(India’s choice of the man of the year was inevitable, where the elite, the crowd and the media converged on one choice: Narendra Modi. What is missing is the need for a critique of a different kind — to demystify him)
Year endings, like year beginnings, are predictable in terms of rituals. People want to celebrate the ending of the year and the media want to ensure that such endings are memorable spectacles. Each year needs a memorial to itself. The year should be full of turmoil and must appear to be like a race ending in a staggering triumph. The victor is the hero, the man of the year. It’s a combination of a mythical figure, part Greek legend, part Olympic winner. In 2014, the man of the year is inevitable. Demographically and symbolically, the elite and the crowd have converged on one choice. In fact there is no other; 2014 offers us the inevitability of Narendra Modi.
To me, as a spectator, as a critic, as a citizen, it’s not the choice that matters. Mr. Modi dominates all, but the logic of the argument goes deeper. While one reads leading magazines and major columnists, one senses the rhetoric around Mr. Modi that puzzles, intrigues, and finally disturbs.
Identifying with power
Mr. Modi’s rise has been laudatory. He is a self-made man obsessed with power. The contrast, by now latent, is an almost forgotten Rahul Gandhi. Rahul is adolescent, casual, a man who inherited power only to squander it. He was a second-rate man showered with the first-rate opportunities. Mr. Modi represents the reverse, through success stories. So far, so good — it is the later parts of the arguments that make you wonder whether the Modi projected is real and believable. One realises that propaganda must seal the gap between the real and the victor. And one senses that these journalists have a literary style which is impressive.