I must confess, I did not watch Australian Indians or Indians in Australia or Supreme Overseas Patriots or whatever the technical term is these days, dancing and entertaining each other and us as opening acts for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speeches in Australia. The truth is that I have not as yet recovered from the performances put up by our brothers and sisters in the United States of American Desis.
However, I am terribly impressed by Modi’s Rainbow Tours. Six months this government has been in power at the Centre, and all Modi’s best moments have come in foreign countries when he’s making speeches. Especially when he’s making speeches to Indians who live abroad. This takes commitment. To excellent speech-making, if nothing else. These listeners after all do not live in India and many will not vote in India. Most will not even “make in India”, and I’m not going to deliberate on the various grammatical and logical jumps one can make with that phrase, much as I want to.
Prime Minster Narendra Modi acknowledged thousands of supporters at the Allphones Arena Olympic park in Sydney on November 17. Thousands of Indian community members gathered at the arena to listen to Modi who was in Sydney after attending the G20 Summit in Brisbane over the weekend. Pic/Getty Images
The best part about the prime minister is that he keeps getting better. At travelling and making speeches. He has been out of India as often as he’s been in India since he became prime minister and you cannot say that his speech-making has suffered. Yes, some nasty critics did point out that his speech to the United Nations was a bit lacklustre but there’s no pleasing some people. And he comes back to India and there are more speeches. Election speeches, Independence Day speeches, opening of a private hospital day speeches, Teacher’s Day speeches, radio speeches... one’s little mind truly boggles.
Is the secret in some magical ayurvedic (of course) cough syrup you wonder? Or gargling with turmeric and cow’s milk every night? These are the sort of questions which keep you up all night. Like NRIs must stay up all night wondering just which Hindi movie patriotic (to India, not the nation they live in) song is the best to dance to before a speech by Not Their Prime Minister.
One cannot blame the prime minister of course. Look at the state of India. You have to beg celebrities to pick up brooms or the country will never get clean. Long dead prime ministers keep dogging you with their birthdays and anniversaries. Business people keep hounding you for reforms. The next door neighbour (you know, that one) keeps attacking you on the border even after you issued sweet invitations and took that nice sari home for mummy. The allies keep sulking even when they’ve lost.
Even worse are those nitpickers who keep saying this is an old scheme, that is an old scheme, you once hated this scheme, you promised to cancel that scheme. Government is about schemes and no one can scheme quite like I do, any decent prime minister would say to himself. The worst of all are the ‘where is the black money you promised’ people. Even a speech with personal assurances wasn’t enough for them.
Who wouldn’t want to run away abroad?
And second best to all that fan love in foreign nations and all those Indians in foreign nations is tweeting about it and posting pictures on Instagram. First the prime minister tweets that he’s entered a building. Then the prime minister’s office tweets that he’s entered a building. And, just in case you’re some sort of a weirdo who doesn’t follow the prime minister but only follow celebrity and small-time journalists on Twitter, they will retweet everything. In living memory and the history of the world, no prime minister has tweeted so much. I cannot even remember what prime ministers did before twitter was invented. Indeed, were there even prime ministers then? And before aeroplanes were invented? Shudder. No live speeches and no loving TV journalists? Was that a life?
Much better indeed to live in these times, knowing that everything wonderful we have was invented by some of our ancestors, flying round the world in flying machines from the Ramayana. This is the life. How about another speech then? If not, at least a tweet.
Ranjona Banerji is a senior journalist. You can follow her on twitter @ranjona
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