Skip to main content

Modi in tune with ideological trends of last 30 yrs, combines empowerment, ambition: Top essayist Pankaj Mishra

By Our Representative
A top Narendra Modi critic, who has described the Indian Prime Minister as “the divisive manipulator who charmed the world", has suggested Modi qualifies to be a rebel, insisting, “As the son of a chaiwallah who has overcome all kinds of adversity, including violent, vicious attacks from the country’s English-speaking elites who wanted to bring him down but failed.”
In an interview about his new book, “Age of Anger: A History of the Present”, Pankaj Mishra says, Modi has “overcome” challenges to “become who he is”, adding, “And he invites his followers to do the same.”
Published simultaneously in India, US and UK in early 2017, Mishra's book  claims to seek to answer "our bewilderment" in a changing world by casting a "gaze back to the eighteenth century, before leading us to the present”.
It points to how, as the world became modern, "those who were unable to fulfil its promises – freedom, stability and prosperity – were increasingly susceptible to demagogues.”
The top Indian novelist and essayist, who has won the prestigious Yale University's Windham–Campbell Literature Prize in 2014, does not agree with those who think call Modi just a Savarkar-type “Hindu nationalist in the old manner of thinking of India, primarily a country of Hindus and as a community of Hindus which needs to define itself very carefully by excluding various foreigners.”
According to Mishra, Modi is also “someone who is in tune with the ideological trends of the last 30 years, which place a lot of premium on individual ambition and empowerment”, adding, “He is a very curious and irresistible mix, as it turns out, of certain collectivist notions of salvation with a kind of intensified individualism.”
“The man from nowhere who makes it big: that’s the story that Modi has tried to sell about himself”, says Mishra, adding, individualism today really is "synonymous with modernity, which is all about individual autonomy and reason.”
”In this sense”, says Mishra, “Modi is an interesting case. He’s not only someone who incarnates the tendencies that we identify with Savarkar – who is a model for Modi – but also mirrors many contemporary tendencies which one can identify with a sort of aspirational neoliberalism.”
“There are many contradictory elements in this mix”, says Mishra, adding, Modi “comes from a party which has as part of its extended family the Swadeshi Jagran Manch”, an organization which “believes in Swadeshi, but Modi wants to attract foreign investment.”
Stating that this drives one to think “of a world where archaisms, modernity, post-modernity all exist simultaneously yet differently”, Mishra says, “There are many different contradictory tendencies that have come together to produce events or personalities like Donald Trump and Modi."
Pointing out that there is a need to shed the "old analytic method of either/or" so that one does not miss "many of these contradictory aspects of modern politics and economics”, Mishra says, his central argument is that "they correspond to the acute, inner divisions of human beings", of people "wanting individual power, expansion and at the same time wanting identity, longing and a sense of community.”

Comments

TRENDING

Impact of state repression? Kashmir's 65% people prefer independence: Cambridge study

By Rajiv Shah 
Even as the Government of India’s controversial move to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution and bifurcate Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) into two union territories is not only refusing to down die but has acquired international dimensions, a recent study, published by the Cambridge University Press, has claimed “pro-independence attitudes” among that 65% of Kashmiris, warning, this sentiment worsens when the state machinery resorts “repressive violence”.

Quit India Movement 'betrayal' and dubious role of Hindu Mahasabha, RSS leaders

By Shamsul Islam*
After the recent guillotine of Article 370, Hindutva ideologue Ram Madhav, while celebrating the occasion stated that it was honouring of the sacrifices of Dr Shyam Prasad Mukherjee and thousands others who laid down their lives for its removal. It is to be noted that Dr Mukherjee was a cadre of RSS and was groomed into a Hindutva leader by another Hindutva icon, VD Savarkar.

Congress' anti-democratic laws led to Modi govt's 'Constitutional' changes: Scholars

Counterview Desk
A large number of academics* said to be belonging to several Indian and international institutions, even as taking strong exception to the Narendra Modi government's alleged move to amend the Constitution through "illegitimate" means, have taken strong exception to their colleagues in academia who we have become "all too accustomed to adopting a calculated silence in the face of such indignities."

Kashmir normal? Schoolboys, teenagers being arbitrarily picked up, detained: Report

Counterview Desk
A four-person team, consisting of Jean Dr├Ęze, well-known development economist; Kavita Krishnan, who is with the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist); Maimoona Mollah of the All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA); and Vimal Bhai of the National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), back from a five-day fact-finding mission (August 9-13) from Kashmir, has said that people they spoke to “expressed their pain, anger, and sense of betrayal against the Government of India.”
In a report, “Kashmir Caged”, released along with a short eight-minute film, they said, the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A, dissolution of the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), and bifurcating it into two Union Territories, is not being supported by anyone they met, except for BJP spokesperson on Kashmir affairs Ashwani Kumar Chrungoo, who claimed 46% vote share in J&K.
Excerpts from the report: When our flight landed, and the airlines staff announced that passeng…

Dholera 'inundated': Gujarat govt tries selling low lying area as top smart city site

Counterview Desk
Even as the Dholera Special Investment Region Regional Development Authority (DSIRDA) of the Gujarat government was busy organising a junket for Gujarat-based journalists for the area sought to be sold as an ideal special investment region (SIR) for industrialists, well-known farmers' activist Sagar Rabari has wondered why no investor has so far agreed to put in money in an area situated in Ahmedabad district along the Gulf of Khambhat.

Skewed sex ratio 'behind' ban on rural Thakor girls' mobile use, inter-caste marriage

By Jharna Pathak*
On July 14, 2019, the Thakor community of 12 villages of Banaskantha district in Gujarat announced a ban on the use of mobile phones by unmarried women. Simultaneously, they imposed penalties on inter-caste marriages. The family of any girl of the community marrying without the consent of her parents would now be fined Rs 1.5 lakh while that of a boy marrying a girl from other community without his family’s consent would be penalised with a fine of Rs 2 lakh.

Kashmir kayoed, bhakts 'jubilant': Much like crowds when Hitler purged Jews, Catholics

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
August 12, 2019 was the great festival of Eid al-Adha (incidentally, for Jews, Christians and Muslims – the sacrifice of Abraham is a very significant one); for the people of Kashmir however, this year Eid was a sad day indeed, what with the lockdown and communications blockade!

Modi's Gujarati mind? Why govt move to 'sell-off' defence PSUs isn't in national interest

By Sandeep Pandey*
The Standing Committee on Defence, 2017-18, of the 16th Lok Sabha highlights the idea of Buy Indian-IDDM (Indigenously Designed Developed and Manufactured). The Committee expressed concern over the import content of equipments produced and developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Ordnance Factories (OFs) and defence Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) because of the dependence it creates for military hardware on foreign suppliers.

J&K curbs 'violate' International Covenant on civil, political rights: Letter to Modi

Counterview Desk
The International Federation for Human Rights (IFDH), a Paris-based human rights NGO with global presence, has sent an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying the decision to “reconfigurate” Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), remove its special status and impose a “complete lock-down of the region” violates Kashmiris’ “fundamental right to self-determination and their right to participate in crucial decisions that affect their lives.”

Modi's Kashmir move meant to 'solidify' Hindu majoritarianism, 'demonize' Muslims

By Battini Rao*
The parliament of India on August 6 put its stamp of approval on bills abrogating article 370 and downgrading the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) to two union territories. When the representatives of the people of India were deciding the fate of the state, the people of J&K were forced into collective house arrests.