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Madhu Mausi, Namo Mamu and the Ghost of Uncle Pepper

June 18, 2013

I’ve been thinking a lot about magic lately. The kind of magic that gets pulled at fairgrounds and birthday parties, or on stage, where the impossible is made to appear possible, where material objects dematerialize and specters appear, tantalizing us into suspending our disbelief. Some magicians, including those I would like to think of as friends, do what they can with consummate skill, so that we attain a state of wonder while they effect transformations using ordinary things for extraordinary purposes. They make us inhabit parallel universes on a table top. There is a kind of poetry and grace in that kind of magic. That is the kind of magic that makes men out of god-men, and re-affirms even a non-patriot’s faith in the ‘waters of India’.

There is another kind of magic, a bag of tricks that relies on the cheapening of our impulses, on our addictions to false premises, on our giving in to our basest instincts. And because sometimes old cliches are useful, we could call this kind black magic. The greatest practitioner of this art, at this moment, seems to me to  be none other than the man who is setting himself up as the caudillo of the future, the chief minister of Gujarat, our prime-minister in waiting, Narendrabhai Damodardas Modi. We,a stunned would be electorate, are the rabbit he is aiming to pull out of his hat.

Magic works on simple principles, sleight of hand and sleight of mind, mainly to do with the magician doing the obvious under your nose, while you are distracted by his banter. Then, your expectations are played along, your fears, anxieties and desires are manipulated so that you see what the magician wants you to see, cleverly disguising what you overlooked while he did his thing.

One of the cleverest magic tricks is called Pepper’s Ghost – a nineteenth century technique for ‘materializing’ specters and apparitions on stage. Crucially, it requires the presence of chamber hidden in darkness, where an illusion can be staged and then reflected on to a revealed chamber – the stage –  adjoining it through cleverly angled twin mirrors. Sometimes, this effect is aided by generous amounts of smoke  – thereby giving us the expression – ‘smoke and mirrors’ -as shorthand for any elaborate con job.

What I am suggesting is simply this, NaMo Mamu, together with his extensive PR machinery, of which Madhu Mausi is now an important adjunct, is conducting a large scale Pepper’s Ghost-style Psy-Ops on the Indian electorate. I like to thinks of this as the Ghost of Uncle Pepper (If Madhu Mausi and NaMo Mamu, why not Uncle Pepper?)

This is not just a matter of NaMo being spectrally present and distributed (as he likes to be, through holographic projection in many places at once) but also a matter of the deliberate sleights of hand that produce the ‘lists’ of awards, distinctions and glowing testimonies to his regime.

What it conceals is a state that under-performs on many social indicators. (This has been highlighted in Kafila earlier, so I will not detail it here) What it concerns is the fact that the Modi government spends less than Goa or Karnataks on primary education, and administers some of the lowest minimum wages for agricultural and informal labour. All this while it claims to be generating huge amounts of revenue, through increased investment. If the investment is indeed as large as the Gujarat government claims it is, then the fact that the indicators of inequality are stable or rising means that in Gujarat, increased investment has not lead to a decrease in social inequalities. Is this the model of governance that Madhu Mausi wants for the rest of the country? That the rich grow richer, at the expense of everyone else?

The truth is, NaMo at the helm of the NDA is unlikely to come close to winning an absolute majority in the elections that will be held next year. If anything the mandate will be fractured giving neither the malgoverning UPA, nor the ambitious NDA, nor anyone else anything close to a shot at power by themselves. It is then that the jockeying for the minor players and parties will begin. A large faction of Corporate India, with its suitcases full of cash, emboldened by the kind of crony capitalism (the Adani-Ambani model of Public Private Partnership) that Modi presides over in Gujarat, will then make its bid. And if Namo Mamu wins, it will be because he, will have the backers with the fatter suitcase.

In that event, we will need many justifications to rationalize the sleight of hand that will bring NaMo into power. The Pepper’s Ghost spectacle that we are witnessing today, which seek to distract our attention from the darkness in Gujarat and direct it towards the bright lights that produce NaMo’s mirrored spectre is part of that game. Madhu Mausi, the magician’s faithful aide, is playing it, to the best of her ability.

Madhu Kishwar re-iterated her case for Narendra Modi and the ‘Gujarat Model of Development’ in a lengthy rejoinder to Zahir Janmohammed, which was published in Kafila (along with a response to the rejoinder by Janmohammed) last month.

In that text, Madhu Mausi (I am calling her Mausi, because she has tweeted about being more comfortable these days with people who, following ‘Bharatiya’ tradition, apply familial suffixes to women’s names, as a mark of their respect, rather than to those she considers to be ‘inauthentic’, deracinated feminists) has offered many reasons for why she thinks that Muslims in Gujarat have now decided to root for NaMo Mamu (if Madhu is Mausi, then, in the spirit of bhaichara, NaMo – Narendra Modi – must be Mamu, must he not? ). Part of her argument rests on what she did or did not see and hear in her walks and conversations in Ahmedabad, particularly in the Muslim neighborhood of Juhapura.

Kafila has carried responses to Madhu Mausi’s defense of NaMo Mamu by Aditya Nigam and Zahir Janmohammed and Dilip D’Souza.

My purpose is not to repeat the points that have been made in these other contributions, which have all been cogently argued. I intend to focus on the fact that in her defense of NaMo Mamu and the Gujarat Model of Development in Kafila, Madhu Mausi (other than her cheerful anecdotes about young women and men having cold drinks at night on the streets of Ahmedabad, and her observations born out of her ‘unguided’ tour of Juhapura) has basically one set of facts on offer. These are a long list of 21 awards, honors and distinctions that Gujarat has been lauded with in the past few years. I became curious about this long list of awards and laurels, and decided to try and find out what makes them so persuasive as evidence for the distinctions that Madhu Mausi claims for Gujarat.

United Nations Sasakawa Award in 2003 for outstanding work in the field of disaster management and risk reduction.

Best Investment Environment and Most Economic Freedom Award by India Today in 2005.

Best Bio State Award, 2007.

Rajiv Gandhi Wildlife Conservation Award 2006, by Ministry of Environment and Forest, Government of India.

E-governance award for the e-dhara project (aimed at computerization of land records).

CAPAM Gold Award from Commonwealth Associations for Innovation in Governance.

Asian Innovation Award in 2006 at Singapore from Wall Street Journal and the Financial Express for Chiranjeevi Yojana (initiative for reducing maternal and infant mortality rate)

India Tech Excellence Award in 2009 by India Tech Foundation for Power sector reforms and initiatives.

Nirmal Gram Award in 2010 to a village in Rajkot district in Gujarat by Government of India for sanitation facilities.

ELITEX 2007- Best E-government State Award from Government of India

Gujarat tops among 35 states of the country in Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan

Gujarat ranks 1st in the country in “Implementation of the 20 Point Programme” in 2010.

UNESCO Asia Pacific Heritage Award in 2005 for reconstruction of a Gurudwara damaged during the earthquake.

Modi was voted No. 1 Chief Minister by the people, thrice consecutively in five years in the India Today-ORG MARG Survey (a unique recognition ever achieved by any CM in the country)

Gujarat ranks No. 1 in The Economic Freedom Index instituted by Rajiv Gandhi Foundation in 2005. However, the then Director, Bibek Debroy was forced to resign from his post because the Congress High Command got enraged at an institution presided over by the Nehru Dynasty finding anything praiseworthy in Modi’s Gujarat.

United Nation Public Service Award in 2010 for its role in transforming the delivery of public services and attention to grievances by application of technology.

Innovation for India Award in 2010 in the public services category for “Jyotigram Yojana” for power and irrigation reform. The award was instituted by the Marico Innovation Foundation.

Gujarat Power Corporation Ltd bagged an award in the category of “Best Renewable Energy Project in India and the World for 2012” for its 214 MW solar park, the largest solar farm in Asia.

Award in “Top Investment and Infrastructure Excellent State in Energy and Power” category for 5 consecutive times since 2008 when the category was first introduced.

Scope Award by Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, Government of India 2008

National Award for Excellence in Cost Management in 2007 by the Institute of Cost and Works Accountants of India.

National Award to Power Utilities of Gujarat in 2011 by Ministry of Power, Government of India.

Award for Excellence in 2007 by Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India.

This list of 21 honors is long and impressive. Until one begins looking at them closely. And then you realize that they are the kind of awards that state government bodies get from Central Government ministries and bodies and various national and international foundations and organizations. I looked at eight of these twenty one awards and realized the following.

The United Nations Sasakawa Award for Disaster Management and Preparedness which was won by the Gujarat State Disaster Management Authority in 2003 (the GSDMA was set up by Modi’s bete-noire Keshubhai Patel during his tenure as Gujarat CM in the wake of the Bhuj earthquake) was also won, for instance, by the Bhubaneshwar Municipal Corporation in 2011. And yet, no one is plugging Naveen Patnaik for the post of prime minister.

The Nirmal Gram Puraskar (awarded to villages and settlements which eradicate open defecation by the Ministry of Sanitation of the Government of India) was awarded not as Madhu Mausi says to a village in Rajkot district in Gujarat, but  to 2808 village panchayats all over india in 2010. Of these Gujarat accounted for 189, while Maharashtra accounted for 694, Madhya Pradesh accounted for 344, Tamil Nadu accounted for 237. If one looks at a break up of Nirmal Gram Puraskars across states from 2005 – 2011, then we get 9523 NGP awards for villages in Maharashtra, 2385 awards for villages in Tamil Nadu and 2281 awards for villages in Gujarat. As of 2011, Sikkim became the first state to be free of open defecation. Himachal Pradesh and Kerala are set to follow suit in 2012-13. No one is talking about the chief ministers of Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra or Tamil Nadu as potential prime ministerial candidates.

Madhu Mausi tells us that Gujarat ranks No. 1 in the The Economic Freedom Index instituted by the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation. This index is a measure of a state government’s willingness to go down the road of neo-liberal economic policies. It is not, and cannot be considered to be an index of choice or liberty for the general population, rather, it is often a measure of how clearly allied the policies of a state are to big corporations. However, even in this instance, the distinction is not Gujarat’s alone. Tamil Nadu, for instance has been ranked as No.1, not once, but twice in the same time period, in the same index, by the same organization. And yet, Madhu Mausi thinks that it is the chief minister of Gujarat and not of Tamil Nadu who should merit our attention.

The United Nations Public Service Award has been awarded not just to the Government of Gujarat, but also to the Government of Kerala and Delhi on different occasions in recent years. But Oommen Chandy or Shiela Dikshit do not quite cut it for Madhu Mausi in the same way as NaMo Mamu does.

The Innovation for India award instituted by the Marico Foundation was given to the Government of Gujarat for its Jyoti Gram Yojana, but it had already been given earlier to the Government of Kerala for its Kudumbashree Programme, begun while the LDF under E.K. Nayanar was in power in Kerala.

Madhu Mausi tells us that Gujarat Power Corporation Ltd bagged an award in the category of “Best Renewable Energy Project in India and the World for 2012” for its 214 MW solar park, the largest solar farm in Asia. What she does not tell us is who gave the award, and perhaps why. The award is actually the ENERTIA award, given by ENERTIA a trade journal in the power sector. The journal and the award are both backed by Patel Engineering Ltd. a Mumbai based Engineering firm. In 2007-08, Patel Engineering acquired 96% stakes in Patel Energy, which then entered into an MOU with the Gujarat Power Corporation, Government of Gujarat for establishing a 1,200 MW imported coal-power based power project in Ghogha, Bhavnagar. The ENERTIA award looks more like a quid-pro-quo, by way of recognition for services rendered (apparently) in renewable energy in exchange of a generous contract in fossil fuel based non-renewable energy.

Madhu Mausi informs us that the Government of Gujarat won an Award of Excellence presented by the Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India. That is true, so did many other state governments and bodies over the years. For instance, the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation won it in one year. But no one now thinks of the now disgraced Yedurappa, or any other recent Karnataka Chief Minister as a potential Prime Ministerial Candidate.

I have taken just eight of the 21 ‘honors’ that Madhu Mausi lists, to demonstrate how hollow her claims are, and the information that I have found on them is readily available in the Public Domain, barely a few google-clicks away. If they are so inclined, insomniac Kafila readers can go through the remaining 13 honors to see what they are worth. Some may want to go a step further and Google some more and find out that every state wins many such awards every year. Perhaps that would give us a better indication of the distance that remains between illusion and reality when it comes to Madhu Mausi, Namo Mamu and Gujarat.

33 Comments leave one →
  1. seeta permalink
    June 18, 2013 12:25 AM

    but, but Shuddhabrata, you forget the power of the ever more Indian and flexible categories of brahmacharya and karmayoga that NaMo mamu can inhabit, much in the mausi-mama vein. clearly none of the other very able ministers can boast of that. heck, not even Hitler with his teetotaling vegetarianism could boast of being quite so-Aryan!

    • June 18, 2013 12:14 PM

      But dear seeta…. brahmacharya is not all about remaining unmarried..its being abstemious…a real brahmachari never wishes to hang on power always..he is in an endless journey searching for knowldege which is wider than all the oceans!!

      • June 19, 2013 3:55 PM

        Real Brahmacharya do not pay APCO to do PR for him

      • seeta permalink
        June 19, 2013 10:57 PM

        I totally agree..I’m just interested in the twisted ‘logic’ of Modi supporters and how far it can stretch to accommodate him, whereby the ‘Indian’ categories of brahmacharya and karmayoga can be attributed to obviously authoritarian and exploitative individuals/set-ups.

  2. Atharva permalink
    June 18, 2013 1:44 AM

    Madhu Mausi was clapping in India Today address of Modi, as if a child has seen Santa-Claus. There is no need to list honours of mamaji, he is going to Ayodhya soon to confirm his ‘development’ credentials.

  3. June 18, 2013 2:11 AM

    Hollow claims ? Looks like selective cherry picking to me. To a common man its not the awards but quality of life that matters. I am from UP and have never been to Gujarat, but I never read any news about any rape, murder, communal violence in Gujarat (post 2002). Why don’t you use your super-powerful microscopic lens to analyse UP / WB / Bihar / Kerala / TN / J & K. Why all the great research on just Gujarat, let the nation as a whole benefit from our acute powers of observation and analysis. Or is it too much to ask for someone with an ideoogically jaundiced eye.

    • Pratyasha permalink
      June 18, 2013 12:19 PM

      Have not heard of Rape in Gujarat? Just last year, in the month of October or November (not too sure), three tribal women and a minor were gang raped near Ahmedabad. They were working at a construction site of the Narmada Canal. But, ofcourse its easy to miss it since the women raped were tribals and yes, the idea does not fit into the vibrancy of Gujarat. 2 separate incidents of communal violence ( and not large scale rioting) were reported from Anand and Shahpura in 2009-10. Again we choose to ignore that. Everything about Gujarat is clearly not as great as people eating ice-cream at midnight on the streets of Ahmedabad. If one chooses to take up a critical perspective in understanding the laurels that the likes of Madhu Kishwar keep singing, that does not make one ideologically jaundiced.

      The thing is selective cherry picking is probably happening at both ends when the multiple truths are being swept under the carpet. The alternate media and the civil society in general is extremely vocal about issues in all the states you have mentioned and is clearly not miscroscopic in its criticism and analysis. This criticism clearly falls flat as Narendra Modi is just one polarizing figure who is being talked about. While I am writing this, many more ‘ideologically jaundiced’ people are criticizing Mamata Banerjee for her plain ignorant and insensitive views on sexual violence, talking about police reforms in Kashmir, talking about the government selling itself to mining lobbies in Odisha. So, yes. The neo-liberal, patriarchal, communal agenda is being challenged at every count in big and small ways. And the story certainly goes beyond Modi and Gujarat.

      I am glad the ‘ideologically jaundiced’ people continue to speak. Atleast, they show us a world which is not rose tinted and blindingly vibrant.

      • manish jha permalink
        June 18, 2013 2:16 PM

        your language carries a tone of personal animosity. When the ‘selective cherry picking’ is happening from both sides as per your own objective view, why stoop to a condescending tone and come across to your readers as someone high on the Dopamine of inconsiderate criticism. Agreed, the 21 achievements listed in the blog have been bettered by many state politicians across time and geography, but how does that entail that Madhu Kishwar is duty bound to prepare wholesome premises before putting any fact forward. When Teesta Setalvad, rightly or wrongly, records the statements of people affected by 2002 riots, and pushes the issue through Indian judiciary, do you feel right to go ahead and question her on the convenient omissions of details she has made from previous such riots, many in her own state of Maharashtra? I will go even further. When you are criticizing ‘Namo mamu’ and ‘Madhu Mausi’, should I not hold you responsible for not highlighting his actual accomplishments and the little work that he might have done in previous decade, not to speak of the similar scrutiny on his bete noirs to give your readers a complete context of current political value system. The fact is, as you have yourself admitted, that fault is happening on both sides, perhaps even more with keyboard happy people such as you and me, and so no body can claim the holier-than-thou position. Every body likes to look at a pasture that ‘looks’ greener to him.

        But the least you can make sure is that the facts you present here are not wrapped in the snide and contempt you bear for people representing your ideological opposite, Lest this platform becomes a hangout place for few repetitive people who come here looking for a predictable tone and content.

        • June 19, 2013 4:02 PM

          >>When Teesta Setalvad, rightly or wrongly, records the statements of people affected by 2002 riots, and pushes the issue through Indian judiciary,

          This was based on a news report that first appeared in TOI and ET. You have not mentioned the rebuttals by CJP, or how the later TOI report claimed less and less, nor the clarifications issued by SIT chief or what the SIT report actually contained. A compilation is here (Thanks for R.Saroja for posting this elsewhere)

        • Pratyasha permalink
          June 20, 2013 11:37 AM

          So, who do you think I have a personal animosity against. Narendra Modi? Madhu Kishwar? Or the person to whom i replied. The reply was aimed at countering the habit of labelling people with views opposite to yours as ‘ideologically jaundiced’ (in quite the same way as Madhu Mausi had replied to Zahir Jan Mohammad). So, I find it quite strange that you accuse me of condescension and snide. You can unwrap my comments in whatsoever way you want and pass your verdict on whatsoever thing i was high on. I can on my part simply apologize, if you felt I was being inconsiderate to the views of others. As a young professional in the field of social advocacy, I give ample space for my ideologies to remain in a situation of flux, so that it only gets more informed through debates. So if you felt my comment was riddled with contempt, I can only beg to disagree and yes say sorry.
          Gujarat government officials (ecology, tribal affairs and tourism department in particular) have so far been the best people I have interacted with. No one was dismissive of a 24 year old and inspite of having just a small section of the Western Ghats (i was working on the Gadgil committee report and engaging civil society), they seemed the most enthusiastic to talk about the issues of the tribals there. I certainly did not feel safe enough to have ice-cream at midnight as a single woman and was leched at for travelling alone in Surat, but thats the same story everywhere. In all, I have had a great time in Gujarat whenever i have been there. Yes, there are thousands of stories about good governance and here is my small addition into it. But what bothers me is using these feel good stories and experiences and facts (in the form of prizes)is being used to subsume all opposition to an evidently polarizing figure. Tomorrow, if Owaisi transforms Hyderabad and wins 200 prizes for good governance and decides to contest as PM, i will still oppose him. And the same stands true for Kamal Nath, Jagdish Tytler, Praveen Togadia and yes, Narendra Modi. So, when Madhu Mausi uses these experiences to paint a picture of a vibrant Gujarat which has moved on and made amends just through good governance, it is necessary to take some time and clear the smoke screen. When development is used as a lid to clamp the past draconian acts, then we just have to write and read such articles which tries to blow this lid off. You may find this repitive or biased. I find it holistic, as it points out the achievements in isolation and also tries to read between the lines too.
          You then ask why Madhu Mausi should attempt at keeping her analysis wholesome before providing facts? She has actually gone on to say that she has never heard Modi speak about religion or caste or anything other than good governance in any of his speeches. She generalizes the goodwill and the vibrancy of Gujarat (which she somehow equates with just the cult of Modi) till you can tear your hair out in exasperation and believe you have landed in Utopia. Is it too much to expect, someone like Madhu Kishwar to actually talk like a critical scholar/observor rather than a PR agent. While you do not need to demonize Modi to register your opposition, you also do not need to carve him out as a demi-God. I do agree that many times, there is selective cherry picking on both sides. Everyone who says anything good about Modi cannot be branded as ‘communal’ or ‘ignorant’, just like anyone opposing him cannot be branded as a ‘Commie’, ‘psuedo-secular’, ‘Congressi’, ‘Gujarat hater’ or the most offensive ‘Rahul Gandhi fan’. His cult status stems from somewhere and it is important to understand that. Madhu Kishwar does it in one way and this article points at something else. Its necessary for both to co-exist and critiquing the other should not be read as contempt.
          Honestly, I have tried my level best to be a Modi fan. I have read everything that people have to offer from both sides of the fence. I try to believe he means good, I try to believe good governance is what counts, I try to believe all you cry hoarse manufacture facts!! But, at the end of the day I do not want my lack of opposition to Modi to become a precedent to the kind of leaders, I want in the future. If I forget Gujarat 2002 for the sake of what might be excellent growth and ‘development’, I will lose the moral authority to stand against any leader that violates my rights as a citizen and a human-being. I will have to make myself ready for the Owaisis and the Togadias of tomorrow. And that certainly is not something, I am ready for. If it sounds like a personal agenda, then I can live with it.

          • Manish Jha permalink
            June 20, 2013 5:53 PM

            I would like to believe in all sincerity that you are not fostering a personal sense of animosity towards any of the above mentioned people, but honestly, how relevant is that when you can’t afford to address them without using a wry adjective in most places. Unless of course these adjectives here have a veiled meaning which I am completely missing out, and I would be prompt to apologise for misleading the discussion in that case. Otherwise all this language is doing is masking your objective assessment and leading impressionable people like me to believe that there is something more at play than mere facts here. So if you had set out to critique Madhu Kishwar’s less than warranted reaction to Zahir Mohammad, I fail to see how you first prepared a higher ground for yourself.

            You narrate your good experiences from Gujrat and give space for the argument that all such incidents should not be ascribed to Modi’s cult status, and even worse, to the utopia that is created around his good governance. I find that a fair argument. Our states are bafflingly vast, and often the behaviour and discipline of people have got barely anything to do with the current government. This discipline we are talking about relates to the generally predictable and mundane daily lives. Now, take that reasoning and put it in the context of flaming rage that can come from multitude of unfortunate sources. Would you be willing to decisively blame a body of justice or administration for such outburst unless you have irrefutable facts to back up your assertion? This is the age of heavy perception building engines and in that sense my ground knowledge may not be any better than yours. So there is absolutely no question of branding anybody with a sticker based on whether he supports a certain leader.

            Also, the assumption that I objected to your stand against Modi is slightly unnecessary. This is not only important but also required of us that we raise our voices and opinions for what we feel requires our attention. If it were not the case then the country would have gone into the hands of fundamentalists a long while ago, long before you and me could say or do anything about it. I had made a very limited point that you could be more content-heavy than adjective-heavy, and hence not giving anyone any chance of ‘unwrapping’ your comments. But of course, whether you want to make these comments sound personal remains a personal decision in the end.

      • KIran B permalink
        June 18, 2013 5:20 PM

        @Pratyusha – That’s quite a response! Well saidQ

    • June 18, 2013 2:42 PM

      To all those who write articles, comments and tweets right or wrong about Gujarat and Gujarati people, I would love to say just few words: Bas kuch din to guzariye Gujarat mein!! enjoy the hospitality of these most communal, fascist, demons, good, bad, nice, lovely etc… host, experience their daily life and judge yourself. Please come and visit at least once. It will help you to give accurate information to the rest of the world. And It will be your great help us towards our tourism industry!! Love, Gunjan. P.S. At least my life is good here.

      • June 19, 2013 3:45 PM


        Point 1 : Modi is not Gujarat and opposing Modi is not opposing Gujarat or Gujaratis. Opposing Nitish Kumar do not mean that one is opposing Bihar or Biharis. Kindly think about it and don’t fall in Modi’s rhetoric.

        Point 2 : Your offer of come and see Gujarat is stereotypical ! Let us inspect the statistics of the last assembly elections, the BJP’s vote share was 47.9 per cent against Congress’s 38.9, the difference being 9 per cent. Compared to 2007, the difference is down by 0.49 per cent. In 2007, the BJP’s vote share was 49.12 per cent against 39.63 per cent of the Congress, the gap being 9.49 per cent.

        Given the fact that 38.9% of Gujaratis voted for Congress, is it not proper for you to invite those 38.9% of Gujaratis to come and visit Gujarat? Are you saying that 38.9% of Gujaratis are blind?

  4. June 18, 2013 7:24 AM

    Brilliantly written. Finishing move, my man. It’s like they say; Zor ka jhatka!

    I wonder what google will tell us if we really do try and dig deeper…

  5. June 18, 2013 7:28 AM

    Brilliantly written. Finishing move, my man. It’s like they say; Zor ka jhatka!

    I wonder what google will tell us if we really do try and dig deeper…

  6. Meenakshi Thapan permalink
    June 18, 2013 8:43 AM

    I love the way in which this has been written, the use of metaphor, innuendo and fact, not necessarily in that order…we need to do this more often, to reach a larger audience in not quite the same way as Madhu masi does because in her writing, fact has been blown away by the cobwebs that crowd her memory…

  7. Lakshman permalink
    June 18, 2013 10:39 AM

    No one is stopping you from talking about CM of Tamil Nadu as a potential PM candidate..As someone from Tamil Nadu..if some one does suggest that one of Dravidian party chiefs become PM.. That’s the biggest death wish one could wish upon the country.. You talk about all these developmental indices in which other states are so well off…
    Maharashtra had a terrible drought and now has flooding due to awesome sanitation. Brilliant
    Lets move on Tamil Nadu : we have no power for more than 14 hours in most districts.. And no water either… So who really cares if people are dumping and covering their excreta,.

    When the Gujarat govt provides corruption free governance with power,sanitation and water supply evidenced by three consecutive people’s verdicts..who are you to question it..then basically you go against whatever you people stand for..if there is only hype and no ground work and everyone is miserable and this is all propaganda : then I am sorry I missed the 2002 2007 and 2012 verdicts…Continue living in your liberal left wing loony paradise

    • Pratyasha permalink
      June 18, 2013 12:42 PM

      Questioning peoples’ verdicts are not discrediting them. There is clearly no assertion that everyone in Gujarat is miserable or that the government is riddled with corruption. Nobody denies the fact that people have voted him to power and for reasons probably like the 13 awards listed above. Or because they may find life extremely fulfilling in his regime. That does not mean that people stop questioning, critiquing political agendas and status quos. It also does not mean they stop being vocal about their ‘minority’ opinions just because the majority thinks otherwise. Democracy is not just about agreeing with the majority. Its about giving space to all kinds of disagreements and dissent and opinions.
      Isnt that what being political is all about. Darn!! Thats what they taught me in the left loony paradise!!

  8. Gulam permalink
    June 18, 2013 10:52 AM

    Amazing… spot on….

  9. Rohit permalink
    June 18, 2013 12:23 PM

    The prejudice against Gujarat (which is because Narendra Modi has been ruiling it for almost a decade now) is so blatant in this article.
    Your logic is like this :

    A gets certain award : But B and C have also got it on other occassions
    A gets another award: but D and E have also got that on other occassions
    A gets another award: But F and G have also got that on other occassions
    A gets another award: But H and I have also got that on other occassions

    So why are all these stupid people clamoring only for A, why not root for B, C, D, E, F, G, H and I.

    If you are gaving problem understanding what I am trying to convey, consider this:

    Sachin was Wisden Cricketer of the year in 1997. Big deal? Even Simon Jones was one in 2006.
    Sachin has received Arjun Award. So what even Yuvraj Singh has received one.
    Sachin was castrol cricketer of the year. duh!! So were Sehwag and dhoni.
    Sachin was ICC cricketer of the year. So? I heard Kohli also got that one last year.

    I dont understand why people are so blind to not see that all these awards that Sachin has received is not unique to him. So many other cricketers have also received them. It pains me why all these adulations are reserved for Sachin.


    Apart from the above didnt it strike you that “Awards/Rewards/Recognitions” are generally recurring? So congrats Sherlock for discovering that these 21 awards are not unique to Gujarat. You have done exhaustive googling for what should have been obvious to any one from the very beginning. Nonetheless you are entitled to a well deserved rest before you start writing another meaningless rant.

  10. Avinash Kumar permalink
    June 18, 2013 2:54 PM

    I have held a strong belief for a long time that the fanatical breeds of the types of Mamu and Mausi can be best countered through laughter and satire and this piece shows the way. I am reminded of Name of the Rose in this context. The best subversive weapon we have is that of laughter! Lets use it more and more to counter the national hysteria which is beginning to take over his country.

  11. June 18, 2013 3:18 PM

    Great stuff, as always, Shuddhabrata. Yes, in the case of a hung Parliament, it will be the one with the deep pockets who will get to be PM and most likely it will be Mamu because the corporates, supported by the corporate media, will back him to the hilt.

  12. June 18, 2013 6:16 PM

    You deserve a “Sonia Gandhi Pulitzer Award” for this article. Wondering why the same brilliance and a searing analytic ability of yours has not been applied on the UPA Government’s working and its multifarious PR machine? Care to answer? Thanks.

    • June 18, 2013 10:30 PM

      “Broad Wit”,
      Either you’ve not been following Kafila which regularly berates the GoI, the Congress party as well as assorted gross misdeeds in Congress-ruled states as well as states ruled by other parties or you’re deliberately pretending that you haven’t.

      When cheddivaalas like you can understand that criticising Modi/Congress does NOT equate to supporting Cong/Rahul/Sonia and invoking 2002 does NOT equate to condoning 1984, we can have a dialogue.

      On a more positive note, it is interesting that apart from “Broad Wit” hardly any other cheddivaala has shown up on this page thus far.

  13. Sufiyan permalink
    June 19, 2013 12:16 PM

    Great stuff ! Just wish other blind folded followers open their eyes to reality ! Agreed Congress isnt an option, but BJP with NaMo will lead India on the path of Fascism. I hope we dont see A Taksim Square at the Jantar Mantar in the future :( !

  14. June 19, 2013 4:46 PM

    Shuddha, I did some Googling of a few of the other awards. Nice to get some clarity on them. Here you are, sorry long:

    * United Nations Sasakawa Award in 2003 for outstanding work in the field of disaster management and risk reduction.

    Gujarat did not win this award in 2003, it was won that year by Esther Tadzong, of the Global Centre for Compliance, Hazard and Disaster Management in Cameroon.

    Three Certificates of Distinction (runners-up) were awarded that year, one of them to Gurudutt Prasad of the Coastal Area Disaster Mitigation Efforts of India, AP. (Similarly, in 2011 the city of Bhubaneswar won a certificate of distinction, not the award itself).

    Three Certificates of Merit (3rd place) were also awarded that year, one of them to the Gujarat State Disaster Management Authority.

    Details here:

    * Best Bio State Award, 2007

    This is actually a “Special Category” award (see

    Won by Gujarat, 2007. (

    Won by AP, 2003. (

    Won by Kapil Sibal, 2006. (

    Won by Karnataka, 2010. (

    * Rajiv Gandhi Wildlife Conservation Award 2006

    Annually given in two categories, official and non-official (

    Won by GEER Foundation, Gujarat, 2006 (

    Won by Prakash Amte and Aseem Srivastava, 2006. (

    Won posthumously by S Deb Roy, 2001 (

    Won by Mike Pandey, 2004. (

    Won by MP IFS officer HS Negi, 2005. (

    * E-governance award for the e-dhara project

    This probably refers to the “Award of appreciation — Sustainability”, part of the CSI-Nihilent e-Governance awards, won by the e-dhara project, 2010-11. Joint winners of this award that year were two Govt of Karnataka programmes.

    There are plenty of e-Governance awards. For example:

    Assam, 2012-13 (

    MP, 2012-13 (

    Bihar, 2011-12 (

    Chhattisgarh, 2010-11 (

    MP, 2008-09 (


    * CAPAM Gold Award from Commonwealth Associations for Innovation in Governance.
    (see for all details below)

    Won by Gujarat Emergency Earthquake Reconstruction Project (GEERP), 2004. (jointly with MARVIN system, Australia).


    Won by Mission Convergence, Govt of Delhi, 2010.

    Won by Sugarcane Info Systems, UP, 2012.

    Won by Trichy Community Policing, TN, 2002 (jointly).

    Won by a Malappuram project, Kerala, 2000.

    Won by Education Guarantee Scheme, Rajiv Gandhi Shiksha Mission, MP, 1998.

    * Asian Innovation Award, 2006 for Chiranjeevi Yojana

    Won by Panini Keypad, 2012 (

    * India Tech Excellence Award in 2009 by India Tech Foundation

    Won by Gujarat High Court, 2009 (

    Won by BMC, 2011 (

    Won by MEESEVA, Govt of AP, 2012 (

  15. June 21, 2013 8:18 PM


    It is unnerving to realize how even an ‘educated’ person can be easily befooled by cunning mis-representaion of facts. What is even more disturbing is the thought of how the ‘uneducated’ masses (who constitute an unimaginably large percentage of our country) are trapped daily by our politicians with a plethora of ‘facts’ and numbers.

    This article has certainly made me a more careful reader, if not a downright skeptical one.

  16. Sharad Shah permalink
    June 26, 2013 10:17 PM

    Someday we will thank Narendrabhai for uniting all anti-fascist secular forces. Advani was more dangerous as he would have moved slowly and deceptively like a cat before the kill. Modi is in a hurry and thinks that the time has come.

  17. June 27, 2013 3:38 AM

    I am new to Kafila and came to this article through a search on Madhu Kishwar. Based on what I have read of her articles and her recent interview on Newslaundry, she feels – rather strongly- that Narendra Modi has been demonised selectively and is trying to balance the narrative as it exists. But the article mounts a weak challenge. Simply put – do any of the other states or entities or worthies have ALL the 21 awards mentioned in MK’s article? If yes, then we would be comparing like to like or else it unintentionally reinforces what MK is saying. I really wonder if that is what the objective was.

    I agree with Pratyasha- feel like hell having to imagine a person as PM who can live with the memory of what happened on the streets of Gujarat in 2002 – regardless of the rest of his record. However, the choices that we have – apart from AAP’s potential – can also make one’s stomach churn. Some columnists (specially of Sikh ancestry) have an interesting take on 2002 – Surjit Bhalla – the most insanely sane economist (if only someone would make him the finance minister) – says “there is no comparison between the Sikh pogrom and the communal riots. Note: one was a pogrom, the others were communal clashes. The dictionary defines a pogrom as “the organised killing of many helpless people usually because of their race or religion”. That is what happened in the capital of India in 1984. The army wasn’t called in until five days after the killing had started. The number of helpless Sikhs killed — close to 8,000 with about 3,000 in Delhi alone. In other words, there were more innocent Sikhs killed in the pogrom in Delhi than in the Mumbai and Godhra riots put together — about 2,000 killed, including about 1,500 Muslims and 500 Hindus. Note that both Hindus and Muslims were killed in Mumbai-Godhra — unlike the killing of only Sikhs in the pogrom.” ( Tavleen Singh in her columns has highlighted similar stuff. Aakar Patel often raises the question of Maya Kodnani in Modi’s cabinet in 2007 -I agree that its really telling. But put it against the number of years HKL Bhagat/ Jagdish Tytler/ Sajjan Kumar enjoyed as cabinet ministers or important functionaries in Cong governments and the blatant misuse of Delhi Police and CBI to ensure that they remain beyond the law really gives you the perspective – not just about Modi but on the lack of choice that we have today.

    I have also heard some of the recent speeches of NaMo – perhaps I am in so much despair with the current lot – but I have seen no other politician being able to articulate administrative problems and talk about proven solutions with statistics and facts that puts him in rather stark contrast with others who cannot go beyond talking about garibi, pichdapan or other such platitudes with nothing specific, nothing anecdotal, no facts. I almost wish that 2002 had not happened and one could root for the promise of governance that is so so so missing and the fact that we are back to 1991 days. There is yearning that we all feel and I wish NaMo was not the answer but given how rotten and hopeless things are at present, I can’t see the alternative. I wish Arvind Kejriwal had better mobilisation skills and a better plan for 2014…


  1. NaMo Mamu | Thamirlan's Blog
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