Letters to the editor

Readers' comments: Narendra Modi can only become Nehru if he follows democratic and secular ideals

A selection of readers' opinions.

Vote for vikas

Narendra Damodar Modi will become Mahatma Gandhi, Jawahar Lal Nehru, or for that matter, Indira Gandhi only if he and his party follow the ideals of democracy, secularism, and socialism (“One-party rule: With the BJP’s massive win in UP, is Modi set to be the new Nehru?”). If he can do that and transform himself and his party in this era of globalisation, then India will enter a golden era of development, progress and prosperity.

Given the lack of a strong alternative, the population has put its faith in Modi as the messaih of change. The demonetisation drive and the shift to a cashless economy have elevated him to the stature a crusader against corruption and black money.

His concept of zero balance Jan Dhan account to all people below poverty line and allocation of more funds to programs such as MGNREGA has made him appear as the protector of the downtrodden. His slogan of “Minimum Government and Maximum Governance”, his national and global outreach programmes and whirlwind foreign tours have projected him as a powerful and decisive leader.

Plus their claim that the moderate leaders of BJP are the ones who are truly secular, while the the so-called secular parties only look at those from minority communities and backward classes as vote banks helped them get minority votes.

However, he now has to turn these dreams into reality. For this, he has to truly change himself into the modern version of Mahatma Gandhi, the highly principled but the shrewd Gujarati and the Father of the Nation; Jawahar Lal Nehru, the architect of modern, independent India and Sardar Vallabhai Patel, the Iron Man of India.

The BJP has to transform itself into a truly secular party by adopting policies benefiting the poor, downtrodden, weaker sections and minorities.

The RSS has to transform itself into the true Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh, accepting the true Hindutva or Indianness of inclusive policies. If that happens, it will be a miracle and the people of India will give them the power to rule the country another 20 years. But the question is, can this miracle happen? The Indian masses are hoping for it! – UN Nandakumar

***

Don’t insult Nehru by comparing Modi with him. Nehru would not have appealed for votes in the name of kabristan, shamshan and electricity on Diwali and Ramadan. Add to that the lies that the Congress has looted the country over 70 years. Has he not seen Atal Bihari Vajpayee’sspeech in Parliament, when he spoke of the country’s progress over 50 years to that day? But Modi is busy projecting himself as the saviour of this country. In reality, the people of the country are its saviors.

So please don’t compare Nehru, especially to someone who carried out the carnage in Gujarat.He doesn’t know how to address foreign dignitaries. He has won seats for the BJP using money coming from dubious sources and for reasons that differ from what Nehru stood for.

See the way Modi is trying to saffronise the institutions of learning and arts. Modi’s is out to polarise the country and its people. Did Nehru try to do that?

Have you forgotten the recent incident of the Sahara diaries and the case and the way he is shielding big businessmen in money laundering cases? He is projecting himself on the country through advertisements, not work. – Onkar Singh

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There is a difference; the Congress won thanks to their ground level work on the freedom movement and public governance, whereas the BJP wins at the cost of public exchequer on publicity rhetorical art and the Congress misdeeds. – Anil Laad

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The article is rot. The divisive, pseudo-Hindutva touting Modi comes nowhere near Nehru. Look at the polling percentages in these elections as well as those in 2014. It is only the egos of the opposition that permitted the pseudo-Hindu party to get more seats. – KB Kannampilly

***

The comparison of the two leaders’ popularity, supported by electoral statistics, is indeed sound. But the democratic consciousness we had between the 1950s and 1970s (till Indira Gandhi’s supremacy) was definitely higher.

Today, if a person reaches that level of popularity, amid an ineffective Opposition and pliant bureaucracy, does it help our democracy mature? – R Mohan

***

State of the states

Ajaz Ashraf’s writing betrays his traditional Muslim anti-BJP/Modi thought (“Narendra Modi towers over rivals, Congress clings on: What the 2017 poll results mean for India”). Various TV channels suggested that Muslims voted for Modi. It is high time progressive Muslims teach their community to dump the Nehruvian concept of secularism and instead accept the ground reality that everyone in India should be treated equally.

There is no scope for appeasement to a section of society. Now that the Congress, SP, BSP and RJD have no future of their own, what good can they do for Muslims?

Ashraf’s remarks over demonetisation are also deceptive. The exercise has established Modi as a pro-poor leader. He seems to be more Leftist than the Left now. It would be to the benefit of Mulsims if we now stop misguiding them and urge them to come forward, join the nation- building process and work for the BJP, so that they can benefit, stake claim to party tickets and join the mainstream party. – Johar Manmohan

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The BJP’s landslide victory in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand and good show in Manipur shows that the party is making inroads across states. This has been made possible by Narendra Modi and Amit Shah’s tactics in each state, best exemplified by the surge in Manipur, where the BJP had no presence so far.

After this election, the Congress is in poor shape across the country, barring Punjab – where too it was not the central leadership but Captain Amarinder Singh’s contribution that fetched them the victory.

Also, money power still remains dominant in Indian politics, seen in Irom Sharmila’s crushing defeat. That is reflective of the poor state of Indian democracy.

All political parties need to come together against the BJP to stop their surge. – Devadas V

***

Why should the BJP or Modi have been defeated? Have they done anything anything that calls for their disloding?

If the answer is that we do not like the BJP of Modi, it will not hold good. It is not axiomatic that ruling government should be defeated by default.

All the evils in the Indian democracy have been perpetuated for decades by Congress, be it corruption, vote bank politics, bad governance or dynastic directions. They gave raise to regional parties in Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar too. Regional satraps got dominance only because of them.

Non alignment and overt preference to USSR was a blunder of epic proportions, which set the country back 20 years. Pseudo-secularism ushered in by the Congress is the reason for the advent of Hindutva forces.

Unleash hatred on Modi will be only counterproductive. Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand are proof of that. – Balasubramanian

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Non-starter

The SP-Congress alliance seemed to have a one-point agenda: to keep Modi away, come what may (“Uttar Pradesh election 2017: How the Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance helped the BJP”). This is hardly child’s play! You’re talking of an entire state, one of the largest, which has been neglected, where the people are so poor! Voters were more aware and they voted for a change. – Suhasini Sharma

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Zooming in

Your content always seems to be negative. That is evident from way you have covered a single constituency out of 403, where the party finished fourth (“Despite a Modi wave, the BJP finished fourth in this constituency. Here’s why”). The content on Scroll.in has always been anti-Hindu. You target anything done for Hindus. I suggest you introspect about what harm Hindus have done to you. – Sandip

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“My body instantly craves chai and samosa”

German expats talk about adapting to India, and the surprising similarities between the two cultures.

The cultural similarities between Germany and India are well known, especially with regards to the language. Linguists believe that Sanskrit and German share the same Indo-Germanic heritage of languages. A quick comparison indeed holds up theory - ratha in Sanskrit (chariot) is rad in German, aksha (axle) in Sanskrit is achse in German and so on. Germans have long held a fascination for Indology and Sanskrit. While Max Müller is still admired for his translation of ancient Indian scriptures, other German intellectuals such as Goethe, Herder and Schlegel were deeply influenced by Kalidasa. His poetry is said to have informed Goethe’s plays, and inspired Schlegel to eventually introduce formal Indology in Germany. Beyond the arts and academia, Indian influences even found their way into German fast food! Indians would recognise the famous German curry powder as a modification of the Indian masala mix. It’s most popular application is the currywurst - fried sausage covered in curried ketchup.

It is no wonder then that German travellers in India find a quite a lot in common between the two cultures, even today. Some, especially those who’ve settled here, even confess to Indian culture growing on them with time. Isabelle, like most travellers, first came to India to explore the country’s rich heritage. She returned the following year as an exchange student, and a couple of years later found herself working for an Indian consultancy firm. When asked what prompted her to stay on, Isabelle said, “I love the market dynamics here, working here is so much fun. Anywhere else would seem boring compared to India.” Having cofounded a company, she eventually realised her entrepreneurial dream here and now resides in Goa with her husband.

Isabelle says there are several aspects of life in India that remind her of home. “How we interact with our everyday life is similar in both Germany and India. Separate house slippers to wear at home, the celebration of food and festivals, the importance of friendship…” She feels Germany and India share the same spirit especially in terms of festivities. “We love food and we love celebrating food. There is an entire countdown to Christmas. Every day there is some dinner or get-together,” much like how Indians excitedly countdown to Navratri or Diwali. Franziska, who was born in India to German parents, adds that both the countries exhibit the same kind of passion for their favourite sport. “In India, they support cricket like anything while in Germany it would be football.”

Having lived in India for almost a decade, Isabelle has also noticed some broad similarities in the way children are brought up in the two countries. “We have a saying in South Germany ‘Schaffe Schaffe Hausle baue’ that loosely translates to ‘work, work, work and build a house’. I found that parents here have a similar outlook…to teach their children to work hard. They feel that they’ve fulfilled their duty only once the children have moved out or gotten married. Also, my mother never let me leave the house without a big breakfast. It’s the same here.” The importance given to the care of the family is one similarity that came up again and again in conversations with all German expats.

While most people wouldn’t draw parallels between German and Indian discipline (or lack thereof), Germans married to Indians have found a way to bridge the gap. Take for example, Ilka, who thinks that the famed differences of discipline between the two cultures actually works to her marital advantage. She sees the difference as Germans being highly planning-oriented; while Indians are more flexible in their approach. Ilka and her husband balance each other out in several ways. She says, like most Germans, she too tends to get stressed when her plans don’t work out, but her husband calms her down.

Consequently, Ilka feels India is “so full of life. The social life here is more happening; people smile at you, bond over food and are much more relaxed.” Isabelle, too, can attest to Indians’ friendliness. When asked about an Indian characteristic that makes her feel most at home, she quickly answers “humour.” “Whether it’s a taxi driver or someone I’m meeting professionally, I’ve learnt that it’s easy to lighten the mood here by just cracking a few jokes. Indians love to laugh,” she adds.

Indeed, these Germans-who-never-left as just diehard Indophiles are more Indian than you’d guess at first, having even developed some classic Indian skills with time. Ilka assures us that her husband can’t bargain as well as she does, and that she can even drape a saree on her own.

Isabelle, meanwhile, feels some amount of Indianness has seeped into her because “whenever its raining, my body instantly craves chai and samosa”.

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Lufthansa as part of their More Indian Than You Think initiative and not by the Scroll editorial team.