Nehruvianism vs Veiled Technocracy: Decoding Brand Modi

Many Indian writers and thinkers have criticized, villain-ized and declared dead the so-called “nehruvianism”. So was it ‘Harvard’ or ‘Hard Work’ that really scripted ‘Brand Modi’ in the run up to 7RCR?Let us first try to understand the basics of “nehruvianism” in Indian polity. Mahatma Gandhi, a graduate from the University College London, Jawaharlal Nehru, a gradate from Trinity College and Dr.B.R.Ambedkar, a graduate from the London School of Economics are very well known as few of the key architects of the Republic of India. The impact of these people had significant influence on the ideologies that still impact Indians’ today. In a deeply divided India, existing post independence, known as the largest democracy, all voters had equal rights, far ahead thanthat of the African Americans in the USA, known as the oldest democracy. The arguably intended temporary reservations set in the constitution by Dr.B.R.Ambedkar, who was witness to the civil rights struggle in the USA, are also a foundation of equality and vision held by the then foreign educated English speakers coming under the umbrella of“nehruvianism”.

A few of the PR agencies, prominently McCann and Ogilvy, managing the BJP campaign, consist of prominent Ivy League graduates, foreign educated strategists and a mix of Indian educated consultants. The social media front, what some describe as an army, was led by a University of Alabama graduate B.G.Mahesh and a Columbia University alumnus, Rajesh Jain. While not questioning the humble origins of Prime Minister Modi, it was quite essential understanding whether it was ‘Harvard’, ‘Hard Work’ or both working in the tea vendor’s backyard.

It is quite a tedious job analyzing the impact of “Battle 2014”. An aged historian in a backward town in northern Karnataka questions the very basics of Indian Independence. He interestingly ponders whether it were the English skills of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and Pandit Nehru that had them lead the Independence movement, for the diverse and large non-English speaking population of India. Another student from Jain University is amazed by the quick strategic leverage of Mani Shankar Iyer’s“Chaiwalah” remark to shaping the “Chai peCharcha” campaign. A lecturer from Bangalore University says it was hope and the engine of energized youth that drove the campaign for team Modi, drawing innumerable parallels to Obama’s campaign in 2010, where he often spoke of his upbringing by his not so wealthy grandmother. It is still unsure to many, if APCO had a role in the campaign, leading to these comparisons.

So while the debate has taken off on Indian soil, “Nehruvianism” is being demonized in the eyes of the largely impatient youth. Having decoded Brand Modi, it is understood that the youth are disenchanted with technocrats leading from the front. While it is known that technocrats, foreign educated or otherwise are till date key to the back end logistics formany political parties and the bureaucracy if not at the cover-page. Which we can describe as “veiled technocracy”. Is this a one of the factorsand a fine rebalance that the other main national party, the Indian National Congress, also being termed the Grand Old Party of India, will have to work on? Will it have to redefine and repackage its front end and back end mix? We will have to wait and watch.As history has taught us that, however big the mandate may be, a healthy opposition is synonymous to healthy governance over time