Desperate bids to cadge credibility amid common people's mounting troubles

PM Modi’s visit to the US and the UN only underlined India’s increasing insignificance in the larger scheme of things. What we got is the exact opposite of what was promised by the BJP and Modi

Desperate bids to cadge credibility amid common people's mounting troubles
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Ranjona Banerji

How do we save the image of Narendra Modi after his favourite country in the world, the beacon for all Indians who want to be patriotic out of India, yes, the United States of America, treated him so badly?

How about we rename the mid-day meal scheme for schoolchildren to keep loyal supporters happy? That should work. The people of India are idiots anyway. We’ve proved that over and over again, haven’t we? Just call it the PM Poshan Scheme and the gratitude will come rolling in.

One photo of Modi on a bridge staring into the distance, waving at schoolchildren on the banks of the river for instance? That will definitely work. The children can be photoshopped in of course. No need to show any actual “beneficiaries”. Modi ji can later “write” a book about the importance of lunch for Class V students or something.

The mid-day meal scheme has long existed. It has been controversial when nutrition levels have been reduced or corporatised or when teachers, as in many cases, are made to double up as cooks. The scheme has nothing to do with Modi. And nor has he helped to make it better in anyway. Quite the opposite with budget cuts and reduced spending on health and education.

But what does all that matter? The Supreme Leader’s image has been badly damaged and he needs to be pampered, bolstered, comforted. Distraction is required. I am surprised however that they could not do better than renaming this mid-day meal scheme.

Mid-day meal being served to school children
Mid-day meal being served to school children

It is true that they have already destroyed almost all India’s institutions so perhaps there’s not much left to rename. Also, at the risk of being mean, this “Poshan Scheme” is not a really good or clever rename. Narendra Nasty Nutrition or something or should I not give them ideas?

Does the renaming of one scheme amidst the ocean of disasters that currently engulf India really matter? I see it as an example of how desperate the attempts at hiding disaster have become. Modi’s visit to the US and the UN only underlined India’s increasing insignificance in the larger scheme of things. No poshan or magic potion to help us. What we got is the exact opposite of what was promised by the BJP and Modi. And a sharp decline from India’s growing power in the world pre-2014.

China is growing more confident in its transgressions into Indian territory, most recently in Uttarakhand. India is incapable of a sufficiently strong diplomatic response. While BJP supporters present themselves as hawkish, they cannot do that with a prime minister who does not even have the basic courage to name the nation which has walked confidently into our borders. War is not an option, you may argue and I would agree, but is the only other strategy to roll over and wait for a cuddle from the aggressor?


The ways of propping up the Supreme Leader have sunk to the ridiculous now. Union minister Piyush Goyal is to speak somewhere. But the ads only have photographs of Modi. Indians travelling over the world have been mocked for the photographs of Modi on their vaccine certificates.

This most powerful government led by Modi cannot even negotiate Covid-19 quarantine rules with the UK government, cannot even convince the UK to accept Covishield as a vaccine even though it is the same as the Oxford University-Astra Zeneca vaccine administered across the UK. Even more embarrassing is that India’s Serum Institute has sent over 5 million of these vaccines to the UK.

The Government of India has just announced that UK nationals travelling to India have to undergo the same regime of RT-PCR tests and 10-day quarantine which Indians have to follow in the UK. The racist recalcitrance of the Boris Johnson government is matched by the Modi government’s petulance.

I have not even mentioned all those other problems we face from violence to inflation to a sinking economy to increasing patriarchy to religious and civil strife. Or the fact that our vaccination rates have fallen after the artificial boost to celebrate Modi’s birthday last month. Or that Covid is not completely gone yet. Or that the BJP carries on its disruptive spree across India’s political spectrum. Or that India’s mainstream media continues to give Modi and the BJP a free pass no matter how much Indians suffer under Modi.

When you look at it like that, maybe one can understand why someone would scramble to rename just about anything to cadge a few crumbs of credibility.

(Views are personal)

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