The news that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would appear on a special episode of Bear Grylls’ show, Man vs Wild, on Discovery Channel took the internet by storm Monday.
The trailer, featuring Modi and British adventurer Grylls taking on the elements at Jim Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand, has led, predictably, to many jokes and memes, not the least of which has to do with how Modi may have continued to shoot for this episode even after the Pulwama attack in February.
The Prime Minister is now at the receiving end of his supporters’ favourite question: Where were you when soldiers were sacrificing their lives? One almost wants to be that journalist who asks: Aapko is waqt kaisa mehsoos ho raha hai?
But if you think about it, Narendra Modi is actually the perfect choice for the popular survival show. Here’s why.
1. In his tweet sharing the trailer, Grylls pointed out that people would see “the unknown side of PM Modi as he ventures into Indian wilderness to create awareness about animal conservation & environmental change.” And he’s not wrong. Remember when he told a student that “climate has not changed. We have changed”? And let’s give credit where it’s due: his government’s environment-related decisions are the very definition of Man vs Wild. So, if he’s going to create awareness about conservation and environment, it’s definitely an unknown side of him and I, for one, would applaud him for embracing it. Everyone should experiment with the truth at least once in their lives.
People across 180 countries will get to see the unknown side of PM @narendramodi as he ventures into Indian wilderness to create awareness about animal conservation & environmental change. Catch Man Vs Wild with PM Modi @DiscoveryIN on August 12 @ 9 pm. #PMModionDiscovery pic.twitter.com/MW2E6aMleE
— Bear Grylls (@BearGrylls) July 29, 2019
2. Modi is also the most qualified person in the country to be on the show. From puppies to crocodiles to cows, it’s no secret that our Prime Minister is a true animal lover, who really feels their pain. A crucial point in his favour.
3. Other leaders might be afraid of the dangers that lurk in the jungle, but not Modi. Even the venomous insects of the forest are nothing for our fearless leader. His party is known to equate illegal immigrants from Bangladesh with termites, threatening to throw them out.
4. Given that the show is all about being placed in a dangerous situation and using survival skills to emerge victorious, Modi is by far the best candidate for the job. Just look at how he navigated the tricky and questioning media for five years, only to return with an even bigger mandate. Darwin himself could not have scripted a better example for his theory.
5. Many critics point out that Modi, being a vegetarian, won’t be able to hack the jungle life. Grylls, for his part, is known to eat insects when he needs his protein fix. But here, too, Modi has the edge. Na khaunga na khaane doonga, he had said. This, to me, displays a high level of commitment to the welfare of insects.
6. Finally, let’s look at how the show itself has been received by critics. Multiple reports in the past claimed that the events and situations portrayed on the show were not quite as dangerous or even rustic as they were made to appear, but were artfully staged. And who, I ask, is better at the art of image management than our Prime Minister? Be it GDP numbers or his stay in a cave, this is a man who knows exactly how to show what he wants people to see. So, if he wants India to think he defeated a Bengal tiger (and we’re not just talking about Mamata Banerjee here), the camera and the tiger will just have to oblige.
So, really, Prime Minister, I’m on your side on this. You deserve this.