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The return of political heroes

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Biswadeep Banerjee
Biswadeep Banerjee
I am a thinker and a rebel at heart. I have worked for Wipro, IBM and now currently with Atos in my 17 years journey of IT career I have a passion in leadership and want to bring back ethics and values in business.

If you have read undiluted Indian history, both ancient & modern, you will agree with me that as a nation we always had a culture of following our political heroes, religious gurus and kings. Be it Chatrapati Shivaji or Rani Lakshmi Bai or Guru Gobind Sngh or Swami Vivekananda or Rana Pratap or Gandhi or Netaji or Sardar Patel or say B.R .Ambedkar, you name it. Whether it is folk tales or story books or school books when we read or heard about Indian heroes those names always popped up. As an 80s kid I remembered reading more about Mughals, British and Gandhi in my school books than the people I mentioned above, 30 years after I look back at those history books and nod my head in silence. There are some stark differences between western thoughts and Indian thoughts, where western thoughts gave rise to BIG LIE which states,

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

However our Indian thoughts state the opposite, “Satya Mev Jayate ” (Truth alone triumphs). It is a known fact that Indian National Congress draws it’s inspiration and ideology from British and west. Everyone knows that the concept of Congress is alien to India and the role played by Allan Octavian Hume in establishing INC. It is but obvious that the game of repeating a lie thousand times and catch them young was played by Congress in India for so many years and in so many generations. This game and it’s impact is very strong I must admit, so strong that an entire generation passed by thinking it was Mahatma Gandhi who drove British away when the truth was far far away from that. Truth did triumph at the end though. With advent of Globalization, technology and internet, dependency on only some chosen authors or news anchor or politicians or our own parents for any information was gone. My generation for example typically known as generation X in western world discovered the real Indian history post schools and college. Our Millennial generation is learning the undiluted history right from school days with tab and mobile in their hands where fact checks and counter views are just a touch away.

No nation can morally rise to power without deep sense of cultural and identity pride. India was not born in 1947, Bharat existed since 5000+ years. The more further we move away from 1947 into the BC era the more confident, proud and self realized we become. The golden era of India was when we idolized the virtuous real life heroes in society, our role models were living examples of high morality, values, supreme courage and those who lead lives with principles and discipline thereby inspiring millions. Our country has been relentlessly under attack, loot and ransack for thousand years, first by the barbaric Islamic forces and then by imperialistic British forces. Our national heroes kept on fighting, first with sword than with several Gandhian movements, strikes, rebellion and finally gun. We had to give so much of blood for our freedom from all alien forces.

On one side there was stalwarts like Gandhi, on the other side there was Netaji, some people followed Nehru and some others followed Veer Savarkar, Some followed Ali brothers while others followed Jinnah, from Sardar Patel to Gokhale to Dayanand Sarasvati to Ambedkar there was no room left for any other heroes in society. However I feel post achieving our independence and specially after 1960s our goal did not shift from movements, opposing and inner fights to development. If we leave few years of Indira Gandhi during 1971 war & few years of Vajpayee government during Nuclear testing and Kargil war, our nation never had the good fortune to see too many political heroes. Corruption, crime, terrorist attacks, appeasement politics, caste politics, lack of inspiring courageous leadership pushed India in a hopeless state of mind. Such was the state of mind that Indians started believing that politicians will have criminal records, politicians will steal public money, Police will take bribe, there will be frequent terrorist attacks, scams will happen now & then, these things became business as usual for Indians.

However as human species we are always on the look out for truth, morality, ethics, discipline, courage – we like these qualities subconsciously. So we started worshipping a new breed of heroes, the reel life heroes. Our definition of heroes changed to Amitabh Bachchan, Dharmender, Shami kapoor, Rajesh Khanna, Manoj Kumar, Madhuri dixit, The khan trio and so on. Lack of real life heroes made these reel life heroes larger than life. The only flavors of nationalism and pride vested with some cricket wins, patriotic movies and army stories. The sense of unity under one flag was seldom felt otherwise. An entire generation of Indians grew up idolizing heroes whose personal lives were very different than reel lives, the concept of building an image emerged. The void created by lack of real heroes in society was getting filled by people portraying morality and courage on screen only. As a society Indians between 1980 and 2014 became more and more confident that nothing good can happen to India so enjoy your own lives, look after your own interest, indulge in pleasure and earn money by hook or crook since morality and ethics are not coming back to society and that it is confined in soaps and movies only. That to me was one of the biggest contribution of congress, they successfully made a proud selfless country hopeless, demotivated and selfish.

Something changed in 2014. As the Modi wave took the entire nation by storm, there was a small ray of hope. Although the election campaign song “Acche din aaney waley hain” sounded like a one more promise like many politicians did before however the hope was that Modi was not seen as a leader who talks the right things only, he walked the talk in Gujarat. A big sleeping nation addicted to movies and cricket, alcohol and drugs, corruption and scams, obsessed with western culture needed a big jolt to wake up. The jolt came by demonetization, first time we saw in years how an ever complaining Indian stood hours in queues and still supporting the man who made them do it. People felt they are doing something which will eventually do good to the nation. Post that jolt one by one via GST, Surgical strike, IT reforms, Triple Talaq bill, CAA, Article 370, Balakot Air strike, Education policy reforms, Farm Bill, Assam NRC, Ayodhya Ram Mandir, ISRO success, Diplomatic success, Galwan valley, Digital India, Make In India, Swachh bharat, Ayushman Bharat, Pradhan mantri Awas Yojna and so on, the shockwaves kept coming and still continuing in covid time with India manufacturing the Vaccines and helping billions around the world, with India in no time becoming the largest PPE kit manufacturer.

130 crore Indians could see one man in his late sixties working for 18 hrs without leaves (even if 18 hrs is a propaganda but even 14+ hours per day is not less inspiring), we saw how one man tried to speak in all regional languages across India just to bind everyone in one composite Indian culture by respecting diversity and trying to emotionally connect to people. Inspiration started kicking in, respect and trust started coming back to politics. On one hand Prime Minister Modi was setting up India’s next mission of achieving 5 trillion dollar economy and on the other hand his protégé Home minister Amit Shah was administering home affairs with firm hands. Not only leadership was being displayed at center but as a hallmark of a great leader Modi was able to bring up more and more leaders who can carry his vision forward with or without him. The rise of the likes of Yogi Aditya Nath in UP, Hemanta Biswas Sarma in Assam and Piyush Goyal (Minister of Railways, Minister of Commerce and Industry and Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution) showed the shift in Indian politics from bootlicking to performance driven approach.

It’s been 7 years of Modi government and it’s also been 7 years of corruption free India at least at a government level. The stagnant Indian political field has suddenly become dynamic. Every day citizens and netizens of this country are waiting for Modi’s next move or Rahul Gandhi’s next statement or what is KCR doing to Kejriwal’s new promise or Yogi’s crackdown on terror. As a generation, we are now getting more adrenaline rush from political updates rather than which movie is coming out or what is the latest fashion in B town. Even the movie industry have felt this jolt, so we see more movies coming out of Indian Army, our Indian rebels and freedom fighters. I am not against movie industry per se however my point is that Modi has successfully drawn a bigger line beside it and our nation has once again started following the right heroes who are in service of the nation. Politics is now more entertaining than soaps and movies.

Simultaneously advent of social media platforms like Facebook, twitter took this Indian political renaissance to a whole new level. People were found to be more engaged in latest tweets and updates of political leaders than soaps and movies. Video platforms gave rise to another breed called the youtubers and smartphone gave rise to the concept of citizen journalist. No more were the Lutyens Delhi and left leaning media group’s opinions, facts and news got a clean chit. For every fake news they was an expose, for every propaganda there was a reverse propaganda, things were not one way like before. Added to that was the emergence of journalist like Arnab Goswami who decided to look at journalism from a different angle ala Apple and steve jobs.

Steve jobs first understood the customer requirements and then made his product. Arnab delivers his news for his loyal audience and both his audience and him are tied by the same thread of nationalistic pride. Previously only men in house used to watch news and women watched soaps, not that women didn’t like information, they found it boring. Arnab made news entertaining and it turned out to be a game changer. You can talk about journalistic ethics however true ethics begins with truth and not fake news, the presentation style is secondary. Added to these was the impact of SSR death case and covid situation, the demi gods of Bollywood fell from their role model chairs which were made from engineered wood anyways. From a small ray of hope Narendra Modi has emerged as India’s beacon of hope and a strong world leader. The Chowkidar has done his job on putting this huge rusted mammoth named Bharat back on track.

Today my country has once again started following political personnel, Spiritual Gurus like Sadhguru and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, we started crying for our jawans, we started talking more about our duties than rights. Whether you are with Modi or against him you got to agree that he has awaken a sleeping nation and on a lighter note also made a lot of Indians read our constitution first time post CAA bill. So India has waken up & we have started running again and only one statement is reverberating within me again and again today,

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

  • – Rabindranath Tagore

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Biswadeep Banerjee
Biswadeep Banerjee
I am a thinker and a rebel at heart. I have worked for Wipro, IBM and now currently with Atos in my 17 years journey of IT career I have a passion in leadership and want to bring back ethics and values in business.
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