POSTED BY Outlook Web Desk ON Jul 01, 2015 AT 06:40 IST ,  Edited At: Jul 01, 2015 06:40 IST

Haryana's Bibipur Village Panchayat initiated a unique #SelfieWithDaughter contest to drive home the importance of a girl child. The media was abuzz with the story which reached our Prime Minister who is known to engage in selfie-diplomacy. So this time he decided to try his hands at some selfie-activism. Little did he know that his endorsement for the above contest on his 'Mann ki Baat' radio show would generate so much heat and debate that the real message would ultimately get lost.

The Prime Minister had said:

It gives pleasure that in the same Haryana, a Sarpanch of a small village can give such a dimension to the 'Beti Bachao' programme. It raises new hopes. That is why I appreciate this initiative. But it also gives me an inspiration and that is why I urge you to click pictures with your daughters and post those on #selfiewithdaughter.

Among those, whichever are more inspiring, will be retweeted by me. In this way, we can convert the 'beti bachao, pedi padao' effort into a mass campaign.

Actor Shruti Seth gave her piece of mind to the Prime Minister through her tweet:

Activist Kavita Krishnan took a jibe at the PM with reference to Snoopgate giving the PM's message a total spin and attacked the PM:

This almost invariably led to the all too common war of words on Twitter where Twitterati bombarded each other with their opinions on the matter and subjected the two women to some trolly, while others came in support of the actor and the activist highlighting misogyny in Indian Society.

Actor Alok Nath known to epitomise the 'Indian Culture' in his #Aadarsh roles almost gave somewhat of a heart attack to his ardent followers with his tweet:

While he realised his folly and immediately deleted his tweet. Much damage had already been done. Kavita Krishnan came up with an article in response:

On Sunday, the actor Alok Nath, known for film and TV roles of the kindly father/uncle who lectures people on Indian culture and values (and also lately for tele-marketing gemstones to suit various superstitions), tweeted a selfie with his daughter with the hashtag #SelfieWithDaughter. This was in response to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi's call to tweet with that hashtag and share the photographs with him. Soon after that, he responded to a tweet of mine criticising the prime minister, with the words "jail the bitch".

What really is the point of a public display of pride in your daughter if you find it acceptable to shower sexist abuse on women whom you disagree with?

While some tweets were just downright racist:

A tweet with Ehsan Jafri and his daughter's picture started doing the rounds to remind the Prime Minister of Godhra riots:

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POSTED BY Outlook Web Desk ON Jul 01, 2015 AT 06:40 IST, Edited At: Jul 01, 2015 06:40 IST
POSTED BY Outlook Web Desk ON May 19, 2015 AT 22:57 IST ,  Edited At: May 19, 2015 22:57 IST

If you talk too much, you are bound to say things that you will regret eventually. Wise words. The former Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh perhaps understood it better than anybody but took it a tad bit too far. But Narendra Modi clearly seems to be learning this invaluable lesson the hard way. 

Modi, in full form, was addressing the Indian community in Shanghai. He has been told that he is a great orator and public speaking is what he is the best at. Hence he was full of confidence. According to a report, this is what he said: "Earlier, you felt ashamed of being born Indian, now you feel proud to represent the country. Indians abroad had all hoped for a change in government last year."

The Twitterati wasn't going to let that one go, would it?

While some people on Twitter were demanding apologies from Modi for his comment, what followed was another piece of news about Modi saying something similar to a massive gathering at a grand reception in Seoul.

Modi said that people used to lament about what sin they had committed in their previous birth that they were born in India. There used to be a point in time when people used to regret being born in India and businessmen wanted to leave the country for better opportunities abroad, he said. But now, he added, those people are saying they are ready to come back even if their incomes are lower than in other places. "The mood has changed," he added, going on to assert that his government had changed sentiments within one year of assuming office.

One can imagine what followed. Complete outrage.

#ModiInsultsIndia was eventually toppled over from its numero uno position by another Modi-related hashtag clearly started by fans, bhakts, supporters, called #ModiIndiasPride.

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POSTED BY Outlook Web Desk ON May 19, 2015 AT 22:57 IST, Edited At: May 19, 2015 22:57 IST
POSTED BY Freya Dasgupta ON May 19, 2015 AT 21:16 IST ,  Edited At: May 19, 2015 21:16 IST

Narendra Modi has a thing for selfies, everyone knows that by now. But there is something else he is fond of, it’s almost a hobby. Modi loves coming up with the most bizarre acronyms and alliterations. Whether he is on a diplomatic mission to some foreign land or launching a scheme or addressing a rally, acronyms just pour out of him like verse from a poetic soul.

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POSTED BY Freya Dasgupta ON May 19, 2015 AT 21:16 IST, Edited At: May 19, 2015 21:16 IST
POSTED BY Outlook Web Desk ON May 12, 2015 AT 22:50 IST ,  Edited At: May 12, 2015 22:50 IST

Ramesh Thakur, a professor at Australian National University has written an open letter to the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

In his letter (read full), Thakur writes that while Modi coming to power has been a general boost for the country's morale, his actual accomplishments remain rather modest.

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POSTED BY Outlook Web Desk ON May 12, 2015 AT 22:50 IST, Edited At: May 12, 2015 22:50 IST
POSTED BY Outlook Web Desk ON May 08, 2015 AT 18:39 IST ,  Edited At: May 08, 2015 18:39 IST

After AAP leader Ashutosh broke down on national television over a farmer's suicide during one of their rallies, Narendra Modi has taken up his cause by becoming, perhaps, the first prime minister to cry during an interview with the Time magazine. If this is not challenging the 'big boys don't cry' stereotype, then what is?

Time had only asked Modi about what influences his life and him as a leader, when apparently the PM choked with tears as his eyes welled up and in a shaky, lachrymose voice, he said "poverty". 

Time magazine's latest issue features Narendra Modi, dressed in his signature kurta, on its cover. Apart from the cover story which discusses how Modi wants to change India, there is a longish interview with the Indian Prime Minister. 

In a two-hour long exclusive with Time editor Nancy Gibbs, Asia editor Zoher Abdoolcarim and South Asia bureau chief Nikhil Kumar, Modi spoke about a plethora of issues ranging from his idea of India, democracy-dictatorship and development to diplomacy and terrorism. 

Modi's replies are mostly repetitive (refer to his Hindustan Times interview), nothing that one hasn't read or heard before. He praises the revolution his party has brought about in the functioning of the government and the Indian economy. He praises his party's secular and democratic values. He pats himself on the back for all the good, great and amazing that he has achieved in "just ten months".

Some of the important issues on which the PM spoke:

On Federalism in India:

I coined a term for that, which I call cooperative Federalism. I took it actually a step further and called it cooperative competitive Federalism. Essentially the concept is that it would encourage different State governments to compete with each other for the growth of the country. What essentially I have tried to do, and I think we have managed to do that, is to convert the country from a single-pillar growth nation to a nation that has 30 pillars of growth; these are the 29 States of India and the Federal centre.

The Government of India tend to work in silos. Each department seems to work as a Government in itself...My effort has been to ensure that these silos get broken down, that there is a collective thought process which is brought about in the Federal government.

I see the Federal government not as an assembled entity but as an organic entity.

On Indo-US relationship:

If I have to describe the India-US relationship in a single word, I will say we are natural allies. 
What should the India-US relationship be, what India can do for the US, what the US can do for India, I think that is a rather limited point of view to take. I think the way we should look at it is what India and the US can together do for the world. 

On China:

Since nearly last three decades until this time that we have entered into the 21st century, there is by and large peace and tranquillity on the India-China border. It is not a volatile border. Not a single bullet has been fired for over a quarter of a century now. This essentially goes to prove that both countries have learnt from history.

It is true that there is a long border between India and China and a large part of it is disputed. Still, I think both countries have shown great maturity in the last couple of decades to ensure and commit to economic cooperation which has continued to grow over the last 20 to 30 years to a stage where we currently have an extensive trade, investment and project related engagement between the two countries.

On terrorism:

What is needed perhaps is for the countries that believe in human values to come together and fight terrorism. We should not look at terrorism from the nameplates – which group they belong to, what are their names, what is their geographical location, who are the victims of terrorism…I think we should not see them in individual pieces. We should rather have a comprehensive look at the ideology of terrorism, see it as something that is a fight for human values, as terrorists are fighting against humanity.

I think the other thing that we need to undertake as a focused measure is to delink terrorism from religion. 

I think terrorism is a thought process. It is a thought process that is a great threat to the international community. I am also not linking it to any particular religion or to the actions of religious leaders. I think it is something that, as I mentioned, the countries that believe in human values need to come together and fight as a collective and not looking at individual groups from the perspective of individual religions.

On setting a cap for India's emission

India has advocated and pursued economic growth in coexistence, in close bonding, with Nature for thousands of years of its history. In this part of the world, in Indian civilization in particular, the principle value is that exploitation of Nature is a crime, and we should only draw from Nature what is absolutely essential for your needs and not exploit it beyond that.

In terms of initiatives that we are going to take, there is going to be a heavy focus on using energy that is environment friendly.

I say this to the entire international community – that those who believe in undertaking environment-friendly development in their own countries, I invite them to come and be partners in the cleaning of river Ganges 

For the farmers in India, I have launched an initiative called the Soil Health Card. It is essentially a system through which we inform the farmer of the toxicity in the soil which he is cultivating. 

For the Himalayan region of India, I want to convert it into the organic cultivation capital for the entire world.

On religious tolerance

If you analyze the history of India carefully, you will probably not come across a single incident where India has attacked another country. Similarly you will not find any references in our history where we have waged war based on ethnicity or religion. The diversity of India, of our civilization, is actually a thing of beauty, which is something we are extremely proud of. Our philosophy of life, something that we have lived for thousands of years, is also reflected in our constitution. Our constitution has not come out of any abstract insularity. It essentially reflects our own civilizational ethos of equal respect for all religions. 

My philosophy, the philosophy of my party and the philosophy also of my government is, what I call ‘Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas’, which essentially means, “Together with all, progress for all”. So, the underlying philosophy and the impulse of that particular motto is to take everybody together and move towards inclusive growth.

On Hinduism:

Religion and faith are very personal matters. So far as the government is concerned, there is only one holy book, which is the Constitution of India.

In fact, if I look at the definition of Hinduism, the Supreme Court of India has given a beautiful definition; it says that Hinduism is not a religion, it is actually a way of life.

If one looks at my own belief, I think I have grown up with these values which I mentioned earlier, that religion is a way of life. We also say ‘Vasudhaiv Kutumbkam’ – the entire world is one family, and respect for all religions. Those are the values I have grown up with.

On minorities:

In so far the Bhartiya Janata Party and my government are concerned, we absolutely do not believe in this type of ideology. And wherever an individual view might have been expressed with regard to a particular minority religion, we have immediately negated that. 

For us, the unity and the integrity of the country are the top most priorities. All religions and all communities have the same rights and it is my responsibility to ensure their complete and total protection. My Government will not tolerate or accept any discrimination based on caste, creed, and religion. So there is no place for imaginary apprehensions with regard to the rights of the minorities in India.

On reforms:

Nothing seemed to be happening in the Government. There seemed to be a complete policy paralysis at that time. Two, corruption had spread throughout the system. Three, there was no leadership; it was a weak government at the centre. That was the context and the background in which I was elected. 

So you need to see ten years of the last government versus ten months of my government.

Six-seven years before 2014, a view started emerging that ‘I’ in the BRIC had perhaps become less relevant or perhaps even a drag on the BRIC grouping.

In the last 10 months, the ‘I’ has reclaimed its position in the BRICS. Internationally, whether it is the IMF, the World Bank, Moody’s or other credit agencies, they are all saying in one voice, that India has a great economic future.

On democracy and dictatorship:

India by its very nature is a democracy. It is not just as per our Constitution that we are a democratic country; it is in our DNA.

I firmly believe that for us, democracy and belief in democratic values, are a matter of faith, which are spread across all political parties in the country. 

If you were to ask me whether you need dictatorship to run India, no, you do not. Whether you need a dictatorial thought to run the country, no, you do not. Whether you need a powerful person who believes in concentrating power at one place, no you do not. If anything is required to take India forward, it is an innate belief in democracy and democratic values. I think that is what is needed and that is what we have. If you were to ask me at a personal level to choose between democratic values on the one hand, and wealth, power, prosperity and fame on the other hand, I will very easily and without any doubt choose democracy and belief in democratic values.

On freedom of speech:

So in so far as freedom of speech is concerned, there is absolutely not an iota of doubt in terms of our commitment and our belief in that.

There used to be another great thinker of the time called Charvaka who propounded a theory of extreme hedonism which was contradictory to the Indian ethos. He essentially said that “You do not have to worry about tomorrow, just live, eat, make merry today”. But even he with those extreme thoughts, which were totally contradictory to the Indian ethos, was equated to a sage and accommodated and given space to express his views in the Indian society.

If you look at the issue related to the telecast of the documentary that you referred, it is not a question of freedom of speech, it is more a legal question...It is something that we greatly respect as an important aspect of our democratic values.

On his biggest influence:

The question that you have asked actually touches my deepest core. I was born in a very poor family. I used to sell tea in a railway coach as a child. My mother used to wash utensils and do lowly household work in the houses of others to earn a livelihood.

I have seen poverty very closely. I have lived in poverty. As a child, my entire childhood was steeped in poverty. For me, poverty, in a way, was the first inspiration of my life, a commitment to do something for the poor. I decided that I would not live for myself but would live for others and work for them.

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POSTED BY Outlook Web Desk ON May 08, 2015 AT 18:39 IST, Edited At: May 08, 2015 18:39 IST
     
 
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