Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Narendar Modi's address on Teacher's Day

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books

A young school boy form Arunachal Pradesh asked a question which would have stumped anyone: How do I become the Prime Minister of India. Pat came the reply from Narendar Modi:Prepare for the General Election of 2024 and I consider myself safe until then. At one stroke 68 years of political privilege, one in which the highest office of the land was held as a strange kind of dynastic trophy by the Nehru family, was set aside and the democratic principle that any citizen can aspire to reach the top was reasserted. Narendra Modi's two hour interaction with students across India was an exercise in sophisticated  image building with a positive message. The students from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and from Arunachal Pradesh to Mumbai enthusiastically participated in their interaction with the PM on Teacher's Day. The Congress Party which was carping about the fact that the interaction session was made compulsory had to admit that the programme was a resounding success.

The Prime Minister made three important points in his address and as for as I can remember this was the first time any important political figure has spoken about the issues. First, he spoke of keeping the environment clean and the importance of having a toilet in each school for girl students. In his Independence Day Speech the Prime Minister had spoken of a national scheme of building toilets in each school. Second, he stressed the importance of education for the Girl Child and his track record as Chief Minister of Gujarat is impressive. I pointed out this fact in my rebuttal to the likes of Martha Nussbaum when there was a cacophony of noises against Modi two years back. He rightly said that a Nation cannot progress if the Girl Child is left behind. Thirdly, he spoke of the need for making teaching a more attractive profession and pointed out that in Japan and perhaps in China, teachers form a highly respected and honoured segment of society.

Behind all the hoopla and din made by politicians about Modi's televised National Address lies a stark fact. Narendar Modi successfully reached out to the younger generation. His tone was a mixture of authority and familiarity and was not patronizing or condescending. All in all it was a grand success and Modi has the younger generation in his hands by one fell swoop.

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