India's greatness lies in its great leaders. As history will testify, leaders are not born great. They are either born with great last names or achieve greatness through the eternal cycle of scams and clean-chits and the many yojanas named after them. Our leaders of yore did not have the luxury of appropriating public money for private gains, they had to mostly rely on good deeds, years of struggle, and policies that shaped our today for everlasting greatness. But when you're long gone and become a statue at a busy traffic intersection, silently collecting bird poop of all hues, you need that extra something that sets you apart from the also-rans. Nehru appropriated the high necked sleeveless jacket, the rose and made that his own. Gandhi immortalized the dhoti, charkha and left behind great quotes for world leaders and Hollywood stars to borrow. Netaji's monocles are as much a part of his legacy as his mysterious disappearance that gave rise to generations of Kakus and Jethus who insisted they had spotted him on Elgin road just last week.
Just like political parties have symbols, our elected also need a style statement to claim their space in fickle public memory. Since corruption charges, insensitive comments and lunging at each other's throats while the assembly is still in progress is de-rigueur for our netas, they are constantly looking for a USP that will set them apart from the cattle class. Not everyone is blessed with lush Amazonian growth sprouting out of their ears like Laloo, so they have to resort to capes, mufflers, rath rides and pee on plants to claim their rightful place in the electorate's heart.
Which is why I don't understand why some of you find Modi's penchant for taking selfies at every given opportunity so funny. Don't we all do the same - fish out our phones, pose and preen, the moment we sense company?
It requires a great leader like NaMo to adopt our selfie addiction as his own and use it to his advantage. How many nations can claim to have a PM who not only forges ties with world leaders but also their doting mothers and adoring bhakts by clicking selfies with them?
And when you are leading a nation with the world's youngest population, you can no longer rely on tight churidars and bandh-galas to worm your way into their hearts. Especially after you have promised them 'acche din' and then let your colleagues go on a banning spree depriving them of their little joys!
While ordinary mortals like us travel all over the world only to return with 'Made in China' mementoes, PM Modi jee goes globe-trotting and returns with thousands and thousands of priceless memories, all captured on his phone camera. Only NaMo knows, when it comes to selfies, there's scope for one more and more and more.
Even a hardened leader like Chinese Premier Li Keqiang could not resist Modi's childlike enthusiasm and smiled for his first ever selfie. If only Modi had pouted and tilted his head sideways, the Chinese government would've been wracked with remorse for welcoming him with a map of India without Arunachal Pradesh and J&K on state TV and sent a sorry faced selfie as a note of apology.
While our friendly neighbours resort to border incursions, stealth attacks and harbour terrorism to keep our friendly ties alive, our PM believes in conquering hearts with the power of selfies.
No wonder, Indians who felt ashamed of being born Indians, coloured their hair peroxide blonde, slathered their face with Fair and Lovely, moved to the land of dollars and shortened their names to Ken, Jen and Pen, are now proud to be called Kalpesh, Jignesh and Paritesh, while they chant Modi, Modi, Modi and beat up Rajdeep Sardesai.
Fifty years later when they'll erect a 700-feet statue of Narendra Modi along Gujarat's coastline, honouring the ascent of a self-made man to a selfie-made PM, we all know what he'll be holding in his hand as he smiles endearingly at the sky.
In the same vicinity, where tourists will trample over each other to get a better selfie with this great man, there'll be a chaiwala simmering tea for his customers and dreaming of a future as bright as the towering presence.Suggest a correction