After all the pomp and circumstance of poll strategy and campaign bluster, it’s the voters that count. Mayank Jain has never voted. But 2014 may be the first time this 35-year-old finance professional from Mumbai casts his ballot. If he does, it will be for Narendra Modi and with hopes that he becomes the next PM. “He is about good governance and good results. He is focused on the economy, on getting things done, driving entrepreneurship,” he says. “If someone like him rises to national prominence, I’ll vote for him. Gujarat has changed so much under him, we need more states like Gujarat. If he is PM, maybe he can do this on a larger scale.”
Mindful of its untapped political potential—perhaps an aggregated 100-odd Lok Sabha seats—Modi wooed India’s urban middle class this time. Even, in a significant departure, speaking in Hindi at his victory rally. His 2012 avatar is all about development, an idea dear to the middle class. Less of a politician seeking votes, more of a salesman pitching dreams to consumers, marketed by a slick PR campaign that made a brand out of him. This is unlike his Hindutva-saturated election rhetoric in 2002, something that puts off many who vote for stability and progress. Even his 2007 spiel, based on affronts to Gujarat’s ‘asmita’, has been mothballed, its appeal having little resonance, if any, outside the state.
Writer and columnist Santosh Desai adds that Modi can expect some support from the middle class because he is seen as “coherent, someone who represents strength and clarity”. This is bolstered by the disenchantment with the present regime. “With Rahul Gandhi, the middle class isn’t even sure if he wants to lead or not. In this sea of political expediency, the idea that Modi can lead it out of this mess is an attractive idea,” he says. “But this has limited traction, as the middle class has never determined political outcomes, and the neo-middle class is an untested political formulation. We tend to overstate the power of the middle class—always have, always will.”
What may help Modi further is his humble origin—he is an OBC and helped his brother run a tea stall as a teenager. Seen as one who has risen thus, it makes him one of the ‘neo-middle class’. “He is someone who has not had it easy,” says Ahmedabad-based social scientist Ajay Dandekar. “Rahul Gandhi has made honest efforts to reach out to the aam aadmi, but Modi is likely to have an edge just because of his humble background.” When Modi was featured on the cover of Time magazine earlier this year, the state BJP talked him up as the first Indian OBC leader to get that distinction.
However, Gujarat’s growth story has dark zones, such as its poor human development indices or the fact that it has the highest number of critically polluted areas, but this matters little for a middle class bent on improving its lot and, as political psychologist Ashis Nandy argues, dreams of the kind of development authoritarianism seen in Singapore and China. “The glittering Gujarat story has acquired an image they are willing to fall for uncritically,” adds Dandekar. Whatever critics say, Modi’s followers have a new slogan—Dilli dur nist.
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
The idea that strikes me about the progress of society and the development of the industrial society, is that progess, as the industrial society develops, when it pertains to society, cannot be measured, fathomed, or regulated. The more one controls the factors of production, efficiently, the more society responds to itself, and does not control itself. This is at least, in some matters pertaining to India. I can wonder, if this applies to Europe, and North America, not to mention, China. The economic problem in Greece, seems to be that the economic and social perceptions are incompatible. If people can work, then people because of situations are finding that they cannot work.There seems to be no other problem, but that the social problem sees an economic problem, and the economic problem sees a social problem.
*The Barmy army once spontaneously came up with "What's it like to shag a sheep?"
in newzelanad directed against a rather loud and drunk kiwi supporter.
He came back with "Better than a pommie woman".
HIlarious, ain't it?
Of course the Barmy army lads finished with "you've never had a woman".
The pragmaticism of largely free enterprise is essential in a nation that continues to simmer with sectarian and caste based conflicts.
Why do you think so many Indians now don't give a flying toss about the Ram Janmabhoomi movemenet.
'Gareebo ke liye izza he sabkuch hai'!! People ave moved on and got a life!
No one has the time or inclination for this anymore.
Even now, whenever I see individuals in the best earning years of their lives going on protest marches regularly it annoys me.
Like the present rape protests. Instead if they could create an institution to help rape victims through public donations, I would happily give to this cause. Or even a policy writing competition could be financed and then we could all workt owards obtainable goals instead of shouting like morons.
If you've ever been to a cricket match in India, you know exactly what I mean.
The english lads are fantastic in the crowd.They come up with wonderful rhymes, and songs. Specific too!
Our crowds, make this noise. This noise that I assume two obese persons (bless them) would make when having sexual intercourse.
Now imagine multiple thousand people making that noise at the same time.
It's not constructive at all.
But some of us, don't want to be Gareeb anymore.
I was raised very lower middle class. In the Indian context too, mind you.
I have seen the change in the NDA 98-04 & the first 3 years of the UPA1 term when pretty much everyone liked our PM.
I still like him but also accept the fact that he is spineless & handcuffed.
Isn't capitalism an inevitable part of Marxist theory?
For a stateless,classless utopian wonderland, don't we need to first create massive wealth?
otherwise we end up gping bankrupt like the early 90s.
The two most imposrtant days in the last millenium were when we got independence and when we dumpled hardline socialism(sort of).
Modi can be India's Mahathir bin Mohammed,India's Lee Kuan Yew, India's FDR, I ndia's Margaret Thatcher. He can be the one who lifts another few 100s of millions of persons out of poverty & reate a new middle class that he is talking about. Has anyone in the Congress atleast thought of that. Other than sops, subsidies, reservations & other form of populist regressive politics, they have nothing else on offer. When they have to even out their socialist era doles they turn capitalist promoting FDI & FII in India.
Infact the capital belonging to Big Industry, FDI, FII, HNIs in India only constitutes 10% of available capital in our country, the rest 90% belongs to the big saver, aam admi, common man.Why have no government to this day, brought out schemes to ensure a safe way for the common man to invest in the economy ? They could bring out schemes backed by regulations targetting this bountiful capital available, the profits of which will stay within the country rather than be expatriated to other countries ...
Governance is a major concern for the middle class in the working of our democracy. Its delivery has an appeal that transcends all classes.” But is it enough to see him through to Delhi in 2014? >>>>>
Ate least Modi and BJP are trying to make development a political issue instead of promising reservations to minorities, Dalits etc and dividing people on caste and religious basis.
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