Narendra Modi: Let’s help him be the change

(Picture via India Today)

India is elated about Modi’s win. He brings boundless hope to a country that many Indians consider damaged beyond repair, myself included.

Modi steps into a position of power with a vision of prosperity for all. His core focus will be on development that aims to improve the quality of life of 1.25 billion people. He promises better infrastructure; hydroelectric power plants; more jobs; more foreign investment; stronger international relations; a 100 new modern cities; and a united country.

From what I understand about Modi, he is a visionary though fierce leader; intelligent, tough, devoted and clear about what he wants to achieve, and perhaps even ruthless in his mission to achieve it. The corruption free prosperity of Gujarat while he was Chief Minister is proof of his abilities. And he is truly innovative! (I can’t get over his holographic rallies!)

However, fixing one state is largely different from fixing a country with 35 territories running with their own bureaucracy, beliefs and varying levels of corruption. Modi has a herculean task before him but he is soaring with confidence, ready to seize it.

I believe that if anyone can reform India, it’s going to be Modi; and clearly the majority of India feels the same. But there is a minority in India who wish his peril and a foreign community that can’t seem to stop warning the world about him.

It’s naïve and idealistic of me to think that the haters will shut-up and let him do his job now that he has won. There will be people, media and agendas digging up dirt on him and scrutinizing his every action. He has tough decisions to make on a domestic and international level, that won’t make everyone happy. He will be watched like a hawk, as they wait for him to stumble so he can be attacked. Unfortunately that is the nature of politics and fodder for media.

And for Godsake, let’s stop talking about what happened in 2002!

We all want to see change. Modi’s authoritarian nature is feared by critics but perhaps it is what India needs to be whipped into shape.

The situation in India is desperate. We have lost decades with the wrong leadership, and patience is no longer our virtue. But we have to give him some time to deliver.

I plead to my fellow Indians, let’s not expect a sudden miracle or radical changes overnight. Let’s make sure we support our new hope and defend it against the evil eye. Modi’s 12-year corruption free record and landslide victory in the polls has earned him the benefit of doubt.

We must give him the chance and time he needs to rewrite India’s destiny. It might just be the only chance we have.

Ode to my little brother

ImageI’ve changed his nappies. I’ve made him cry. He has made me slam doors and scream my lungs out.

He has made me happy. He has made me proud. He has made me feel like the best human being on the planet.

He has shared secrets with me. I have given him good advice. I have given him bad advice. He has protected me. He has supported me unconditionally.

He drank his first beer with me. He hated it! Now he loves it. So if he ever becomes an alcoholic it will be my fault.

My brother is one of the most sincere, positive, generous, and open hearted people I know. He is also one of the most creative people I know –- except for when he designs his own tattoo. Thanks to me, he now has the coolest tattoo ever. His thoughts, my advice = great result. You are welcome, Anish.

He has a precocious mind. He knew what he wanted to major in, in the eighth grade. His first short story was published when he was in grade 10. He started his own business with his friends when he was 15. He is a football fanatic and I know he will work and excel in that industry one day.

He has numerous unique, multi-dimensional skills:  Intelligence (he passed his CFA the first time round, after studying only for a week!). A diligent and responsible work ethic. Can dance hip hop, rap and bhangra equally well to the same song. Can sing without embarrassing anyone. Superb design and video-editing skills. Taught himself to play the guitar. Can cook Indian food (!). Can do the tough-mudder.

He is amazingly patriotic, even though he hasn’t really lived in India. That feeling along with his talent, could make him a game changer for our country. I hope India doesn’t disillusion him irrevocably.

He has taught me to believe in who I am by always looking up to me. I feel a responsibility towards him as a big sister; it helps me make decisions sometimes. He is the most mature 24 year old I know. I won’t make big decisions without his opinion. He inspires me in many ways.

I hurt when he is hurting, and also when he acts stupid. I want to protect him, but still be the cool big sister. A tough balance to keep.

I worry who he will marry, only because in my mind no one will be good enough for him. But I do hope he finds genuine true love and is able to keep it for life.

He was born on my request when I was 9; I was a lonely child. He is the best gift my parents could ever give me. I am blessed to have him as my brother, and really wish he didn’t live 13,334 kilometres away.

Happy Raksha Bandhan, my dearest brother. I miss you.

Movie Review: Slumdog Millionaire


I come home from watching Slumdog Millionaire with a lump in my throat. The blatant truth of the Mumbai slums depicted in the film is unsurprising for Indians, yet horrifying all the same.

There are a number of off-beat Indian films that shed light on various issues — like Split Wide Open, Water and Salaam Bombay — but never before has life in Indian slums been shown so explicitly, and in a non-victimized, non-patronizing way. What is shown is fact, and that’s exactly how it has meant to be shown — as raw fact.

Despite all the harsh moments that make you squirm in your seat, what makes the film extraordinary is how it has managed to capture the undying street-smart energy and spirit of the slum kids. This energy portrays them as bright and strong-minded individuals who, despite their miserable and disgusting environment, believe in being able to make things happen for themselves. And they do. One even becomes a millionaire.

The main characters of the film, Salim and Jamal, are piercingy powerful. One grows up to be a ruthless bastard who gives up his morals and family to survive, while the other one stays an honest and loyal romantic; yet you don’t feel hatred or pity towards either of them.

This film is so real that knowing it is not an Indian production bewilders me; as a “white man” Danny Boyle has got every detail in this film so right I don’t think any Indian director could have done it better. There is so much truth in the details that even the “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” bit becomes believable. It resonates the idea that today in India, there’s an opportunity for anyone and everyone, and that anything is possible.

The only negative thought that I carried out of the film was that it reminds you that you can’t trust anyone; that circumstances can create devils and there is nothing you can do about it, that even your own brother will turn against you in his quest to survive. As someone who trusts everyone unless I have reason not to, it gave me a lot to think about human behaviour.

Some of the cast and crew have been promoting the film saying it’s a “feel good” film. Urrrmmm, I think not. The film will make you laugh, but most of it will make you cry, and feel like vomiting. That said, ironically it doesn’t leave you depressed.

A lot is packed into the film, making it an intense and overwhelming 2-hours. I cried the last 10 minutes and walked out blown away with what I had seen. It’s a hard-hitting film; one of those that keeps you on the edge of your seat and leaves you with much to ponder. Although it is being said otherwise, I really hope that all the slum kids of the movie get compensated generously.

All-in-all, a must must watch.