP Minister needs to be reminded of his heinous crimes killing innocent Muslim women & children, making home-owners - HOMELESS, and needs to be reminded that he is in GROSS VIOLATION of the OATH he undertook before becoming CHEAP Minister of Gujarat.

After clicking above web-link, kindly cast your vote NO-WAY, and forward to your contacts.

Please remember: TINY RAIN-DROPS fill an OCEAN. - Your VOTE is VALUABLE.

It should be sent to the people of Gujarat, not to me or to hundreds of others living in different parts of the country and the world. I am not willing to add to the cacophony.

This sort of keyboard activism is intrusive and hollow.

Has this email been sent to Mr Ratan Tata, the Ambanis? They are investing huge sums of money in the state and have a large stake in how well he fares. It would take a few clicks from their staff, friends and obsequious wannabe in the same league types to maintain the status quo.

Has this email been sent to Mr. Bachchan who thinks that selling a state is like selling Chyavanprash or insurance? He is certainly not doing it for the love of Gujarat. He has no links with it. So, how believable is his stamp of approval? How many tourists will Gujarat get because of him? How many people will set up businesses because of him? How many will get interested in wildlife and Mahatma Gandhi’s place of birth because of him?

The fact is that this keeps the Modi flame alive. Not a day passes without some reference to him, and I plead guilty to it. It is a Catch-22 situation. One watches from the sidelines as one group projects him or joins in to counteract. Either way, he comes out the winner.

The latest stunt by his well-wishers is an ad in a regional paper that portrays him as Lord Krishna. For those who know a bit about the state, Gujaratis greet each other with “Jai Shri Krishna”.

This is not worth a controversy. However, the Congress party has jumped in.

“Narendra Modi is merely fooling the people. He is only doing this to win the elections. He has portrayed himself as Krishna now, next he will become Ram, Rahim ...He will do something or other.”

All politicians fool the people, and the Congress should concentrate on more important issues to fight him, not this fancy dress. Is the Congress not interested in wooing voters?

Our mythology has always come to the rescue of all parties, and the best way to win the attention of a leader is to anoint him/her as some god-like figure. It may not always be positive, as in the sleepless in Parliament Deve Gowda as Kumbhakaran, or the references to Ravana. Uma Bharti in one of her surly moments had declared that Hanuman was her brother. Indira Gandhi was declared Durga after the Bangladesh war and so is Mamata Bannerji, who even had tableaux dedicated to her during the puja.

What is interesting about Modi’s Krishna avatar is that it will soften the stand on Ayodhya. I have maintained that the BJP-RSS always work in tandem and the strategy is for one section to divert attention. It is interesting that the former RSS chief was K.Sudarshan, and the Sudarshan chakra was the weapon given to Krishna to fight Lord Indra and the Divine Army.

Since the Congress has taken a beating and Time magazine and the US are trying to play India, Modi is used to capitalise on this pop culture high. It is a big-ticket event. But at home, it is more. The NDA will continue on its Ram Temple movement, while Krishna can work as advisor to Arjun.

The tragedy is that no politician is doing what Lord Rama had to do – go on exile.

Mythology is not restricted to gods. Deification comes in different forms, and countering it has its own peculiar dynamics.

Mamata Banerjee has decided that Karl Marx has to go. It is unfortunate that the opposition to the communist parties makes her so blind to an ideology.

Under the pretext of lessening the burden on the students, it is just playing politics in another form:

The head of the school education syllabus committee, Avik Majumdar, said:

"History syllabus in Bengal gave importance to a particular ideology. History is not only about what happened in the past but it is also about how we look at it. We have tried to give our history syllabus a balanced approach. If there was any excess of anything, including Marx, it has to be done away with."

So, will we stop teaching people about the Indian freedom struggle because it is the past? No references to the Holocaust, or the World Wars? I agree that there has to be a balance, but for a state that until a few years ago still thought of Subhas Chandra Bose was possibly alive, what balance can there be? History is part myth, and education goes beyond the syllabus. Will Ms. Banerjee do away with the works of Rabindranath Tagore, a known Anglophile who was also in touch with his roots? What about Leftist literature in the Bengali language?

Somnath Chatterjee, while reacting to this move, made a curious statement:

“If students are to read Marx, Engels and about the Russian revolution, they are not supposed to turn into Communists.”

Even if they are, what is wrong? Schools brainwash students about different aspects. One should hope that a more indepth reading would give them several options to choose or discard.

By erasing history, we create contemporary mythological characters. Modi and Mamata are right up there seeking halos by denying others any space.

(c) Farzana Versey


  1. Brilliant and down to earth as usual

  2. Ha! Farzana with her obstinate brain once again! Only one thing I would like to comment "Barking of dogs does not disturb the man on camel!'

  3. In the entire post there was not a single instance where Modi tried to changle syllabus or re_write history. Any act done are by his followers. Tomorrow, u will accuse Modi for this comment even though he has no role in it.

    And as far as how much benefit did Gujarat benefit from Bachchan's or Ambani's backing, go read the facts. Gujarat's tourism industry has shot up in last 2 yrs at a pace greater than the national average. Every 5th tourist coming to this country now visits Gujarat.

    I wish that from next time you do ur home work well.

    Sumeet (Sum_IH from Twitter)

  4. Mam don't you think you should verify first with us. We muslims in Gujarat living happily and for us 2002 was riots as happened in past. Please leave us alone. Thanks

  5. Rana:

    Thank you.


    Ah, can you identify the animals here, please?!

  6. Sumeet:

    Glad you did your homework. It took me a few seconds. I also discovered that Mr. Bachchan offered his services. If he is so important, then he should be credited with Gujarat's development & not Modi.

    Mr B has not shown any sense of responsibility, and I am questioning those who feel Modi should not be glorified by Time.

    I did say that the ad was by his workers. He does not seem unhappy.

    The syllabus change is about Mamata. Modi is not doing a favour by not altering it.

  7. Anon:

    Why don't you give me your name, whereabouts and details of your happiness quotient in Gujarat? I am sure you must be doing well, so why the anonymity?

    It is the unhappy who have names and are fighting battles. Perhaps you could tell Zakia Jaffri, Bilquis Bano, Zahira Sheikh and hundreds in camps that all is well. Then let me know, ok?

  8. Splendiferous piece! And, you have made my Monday morning lively by this piece.

    Thank you & Cheers

  9. Regarding Marx ...

    for a guy who never held a paying-job or thought it was his obligation to pay his maid, he has caused enough trouble in the world.

    on the other hand, that other dame of the "Capitalist Warriors" fame, Ayn Rand

    couldn't refuse the government benefits while castigating those cowardly masses for depending on the government

    by now, we should have learned that if you don't ignore the pretentious intellectuals while they do their thing, they can bring loads of trouble for the rest of us mortals.

    about the Zakia Jaffri, Bilquis Bano, Zahira Sheikh and hundreds in camps

    going by the precedent, prospects for justice are dim.

    Given that fact, it is the right of Gujarati Muslims to get on with their lives and help those who are still looking to better future ...

    sometimes battles are foisted on the "unhappy" and yes they have no luxury of anonymity (they have to show up for work), so unless and until someone can get them justice, they do need to be left alone as their loss, very much like their religion is a very private thing ...

    also, remember Indian and now even US Government is waiting to bring justice to the victims of the 26/11 attacks ...

    and few other attacks that people have by now forgotten ...

    only difference in all these atrocities is the degree of wretchedness ...

    Justice can wait for another day, as it always does in India ...

  10. Thanks for posting my comment and reply. Well you may not believe but I posted same at my FB account (obviously not as an anonymous). Many abused me badly after that. Called me traitor, govt agent etc. The thing which I want to highlight is that by bringing 2002 again and again can cause communal tension again. We are victim of vote bank politics since ages and suffered lot because of same. All we want is peace, development. Hope you got my point. I invite you to visit Gujarat and I'll happily clear all your doubts. Regards
    A Happy Gujarati Muslim

  11. FV,

    All I want to say is that the 'anonymous' in the comment above is not me! I could not read and comment as I had lost my access to internet for a few days. Besides, there's nothing new I could say in response here.

  12. FV,

    On second thoughts, Shah Rukh "My Name Is" Khan hasn't shown any responsibility either, by endorsing the Mamta Govt in WB, accused of state-sponsored violence against CPM supporters, besides myriad idological actions against the spirit of the constitution. When do we get to read an in-depth blog post on it?

    Big B was equally irresponsible when he endorsed Uttar Pradesh a few years ago. The then govt of the state (in power again now) was "widely" accused of state-sponsored violent goondaism. FV probably did not hear about it! The then CM of the state was (and remains) a PM post aspirant.

    Is support of or opposition to Narendra Modi the shibboleth test to decide if a person has a sense of responsiblity or not, o two-faced sekulaars (both faces sullen)?

  13. FV, animals or humans are visible only if one keeps eyes and mind open!

  14. peculiarblend:

    Thanks, but I should hope the 'lively' spark carries over on other days.


    Marxism is now beyond Mark, just as Gandhianism is beyond Gandhi.

    by now, we should have learned that if you don't ignore the pretentious intellectuals while they do their thing, they can bring loads of trouble for the rest of us mortals.

    True. But ideologies cannot be dumped because of individuals. It is how we who live them understand and make of them. And, these days, we don't have people propagating original thought; even the pretentious intellectuals follow others. Trust me, they are mortals.

    Given that fact, it is the right of Gujarati Muslims to get on with their lives and help those who are still looking to better future...

    The first happens as a matter of course. No one stops them and they won;t stop, anyway. But will that get those who have suffered justice? The former are used as a whitewash job to deny the existence of the latter.

    also, remember Indian and now even US Government is waiting to bring justice to the victims of the 26/11 attacks ...

    The US government, really? The biggest con job going. As regards the Indian govt., a lot of questions besides the dossiers remain. I do not see how this should derail other inquiries, and you will agree that because the enemy was from outside, this has taken precedence when we should bloody well be concerned about the criminals in our midst who sit in government.

  15. Anon:

    The thing which I want to highlight is that by bringing 2002 again and again can cause communal tension again. We are victim of vote bank politics since ages and suffered lot because of same. All we want is peace, development.

    You know when you use the word development, I see someone who is mouthing the establishment anthem. Communal tensions will not disappear if people get justice or if you question the motives behind riots. Did it stop after '92-93? Has vote bank politics stopped anywhere? And it is not only restricted to Muslim vote banks. I am afraid, you are in denial, but I do not think you are a traitor or any such thing.

    My visiting Gujarat and you showing me malls and buildings will not make a difference. I know there is cosmetic development. The day the criminals are booked and someone is held accountable, I shall call that development. Then I shall be 'happy' to take you on the offer.

    Until then, sincere wishes for your happiness.

  16. Ghazal:

    I am not talking about the ones that can be seen and perceived, but those who are 'invisible' or fake...but I get you.


    You know something? I was certain you'd come up with Shahrukh. I won;t even say that I wrote and deleted his portion because it did not go with the piece and seemed cursory. I have not yet seen the ads, but he will get the treatment, as he has been given in the past.

    As I have done AB's stint with UP. And Aamir's for Incredible India. Only because you have not seen/read something it does not mean it does not exist, although there is absolutely no compulsion for me to do so. I am telling you ONLY because I have.

    And I knew you were not the 'anonymous' poster. He was happy. Are you?!

  17. FV,

    QUOTE: "I was certain you'd come up with Shahrukh."

    I am happy you have become a mind reader. May your kind thrive among the Teesta-led sekulaars too! It should help them know what the Hindu community thinks of them.
    QUOTE: "I know there is cosmetic development. The day the criminals are booked and someone is held accountable, I shall call that development."

    I agree with you there on the broader issue, though making it solely about Gujarat is mischievous, if not sinister. Indian state is either unable or unwilling to acknowledge that each life has a value. That each homeless refugee is a moral burden on the society. Due to this weakness/callousness, we have a whole community of Kashmiri Hindus living like beggars in their own Hindu land. More shamefully, the larger Hindu community does not give a damn abot it whereas rightly, their blood should boil at the thought.

    We get the kind of politicians we deserve. In our case, the choice seems to be limited to either fake Hindutvawadis, wetpant sekulaars or bedmates of Jehadis.


  18. "The day the criminals are booked and someone is held accountable, I shall call that development. Then I shall be 'happy' : FV
    SEE THIS :
    Gujarat riots: 23 held guilty for Ode carnage http://www.hindustantimes.com/India-news/Gujarat/Gujarat-riots-23-held-guilty-for-Ode-carnage/Article1-837708.aspx
    OK Farzana now whats your take. That's my point is : justice is a legal process which is going on and remember it's very hard to punish rioters in any riot. Very few chargesheeted for 1984 pogrom and for 2002 many booked and prosecuted. Still if you keep on reminding these things it will only cause tension and trust deficit. I'm not a modi fan or admire him but I think for some political gain he's targeted daily and frankly it's not good for the state and it's people.
    I don't want to go in detail but there are evidences by which it's proved that in many cases fake GAVAHS were produced and caught by court. BEST bakery case if you remember, NGO's are earning huge money and they are not interested in justice at all.
    Please please spare us. We don't want 2002 happen again anywhere in world. And yes are you ready to visit gujarat now :-) will post my email if you're agree and believe me I'll not show you mall or any other structure as development icon as I don't believe in materialistic society. I'll show you my native village and talk to my family , friends and community. Judge yourself :-)
    A Happy Gujarati Muslim

    PS : Sorry for long post but I hope it will be published.

  19. went back and looked up Marx's wiki page again and found some surprising vignettes that I had overlooked, particularly his relationship and marriage to Jenny Von Westphalen and also his relationship with her family.

    This is just one of the many examples of intricate linkage between Jewish culture and Germany and wider Western culture.

    Of course there was constant harassment and pogroms of the Jews especially during times of social and economic turmoil but nothing seemed to indicate the scale of destruction that came much later.

    I bring this up because Muslims and India have a very similar relationship and although history of Ashkenazi Jews in Germany is bit older than Muslims in India. Also, Muslims ruled India for a long time while Jews never really ruled Europe. Most Jews were immigrant to Europe while most Muslims in South Asia are local and my suspicion is that it was more of a political revolt rather than religious conversion.

    Muslims are part of middle eastern monotheistic tradition not unlike Jews even while having their own dispute with the Jews, while Indian culture on the surface seems akin to Europeans (racism to drugs, sex and nirvana and ya of course free inquiry) and they also have their own disdain for Europeans for having enslaved them.

    I know I have said this few times before but what I would like to say is that co-existence (peaceful or otherwise) seems to be the only way as far as one can see because it is hard to imagine a reverse osmosis process by which these two communities can be separated. I guess Jinnah and Nehru tried and it dose not look like a spectacular success.

    Although, I am skeptical of the "Shining Gujarat" story I empathize with Anonymous for his desire to look for the way forward. This interminable conflict can not be allowed to hold people hostage even if it is necessary to stay vigilant and fight the injustice.

    You feel insecure about government deploying Universal ID for the fear of misuse and I understand where that comes from. On the other hand, if this is what the life looks like in Pakistan


    I can understand why Muslims (esp Women) would like to stay in India or move on to greener pastures when opportunity presents itself and gradually asserts themselves politically to bridge the past with the future.

    As I have said before, if they don't world will move on building freeways over and around the 2 stubborn Zaxes.

  20. Hitesh:

    Sorry, just got lost in writing etc. I agree in the main with the points, although hold back on a blanket idea of 'moving on'.

    In this post, what is being done to/with Marx and Modi are about erasure and erosion respectively. Your added information on Marx wrt Jews is not part of the erasure. The denial in history has larger ramifications.

    There is no denying the importance of co-existence, but in no society has it been possible simply by 'moving on', for it emphasises that only one side moves on. It just happens to be the one that has suffered. I find this unfortunate for the perpetrators continue holding on to their 'ideology'. As you can see, victims do not have an ideology in this narrative.

    I understand I am often harsh about people leaving for greener pastures and I completely disagree that they build political bridges between the past and future. The second generation of migrants have not shown any such indication, except for becoming perhaps westernised in superficial matters. They are learning history of their origins by rote, or through increasing connectivity and that is full of hate. For them this noise is the 'voice' of the people.

    We are living in different bubbles.

  21. Good to see that Sushma has finally realised the way wind is blowing. Hope this puts an end to all PM aspirants within BJP who have no mass-following and can't win a Loksabha seat on their own. In Gujrath Modi is fighting elections on development plank, and some call him communal. Congress is fighting elections on religious plank and they are secular! Modi for PM, period. BJP will dig its own grave if it can't read pulse of people.


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