Saturday, May 30, 2009

Brand Rahul = Brand India...???

Kaho Na Pyaar Hai….
Will Brand Rahul add up to Brand India??

The startling election results ( even Singh is King’s characteristically expressionless face registered shock and awe ) certainly make one believe that India has fallen in love with the Dimpled Darling and all that he stands for ( don’t embarrass me by asking for specifics – I am as clueless as his countless besotted admirers). The euphoria continues unabated seven days after the verdict, as fawning Congressmen go on and on about “Rahulji’, and how it has been a vote for growth and development. Rahulji meanwhile , is sticking to his self-effacing, low profile “ I’m just a regular bloke doing my job’’ demeanour, leaving Mummyji to beam broadly and project a voter-friendly vibe on camera. The biggest problem with this election and the mandate given to the Congress party is that Brand India has been usurped by Brand Rahul. Not his fault at all – but we have always been a nation in search of idols to worship. Our intrinsic sycophantic nature demands that we find such persons and immediately assume our favourite stance – lying prostrate in the presence of demi-Gods.We enjoy lying supine at our icons’ feet. Sashtaang namaskar, anyone? Genuflecting comes easier than standing tall, head held high. This became vividly evident post-victory, when thousands of Congress party loyalists showed up with banners and fireworks to anoint the Prince. And wonder of wonders, even an asli erstwhile maharajah ( Jyotiraditya) was heard singing hosannahs to ‘Rahulji’ ( overnight promotion from plain Rahul to Rahulji - colleague to boss?). This is just the way we are. So be it. Perhaps it is a peculiarly Asian trait to deify leaders in an absurdly exaggerated manner. But to witness the shameless, full on chamchagiri on display was just too cringe making, to put it mildly.
What next? We have our Magic Mantra in place ( “ Youth rocks, okay?”), and we also have the oldie goldies holding the fort and sticking to the status quo. Portfolios are being judiciously distributed keeping all the delicate equations in mind. While writing this, the wheeling and dealing is still on, and the Manmohan-Sonia combo is playing hard ball with the likes of Karunanidhi and gang. From the looks of it, Manmohan has not fallen hook , line and sinker for a Babalog cabinet, and there are still enough really, really senior citizens around to warrant the deployment of a few rocking chairs in parliament. If Young India was hoping for dishy designer politicians dominating parliamentary proceedings, there may be a mild disappointment in store. Hot blooded ‘Jaawani Deewani’ is still to replace the silver haired sobriety of the old war horses. For those who were hell bent on sending veteran politicians off to the nearest Naana-Naani Park, that’s not about to happen in a hurry, either. Given the heavy duty haggling taking place in Delhi, it will be interesting to monitor how the total adds up finally, once the laddoos – sorry, portfolios - have been distributed.
For those of you old enough to recall the lyrics of ‘Theme for a Dream’ ( Cliff Richards), this is the song to be singing right now. A Dream Team is possible, now more than ever, provided Singh and Sonia stay determined and tough. At the end of the day, it is worth considering what this win implies. It has been a vote against several touchy issues ( fundamentalism, regionalism, castesism) that were causing concern across India. It is seen as a vote for the ‘basics’ that every Indian is entitled to – roti, kapda aur makaan. Frankly, there are no other ideological issues involved this time. No philosophical dialogues, no intellectual debate. People want a better quality of life than the abject wretchedness that has been their fate thus far. They want a shot at improving their future through education , jobs and opportunities. It’ s obvious the vote has been vehemently against narrow- minded regional politics that are dangerous and far from inclusive. In such a scenario, the new leadership is obliged to deliver on promises made during the campaign. ‘Rahulji’ obviously got a sanitized taste of the real India, when he was air- dropped into villages and chose to spend the night huddled on a charpoy, in the humble abodes of the poorest of the poor. A crash course in garibi, as it were, which galvanized him into ‘hataaoing’ it. To be fair to him, perhaps this really was the turning point. Maybe his discovery of India began with sharing a roti with a disenfranchised villager living in the back of the beyond in Orissa. It can happen…Rahul sounds sufficiently sincere when he constantly harps on growth and development. His timing has been impeccable so far, and his brand positioning cannot be improved upon. He has single handedly steered a tired, old party to victory and injected fresh blood into the team. This blood transfusion was long overdue. As the BJP has discovered, much to its horror.
For all of L.K.Advani’s many virtues, the one thing he could not reverse is age. Youth can be cruel, unforgiving and impatient when it comes to passing judgements. Short term memory loss is another affliction that strikes people under-thirty. There is little introspection and even less tolerance…. forget about a feel for history. Clearly Youth India preferred to throw in its lot with Rahul and Friends. One can almost hear those over- enthu pub- goers chorus , “Yo man…. Rahul rocks!” while bumping clenched fists, Rapper- style. That’s New India – the one the others failed to recognize. They are done with the ghaasa peeta, puraana ishtyle of manipulating voters and exploiting the politics of hate. On one level, the much awaited change of guard is welcome. On another, we seem in too much of a hurry to hand over the country to absolute greenhorns who may lack the required maturity to deal with global issues… or even national ones, for that matter. Well. for better or worse, we have opted for a Fair & Lovely young leader. All that is required to complete the picture now is a Balika Bodhu. The most important question still remains unanswered : Will Brand Rahul add up to Brand India?? Do we have a choice but to wait and watch??


This appeared in Hindustan Times this morning.

The Jaipur heat took its toll - I was laid up in bed all of yesterday, dehydrated and unable to move! The enforced rest did me a world of good. I wished I had got Mita to pack some of her yummy kebabs (smoked over charcoal, and delicately flavoured with rose petals plus crushed ilaichi - heavenly!) in a doggy bag. Instead, I stuffed myself with Bong-style khichdi prepared by our loyal cook Anil...... and slept soundly on a really, really full tum-tum.


I dreamt of Bhaichang Bhutia. It is an omen. I hope the guy wins his dance contest. He deserves to. But then again, Gauhar Khan has displayed as much sincerity, tenacity and talent. Who says it is a fair world??


G'Bye Lantern Jaw ( Jay Leno). I was never an addict of the show, so I don't get it. The slot has changed. He ain't dead. Relax all you Leno fans. Just retune your bio rhythms to 10pm. Big deal.


Will be leaving for the India Se Singapore Lit Fest next week. Strictly no laptop. I'll try and compensate for the missing posts by writing Dil Se before jumping on that plane. Just thought I should keep you guys in the loop. Remember.... I miss you as much as.... as.... you miss me??? Ha ha.



ZB said...

hehe, me too an admirer of Rahul. The admiration is nothing but the perception that he is lesser of the evil, thats prevailing in the Indian politics. but then what are perceptions?i wish my perception is true. but again, what are wishes?

Anonymous said...

Priyanka - I vote.

Zlaek said...

Ma'am you dreamt of Bhutia?? Aaaaahahahhaha. You're fun...

Rahul won't match up to anything. He's not even as presentable as a lot of people think he is.
He's just 'fair & lovely' as you say.

Roshni said...

Dear Mrs De,
I am not at all a Congress supporter nor am I an admirer of Gandhis and I don't even know whether Mrs Sonia Gandhi and her baccha log will be able to deliver against all odds but still I voted for them because they give me hope for a better future and I felt from the bottom of my heart that one chance should be given to them.Will keep a close eye on this Govt's performance.Rest of the politicians like Advani,Lalu,Karat ,Mayavati are all rotten eggs and should be evacuated out of India.

The Unsure Ascetic said...

I think you are trying to write like Mr. Bacchan now. The last few lines suggesting how much you miss your blog readers is very Bacchanesque. Come on. Get real.

Raefah said...

People like this formula - Super Cop Sonia & Singh is King/MS OFFICE - 2009 (Manmohan Singh OFFICE - 2009)!!!

I am glad that Rahul didnt take a cabinet position.

I am surprised that Sonia got away with the 'Perform or Perish' statement!!!

Mamta returned TATA foundation's Rs 27 lakh check, is it a good sign or the amount is very low compared to what they gave to other parties?

JaiPORE, SingaPORE,.. what is nextPORE? Have fun..

obssesor said...

Why are you writing so much about Gandhi's? I mean is it "in"?

चंद्रमौलेश्वर प्रसाद said...


Rahul Viswanath said...

Rahul has miles to go before he sleeps .....

Anil Kumar said...

The near sweep by single party was the best thing that could have happened in the last election. It doesn't matter whether it's congress or BJP.

What surprised me most is that if you read newspaper everyone is giving their expert opinion on Rahul Gandhi's master stroke...Be it Barkha, Vir Sanghavi or Ms Shobha De and probably many more which I didn't follow lately.

Remember these jokers in TV news channels got the wrong exit polls and called it a close race and were discussing issues which didn't matter much in voting. But these shameless creatures still keep repeating the same stuff.

I saw the dark side of globalisation on Delhi's buses last week. Just want to share this experience. Two blacks from African continent boarded the bus and refused to take ticket. He even pushed the bus conductor a little bit but he ignored him. As the Indian people still give strange looks to foreigners whether black or white, two teenage boys aged around 15 were looking at them and were smiling. This african guy was around 20 years and 6 feet tall. He took it as an offence and came to those two guys and asked them what's the matter. The two teenagers were from villages and didn't understand him. To the horror of everyone this black guy slapped one of the teenager twice.

Because this bus was coming from a haryana village which is on the outskirts of Delhi border, these two guys and other guys in the bus had guts to stand up against this beast. The black was beaten by 5-7 people from left and right and thrashed thoroughly. I too joined hands because even though those kids were wrong to smile at these foreigners, he has no right to slap them and specially a foreigner hitting a local. How many Indians living abroad hit a white abroad if their is an argument???

Just imagine what's going to come to India in the name of globalisation. Most of these Nigerians come here as students but indulge in drug activities. Just ask Pramod Mahajan's son about drug activities.

Had it not been a bus from village then these two foreginers would have left and everyone would have looked on the other side. And Panchu Pandu Hawaldar wouldn't have done anything.

In this country, people who travel every other day to different parts of the globe define, what is development and growth. What they fail to understand with their comfortable life style is the dark side of this phenomenon. Without proper checks and screening loads of these people are coming here and doing illegal activities. But the GREED of Indians is keeping a blind eye to social ills it's bringing to this country. The people who find these foreigners as attractive tenants don't know what will happen 20 years from now.

Sometimes I wonder the wisdom of Gyani Manmohan Singh and his madame. I can't blame madame because she has never travelled in a DTC bus in Delhi. But Ullu ka pattha sardar understands what his globalisation mantra is bringing to this country.

I hope some hair lices will jump up and down vigorously in Gyani's grey hairs to wake up this Buddha Sher at the fragile age of 75 plus and give him wisdom to tighten the noose around those who are making this country filthy and protect it's citizens from foreigners.

Ajai said...

When Indira Gandhi claimed long time back that "Indira is India", she wasn't far off the mark. It is unfortunate that we have allowed one family to dominate our imagination when it comes to national level politics. Not only Sonia, Priyanka and Rahul but also Varun Gandhi get unprecedented media coverage thanks to their surnames.
And for the so called "youth-factor" in politics, a creful scrutiny will reveal that everyone of our "young" politicians is the son/daughter of a senior politician.
I'm totally against the dynastic tendencies of our politics. What's even more disgusting is the sycophancy of the politicians. I hope this will stop. I hope i won't have to see the day when Brand India= Brand Rahul. India is bigger than any one person or family. Let's not forget that.

Pooja Rathore said...

Good post, i liked Rahul the Brand - Brand India , very well written.

Another Kiran In NYC said...

As I see it, Hamarey desh ka beta, the dimpled darling is still being kept on a leash. So sad na? So sad for us actually.

Party mascot and all is just fine, but I would like for him to take up a position where he is ACTUALLY ACCOUNTABLE to the people who vote for what he represents. Party positions are completely meaningless (party president/"working for the youth"/party peon) unless he is accountable to taxpayers and voters. Let him head (or frankly even just work on) a commission/body/movement/even chotta mota ministry that is publicly funded and produces a report, or a quantifiable report or result. Let him show his mettle in political and administrative skirmishes. Let people ask him questions about performance. Let us be the judge of whether he knows what is involved in actually running India. Being annointed scion means more than sleeping on charpois, mild mannered sensible answers... which is expected, not exceptional... at interviews, a carefully written speech or two in parliament and a carefully orchestrated image campaign.

To say in broad strokes that "HDKBDimpledDarling-united India-in-voting-for-a-majority-for-a-party-thereby-making-sure-there-is-a-stable-government-for-5-years-to-ensure-projects-get-done" may be statistically true. By the way can you say that Mantra 15times fast just so you will memorise it and always believe that truth?

However that fact is no different for example from Kareena Kapoor being the face for a condom advertising campaign and making said campaign successful. It says nothing about how Kareena Kapoor is managing the condom sales or the supply chain for increased condom production due to projected increased sales or whether Kareena knows how to negotiate for a good price for latex. Because you see Kareena Kapoor is not actually designing or producing or touching the condom you are going to be using. There... I probably dashed the hot dreams of a few people!

But politics is like that. It can be completely divorced from governance. It can be divorced from the people being admininstered. It can be far removed from the nitty gritty of managing how to make your and my life better or even not letting our lives slide backwards. That is what I fear the Congress Party and the personality cult of Dimpled Darling have done to us. It is "team mascotgiri", without the player going on the field and sweating and coming up bruised and scratched but with quantifiable points. He has not even been in political skirmishes yet, never mind governance ones.

Do we make leeway for his "inexperience and youth"? To be perfectly honest the man is a "chaalis saal ka ghoda" hardly a youth or someone who still needs training! At his age, exceptional people should have already shown thier true mettle and shown what skill set they are capable of. Apart from image, "party mascotgiri" and non quantifiable "working for the youth" I am not seeing the very obvious markers of what will make him an exemplary future leader of a billion people.

And yes, I expect EXEMPLARY indicators from someone who accepts his annointment as the future PM with so much entitlement. He needs to be good, better than good, he needs to exceptional. He needs for us to see what he is capable of. Nay, we should demand to see that, before we start genuflecting to yet another restructed generation of the Nehru/Gandhi Political Enterprises Limited. Yeah, I said Limited, because it is literally that! It becomes even more Limited when we begin to say Brand Rahul is Brand India.

Gajendra said...

yup...we miss ya

anamika said...

Rahul is some one which has kept the faith alive in politics.Politics was considered to be of interest of the old but as young youth are entering into it people of all age are taking interest in it.
Now we indians are not interested in speeches but the work.Everyone is going to keep an eye of every step of Rahul.Poor guy he must be over burdened with expectation that is why he is saying I am just another guy:)
A good post indeed..enjoyed reading it Mrs Shobha also don know about other but yes I do miss you when you are away from the blog.

lots of love

Unknown said...

ya that is true fact....

Work from home India

Kaps said...

Humankind have always had Generation Gaps and the resultant differences of opinions....while we were on the right side of 30's we used to think our parents were living in a utopia of pre-independence Congress and refused to see any evil in its corruption, sycophancy, nepotism, dynastic rule et al....and now that we are on the wrong side of the 30's we wonder whether the 90's generation has really lost every sense or are they bereft of any sort of national feeling or futuristic vision....God, they are voting for sheer glamour, looks and style with no thoughts what so ever for substance or what is good for India in future...I mean we too had our ideosyncracies when we were of their age but this is utter disgusting....or may be its another example of Generation Gap (so what if only of a decade!!)

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