NaMo delivers branding lessons to image-makers

Draws inspiration from Hindutva for business gathering in Mumbai


Ajay Singh | October 1, 2013

Brand managers of India learnt a lesson on the relevance of Gandhi in their profession from Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi. At Mumbai's five-star hotel, Taj Lands End, Modi on Monday taught who's who of brand building of India how to sell brand India.

And the BJP prime ministerial candidate emphasised that inspiration was more important than impression in brand building. In his view, Gandhi was the biggest brand ambassador of India because of his inspirational lifestyle. "He talked about nonviolence but wielded a lathi," he said, emphasising the inherent contradiction. Similarly, he was not at all impressive in his appearance but was inspirational in his lifestyle.

In his nearly 40-minute address, Modi talked about the spiritual and cultural legacy of India which is being frittered away by the successive regimes. Much of what he said conformed to the intellectual argument on India built over decades by the RSS. His theme of cultural legacy and his understanding of political history followed the familiar script of the Hindutva school of thought.

For instance, he referred to 1,200 years of servitude that changed the psyche of Indians. His obvious reference was that India during the Islamic reign was a phase of servitude in addition to the British regime. "Any white-complexioned, English-speaking person overawes us" was his comment to an audience which largely comprised of anglicised Indians trained and educated in Macaulay's education system. But Modi got the maximum cheer from the select audience.

He suggested how India could build upon its traditional practices in medicines, yoga and agriculture to emerge as a powerful brand in the world. "But what we lack is self-confidence to take this brand to the world with courage of conviction," he told the group of prominent image-makers with a certain degree of confidence. He also pointed out that the film industry which celebrated a century of Indian cinema had lost a golden opportunity to brand itself internationally. "Had I got this opportunity, I would have branded it differently," he told a group of people from the industry.

What is particularly significant is Modi's unique ability to evolve a one-way discourse with his audience where much of what he says tends to go unchallenged. In his half-day sojourn in the Maximum City, Modi was certainly buoyed by waves of his supporters following him all through his programmes chanting "Modi, Modi" in a staccato unison. Curiously enough, he evoked the same awe and obeisance from image-makers in Mumbai.




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