Modi Mania


Sun, May 26, 2019

Window Seat
Mrinal Chatterjee

People have voted Modi once again- this time with greater numbers. The number of seats that BJP won surprised even the party leaders. Somebody posted a meme on social media in which Digvijay Singh says: Are yeh to Exit Poll se vi jyada ho gaya. (It came out more than the exit poll hinted.)
The question going round is why people voted for Modi so empathetically. Unemployment, demonetization, slower economic growth rate, and agrarian crisis- nothing seemed to stop people from voting Modi. The Rafale issue and the Congress-led propaganda ‘Chowkidar Chor Hai’ did not work, it actually backfired.
I think there were four  points that worked to Modi’s advantage. First, there was no strong opposition-face to counter Modi. Congress seemed ill prepared and reluctant to take on BJP with full force. The gathbandhan was too diverse and too loosely created. There was a comment in social media:  Abtak sarkar gathbandhan se banti thi,  Ab bipakhy gathbandhan se ban rahi hai (Till the other day, governemtnh used to be formed by coalition of diffderent parties, now the opposition is being made by that.)
Second, the opposition criticized Modi’s failures but failed to highlight what they have to offer, Nyay was too late to come. On vital issues the voters felt Modi could deliver better. Voters didn’t punish Modi for not creating enough jobs or for the demonetization fiasco.    
Third, BJP as a party was better organized and determined to win. From mobilizing funds to forming booth level committee BJP did it almost with professional finesse.  They were successful in positing Nationalism and National security as core issues.
Fourth, Religious polarisation has become more intense. And BJP could successfully position itself as the messiah for the majority Hindus.
Task before the new government
With a 48 percent vote share, the NDA’s performance is comparable to the Congress’ 1984 victory. Huge victory means a high expectation level. Now the Modi Government 2.0 will have to deliver. In 2014 Modi asked for 60 months to change the face of the country. He has been given 60 more months.
The first task before the new Government is to dispel the perception that minorities are unsafe under NDA government. Some proactive measures need to be taken to dispel this perception. The gau-rakshaks need to be put under tight leash.
Second, the new government must take proactive measures to create and provide employment. That needs some strict policy measures.
Agriculture is another area that should get priority. India is facing an agrarian crisis. It must be addressed properly. From water allocation to handholding in marketing agricultural produce to improving cold chain management- this sector needs urgent attention.  We must create good relationship with our neighbours. If this is the Asian Century - then India must take the leadership, not by browbeating the smaller countries- but by taking them on our stride.
Global Obesity rising faster in rural areas than cities
Contrary to popular perception, global rates of obesity among people who love in the countryside are rising faster than those among city dwellers.
In a study of 33 years of trends in body mass index (BMI) across 200 countries and territories, the scientists found that people worldwide are getting fatter- with average weight rising by 5 to 6 kg over the period of the study- and that most of the rise is due to gains in BMI in rural areas.
The study, published in Nature analysed data across rural and urban areas of 200 countries and territ0ories between 1985 and 2017.
This is happening as the report says, because people living in urban areas have better access to places to exercise and healthier food.
This is completely different from our perception of people living in villages and cities. We think people living in villages get and eat healthier food and city dwellers eat junk food; kids and young men play more often and longer in villages than their city-based counterparts.
It is time to mend those perceptions.
Exit Polls
Exit Polls are almost like the astrological predictions. Many of us do read or watch it. But do we really believe in it? Probably some of us do.
The difference between exit poll and astrological prediction is the former is based on known and tested statistical methods. But the problem of exit polls not being always right in India is: the basis of any polls is people’s opinion. The researchers ask people a set of questions and expect t them to answer truthfully. The analysis is based on people’s responses to the questions. If the person answers not what he feels or thinks, instead answers what he thinks you would like to hear- then the ultimate analysis will be totally wrong.
This time, somehow, results of almost all exit polls were close to the final result. With that, thankfully the credibility of Exit Polls has been restored.
We can safely predict that real-time data analysis will play a bigger role in subsequent elections.
Tailpiece: Exit Polls
I am glad that we didn’t have any Exit Polls during our school results.
Otherwise our parents would have started thrashing us 3-4 days in advancve of results.
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The author, a journalist turned media academician lives in Central Odisha town of Dhenkanal. An anthology of his weekly column Window Seat, published in 2018 has been published as a book. Write to him to get a free e-copy. mrinalchatterjee@ymail.com


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