Here is a small anecdote from the early part of Obama’s term as President. Fox was reporting on some school where kids were being taught by their teachers to sing a song called “Mmm… mmm… mmm… Barak Hussein Obama”
I searched for it on youtube and found it quickly.
Right-wing network Fox (and much of talk radio, which is mostly conservative) was severely outraged over this. Even some liberals.
They were asking: Is this what the US has come to? Children singing songs for their “Dear Leader”?
The reaction bewildered me. I wondered what the big deal was. As a kid growing up in India, we were used to half a day of celebrations on Chacha Nehru’s birthday. A lot of standing in lines, singing of songs and speeches praising Nehru. Each of us would receive a box of sweets at the end of it along with one cold and stale samosa.
The “reason”: Chacha Nehru said that children were the future. This banal observation was repeated over and over again like it was some great insight. I mean, if you need to be told that kids are the future, you’re not very bright. And did he actually say these exact words somewhere?
It doesn’t matter. Like Big Brother, Chacha Nehru does not exist in any ordinary sense of the word.
What was astonishing (and in retrospect, perhaps embarrassing), is that at the time I felt it was completely routine and normal.
It is only when I saw it through American eyes that it struck me how chilling the whole exercise is. Children all across the nation being made to parade and celebrate the birthday of the “Dear Leader”. This is not a normal ritual. It’s horrifying.
This is how pure propaganda works. You don’t even realize how it gets inside you.
This is why Modi needs to tell people today the story of how the Dynasty used INS Viraat as a taxi for their vacation travels.
Because we have grown up hearing one and only one side of the story. We haven’t been told a single thing that shows the Dynasty in poor light. We lack all context.
I mean, my entire civics textbook didn’t have a single line about how civil liberties were trampled during the Emergency. You would think that a civics textbook would go into detail about the Emergency because that’s the best way to bring alive concepts such as free speech and fair trials and strange sounding Latin(?) expressions like “habeas corpus”. It’s the most teachable moment of all. But no, they didn’t want us to really understand this stuff. They wanted us to memorize and forget after the Board Exam and remember only the greatness of Nehru. Everything else had been scrubbed clean as if it never happened.
Into this void step the journalists, intellectuals, column writers… and the hottest and newest kids on the block… stand up comedians uploading their stuff to Youtube.
Their videos get millions of views as they make an issue out of anything and everything. Why did Modi do this or that? Why did Doordarshan give more coverage to BJP than to CPIM (yes they are actually asking that)?
And believe it or not, people are listening. It may not be enough to topple Modi today, but the slow poison continues to soak into the narrative.
Because all context has been wiped out. People simply don’t know a thing about the dark years of single-party Gandhi Dynasty rule.
What they see is Rahul Gandhi and his claim to do politics with hugs and humility.
What they might not realize is that this “humble” avatar of the Congress is completely new. In fact, it has been forced by circumstances, now that the Congress realizes it may never become the single largest party in a Lok Sabha election ever again.
Voters who are 18 years old today in 2019 were just 3 years old when the Congress got the plaque of Savarkar removed from the Cellular Jail in the Andamans. Do you think they know?
Those kids were just 3 years old when the Congress didn’t let PVNR’s dead body inside the gates of the party HQ. Even at the time, few people heard about it. Do you think the new voters in this election know about this?
People need to be reminded of how spiteful, arrogant, vengeful and petty the Dynasty used to be.
Congress made a mistake by accusing Modi of treating the Army like “personal property”. Now PM Modi is making the Congress pay by revealing jaw-dropping details of how the Dynasty ruled back in their glory days.
Young people who share videos of Kunal Kamra and Akash Banerjee need to hear this stuff.
An aircraft carrier used as a taxi to go on vacation. Perhaps no monarch anywhere in the world lived at the level of personal luxury that the Dynasty enjoyed back when they had absolute power.
People need to know that when Nehru forgot his cigarettes while visiting Bhopal, his favourite brand would have to be airlifted from Indore.
Who paid for that roundtrip for a plane to fetch a pack of cigarettes? Likely it was money that belonged to a desperately poor and starving Indian public in the 1940-60s.
People need to know what happened. Otherwise, it will all be cleansed with pretend hugs and humility from Rahul Gandhi. And internet voices who are paid to act like it’s some big deal to stand up against Modi sarkar. Ha! A man like Kishore Kumar was banned by AIR after he refused to perform at a Congress rally in Mumbai. Can you imagine how they would have persecuted some two paisa comedian?
You have to remind the people that in political terms, Rahul Gandhi is actually not 48, but 129 years old. Because you should count from the year in which Nehru was born. If he wants power in their name, he will have to own every bit of their legacy.