Polarising

Some British acquaintances were asking about Indian politics and Narendra Modi. I told them my opinion of him is strongly biased (I abhor him), but I struggled to come up with the correct, unbiased term to describe him.

It’s not controversial, extremist, illiberal or nationalist. Divisive is close, but that’s not it either.

The correct term to describe him, in my opinion, is polarising.

People who know anything about him may not agree on any of those previous terms. However, most people who know anything about him – supporters or opponents** – will agree on this one term: he is polarising.

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No to ‘A’, is not a Yes for ‘B’

It’s just a demand for something better than A.

In a political tussle between issues A & B, the defeat of A doesn’t mean the public supports B. It just means they don’t support A.

Couple of examples…

Communism vs Capitalism

The people’s revolutions just said they didn’t want Communism anymore. Not that they wanted Capitalism.

Despite what every politician in the West may tell you, the people in Eastern Europe & Russia didn’t choose Capitalism. They chose to be free of Communist dictatorships. And to try another politico-economic order. It’d be a stretch to say they chose Capitalism, given a majority of them hadn’t experienced it for multiple generations

Globalisation vs Isolationism

People are saying no to rampant Globalisation, not yes to Isolationism.

Whether it’s Brexit, rise of Trump & Sanders, or the anti-trade, anti-bigCo, and anti-globalisation trends in polls, the voice is clear – a large portion of Western populations have grown vary and sceptical of Globalisation. In free trade, free movement of people, and even in free movement of ideas.

What it doesn’t indicate is that the people want to be isolated from everyone else in the world. What it may indicate is that the people want a control on the mingling – to not be completely overrun, without recourse, in their own backyard.


In most cases, people know exactly what they don’t want. And that’s why they voted as they did.

They’re not as clear on what they do want. They just want something better.

This, however, doesn’t imply that they want the only presented alternative. In most cases, they may want another, not-yet-visible solution. One that isn’t currently offered to them. One that even they may not be able to clearly describe/explain, at the moment.

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Institutions

Been finding it interesting (more so intriguing) to note that after encountering efficient, non corrupt processes in countries like UK, the solutions for India from Indians here are still mostly on lines of:

  • ‘Shoot all the leaders’,
  • ‘Congress is corrupt, BJP will bring ram rajya’,
  • ‘Anna Hazare is the saviour’,
  • ‘we need a dictatorship’ (which, both the above options might easily deliver), my etc.

No one, not even the most intelligent, insightful IIT/IIM educated folk I’ve met or read, suggest what I find to be the obvious: ‘strong, independent government institutions’.

The strength of western democracies isn’t derived from non-corrupt leaders (they are corrupt here too, just not in such an open manner), or from being led by a god anointed party or leader (highly religious states in EU seem to have higher corruption), or from a great leader(!) who has lead them into a shining future.

The strength of western democracy, IMO, is derived from its strong institutions which deliver what they are responsible for, irrespective of – government of the day, mood of the populace and mood of the boss. More importantly, institutions which, while consistently delivering their responsibilities, rarely over reach.

About time that we stopped thinking in terms of individuals and personalities, and started thinking in terms of institutions, organisations, structures and processes. Yes, it’s boring, it doesn’t let you (or anyone) be a hero. But, it delivers. Time, after time.

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