Is PM Modi delusional? It is for psychologists to say, says blogger Avay Shukla

Speaking to Karan Thapar, popular blogger and author Avay Shukla holds PM Modi and the BJP responsible for silencing Indians, isolating India globally and for making Indians irrational and insensitive

Blogger Avay Shukla condemns societal decay under the present regime in his new book (photo: Amazon)
Blogger Avay Shukla condemns societal decay under the present regime in his new book (photo: Amazon)

A.J. Prabal

Whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi is delusional or not is for a professional psychologist or psychiatrist to diagnose, but there is little doubt that he is schizophrenic, nursing ambitions of being a Vishwaguru and the Hindu Hriday Samrat at the same time, says blogger, author and former bureaucrat Avay Shukla. The PM unfortunately cannot be both, he quipped. He was speaking to Karan Thapar in an interview for The Wire on his new book, Disappearing Democracy: Dismantling of a Nation.

The Prime Minister Narendra Modi not just believes that he is God’s chosen one, a messiah, which he himself has articulated a number of times, but also that he can do no wrong. He is also amoral and indifferent to what is moral and what is immoral, what is right and wrong, says the blogger. The PM also comes across as a leader totally devoid of compassion, he points out in his book and asks “Is there any moral value or principle he has adhered to consistently?”—besides his commitment to winning elections and holding on to power.

In a scathing indictment of the present regime, the outspoken and popular blogger, who retired from the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) says that in the last 10 years the country has been transformed as a country of beasts. “We have become a country of beasts, not so much of the lion and wolf variety as of the porcine one… our collective social values have all but collapsed into a stinking pool of prejudices, ignorance, triumphalism and religious intolerance,” he writes in the book and pointed to the mass unrest following the rape of Nirbhaya in 2012 and the subsequent indifference and apathy to similar rapes in Kathua, Hathras, the case of Bilkis Bano and the violence at JNU and Jamia Millia.

Shukla blames ‘successful’ Indians for not speaking up. A large number of Indians are extra-sensitive in matters of self-interest and extremely insensitive to the plight of others. Radicalisation of society and various arms of the government having been completed, most Indians have turned into either believers or into silent acceptors. Meanwhile, the government has outsourced the task of further radicalisation to non-state actors like RWAs, WA groups and vigilantes.

Most of the successful Indians, he laments, believe that the present government is correct, that Muslims have no place in India, that heavy handed violence against dissenters is needed and so on. “We have accepted irrationality and are degrading ourselves,” he says and sarcastically adds that the urban middle class especially seem to be interested in only following the stock exchange.

Speaking about the way India has changed over the last decade, he said, “Hatred, majoritarianism, intolerance, lack of accountability, religious fanaticism… [all] have been steadily spreading its poisonous tentacles as the BJP has consolidated itself and its rule.” For this he explicitly blames the BJP and, more importantly, the Modi government.

Expressing both surprise and his indignation at the law courts taking cognizance of complaints about a lioness in a zoo named Sita and the outrage that followed an opposition MP’s assertion that goddess Kali accepted liquor as offering, he lashes out at icons like Shah Rukh Khan and Ratan Tata, who, he alleges, seem to lack a public conscience.

In a particularly harsh indictment of Shah Rukh Khan, the blogger says that he was pained at Khan’s silence on not just mob lynching of Muslims but also when the media hounded Rhea Chakraborty and Bollywood for alleged drug peddling. “What is Shah Rukh Khan afraid of? What is he afraid of losing,” he asks, adding that silence can no longer ensure safety and Shah Rukh Khan would know it from his first-hand experience. He did not speak up for others and so, others did not speak up for him when his son was persecuted, Shukla believes.

It is the responsibility of ‘successful’ Indians and the middle class to speak up and points to people like Javed Akhtar, Nasiruddin Shah, Swara Bhaskar and Deepika Padukone who have. “They continue to speak up. Not, however, Shah Rukh Khan – not one word of sympathy, not one gesture of support for the victims, not one whisper of condemnation of the lumpen elements or an autocratic government on a majoritarian high,” he quipped.

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