Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with school children on Independence Day celebration | Commons
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Apart from the Exam Warriors book, the Modi app has a forum where kids can sign in and share their anxieties with each other while being watched over by the all-knowing, all-seeing PM

Voters are like Pokemon. Gotta catch ’em all and gotta catch ’em young.
— Made-up Modern Chinese Proverb #1

Since giving ‘mantras’ and moral advice to people is suddenly a thing, I have a few nice proverbs for our election warriors.

With eyes on the 2019 elections, our politicians are getting ready to woo voters once again. One big chunk comes from the first-time voter category, meaning those who were born between 1997 and 2001; those who turn 18 between 2014 and 2019.

That’s a giant 133 million voters right there.

From the ramparts of the Red Fort last year, PM Modi remarked how 2018 is special because those born in this millennium will start turning 18. What he meant was: “These kids shall become ripe for the picking by political parties.” For a politician, adulthood is obviously all about being able to vote (more than about being allowed to drink or drive).

First-time voters can contribute to the shaping of democracy and the parliament of the world’s largest democracy. But just for a bit. After voting, these 133 million voters go right back to mugging up textbooks and giving entrance exams to get into good colleges and landing up lucrative jobs or end up selling Pakodas.

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Sigh.

Keeping this palpably aspirational and energetic population in mind, Modi has launched a book titled “Exam Warriors” last week. It contains anecdotal wisdom on how to deal with board exams stress, and even has a few fun yoga illustrations for de-stressing. But wait. It’s not just a book! There is going to be an exam warriors forum on the Narendra Modi app where kids can sign in and share their anxieties with each other while being watched over by the all-knowing, all-seeing Prime Minister of India! Yaay?

“Want to influence new voters? There’s an app for that.”
— Made-up Modern Chinese Proverb #2

Clearly, in Modi’s worldview, the most important thing about education are the exams, not the actual knowledge gaining process. Parents can now say, “Take this book, dear child… our PM has told you how to deal with this exam pressure. He has revealed his secrets for you to use and succeed. Listen to him and you might become a PM one day too! Now mug up this lesson and vomit it out on that exam sheet as fast as you can.”

There is an actual section in the book about using mnemonics to memorise things. Why encourage curiosity in children when they can just memorise stuff using acronyms, eh? The obvious advantage of this exercise being when these kids grow up, it’ll help them become supporters and learn slogans during elections.

“Goods and Service what? It’s Good and Simple Tax which is going to help us Grow Stronger Together. NaMo NaMo!”

— Made-up Modern Chinese Proverb #3

Sushma Swaraj mistakenly even said “elections” instead of “exams” three times during her speech at the book launch event. She corrected herself saying, “We are leaders and election comes to our mind often.”

Arvind Kejriwal didn’t want to be left behind on the “Gotta catch them young” bandwagon either. Kejriwal, who is the “Harry Potter” to Narendra Modi’s “Voldemort”? Or vice-versa, depending on which side you’re on.

Our Delhi CM advised kids in a radio advertisement to become an accha insaan and deshbhakt when they grow up.

To be fair, that’s a noble thought right there but I seriously think a stressed-out exam facing student is thinking more about getting into a good college and profession rather than becoming a deshbhakt.

Deshbhakti comes later when one is sitting bored at work, browsing through Twitter while the world #outrages about the latest divisive controversy. Not when you’re 18, please.

If you really care about students becoming better citizens, instead of asking them to vomit memorised garbage on exam sheets or giving morally amazeballs radio messages, why don’t you make Civics lessons more interesting?

Instead of the Civics subject just being a 10-20 marks optional thing, which kids can skip out on because they can earn passing marks by drawing India maps or learning historical event dates, make schools talk to kids about our democracy. Make them curious about how it functions. Talk to the kids about WHY they vote, not who they should vote for.

Meghnad S. is a political analyst and a Parliament nerd. After working with MPs across party lines for the past six years, he now hosts a webseries titled ‘Consti-tuition’, which breaks down parliament in a fun, relatable way.

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1 Comment Share Your Views

1 COMMENT

  1. When u say Meghnad has worked across party lines, can you please confirm if he has worked with BJP? All I see is overflowing luv for raitaman,hate for Modi.

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