The Tyrant Tripathi Truth


Tyrant: An oppressive, harsh, arbitrary person.

Oppressive: Weighing heavily on the mind or spirits; causing depression or discomfort

My attention was drawn to Salil Tripathi’s article today in The Mint dated 17 January 2013 titled ‘The Vibrant Gujarat Myth’.  As an opinion piece in a business newspaper, it stands out as a rather peculiar piece. It appears that the writer has been tormented by the claims and actions of followers of Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and is troubled by their antics so much that he has had an emotional outburst which he attempts to camouflaged by his caustic & sarcastic comments about Modi followers in a biased article. The structure of his article is thus; Tripathi ridicules the past emotional & intellectual related aspects as well as actions of Modi followers and finds it amusing while explaining why he does so, the current excitement amongst the followers of Modi of the return of Britain to India in the recent Vibrant Gujarat summit.

I have summarized and paraphrased the writer and added my observations & comments in blue italics.

The article begins with setting the context by summarizing the emotional & intellectual aspects as well as the actions of Modi followers, who, in Tripathi’s view,

a)      feel secure and overcome their inferiority complex by feasting over the statistics of investment commitments made by attendees at the Vibrant Gujarat summit;

b)      put emphasis on who came, who didn’t and who left quietly at the Vibrant Gujarat summit rather than the more real achievement of Modi winning his fourth electoral term because they take voters for granted and are more interested in earning accolades from abroad;

Unlike Tripathi’s column title, ‘Here, There, Everywhere’, most of the sane, rational, objective & centred beings are ‘Here in the Now’. When in an investor summit, the guests (investors) are more important than the host (Modi & Gujarat government) and naturally the focus is on the investor and not the political victory of the host which is best reserved for a party political broadcast. Did Tripathi want Modi followers to show up in large numbers and raise slogans to the effect that Modi’s victory is a bigger achievement than the investors getting themselves to the summit? Wake up, Mr. Tripathi. This was an investors’ summit, not a political jamboree. And by the way, who was handing out accolades from abroad during an investor summit? Is Tripathi in knowledge of some ‘Best Investor Summit Annual Awards’ that we are not aware of?

c)      indulged in a laughable mobilization to get people to vote Modi as one of the most influential people in the world;

d)     get thrilled when a foreign publication considers Modi as a leader to watch;

e)      get excited when a Wikileaks cable shows the interpretation by an American diplomat of Modi’s popularity & Gujarat’s growth;

f)       feel dejected when despite lobbying the US government, its State department hasn’t issued Modi a visa, so he can address motel owners in some cities in the US;

It is interesting that Tripathi derides Modi followers for attempting to get recognition and supposedly endorsement from foreigners across the world while in the same article he asks anyone who cares to read Britain’s High Commissioner’s speech closely and conclude that actually there is no recognition forthcoming from him for Modi that would qualify as an endorsement. Now, do I need to explain the double standards Mr. Tripathi breathes in or is it apparent to that brain inside his chubby cute mustachioed face with a portly body to boot?

Next, Tripathi states that he finds amusing the excitement in Gandhinagar & Ahmedabad over getting Britain to “reestablish” (note the quotes) contact with Gujarat government, especially in the context of the above set of behaviour by the followers of Modi.

He then goes on to highlight the reasons that form the basis of his state of amusement;

a)      Britain has relations with India and not with its individual states;

b)      presence of Patricia Hewitt, an opposition leader in Britain (he asks us to remember this) and the High Commissioner has a symbolic value & doesn’t guarantee the promised sums of money or for that matter mean that Britain now actively encourages investment (& had discouraged it earlier) in Gujarat over other states;

If the aforementioned presences are symbolic as Mr. Tripathi would want us to believe, then why does he ask us to remember that Hewitt is an opposition leader? Could it be that he is insinuating that when it comes to symbolism, a ruling party politician trumps an opposition party one? Well, what do I know of symbolism; I only have a keen eye for people’s double standards and biases.

c)      there is not one direct, personal, effusive mention of Modi by High Commissioner James Bevan of the sort captains of Indian industry handed him

d)     the return of Britain to Gujarat (note this phrase) is, to paraphrase the Bard, Much Ado About a Routine Thing.

Now, was that a slip of Mr. Tripathi’s mouse(tache) or the keyboard (can’t help the silliness)? Didn’t Tripathi mean the supposed return of Britain to Gujarat or did he accidentally let it slip out that Britain did in fact return to Gujarat. Or wait perhaps, he forgot to put that phrase in quotes?

e)      the investors put their money in Gujarat because the state has been administered soundly over the past 50 years and would require spectacular incompetence to mess things up.

f)       Modi’s chief characteristic is in letting people do what they want including letting people seek revenge.

In the final point, Tripathi articulates a sentiment he himself is in agreement with; that of letting business people do what they want with investors voting with their wallets rather than government directing investments, and spins it into a negative & depressive comment about Modi letting people take revenge. This exposes him for what this article is; a negative & biased, “double standarded” spin on the Vibrant Gujarat summit.  It is sad that The Mint whose journalistic standards should at least be in consonance with that of The Wall Street Journal should allow an article of such sort.