On one of Narendra Modi's many foreign trips, he said that Indians had regretted being born Indian,  at least until the time that he, Modi, came to power. He amplified that remark on yet another trip (or rather, a continuation of the same trip) by saying:
"There was a time when Indians would be ashamed and say: 'What sins did we commit in our last life to be born Indian in this one? Is this any country to live in? Is this any government? What kind of people are these? Let’s just leave and go.'"

He followed up that second set of remarks by pointing out that of course, Indians had stopped being ashamed, once they had done the right thing by electing him.

He was speaking on both occasions to a crowd of non-resident Indians, who had all, for whatever personal reasons, made the decision to leave India.

Modi  has spent a great deal of time in the last 18 months addressing large numbers of people who made that particular life-career decision. It may be assumed that he knows how many of them think and feel, given the series of interactions he has initiated with NRIs. Quite possibly he was echoing what he had been told in private conversations.

But the remarks caused a certain amount of controversy. Some people said, Indians had never felt ashamed; others said, Modi spoke only for himself when he said he felt ashamed of being Indian (until such time as he became PM). Still others said they had only started feeling ashamed of being Indian, once Modi became the PM.  Another lot said that they had never wanted to leave. Some said they had left India for sundry reasons unconnected with their personal or national shame quotient.

The thing is, all of them including Modi, could well have been telling the truth at the same time.  It's called subjectivity. People frequently do the same things for entirely different reasons. I eat bananas because I like eating bananas; my neighbour eats them because his doctor apparently said it would ease his perennial constipation; his son eats bananas because his mother nags him until he does.  The bottomline is, we all eat bananas.

Performing the same actions can also evoke multiple different emotions in different persons.  Learning a new mathematical operation in school for example, can evoke wonder and delight in some people. It inspires sheer terror in others.

Even contemplating  the same actions can evoke different feelings in different people. To take a simple example, think of a cricket match – let's say, the current  test between India and South Africa.  There will eventually be some result, whatever that is. That result, whatever it is, is likely to evoke very different emotions in Durban and Delhi when it happens. Contemplating the possible results will  also evoke different emotions in Durban and Delhi.

To return to those remarks Modi made, it is very likely that Modi meant it when he spoke of being ashamed. He did, after all, reiterate and amplify those remarks. He might have been wrong in assuming that his feelings were shared by a lot of other Indians. But this doesn't mean he did not have those feelings of shame although, interestingly, he never chose to act upon them and to leave Mother India in the days when he felt ashamed.

It would be ludicrous to threaten Modi and hector him into taking back his remarks: If he felt ashamed and wanted to leave, he felt ashamed and wanted to leave.  At best you could stop him speaking his mind, but why would you want to do that?

The brand 

Now, from a marketer's viewpoint, Modi is the brand evangelist for the Bharatiya Janata Party. Brand Modi is inextricably associated with Brand BJP and also with khaki knickerbockers, even if he prefers wearing pinstriped suits.  If your feelings regarding Modi were altered by his confession of shame, your feelings regarding the BJP might well be affected as well.

If you like Modi, there is a good chance that you will also like the BJP and your liking might even stretch to ample khaki shorts. If you dislike Modi (some people do, strange as it may seem), the chances are, that you will also distance yourself from the BJP and you will also abjure khaki shorts.

This is a risk any brand manager takes when he or she decides to associate a brand with an individual who evokes strong emotions.

Now, it might be thought that the same arguments apply to Aamir Khan (Modi), Snapdeal (BJP)  and the conversation Khan related having with his wife (Modi's conversations with his NRI audiences). Hectoring Khan into withdrawing his remarks appears to be as ludicrous as hectoring Modi.  If those remarks have led to punters pulling back from Snapdeal and its app (BJP and its parent body's knickerbocker shorts),  too bad, it is the brand manager's problem.

But of course, there are differences. Big differences.

Those differences might have contributed to Khan feeling the way he says he did.

It might be zen (or "dhyana") to contemplate the absurdity of intimidating somebody into saying he is not intimidated.