Modi, Branding, Hindutva and Development

What do make of a person who breaks the binary of ‘half full- half empty’ with a third way of looking ‘half filled with water and half with air’?Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi slamed FDI in retail

Most brands that we see today are externalized concrete vision of great out of box thinkers. Fred Smith did not think of improving the postal system rather gave birth of an entirely new concept of ‘over night delivery’ in the form of FedEx. Herb Kelleher conceived of ‘bus in the air’ with a price and frequency that of on road public transportation system and created Southwest airline. Sony’s Akio Morita challenged the notion that music source had to be fixed. Poloroid once upon a time turned the logic upside down that camera only captures images not prints them.  Not long time back iPod empowered the music lovers by making them masters of what they want to listen not what album cutting companies produce.

 Is development a new discourse? Probably yes.  Most of the established political brands has not been able break away from their narrow tunnel vision and continue to view the future as a modified extension of past.  Congress mixes and remixed the so called inclusion agenda, the BJP for a variety of structural impositions looked at reality with hindutva angle. The left parties see nothing but imperialist agenda of MNCs. It binary opposite of inclusion (Congress) is exclusion (BJP) which must have been a dominant consciousness for the ‘partition generation’ (and also upper and lower social divisions).  But things do not remain fixed. Emergence of consciousness is dynamic process.

The discourse has been changing, the old is now obsolete. The ideas of identity, religion, caste and sect are fundamentally are collectivists in nature which provides a survival tool kit to individuals in the absence State. The maturation of democracy, urbanization, encounters with alternate ways of existence (propelled by media exposure) and economic progress provide impetus to individualism. The modern generation is ‘me’ and ‘now’ orientation. The path to salvation is by empowerment though development. The new generation knows it. It’s currency of trade is consumption and it is an individualistic agenda. What is it in for me (caste, religion, sect I have it)?

Congress’s inclusiveness and BJP’s hindutva is essentially attempt appropriate a sense of violation. It derives its sustenance from identity. The new emergent physical (cityscapes) and mental (psychographics) reality is recasting identity into a default construct. Its violation is essential for its activation (this is the reason why some speeches are meant to incite). Modi’s developmental brand of politics is beginning to silence many identity based voices. People want deliverance from poverty, hunger and backwardness and good governance need not be based on identity. Religion and representation is not one and the same thing. The new twenty something class wants economic well being and fast.

Modi is very much like iPod and iMac for Apple. He is a silver bullet brand capable of getting the BJP out of its current difficult position. He is discourse changer/ game changer. By putting the developmental agenda on the centre stage he has introduced a new evaluative dimension electoral politics. Identity and corruption are two facets on which both of the political brands indistinguishable. This leaves the young electorate frustrated and dismayed. But sometimes brand recreate companies. Take for instance Fena and Ceasefire (brands became companies). It is good opportunity for BJP to create its own ‘blue ocean’. Appropriate inclusiveness (Congress’s strength) under the rubric of development and leave corruption and dynasty.  

The political opponents would never allow Modi to move on. But worst would be when internal factions within the BJP resort to old and obsolete discourse.


6 thoughts on “Modi, Branding, Hindutva and Development

  1. Hi Sir

    I am in complete agreement and was nodding my head throughout the entire post except for the last paragraph. Modi, as I see him (and this comes from discussions with people who have observed and suffered because of him), is trying on one side to enamor the youth vote bank (which by reason of the recent occurances have also emerged as the most influential bank of votes) by serving what they want to see in their leaders on a platter and at the same time very effectively playing the Hindutva card inside the BJP to ensure that he is selected as the Prime Ministerial candidate.

    The story of Gujrat is not as it seems….it is truly far from ideal…and it all it takes to see through Narendra Modi is dropping the “I want a solution to this problem / country and I want it quick” (which I see as an extrapolation of the “Get Rich Quick” attictude / need.)


    • This country has suffered on account of politics being practiced on identity. It is high time that we shattered the thinking that right representation can come only from similar gender identity. Identity is divisive and it has benefited certain cleaver politicians who leverage the power of ‘divide’. You can observe when some politicians get on the verge of unemployment, they start to rock peace by hate speeches in order to get back into business. Individual salvation can come from economic development. Economic progress is a great unifying force.

  2. Hi Sir!

    The minute I saw Modi’s speech, I thought of the branding framework you gave in class and guessed that an amazing blogpost would be on its way on this topic! Loved the way you analysed it.
    But, to take this forward, I also think that while the brand vision is in place with the development agenda, I do believe that, since a large part of the votebank is still not convinced about him due to his background, he needs to show the instrumentality of development to them. He talks about India’s ability to be compared to South Korea. For a normal layman, he doesn’t care about that. But, he does care for good roads because it makes his life simpler, easier to commute, saves time, utilizes his taxes well, etc.

    His speech was perfect for youth, but I believe that to be able to take this development agenda to every corner of the country, he needs to make it more and more relevant to the audience he is speaking to! And its not just him. All of us who talk about bringing about a change in the country need to start making sense to the people who matter, by making all this relevant to them.

  3. “Modi is very much like iPod and iMac for Apple.” Sums it up.
    BJP leadership knows that too. I think appropriate time is being awaited for the announcement

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