Revisiting Charles Dickens’ Hard Times: Narendra Modi and the myth of a self-made man

Revisiting Charles Dickens’ Hard Times: Narendra Modi and the myth of a self-made man

The rhetoric of ‘if a chai wallah can become the PM why can’t you?’ is dishonest on several counts.

Written by Swati Saxena | Updated: May 3, 2016 12:50 pm

BJP's prime ministerial candidate and Chief Minister Narendra Modi is interacting with common men as part of his "Chai Pe Charcha" programme from a tea stall, opposite to Karnavati Club on SG Highway in Ahmedabad on Wednesday. Express Photo by Javed Raja. 12.02.2014. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a good example of someone who uses his tea seller origins story to his political advantage and the people lap it up, even though no official records exist to show that he was indeed one. File/Express Photo/Javed RajaCharles Dickens describes Mr Josiah Bounderby, a rich merchant and a banker, of the fictional town of Coketown of industrial England thus:

“A man who could never sufficiently vaunt himself a self-made man. A man who was always proclaiming, through that brassy speaking trumpet of a voice of his, his old ignorance and his old poverty. A man who was the bully of humility.”

Mr Bounderby claims to have been born in abject poverty, abandoned by his family and his ultimate boast lies in the fact that he is a self-made man, “with nobody to thank for my being here, but myself.” From the position of this dubious distinction Bounderby feels morally obligated to blame the poor for their poverty and hopes his rags to riches story serves as a reminder of what a man can achieve through hard work and determination. The story would have been interesting and inspirational indeed, as is often the case in literature and real life, expect that it is false. It is revealed at the end of the novel that Bounderby was never abandoned by his loving mother, indeed he had forbidden her from contact to protect his mythic origins story, and was brought up though not extravagantly, but still comfortably with abundance of books and food.

Dickens variously describes Bounderby as a ‘bully of humility’ and a self-made humbug. Bounderby serves as an example of a man very rare in literature but plenty in real life. A man, who lives on the myth of self-aggrandisement, achieved

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Back after a short (long) break

I know it – I have been off my blog for a long time – at least relatively long – over a week!

I was traveling in the North East Indian region – Assam (Guwahati, to begin with), Meghalaya (Shillong, if you like it; and a visit to Cherrapunjee), Nagaland (Kohima and other places), and Manipur (Only a remote village valled Liyai).

And there are plenty of snaps to share with you to share the beauty of the place and its people.

That I will do in sometime now!
Till then, take care!

Why Partition survivors in the US believe it’s vital to keep talking about the trauma of 1947

Former refugees from both India and Pakistan, who spoke at a recent event, see their experiences reflected in Syrians seeking refuge in Europe.

The unique community event was aimed at generating a new public dialogue on the 1947 Partition migrations through storytelling and memory. In the intrepid gallery called Twelve Gates Arts, devoted to South Asia-related arts, the event Voices of Partition presented witness testimonies from both India and Pakistan. Co-hosted by online digital video project, The 1947 Partition Archive, and part of a global series, Voices of Partition was an unexpected success – a flood of RSVPs meant that the gallery had to double its seats; people were standing, sitting on the floor in the aisles, just squeezing into the space to listen.

Fragmented memories

Three local South Asian American senior citizens – Hindu and Muslim – shared their memories of migrating as children across the new and bloody borders of India and Pakistan. Sagar and Reena Banka were originally from Lyallpur and Lahore, and Khurshid Bukhari was originally from Patiala. They described their fragmented, episodic memories of how they heard about ethnic violence in August 1947, how…

Google doodle wishing me ‘happy birthday’

The search giant Google wished me on my birthday, today. It took me by surprise!

[Before that, I must confess, -based in Shillong- today I had the most silent and quiet birthday of my life in the last few years. That was one of my long-felt desires, not to celebrate my birthday.  Avoid this so much artificial noise about it. Birthday may be a chance for your friends, acquaintances and the ambitious to have some (small or big) celebrations or wish and show case their skills at language and impressing. But doesn’t make much difference in real life. Can this one day make up for all the 364 other days. Well, I mean, I don’t like commercial formula films of Bollywood; I like realism of Ray or Girish Kasaravalli or other quality filmmakers.]google bday

Back to Google doodle…

Google is known to display doodles related to some important national and international events/ personalities on its search page on their days. As you open a new page, first the doodle appears. And then you are able to key in your search terms.

But I never thought it would customise its search page so much to include a relatively unknown individual to wish him (her/) a happy birthday!

Today when I opened Google page, I was surprised to see a strange doodle. There was a cake, cup cakes, and candies with candles and stars on its homepage. I kept the mouse-pointer on it, and it showed ‘Happy Birthday Richard!’ To my great surprised.

I clicked the doodle and followed the links – Google has collected my information from the net and its own repository and prepared a doodle for me (to be seen only by me, of course!)

Good corporate techniques; good PR. Good business, Google! It must be a child’s play now, for this search giant (once it arranges the digital ‘arguments’) But message is loud and clear!

Kanhaiya: ‘It’s a fight of Sanghistan versus Hindustan’

Here is some sense our today’s youngsters can speak. He can be a teacher to our useless, power-greedy politicians, and take on the extremist elements. I wish him all the best.

JNU Student’s Union president Kanhaiya Kumar on Thursday mounted a scathing attack on the RSS in a city where the Sangh’s headquarters is located. Taking a jibe at the RSS, he said Nagpur was B.R.

Source: Kanhaiya: ‘It’s a fight of Sanghistan versus Hindustan’

Like the Israelites in Exile – Longing for NE

Like the Old Testament Israelites in Exile – longing for the North East! Not that their Egypt was bad – just that they were longing for that beautiful land…

It has been my dream to visit the North East – the north eastern states of India, famously known as the Seven Sisters. I have heard so much of it; I have met so many of them from the North East. Some of them my students since 2000; others students in my college, but known to me. It’s the land of colourful people and rich cultures.

[In the picture: a bus from Guwahati carrying passengers not just in the bus, but also on it roof-top! I had missed this scenario in the last few years, after I witnessed them in my own town and village, and above all in Bidar of North Karnataka in 2001]

[Pic.2: Marwari Basa Hotel – Lodging and Fooding. You make of it what you want to]

In 2011, I almost made it. All was arranged (not for visit; but primarily for some work). But the bureaucracy was worse than the work at hand. The last minute “hiccups” came on the way of – not just the visit but more importantly- the work. Had to cancel the programme which was legitimately agreed upon.

This time I am here – physically. Came to Guwahati (Assam) on Thursday (7th); spent

Modi-bhakts and hatred

What I like the most about Modi-bhakts and the right-wing brigade of India, is their consistent, rabid hatred for the weaker sections and youth of our society. You say any innocuous thing on Facebook or Twitter, they will attack you. One thing certain is that they don’t read (I don’t mean to say that they are completely illiterate, even if uneducated) what is written. It looks like they have a mandate to attack anyone who is not explicitly associated with shameless Modi-puja (worship) or right–wing bashing.

At the same time, this blind brigade does not see the ruin the present Modi-government -in association with the undemocratic RSS/ Sangh Parivar- is working on India. Whatever happened to the ‘better days ahead’ (acche din anewale hain) or ‘sabka satha sabka vikas’ (with everyone and everyone’s development) and similar populist slogans?

World crude oil prices have fallen from $129 a barrel in early 2014 to just about $30-40 in 2014-15; but petrol and diesel prices have sky-rocketed. Modi government is speaking of FDI (foreign direct investment) in trillions; true, foreign companies are promising; but none actually invests in India. It has fallen by about 65% in 2015.  Attacks on dalits (SCs), STs (tribals/ natives), women, youth, minorities, freedom of speech and expression have only increased. And Modi is once again on a foreign-tour spree (at our cost, of course)

Look at the way, BJP’s campaign going on in West Bengal! They want to identify and chase away the Bangla Muslim immigrants, while shield majoritarian immigrants from other countries. Shouldn’t all immigrants be treated as immigrants irrespective of their religion? They are inflaming communal fires once again, now that elections are fast approaching!

Should BJP rule the country at all? Are they capable of ruling? Or should be worshipping in temples built by RSS?

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