When it comes to festivities, Indians must rank very high on the list of nations which go berserk if and when the festive mood catches up with them.
The Latinos probably are the more colourful, more zestful and more daring when gripped by the celebratory fever. But nothing compared to the way we Indians (particularly the ones from the cow belt) can and do express our sense of joy, induced one not excluded. Take the Holi festival, as an instance; it offers you a choice of colours and grants you the privilege to become a nuisance to others.
The festival of colours comes right at the top of the list festivities though some would argue that Diwali is the most happening. Yet unlike Diwali, Holi can turn ugly when, say, women, armed with lathis (batons) take on their men folk, running for cover as weaker sex gleefully chase them around. That's lath-holi, if you will. Or, when the rural folk use cow dung as a replacement for colours, fresh dung from the nearest heap.
No occasion, though, for me to go ga ga on the traditional festivities like, say, the one that mark Dussehra. We are just now in the longest ever festival known in these parts, one marking the 365 "glorious" days Narendra Modi has been at the helm in New Delhi. All other festivals pale into insignificance. The Prime Minister himself blew his own trumpet in this regard from "holy" Mathura even as some others were busy at another place, the "holier" Varanasi, Modi's parliamentary constituency, performing the same ritual and with an extra verve too. The effort that obviously has gone into sprucing up some of the Varanasi Ghats these past few days is truly amazing. And the chai shops that have sprung up everywhere in the city, celebrating Modi's alleged beginnings as a tea vendor. Not to mention the great splurge on multilingual TV channels refreshing our memory of the days when it all had begun just a year ago.
To drive the celebratory point home he doesn't forget to mention it from every available public platform- from Madison Gardens in New York to the Sydney Harbour in Australia or Shanghai in China or nearer home Delhi, Mathura, Mumbai etc. etc. : We Indians had just until 365 days ago hated to call ourselves Indians, he has said. Thanks to Modiji's 56 inch 'chhati' we now feel a good ten feet taller as we proclaim our Indianness. Such had been the magic which Prime Minister Modi has wrought in just one year.
Think of the four more ahead of him. We Indians should verily be at the top of the world, the only problem being that the Himalays have lately taken to shakiness; see the havoc that the shake caused in Nepal and some Indian neighbourhoods along the border. But, never mind. There is no stopping Modi, not in his present mood when all his party men, senior Ministers in his cabinet in particular, speak of him as the one holding the last word on anything concerning India.
Yes, he is the Nation's man of destiny, its destiny itself, in fact, to go by the suggestions implied in his Finance Minister's utterances on many servile TV channels these past few days. And Mr. Jaitley, a top Supreme Court lawyer, and Modi's Finance-cum-Information Minister does not believe in empty rhetoric. He is a doer. And obviously his brief of the moment is to hold forth on the importance of being Modi. More strength to Jaitley's bow.
Modi, always well served by his media advisers, is second to none when it comes to grabbing opportunities. He has for one thing taught the media how to eat out his hands; no Press conferences; no special privileges like being asked to join him on his overworked foreign tour programmes. Better be their on your own, preferably a couple of days ahead of him, to work up the crowds back home for another original Modi show about to unfold. What a great showman he must be. Even a Cecille B. De Mille could learn a lesson or two from him.
The Supreme Court may have barred publication of photographs, bar that of the President and the PM in government-paid advertisements, but then you reckon sans the Modi genius. He, for instance, knows how to get his favoured CMs or colleagues into the picture without attracting judicial criticism.
Tuesday's Economic Times had, and I counted, 45 pix of the Prime Minister, some by himself, others in company of his favorites. The other paper had just five photographs of Modi. Mind you and do not make the mistake of being judgmental –Mr. Modi believes in holding his cards close to his chest. He hasn't yet revealed his hand and never dare to talk of what may be up his sleeve next.
A thought that worries me though is how serious is Mr. Modi about sab ka saath, sab ka vikas, a slogan, one of the scores coined by him these 365 days, and one that is very promising if not reassuring. I don't want to spoil the fun by mentioning the heart-breaking story of the Mumbai boy who along with two of his batch mates had applied for a job in an up and coming business house; the two mates got their appointment letters, the third, a terse one line reply : "we do not offer employment to Muslims".