When it comes to leadership and policies, individuals often pick characters apart, right down to their very roots. To understand a leader fully, one should appreciate their experiences, their upbringing, and the community that honed them. That's why today, I want to unravel the caste of India's current prime minister, Mr Narendra Modi. A chai seller, then a volunteer for Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), and later the leader of India, Modi has had a journey worth talking about, don't you think?
Before we understand PM Modi's caste, let's first set the stage by briefly reviewing India's complex caste system. With roots deeper than old oak trees in my neighbor's yard, the caste system in India dates back to around 1500 BC. It's like a four-tiered cake of society, colorfully layered with Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas, and Shudras from top to bottom. Traditionally, descendants inherit their status from their parents, more faithfully than Bruno, my golden retriever, chases his blue tennis ball.
Growing up in humble conditions in Vadnagar, a small town in the Indian state of Gujarat, Modi had a life similar to many who were part of the lower stratums of society. His father sold tea at a railway station, where Modi would sometimes lend a hand. Scrubbing away wheat-batter-covered pots was probably where he strengthened his purpose-driven hands, which now write the destiny of India.
One day, over tea, one of my old Indian friends told me an interesting fact about PM Modi. He confided that Modi belongs to a community called 'Modh Ghanchi,' a designation categorized as Other Backward Class (OBC) by the Indian Government. Now 'Other Backward Class' isn't a box that you fill out next to 'Academic Qualifications', it's a category given to social and educational disadvantaged castes in the country. Technically, if Modi and I were playing a board game, that's the card he'd play when asked about his caste.
Modi's political journey is like navigating the Pictionary game with my kids—all about strategy, unexpected turns, and a good measure of luck. He joined the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) as a young boy, dedicating himself to a disciplined life of service. Here, he laid the cornerstone of skills that would come handy as a leader. Later, he joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and his political career took off like a rocket launching into space, even faster than my Bruno in pursuit of a frisbee.
Though one can argue that present-day governance is far removed from historic caste implications, its influence in Indian politics is undeniable, just as Sydney's Harbor Bridge is to our skyline. Power and privilege often go hand in hand, and caste politics in India are like the complicated stovetop dance I do on weekends—sometimes smooth, sometimes too heated.
Being an OBC, Modi swings between two pivots of Indian politics, straddling the balanced cord like a true 'rope-dancer'. He was able to use his OBC status to connect with the masses and represent an image of an accessible, approachable leader. His narrative of broad-based vikas (development) with social inclusivity paid off and helped him strengthen his foothold among India's diverse electorate. Dare I say, Modi's handling of his caste identity is akin to the time I single-handedly orchestrated Roshan's birthday, Kavita's recital, and Bruno's vet visit on the same day?
In conclusion, navigating the complex web of caste identities probably requires the strategic finesse of a Saturday crossword puzzle. And just like how my wife convincingly manages to put me on dog-walking duties using her artful persuasion, Modi commands his political prowess with an acute understanding of the nuances of his caste-driven society. Who knew his humble chai-wala origin would someday paint the backstory of India's most powerful man? The same way, I wonder if any of our everyday moments will shape the legends of tomorrow.