The Daily Fix

The Daily Fix: With his speech, Modi has got everyone discussing the burning issues of our times

Everything you need to know for the day (and a little more).

The Big Story: Have a pakoda

Mitron, if you really want to tackle the burning issues of our times, look no further than Prime Minister Narendra Modi. A classified defence deal? The effects of demonetisation? Hate crimes? A plunging Sensex? Jobs? These are obsessions of the fringe and anti-nationals, thank you very much. Two days ago, the prime minister spoke in Parliament – and set the tone for a reified national discourse.

For instance, let’s talk about who should have been prime minister 70 years ago. With a Philip Roth-esque flair for the counterfactual, Modi outlined the fantastic prime ministership of Sardar Patel. Unlike that effete dynast, Nehru, Patel knew a thing or two. He would have stormed Kashmir and taken all of it before the Pakistanis could blink. With those magic words – Nehru, Kashmir, Pakistan, 1947 –the prime minister had all the social media historians reaching hungrily for their keyboards.

Then there is always casual misogyny. Former minister Renuka Chowdhury had interrupted the prime minister’s speech with a hearty guffaw, only to be ticked off by Vice President Venkaiah Naidu. Modi said her laughter reminded him of the Ramayana serial from the 1980s. In case you missed the reference, Union Minister Kiren Rijiju was there at hand. He posted a video of the exchange, only it began with the “evil laugh” of Shurpanakha, sister of the demon king, Ravana. Now, how were Modi and Rijiju to know they were elevating the former Congress minister to the status of feminist icon? But Chowdhury is not amused. She wants to start a privilege motion on the issue.

In other gender-politics news, there was the anklet as protest. On Wednesday, Modi had blamed the Congress for bifurcating Andhra Pradesh without a thought for the state. But the concern seems to have backfired. The Telegu Desam Party, now-disgruntled allies of the BJP, staged a protest in the Lok Sabha the next day, with one member of Parliament wearing anklets and playing a musical instrument. Analyse that.

Finally, a cliff hanger. Tired of being blamed for the non-performing assets crisis, Modi said “the nation should know the truth”; they were “100% UPA’s wrongdoings”, referring to the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance. Not only did the Congress leave a legacy of bad debt, it misrepresented figures, the prime minister said. In 2014, he claimed, the Congress had said non-performing assets accounted for 36% of loans when the figure was really 82%. The prime minister’s claims were posted by the BJP on social media but when NDTV pointed out that non-performing assets had, in fact, stood at 3.8% in 2013-’14, the tweet quickly vanished.

Is this the BJP’s way of saying watch this space, come back for more?

The Big Scroll

Girish Shahane points out what Modi and Vivekananda have in common.


  1. In the Indian Express, Ramachandra Guha explains why the Nehru versus Patel debate has come up again.
  2. Selective judicial activism is now seen as the dominant force against judicial activism, writes S Akbar Zaidi in the Hindu.
  3. Silence aids the culture of sexual violence, writes Mehmal Sarfraz in the Telegraph.


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Decoding the symbolic threads and badges of one of India’s oldest cavalry units

The untold story of The President’s Bodyguard.

The national emblem of India; an open parachute and crossed lances – this triad of symbols representing the nation, excellence in training and valor respectively are held together by an elite title in the Indian army – The President’s Bodyguard (PBG).

The PBG badge is worn by one of the oldest cavalry units in the India army. In 1773, Governor Warren Hastings, former Governor General of India, handpicked 50 troopers. Before independence, this unit was referred to by many titles including Troops of Horse Guards and Governor General’s Body Guards (GGBG). In 1950, the unit was named The President’s Bodyguard and can be seen embroidered in the curved maroon shoulder titles on their current uniforms.

The President’s Bodyguard’s uniform adorns itself with proud colours and symbols of its 245 year-old-legacy. Dating back to 1980, the ceremonial uniform consists of a bright red long coat with gold girdles and white breeches, a blue and gold ceremonial turban with a distinctive fan and Napoleon Boots with spurs. Each member of the mounted unit carries a special 3-meter-long bamboo cavalry lance, decorated by a red and white pennant. A sheathed cavalry sabre is carried in in the side of the saddle of each trooper.

While common perception is that the PBG mainly have ceremonial duties such as that of being the President’s escort during Republic Day parade, the fact is that the members of the PBG are highly trained. Handpicked by the President’s Secretariat from mainstream armored regiments, the unit assigns a task force regularly for Siachen and UN peace keeping operations. Moreover, the cavalry members are trained combat parachutists – thus decorating the PBG uniform with a scarlet Para Wings badge that signifies that these troopers are a part of the airborne battalion of the India Army.

Since their foundation, the President’s Guard has won many battle honors. In 1811, they won their first battle honor ‘Java’. In 1824, they sailed over Kalla Pani for the first Burmese War and earned the second battle honour ‘Ava’. The battle of Maharajapore in 1843 won them their third battle honor. Consequently, the PBG fought in the main battles of the First Sikh War and earned four battle honours. Post-independence, the PBG served the country in the 1962 Indo-China war and the 1965 Indo-Pak war.

The PBG, one of the senior most regiments of the Indian Army, is a unique unit. While the uniform is befitting of its traditional and ceremonial role, the badges that augment those threads, tell the story of its impressive history and victories.

How have they managed to maintain their customs for more than 2 centuries? A National Geographic exclusive captures the PBG’s untold story. The documentary series showcases the discipline that goes into making the ceremonial protectors of the supreme commander of the Indian Armed Forces.


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This article was produced by Scroll marketing team on behalf of National Geographic and not by the Scroll editorial team.