Herald: Cutting to size

Cutting to size

16 May 2019 05:30am IST

Report by
Rajiv Tyagi

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16 May 2019 05:30am IST

Report by
Rajiv Tyagi

In a landmark ‘non-political’  interview a few days ago, Narendra Modi scored a strategically damaging self goal, with another phase of elections still to go. Having been so patient, with not appearing on unscripted interviews for almost five years, his impatience in seeking out ‘non-political’ interviews in the past two weeks, is completely uncharacteristic of a man who has spent billions to hide a deplorable ignorance of statecraft, Science and the world around him...

In an apparently free ranging ‘unscripted’ interview, the interviewer tells Modi that he’s heard that the PM is an amateur poet. To which Modi replies with faux shyness that he does sometimes get smitten by the Muse. On the way back from Himachal Pradesh, for example, poesy struck him and he scribbled down what came to him at the moment. He then asks someone off-camera to hand him a bunch of papers, purporting to contain the handwritten poem. The interviewer then asks him to show what he has written, Modi replies bashfully that as his handwriting is not good at all, he wouldn’t want viewers to see his bad writing. Just a few seconds later though, the high resolution camera catches the document on video, as printed, with the interviewer’s question too, above the ‘poem’! In his bid to portray himself as an amateur poet, Narendra Modi unwittingly showed off a by now well-recognized facet of his personality – a propensity to fake everything that he is not...

The same interview has him sharing a bit of ‘news’ that he had apparently kept a secret up to that moment, but which, for the benefit of India’s patriotic viewers, he was letting out for the first time. That it was he who solved the IAF’s apparent fogginess in decision making, about the Balakot strike. Faced with the prospect of clouds and rain on the way to Balakot, the ‘experts’ of the Indian Air Force were apparently unable to take a call, till Narendra Modi ‘reviewed’ their plans, explained the Physics of cloud interactions with the electromagnetic spectrum and urged them to take advantage of cloud cover, as Pakistani air defence and airborne radars would not be able to acquire the Indian strike aircraft. Voila! The Air Force was suddenly intellectually rejuvenated and able to mount the strike! The story would have been unbelievably funny were it not so pathetic in its assumption, that professional fighter pilots with close to 40 years of combat experience, had to be guided by a man whose even primary and secondary educational profile, is a big cloud. The assumption that a fleeting bit of conversation he overheard at some time, actually served to fill a strategic gap in a professional’s appreciation of a combat situation, is the intellectual pit that India had fallen into...

But it did not stop there. The apparently rambling, but it turns out, completely scripted interview, then went on to ask Modi, about other stuff, when he suddenly offers the fantastic news, that he owned a digital camera ‘that big’ in 1987, opening his arms shoulder wide to explain its size. And that he clicked a picture with it and sent it to Lal Krishna Advani via email in 1987 or 1988 and that Advani was amazed to see it printed in the next day’s Times of India in colour! So audacious was this story, in its sweep across recent history, that it took a while for viewers to even assimilate its content, forget protest its impossibility. Protocols for carrying pictures over the Internet had not yet been defined, operating systems did not yet support images. Internet access itself was not available to any but the top educational establishments like IIT, the IISc, TIFR etc. To retrieve email, one would need to connect to a UNIX mainframe computer via a VT-100 terminal and use the FTP protocol to download mail from a designated server, an intellectual engagement that Modi has provided no evidence of being able to navigate.

Having observed Narendra Modi as an essentially intellectually disabled human, it comes to mind, that there must be designated minders who take care that none of his manufactured image is tarnished by the truth. How then, did they allow such a patently silly ‘non-political’ interview to go through? Who vetted the script of the interview? How did such drastic inaccuracies and assumptions creep in? Or does the entire edifice of the BJP and its Modi minders actually believe the content of this scripted interview was in their interests? The entire process now seems like an attempt to burst the Modi personality bubble from the inside. To do that, all the conspirators had to do, was to allow this ‘non-political’ interview to leak through. The BJP actually posted the interview on its official handle on Twitter, before realizing its potential to cause enormous damage to its subject. It then removed the video and the accompanying comment, but not before Twitterati had copied the video and spread it across the social media ecosystem. Suddenly, what many just suspected, was now public knowledge – that Narendra Modi shares a very foggy relationship with knowledge or even common sense.

Is this a shadowy conspiracy from the inside, to cut Modi to size? Or is this the natural consequence of a life spent growing up in an RSS shakha?

Just a week left, to find out what India has decided about Narendra Modi...

(Rajiv Tyagi is an erstwhile IAF MiG-21 fighter pilot and is a commentator on social media)

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