Prime Minister Narendra Modi faced and ducked some sharp questions at a press conference in London, the kind of questions he is not used to being asked in India.
The way some of our prime time anchors gush over Modi on social media, one can't even blame him for not addressing a single press conference after assuming office. Both on line and off line, our mainstream media openly ridiculed those returning their awards. Last few months exposed some of the big names of our media like never before.
Those cringing over so called embarrassing questions by foreign media are responsible for the humiliation every single Indian experienced watching a nervous prime minister unable to handle difficult questions. If they had done their jobs well, we wouldn't have had to see our prime minister getting embarrassed on foreign soil. Indian media should have forced the prime minister to publicly and unequivocally condemn the atmosphere of intolerance, some members of his party sought to create.
Opinions were divided over 'the way our prime minister was treated' by those heartless journalists of the British press. Patriotism was the obvious recourse for those who felt outraged at the fact that journalists in UK were just doing their job.
Had the prime minister broken his electorally expedient silence on Dadri and proactively addressed the concerns of writers, artists and film makers, this domestic narrative would not have chased him right up to London. He chose instead to speak through Arun Jaitley and Anupam Kher. The rest was done by an effusive media.
Dissent cannot be handled by street smart measures, specially when the state is not dealing with agitating University students. The government responded through a hurriedly organised Sikh protest to counter the Congress March to the Rashtrapati Bhawan followed by a March for India led by Anupam Kher. You may have won the battle of egos, but you lost the war of perception.
There was no reason why the otherwise expressive Prime Minister Modi had to duck the question on Gujarat riots. In April 2013, when a journalist in Germany asked Dr Manmohan Singh about women's security in India, in the presence of Chancellor Merkel, the question did not come evoke any patriotic outrage back home. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh handled the question with honesty and grace. Rajiv Gandhi responded to questions on 84 riots in Washington DC and other countries with sincerity.
The awkward body language of her prime minister on world stage is not what India deserves. The shame India experienced in London is thanks to his inexplicable silence back home on ticklish issues and for the mysterious support he gets from the Indian media.