As someone who is delighted with what happened in the elections, I just wish our new PM gave speeches that healed and built bridges rather than proclaim himself hero.

In Quartz here

As usual, the comments interest me: Posting some below. The article is below that. In order of appearance. In response to a question below. Yes, I did sit through the full speeches.

Update: just pasted some more comments. My takeaways. Yes, I need to learn more quotes and stories from Indian culture. I cop to that and am attempting to rectify it. Someone said below that Mr. Modi is an earthy Indian politician who uses the cadences of Indian speech by politicians. I agree. Listening to him was like listening to Jayalalithaa. But the earlier generation of politicians were not this way. MGR and Karunanidhi spoke in Tamil but weren’t as self-referential. So I think it is the function of the times. Lastly, criticizing this one area has made me into a critic of Mr. Modi, which I am not. To use a cliché, let us give the man his due. He used to iron his shirts using a lots filled with hot water. He has risen through the ranks without any dynastic baggage and pulled off a stupendous victory. I don’t think praise and criticism should be one or the other. As anyone who is in a relationship can attest, you can praise and criticize. You do praise and criticize.

——— Forwarded message ———-
From: parlikad narayanan venkata Krishnan
Date: Sunday, May 18, 2014
Subject: NaMo
To: [email protected]

I agree with the author 100%.
I was also hearing the speech live.
His ref to the children repeating AB ki Baar,Modi sarkar- was very cheap.
It does not suit the future PM of this great Nation.
he is poisoning the minds of young children.
In fact as per the model code of conduct ,children can not be used for propaganda purposes.
All these you tube publicity involving children are a intentional violation of this code.
Some learned members must look into this aspect too.

Let us wait and see how Namo evolves as the PM

Good L:uck to NaMO and BJP
PNV Krishnan
———- Forwarded message ———-
From: satish mullick
Date: Sunday, May 18, 2014
Subject: Shobha on Modi
To: [email protected]


I read what Shobha has written about Modi, and feel sorry for her. I get the impression that she is so Anglicized, that she was unable to understand what was said in Hindi.

She begins with “ —– large number —English speaking —-“ as if that makes her and those like her superior in some ways. Then she quotes, as so many “Western ass kissers” do, Kennedy and McArthur, because she does not know of any Indian to quote. Her up-bringing has been based on what was imposed on India and Indians by the Britishers. It is a shame that she, like millions of other Indians, is not aware of what India and Indians have done for the world, over the centuries. I am sure she can quote, verbatim, what Yeats and Milton wrote, but not what Kalidas and Nirala did. And, so on and so forth.

Modi was addressing all Indians, who clearly understood what he said and meant. It was, I guess, as is obvious from Shobha’s comments, above the grasp of those “English speaking” Indians, including her.

I was happy to note that she has changed some. I will be waiting to read her comments, and assessment of accomplishments of the new government after being in office for just one year. She will be proven wrong. Will she admit it? We will simply have to wait and see.


To: [email protected]
Subject: your article on Modi

I like your outlook on Mr.Modi after election results. But please remember that you are not talking
about a man who came out of Harvard or Oxford. This is a plain ,common man from one of the
underdeveloped villages of India. His life is his education and he may lack the skill of public speaking.
But he has proved his capacity as an administrator in his state. He was able to lead his people to better
life than many of the great speakers who ruled from Delhi. As you wrote, I am not a BJP supporter or
fan, but a true Indian who looks forward for the ìgood daysî of the honest people toiling hard inside
and outside the country. Let us be patient and give the honest man a chance for five years, for, we
have tolerated so many corrupt and dishonest orators in power for so long !! India has seen the worst
class of power politicians in the last half century that nothing can be worse than what we have already
gone through.

One word about secularism. Is congress secular? Do any big or small political party in India show honest
secularism? Why all the breast beating about minority, only when they face election? I am very
confident about the common people of India and this country will always upkeep the great culture and
values that it has upheld for so many centuries. I have no fear of its future as India is a great country
with very civilized population.

Jayaram pillai
[email protected]

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Jack D
Date: Sun, May 18, 2014 at 7:51 PM
Subject: Narendra Modi’s gloating victory speech was the wrong way to usher in India’s new era
To: [email protected]

Is Shoba Narayan nuts?

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Tom Bose
Date: Saturday, May 17, 2014
Subject: Your recent article Re Modi
To: ideas

I completely agree with your thoughts. I heard him in Hindi,m and did not understand. I hope he will take some lessons to speak English at least haltingly.
We Indians abroad hope, we are anxious to see this man enact good programs, irrespective of race and regions, and keep peace in all communities, In India which is a non secular DEMOCRACY
Jai Hind and Gos bless us all
K Thomas Bose
Carlsbad CA
May 17, 2014
———- Forwarded message ———-
From: ‘girish shah’ via Ideas QZ
Date: Saturday, May 17, 2014
Subject: Modi’s victory speech.
To: [email protected]

Modi was not gloating. Quit your western crappy mind and let him do his job. Poor Shoba Narayan was disappointd. When Obama won he too did not give a profound speech but was an ordinary one. Judge Modi on his work and not based on your crappy western mind.
Let me ask you what do you know about being a hindu? Are you a hindu? Have you read any of your scriptures? Probably not. But you are the shameful brown English left behind by the British and I believe the right word for you is Macaulayites. Go research this and discover who you are.

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Naresh wadhwani
Date: Saturday, May 17, 2014
Subject: Modi speech
To: [email protected]

I guess we both didn’t hear the same speech.
I guess you have to learn to be more positive

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Amit Rahalkar
Date: Sat, May 17, 2014 at 10:54 AM
Subject: Shobha Narayanan
To: “[email protected]

She quotes the below in her article something that Modi didn’t say in his Vadodara speech . Did she listen to his speech at all or got second-hand biased information to base her opinion on ? Dissapointed .

“Consider the snippets from his speech that were translated as subtitles in television channels. “Rivals were busy mudslinging and maligning me. They made fun of the Gujarat model, called it a water balloon…. Even those vested interests didn’t realize what a magician Modi is…. Rivals are forced to follow me….”

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Shiladitya Chakrabarti
Date: Saturday, May 17, 2014
Subject: Comments on Shobha Narayan’s article
To: [email protected]

The author of the article “Narendra Modi’s gloating speech was the wrong way to usher in India’s new era” complains that Mr. Modi sounded unpresidential in his victory speech and uncharitable towards critics. This may be news to those who have only recently started paying attention, but uncharitable rhetoric has been a feature of the Modi playbook since his initial campaigns as Chief Minister of Gujarat state.

He has honed the art of dishing out red-meat rhetoric in the form of barbs at his favored opponents, and his targets include politicians of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, the all-powerful liberal media based in New Delhi, the state of Pakistan, and various other dog-whistles to refer to the Muslim community. Such barbs tend to play well with the core support base of young Hindu nationalist males, who like the image of being led by someone deemed strong and decisive who isn’t interested in “appeasement”, whether it be of the overly coddled minority community within the country, or the terrorist state next door. One only has to go through the gist of most speeches of his, to realize it is all about him and what he has done for the state (and now the country), and if something’s not been done, it’s because of those evildoers who are not letting him do what he wants to do. I expect more of this self-centered politics in both rhetoric and action to take hold in India over the next five years.


Narendra Modi’s gloating victory speech was the wrong way to usher in India’s new era

By Shoba Narayan an hour ago
Shoba Narayan is a writer in Bangalore. She is the author of “Return to India” and “Monsoon Diary: A Memoir with Recipes.”


Narendra Modi’s victory speech in Gujarat, May 16. REUTERS/Amit Dave

There is a group of Indians—quite a large slice of them in fact—who have, over the course of months and years, slowly warmed to the idea of India governed by a Narendra Modi-led BJP.
These are globally traveled, well educated, English-speaking Indians who have doubts about Modi’s handling of the Gujarat riots and who often cite America’s denial of a visa to Modi as a reason for being suspicious of him.
These same Indians, and I count myself amongst them, have slowly changed their views about Modi and the BJP, helped in large part by the mismanagement and lack of leadership that the Congress Party displayed through ten long years that slowed the country’s economy and made corruption front and center in the electoral consciousness. Along came Modi speaking the language of development, or “vikas,” as he calls it—and promising to put India on the path to prosperity.
A large section of the Indian electorate was immediately won over. Others like me were slowly converted, and still others remained suspicious. Election day in India changed all that. As the results swept in, terms like “tsunami,” or rather, “tsunaMo,” were being evoked and the semantics of the landslide vote that the BJP got were being discussed. In the middle of the vote-counting day, after it was clear that the BJP won by a clear majority, the party leaders came out to speak to the press.
Rajnath Singh, the party president projected clarity and discipline at the first press conference. He instructed the party workers to clear the room for the media and warned the BJP foot soldiers not to use incendiary or hurtful language. He took questions and answered them with masterful dignity. All good, I thought.
Then came the controversial Amit Shah, who orchestrated a stupendous victory in Uttar Pradesh. He spoke to a popular Indian channel with an anchor who is used to shouting above his guests and handled the questions with canny aplomb. He didn’t duck any questions about in-fighting amongst the BJP and tackled questions about the Hindu fundamentalist leanings of his party head-on. Many of my Congress supporting friends often refer to Mr. Shah as a fixer, and that too, when they are being charitable. But the man came across as a “political genius” on TV, in the words of a Congress sympathizer I know.
At 4:30 pm came the mother-son duo of Sonia and Rahul Gandhi to make a statement, but not to take questions. Rahul Gandhi’s statement was pathetically short and he grinned goofily throughout the whole thing. He said two things: that the defeat would force them to think about what happened, and that he took responsibility for the defeat. His statement was widely panned, and added credibility to the accusation that Gandhi was an entitled man-child and a political amateur lacking leadership qualities.
As the day wore on, even the hardened critics of Narendra Modi seemed hopeful about the change sweeping the country, to use a tired political cliché. The BJP were acting like adults, as opposed to the sycophancy of the Congress party members who still kept kow-towing to the dynasty despite their rout.
In the evening, Narendra Modi addressed two rallies: one in Vadodara where he won by a decisive margin; and another at Ahmedabad, both in his home state of Gujarat.
As someone who has gone from a critic of Modi to someone who was quite taken by the BJP’s way of handling things, I was expecting great things from Modi’s speech. I was disappointed. The man gloated about his victory; seemed self-absorbed about his role in it; and had no sense of statesmanship.
Indian television anchors have frequently called the Congress Party “bitter” about their defeat. In my view, Modi seemed bitter. Consider the snippets from his speech that were translated as subtitles in television channels. “Rivals were busy mudslinging and maligning me. They made fun of the Gujarat model, called it a water balloon…. Even those vested interests didn’t realize what a magician Modi is…. Rivals are forced to follow me….”
It was not a victory speech, it was more like a stump speech at a political rally
While he invoked Mahatma Gandhi’s name, his speech was also self-referential. “Go on Youtube and you will see young children who can barely say Mummy or Daddy say, “Ab ki baar, Modi sarkar (this time around, Modi’s government)”
He added folksy humor with a sting in the tail. “How can they call me anti-establishment when there is no establishment to begin with?”
The best thing that I can say for Modi’s speech is that it is an Indian version of Kennedy’s “Ask not what your country can do for you.” In Modi’s words. What is over is over. Forget it. I want to make all of you soldiers of development. If 125 crore people take a step forward, that is equal to 125 crore steps.”
The man is entitled to savor his win. But his arrogant, narcissistic tone gives me pause. Unlike outgoing prime minister, Manmohan Singh, Modi engages with the public. Unlike Dr. Singh, Modi has little humility to display. He is, to flip General Douglas MacArthur’s words, “proud and unbending” in victory; and hardly “humble and gentle” towards the losers.
Like much of India, I too am ready for the great purge of government that is happening now. Unlike much of India, I am not a full Modi-convert yet. I think the man needs to tone it down a notch. If he is going to take the country and the various parties along with him as he promises to do, he needs to quit blaming the opposition and share the spoils of victory. The Indian media have called this a presidential election. Now the man who will be India’s next Prime Minister needs to sound Presidential.
Follow Shoba on Twitter @ShobaNarayan. We welcome your comments at [email protected].
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