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Narendra Modi, Donald Trump, and the era of exhibitionist emperors
Kumar Ketkar
2017-12-19
Region : America, Asia, South Asia, India,
Issue : Security, Politics,
It is difficult to know whether Donald Trump copies Narendra Modi or vice-versa. But quite often, they talk and act in an identical manner.
In a recent cartoon in The New Yorker, a bystander, observing the naked emperor speaking to his guests at a drinks party, exclaims: “I’m starting to think the emperor knows he’s not wearing any clothes, he just wants us all to see his penis.”
The cartoonist’s depiction of the exhibitionist emperor fits a few familiar modern ‘emperors’ today, including Donald Trump and Narendra Modi.
Most commentators in the media also know full well that the emperor has no clothes, but go on to describe the colourful dress he is wearing. The emperor himself has no time for these self-appointed advisors in the media. But the court jesters go on.
So when Prime Minister Modi sent out a red herring accusing his predecessor, Dr Manmohan Singh, former Vice-President Hamid Ansari and former Army chief Deepak Kapoor of “conspiring with the Pakistani military brass” to interfere in the Gujarat elections, it was not an inadvertent accusation. He knew that he was lying and talking out of his colourful tribal headgear.
But such wild and irresponsible accusations have become part of his campaign of calumny. He and his colleagues have accused in the past the Italian authorities of interfering in the case of seamen who were arrested in India and tried. One of their leaders even said that Sonia Gandhi was trying to save the charge-sheeted Italians. Similarly, the Chinese have been accused of interfering in elections in the Northeast. Swedish authorities have been criticised for protecting Rajiv and Sonia Gandhi in the Bofors case.
But now, Modi and his media loudspeakers want to equate the Congress party with Muslims and Pakistan. That is their way of consolidating the anti-Muslim sentiment, in order to build a Hindu vote bank. How often have bhakts and ministers said critics must be sent to Pakistan?
It is difficult to know whether Donald Trump copies Modi or vice-versa. But quite often, they talk and act in an identical manner. Trump blames the Democratic Party, mainly the Clintons, for running him down, and for all the ills of America. Modi accuses the Congress party, and the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, for keeping India poor, backward, and making the system corrupt. His hatred for the Nehru-Gandhis is so profound that he wears it on his 56-inch chest.
His hatred for Muslims is so visceral that he cannot even hide it. But he plays to the gallery when he says his heart goes out to Muslim women who are victims of triple talaq. Though he refuses to put on the Muslim skullcap and never even visited Muslim victims of the 2002 riots, he says ‘sab ka saath, sab ka vikas’ includes Muslims, and that he does not distinguish between Hindus and Muslims.
He pretends to admonish the goondas masquerading as cow protectors, but never takes any action. He has time and tears for the victims of bomb blasts in Brussels, Paris, or London, but has no time to even tweet about the brutal and bizarre hackings and burning of Muslims. Trump does not hide his hatred for African-Americans, Mexicans, Muslims, or liberals. Modi, too, is full of contempt for liberals and intellectuals. The BJP think-tanks feel that all liberals are Leftists, if not communists. They don’t even know that communists often resent liberals.
Perhaps both Trump and Modi do not read books, and have hardly any historical or political perspective. Modi obsessively visits foreign capitals and meet heads of various countries, but has never shared his views on international politics. He never explained how the Non-Aligned Movement had become irrelevant, and he was withdrawing from it. Modi’s world view is simplistic and governed by the delusion of India becoming superpower, and he himself becoming global leader.
Trump’s campaign of “Making America Great Again” is in the same vein, as if it was not great for decades, and he will now bring that lost greatness. Trump’s impractical idea of building a wall on the border with Mexico is matched by Modi trying to close the borders with Bangladesh and also stopping Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar entering India. Both of them cannot hold an intellectual dialogue with writers, artists, or editors. In the RSS, there is no culture of reading or multi-dimensional scholarship. Trump, of course, would feel at home if he visited an RSS shakha.
Their suspicion of intellectuals-experts stems from the fact that they cannot comprehend complex issues. They believe that any problem can be solved without bothering to debate or discuss. Most cabinet ministers privately complain that Modi does not discuss policies. He merely announces them, be it demonetisation or that sudden visit to Pakistan on Nawaz Sharif’s birthday. Both rarely seek advice, don’t visit art galleries, music concerts, or bookshops, except when they are chief guests at events. Modi’s indifference towards such activities is known to swayamsevaks who have worked and lived with him for decades.
Since he never reads the wisdom-filled edit or op-ed pages, he never knows the unwarranted advice he gets from sycophantic commentators and panelists. That’s why he doesn’t know what these commentators and panelists are trying to tell him – that people can now see that he is not wearing any clothes.
Kumar Ketkar is a senior journalist and economist.
This article originally appeared “The Print”
The views expressed above belongs to the author(s).

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