For a Prime Minister who spent almost the entire first year of his tenure on world tour, to not find a mention even in the “902 page” long book by Barack Obama merits a momentary suspicion to begin with. Which is precisely what the tweet by Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor did when he gave social media a little peep into the advance copy of Barack Obama’s A Promised Land.
“I have got hold of an advanced copy of Barack Obama’s A Promised Land and though I haven’t read every page, I did read every bit on India flagged in the index. Big news: There isn’t much. Bigger news: in 902 pages, Narendra Modi isn’t mentioned by name at all,” reads the post.
Before we jump to conclusions, we reason why.
Barack Obama’s memoir
A Promised Land, a memoir by Barack Obama, is a planned two volume series that follows his tenure as President of the United States from 2009 to 2017. The first part accordingly finds a mention of Dr. Manmohan Singh whose years as Prime Minister of India from 2004 to 2014 intersected with Obama’s tenure as the President.
Misconstrued, but true
Speaking of names, that immediately reminded several detractors and trollers on social media of the time when Barack Obama paid a visit to the nation in 2015 and Modi broke the protocol and called the US President by his first name. At summits and several diplomatic visits, world leaders observe protocol and mention each other by the designations. For someone on “first name basis,” to not find a mention speaks volumes.
Or does it? Considering the second volume may contain a mention of Modi when he became the Prime Minister of India in 2014, it only remains to be seen what will the description be like.
Mr Tharoor, you are right and wrong
While fully aware of second volume coming up, Tharoor too joins in the guess work further.
“Difficult to imagine that the Sanghis who have been rejoicing on social media about one sentence in the memoir will draw much comfort from these reflections. They offer a foretaste of what Vol 2 is likely to tell us about India in a post-Manmohan Singh era, when Obama returned,” Tharoor tweeted in the same thread.
But how did he manage 902 pages?
Considering the book is not released yet and so far only open to pre-orders, there’s only the publisher Penguin Random House that can state for a fact on the number of pages of the book. With pretty much every reviewer and critic in the meanwhile, noding to the 768 number of pages.
“He is reading 902 pages of the book when there are only 768 pages,” said a comment opening Pandora’s Box that can uniquely open exclusively on social media.
Back to good old comparisons
Ironically, the biggest supporters or the strongest critics of either Narendra Modi or Dr Manmohan Singh will agree on the stark difference between their personalities, background and political ideologies. Yet the two PMs remain the most compared.
The thread further continues, almost provoking the very comparison. “Huge praise for Dr Manmohan Singh who is warmly described as “wise, thoughtful, scrupulously honest,” a man of, “uncommon wisdom and decency,” with whom he enjoyed, “a warm and productive relationship,” even though Manmohan Singh was, “cautious in foreign policy.”
Writing on the wall
The book, as pointed out by Tharoor, mentions Obama’s fascination with Mahatma Gandhi. “More than anything, though, my fascination with India had to do with Mahatma Gandhi. Along with Lincoln, King, and Mandela, Gandhi had profoundly influenced my thinking.” The post further reads that Obama at the same time worries about, “impulses of greed, violence, corruption, nationalism, racism and religious intolerance.”
The elements that, “seemed to lie in wait everywhere, ready to resurface whenever growth rates stalled or demographics changed or a charismatic leader chose to ride the wave of people’s fears and resentments. And as much as I might have wished otherwise, there was no Mahatma Gandhi around.”
1. I have got hold of an advance copy of @BarackObama‘s #APromisedLand & though i haven’t read every page, I did read every bit on India flagged in the Index. Big news: There isn’t much. Bigger news: in 902 pages, @narendramodi is not mentioned by name at all.
— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) November 15, 2020
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