Eight things that Narendra Modi’s latest ad for himself says about him

Screen Shot 2017-05-26 at 10.55.52 AM.png

The BJP-led NDA government led by Narendra Damodardas Modi completes three wondrous years in office today.

Happy anniversary, bhakton!

As behoves an image-conscious government that has used advertisements, slogans (and a pliant, super-horizontal media) to manufacture consent, many newspapers across the country have expensive jacket ads touting its achievements.

The ad’s chief aim is to emphasise that the government’s mission statement of ‘Sab ka saath, sab ka vikas‘ (with everybody, development for everybody) has been met, which is a claim you can blindly believe if you returned from Mars by the last flight last night.

But the half-page picture that accompanies the ‘Saath hai, Vishwas hai… ho raha Vikas hai‘ advertisement issued by the government’s publicity wing, DAVP, can be a nice case-study for aspiring psychologists (and copywriters) in what it seeks to convey.

Heaven knows where the photograph was shot, probably at the start of a “road show” or at a marathon because there are lots of troll-type uncles in it. But it is remarkable that a government proclaims that everyone is with it cannot show “everybody”.

DAVP will of course claim that this is a real picture, not a staged photograph (applause!). Still…

# There is not a single woman in the photograph.

# There is not a single young person, boy or girl.

# There is one Sardar, but how many Dalits, Muslims?

# There is not one dark-looking “African” of the South Indian kind.

# The PM’s saffron shawl is impossibly photoshopped to cover all traces of a paunch.

# A ring of security men safely separates the “pradhan sevak” from his masters.

# Does a humble Hindu ever wave with his left hand?

# And above all, not one minister of his “team” is in the frame as if he has “achieved” everything all on his own.

As a fashion statement, as an ego massager, the photo more than does its job, but it is a very poor advertisement for ‘sab ka saath‘.

Especially, when even the English version of the advertisement carries a Hindi tagline.

Appropriately, perhaps, the word “gas” makes its appearance three times in the copy accompanying the DAVP picture.

Of course, we are quibbling, trying to find hot air in a haystack.

Happy anniversary, mitron.