Thursday, 19 May, 2022
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Modi’s lockdown beard is here to stay. It has much to achieve, politically

Modi is slowly and steadily crafting his own persona to match up to the looks of the greatest political and philosophical icons of India.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi loves dramatics. This isn’t a jibe at him. He did tell a journalist once that his favourite subject in school was dramatics. This might explain a lot about him but that’s a discussion for another day. For now, let’s talk about Narendra Modi’s new look. And what goes into the making of a character with a new ‘avatar’.

Style isn’t that easy to achieve. You have to work on it, it demands discipline and time. The latter is a crucial factor, especially for those now in their 70s. For Modi, it took nearly six months — all through the lockdown. Modi wasn’t alone. Many of us, too, fancied our ‘enforced’ looks. But as soon as the lockdown was eased, we rushed to the barber’s shop. But not Modi. He continued to work on it. He has, as they say, ‘maintained it’.


Also read: Modi is the only Indian mass leader after Gandhi who has used religious symbolism so well


Janta’s poor guesswork on PM’s looks

With the PM sporting long hair and a long beard, speculations are rife — some say he is practising social distancing, and that’s why he will not have a barber around. Those who believe in this theory are ignorant souls, or simply don’t understand the quotient of style and Modi’s politics. Have you ever observed how well kempt our PM’s beard is? If a barber isn’t grooming it, who else is? Unless he’s grooming it himself. And if that’s the case, then our PM is not only an expert on cloud cover, wind energy, cashless economy, history and catchy acronyms, but also understands hair styling. With hair styling, timing is very crucial. You have to let it grow first, then manage that fine cut, just when it begins to spoil your ‘image’.

Many say that Modi wants to project the image of an ascetic by donning the look of a ‘fakir’. This, too, is not the real reason. We are familiar with our PM going out of his way to be known as a ‘fakir’, but his choice of clothes, sunglasses, cars and now planes is anything but fakir-like. In fact, in an interview he gave to ‘veteran journalist’ Akshay Kumar, he had said that being poor perhaps gave him an inferiority complex, which is why he would make sure that he’s always clean and wearing ironed clothes. So, his penchant for focussing on his look is an old habit.


Also read: With Ram Mandir, Modi has reversed the tide of history more than any other global leader


Those who got it right

There are also those who say Modi is going for the ascetic image because he is trying to project himself as the saintly nation-head who finally helped pave the way for the Ram Mandir at Ayodhya — a ‘true Ram bhakt’ who brought ‘Ram Rajya’ back to India.

Modi did look the part during the Ram Mandir bhoomi pujan, making sure he was the most important person at the event. Constitutionally, yes, the prime minister was the most important person present, but in the company of saints, you can’t ‘look’ out of sync. Because no one from the Ram Mandir movement who were ‘instrumental’ in the demolition of the Babri Masjid were invited, Modi made sure that he looked like a grand old leader who not only governs India but, now, was most likely its ideological-philosophical head who was going to lead the nation towards ‘dharma’ (faith) and ‘moksha’ (nirvana).

And that’s really where I think Modi is going with his tresses-and-beard look. Timed perfectly with the pandemic, the PM is going in for a huge image makeover, not of the country. This makeover goes beyond one event. Going by the ‘look’ of it, he is setting himself up for something big — to turn himself into a demigod, much like Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore, who have actually shaped the vision of this nation. Gurudev’s beard, however, will give a tough fight to anyone. Some also compare Modi’s looks to that of Shivaji Maharaj.


Also read: To beard or not to beard — Modi and Rahul Gandhi’s makeovers mirror their politics


Learning from Gurudev and Mahatma

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi’s ‘looks’, too, had a part to play in turning him from ‘Gandhi’ to ‘Mahatma’. The persona of a man clad in khadi dhoti with a walking stick, and living a simple life at an ashram moved people and made them see him as a saint. If Gandhi had done the same things for India’s independence in a white kurta pyjama, achkan or a suit, he would, at best, be seen as a politician. In fact, Nehru, another stalwart in India’s freedom struggle, is also seen as a rich man’s son who looked the part of an entitled man. By trying to be a ‘mahatma’, Modi is signalling that he is above elections, petty politics and accountability.

What holds true for Gandhi is also true for Rabindranath Tagore. The poet-philosopher who donned long hair and a jubba (traditional long tunic), is etched in people’s memory also because of his looks, which he had artistically crafted, taking his own persona and work to an ethereal space, one that awed people. Many have said that Modi tried to copy Tagore’s look by wearing a jubba and cummerbund during his visit to Kedarnath in 2019, right before West Bengal went to polls in the Lok Sabha election.

Much like the two men who dominate the iconography of India today — be it on currency, coins or stamps — Modi is slowly and steadily crafting his own persona to match himself up with the greatest political and philosophical icons of India because he wants to turn himself into a figure of history. He wants to establish his political tenure in India as a watershed moment. And he wants to look the part.

This ‘look’ will go a long way in helping Modi establish himself as an overarching political figure in India’s post-Independence history — a political figure who combines religion, philosophy and politics, much like the erstwhile kings. If achieved, it’s a very powerful position to be in. If there were to be any Constitutional changes in the way India is governed and an all-encompassing post is created, Modi would fit well into this. Who knows, we might just see him on currency notes too.

The author is a political observer and writer. Views are personal.

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30 COMMENTS

  1. jal gayi? Need burnol? Ofcourse he is presenting a look that of a sant sipahi, a warrior saint. Only problem is it will sell well in India , but will look tacky outside with all those foreign heads of state

  2. Hahahaha,
    I saw many of the people saying Modi is looking weak due to his new look and other leaders of country were well groomed, I want to ask them does a beard or clean shaved really reflects the intellect of the person. On the other hand it reflects the piousness and dignity of Mr. Modi , it reflects how down to earth he is.
    Judgement of a person is not by his/her external appearance but inner intellect hence don’t comment about anybody without proper research.

  3. Till when will Indian political heads such as PM continue to show the world how weak we are . Modi was completely out of place for brics summit .With the long beard and the attire he looked weak and out of place compared to other heads who were looking so trim and well groomed . Modi sir pls come back to ur original dynamic look and please dress up which suits the occasion

  4. He is representing the country…at the SCO meet where global members met..he looked out of place..he must keep in mind he is representing india outside too not only inside…trim the beard…its ugly

  5. Did a high school child write this article? There are many ways to address someone’s looks, even criticise it, although the author might not enjoy criticism of their looks. This article does nothing towards talking about his look other than to tell us how the author feels about Modi.

    Could’ve done that in one short paragraph.

  6. Rahul went through three looks during the same period.
    ‘Lukkha’ intellectual look with a beard, long hair confused poet look and now his original, the prince of Bangkok look.
    Analysis of that would be a more interesting article.

    • What defeat ? Are u delusional. Or had too much to drink buddy lol
      China beats India in most aspects of development gdp, lifestyle factors, technology.
      Go to China and you will realize . Better to do business with the world’s largest economy than talk bs

  7. The most fetid piece of garbage in this stupid news trader’s dukaan.

    This is not even yellow journalism, it is gutter journalism masquerading as some political commentary.

    Does the length of Priyanka Gandhi’s Sari or her sleave less blouse have some “hidden” political meaning as well?? Afterall Indira Gandhi – popularly known as “the witch” in polite company also wore similar blouses. Will this reprobate Sikandar produce any similar 800 word Opinion piece from the sewage storage facility called her brain about that??

  8. The most asinine piece of garbage in this stupid news trader’s dukaan.

    This is not even yellow journalism, it is gutter journalism masquerading as some political commentary.

    Does the length of Priyanka Gandhi’s Sari or her sleave less blouse have some “hidden” political meaning as well?? Afterall Indira Gandhi – popularly known as “the witch” in polite company also wore similar blouses. Will this reprobate Sikandar produce any similar 800 word Opinion piece from the sewage storage facility called her brain about that??

  9. The most asinine piece of garbage in this stupid news trader’s dukaan.

    This is not even yellow journalism, it is gutter journalism masquerading as some political commentary.

    Does the length of Priyanka Gandhi’s Sari or her sleave less blouse have some “hidden” political meaning as well?? Afterall Indira Gandhi – popularly known as “the witch” in polite company also wore similar blouses. Will this reprobate Sikandar produce any similar 800 word Opinion piece from the sewage storage facility called her brain about that??

  10. ‘MODIJI continue to focus on education, science and prosperity, HINDUS are interested in that .’

    Modi focuses on Hindu communalism. Hindus are most interested in that. In fact, only interested in that.

  11. focus on something which is more relevant. Though name of Modi is good currency to create image in journalism, but people are also seeing it. Ice is thin now

  12. Modi is growing beard so that two a penny journalists like youself could keep their job writing dumbo articles such as this

  13. Modi has grown his beard as he wants people to consider him as a modern day Mahatma. Within a few years bhakts will call him Mahatma Modi. He wants history to consider him as the greatest ruler to ever have ruled India, greater that Emperor Ashoka or Chandragupta Maurya. Modi is an extremely shrewd person who knows image in the most important aspect, not governance.

  14. What kind of article is this? Do we have to put up with all his kind of stuff? There are so many issues to analyze but the Print found this worthwhile to dish it out.

  15. The unadulterated love and admiration that Ms. Sikander has for Narendra Modi is inspiring indeed.
    Its so beautiful.

  16. Such a detailed analysis of a beard. I thought that he might have kept it cuz he liked it but then I am only a mortal. No matter what people think of Modi but the truth is he has changed politics vastly and has even shown why dynastic politics are on a decline. I don’t like the man but the party did pop a question in my mind about how internal democracy inside the saviours of democracy are a sham ! Still I will vote for Congress.

  17. “Modi’s lockdown beard” is the most undignified comment. When there is nothing else to say people resort to personal comments.
    Do not know if the commentator ever grew a beard ? To trim the beard one needs help and under the covid distancing norms for a senior citizen with the nation’s responsibility it is only prudent to keep away from another person.
    Please think before making such headlines.

  18. Whoever may grace our currency notes, we sure would like to see many more of them in circulation. The economy is feeling like Dras in winter, just before Diwali.

  19. If jihadist posing as journalists are getting worked up can INDIA get a better political party or person..

    MODIJI continue to focus on education, science and prosperity, HINDUS are interested in that .

    NO MORE FAKE HISTORICAL NARRATIVE OF RAPIST AND MURDEROUS INVADERS as our HEROES .

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