If Modi is a ‘travelling salesman’, was Indira a ‘travelling beggar’?

This morning someone brought to my attention a series of three articles by Shashi Tharoor, written with the aim of “ripping into” Modi’s foreign policy. The series is published in the National Herald, the “newspaper” that was urgently brought back to life around the time Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi had to get themselves bail in a scam associated to it.

Untitled.png

Among Shashi Tharoor’s complaints, the reduction of the Prime Minister of India to a “travelling salesman.” Among his failures, things like a promised $100 billion investment from China getting “watered down” to a mere $30 billion.

- Advertisement - - Article resumes -

I can imagine the aversion of Shashi Tharoor (and the Congress Party in general) towards “salesmen.” The Congress is the party of the privileged. Its leaders, as well as its cheerleaders, are merely sons and daughters of an extremely tiny sliver of Indian society that made a fortune being cosy to the British and then thrived under Nehruvian socialism. A salesman, on the other hand, is a wealth creator, no matter how small.

But the salesman is belittled and mocked by the upper class, folks like Shashi Tharoor and Mani Shankar Aiyar. To P Chidambaram, a small tea or pakoda seller is little more than a beggar.

Like everything else, the upper class of Tharoors, Chidambarams and Aiyyars are hypocritical about “begging.”

If you sit in front of CST Station in Mumbai with a bowl, you are a “beggar.” If you are fluent in English and French and you go behind closed doors to beg from white people in distant countries, it’s no longer begging but called “diplomacy.”

Which is what Indira Gandhi used to do.

Dear Shashi Tharoor, if our current PM is a travelling salesman, should I call Indira Gandhi a travelling beggar?

Untitled.png

Yes, soon after becoming Prime Minister, Indira left for her first foreign trip bearing on her shoulders the shiny burden of fifteen years of Congress rule. Mostly that of the years under the great Nehru. Her mission?

Beg for wheat.

It was actually a two-part mission. First, beg for wheat. Second, don’t let common Indians find out that she is begging for wheat.

So, on one hand, Indira begged the US to send ships of wheat. On the other hand, India carried out withering criticism of US foreign policy to make it appear as if we were more than just beggars. An angry US President Lyndon Johnson decided to send ships of food aid by the month, instead of making an annual commitment.

One American newspaper headlined her visit as follows:

New Indian Leader Comes Begging

Ah! What a way for India’s Prime Minister to cover our nation with glory! But don’t worry, that was just a newspaper in the American south. As Ram Guha records, Indira Gandhi made a much better impression on the American East Coast, due to the “elegance of her dress.”

I am glad that Indira Gandhi managed to dress with an elegance that was beyond the means of some beggar. I bet the Indians who got the food aid were extremely grateful.

“Travelling salesman” looking much better now, eh?

Are you an Indian who has ever felt angry at the insulting, patronizing tone that Western media takes towards India? Have you ever wondered where that impression comes from?

Here is your answer. That impression comes from facts. While they acted as entitled Queens at home, when they went abroad, the only thing India’s Prime Minister would have to offer was a begging bowl.

I don’t think Modi’s accent in speaking English would impress anyone. But the returns from the foreign visits of the travelling salesman speak for themselves.

Untitled.png

The last two years of UPA added $1 billion to our forex reserves. The first two years of Modi government added $55 billion. By Jan 2018, this had grown to $411 billion.

As of 9th March 2018, India’s foreign exchange reserve stands at $421.487 Billion.

But, it’s not like Indira Gandhi’s foreign travels achieved nothing.

Untitled.png

The Indian Rupee had to be devalued from Rs 4.76 to the dollar to Rs 7.50 to the dollar, a 57% reduction.

For easy reference, I have prepared this simple chart to explain the Indira model of boosting India through her foreign travels.

indira.png

Dear reader, which side are you leaning towards? The travelling salesman or the travelling beggar?

Abhishek Banerjee is a math lover who may or not be an Assistant Professor at IISc Bangalore.

Share and Support:
Support OpIndia by paying for content

Most read articles recently

Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Telangana, Mizoram assembly election results

Latest updates and breaking news on counting day: EC declares 3 wins in Madhya Pradesh, all 3 go to BJP

Latest news and updates from 2018 assembly election results of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Telangana, and Mizoram.

Here is why BJP lost elections, and of course, it was deliberate

What BJP supporters need to realise is this - no political party ever wants to lose and least of all, a party led by the two most politically aggressive politicians the country has ever seen.

Prashant Bhushan and left-liberal cabal was actively helping Vijay Mallya in UK court by attacking CBI special director Rakesh Asthana

Vijay Mallya's defence team was using Indian left-liberals' allegations agaist Rakesh Asthana in London court

Can the BJP satisfy its online supporters? If only it were Congress

BJP supporters online, also known as the ‘right wing’, are first to attack the party and write it off after electoral setbacks.

Has PM Modi sounded the start of slog overs with the new RBI Governor’s appointment

Shaktikanta Das, who is currently a member of The Finance Commission and Former Finance Secretary (the one who presided over Demonetisation), has been appointed as the new RBI Governor by the Modi government

Supreme Court says mosque located in the Allahabad Court complex not to be removed now, orders to maintain status quo

The Allahabad High Court has been facing a crunch of space so much so that twelve judges have been sharing six chambers.

The early trends might change, but both Congress and BJP have something to go back to the drawing board with

5 states deliver their verdict today, on 11th December 2018. A hard fought battle in Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Mizoram and Telangana culminates with early trends showing Congress inching forward to the majority mark.

Fact check: Did BJP President Amit Shah and PM Modi call Baniyas cheaters and accuse them of profiteering?

Earlier, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani had also been accused of making a casteist remark, which turned out to be a Photoshopped image

After stopping BJP’s rath yatra, West Bengal government allows Hindu-hater Bangladeshi Maulana to address meetings in the state

BJP's rath yatra banned, Bangladeshi Islamic preacher welcomed in West Bengal

Latest articles

Connect with us

125,526FansLike
97,353FollowersFollow
6,057SubscribersSubscribe

Don't miss these