Learning lessons from PM Modi's life and times as the country celebrates his birthday

People do not like to associate with losers and hence leaders must turn failures to look like successes. Do not acknowledge failures; they will go away. Claim everyone's success and money as yours

Modi supporters celebrating his birthday
Modi supporters celebrating his birthday
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Samir Nazareth

Turning 71 is once in a lifetime event and therefore it is understandable that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) wants the country to celebrate Mr. Modi’s 71st birthday. For such a momentous occasion however one cannot fathom why they are not having a 71-day celebratory affair.

Being modest, BJP has explained that the choice of 20 days - the celebrations culminate on Oct 7th, the day Narendra Modi took over as Gujarat CM when he was a young 50 something. Thus India is celebrating a personal milestone and a political one. Who knows, for PM Modi’s 75th birthday, there may be a military parade with soldiers singing bhajans.

The celebrations have been christened ‘Seva aur Samarpan Abhiyan’. The 'service and dedication' campaign aims to celebrate the life of Mr. Modi. It is galling to some Indians who say India has no reason to celebrate, given Mr Modi’s handling of the economy, the Covid situation, vaccination and foreign relations.

But PM Modi himself doesn’t seem to have a problem with the plans and this attempt to boost his image and divert attention of the people; just as he did not have a problem with the cricket stadium in Ahmedabad being named after him. As the country knows by now, he has a larger than life image of himself.

One cannot deny however that his birthday on September 17 did save the lives of many – 2.2 or 2.5 Crore vaccines were allegedly administered on that day, a number never achieved before. A satisfied and preening Prime Minister beamed the next day and claimed that the great achievement had disappointed the opposition, which went down with fever.

The 'Seva and Samarpan' clearly cannot be denied. Notwithstanding sarcastic comments that the country should celebrate the PM's birthday every day of the year, evidence have been tumbling out about how the record figure was achieved. In state after state ruled by the BJP, instructions were to withhold data entries, if not vaccines, on days preceding the birthday, so that the record could be attained.

That the powers that be chose 17th September to vaccinate the highest number of Indians is indicative of the type of ‘Seva aur Samarpan’ India has been reeling under. This is not surprising given the current vituperative climate the country is weathering.

While the title of the celebration indicates a ‘my life is my message theme’ the intentions of the campaign are far from it. The birthday celebrations are more about another makeover for the man given the many fiascos he has wrought on the country than about inspiring the youth with his work. It is easy to see through the 20-day botox fest, no matter the label.

One of the ways the BJP is celebrating this auspicious event is by distributing food packets with PM Modi’s image on it. Never mind if it is public money that is being spent. His image on vaccine certificates similarly suggest he played a fortuitous role in protecting Indians. On banners celebrating the success of the Indian Olympic team, his face hogged much of the space, alluding to the larger-than-life contribution he has made to sports and the stellar performance by Olympians.

Given that the BJP is busy re-inflating the 56-inch balloon, they will not have time to pass down his accumulated wisdom to inspire the youth. Therefore, this cursory list of the wisdom Indians can glean from the PM's life and times. The list has been compiled from WhatsApp and social media forwards on Mr. Modi and his work.

Leadership Lessons

  1. Everybody is dispensable, even your mentors and colleagues. The leader comes first.

  2. Undermine all democratic and government institutions and convert them into personal armies

  3. Silence critics by using these institutions and agencies against them

4. Listening to alternative views is a sign of weakness

5. Image building exercises must never cease.

6. Take responsibility for achievements, not failures. Olympic success is yours to claim credit for. But do not speak of Demonetisation, Oxygen shortage, second wave etc.

7. One must advise others but you need not follow them yourself.

8. Learn to manufacture truth.


9. Not acknowledging an issue makes it disappear. The farmer’s protest does not exist, Chinese intrusion has not taken place.

10. People don’t wish to hear the truth because it questions their beliefs

It has been said that Mr. Modi has brought new life to the Prime Ministership. He has been called charismatic and a good orator. As an elected representative of the people, one wishes Mr. Modi good health and wisdom to appreciate the diversity of India that the Constitution celebrates and protects.

While wishing him well, we pray that no one does onto him what he did to Mr. L.K Advani and other senior BJP leaders.

( The writer is an independent commentator. Views are personal)

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