Freaking News: Much ado about Time’s Modi cover?

23 Mar,2012

By Ranjona Banerji


Finally got my hands on the Time magazine featuring Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and all that springs to mind in Shakespeare. Much ado about nothing in fact. For all that Modi is on the cover, the text is a double spread. It appears to have been started when Modi was on his “Sadhbhavana mission” and contains some interaction between the writer, Jyoti Thottam, Time’s New Delhi correspondent, and him.


What do we learn from it? That Modi is not remorseful about the 2002 riots, that he grew up as a pracharak, that industry in Gujarat is booming and that Muslims may not be better off in this state but they are certainly not worse off. Nothing that we did not already know. The hypothesis that Modi could be the next prime minister of India is tenuous at best – the article displays a very superficial interpretation of Indian politics and how it functions. The comparisons with Rahul Gandhi are specious and Modi did not campaign for the BJP in UP, we do not know how he would have affected the vote. The larger picture in which this profile is based is that the UPA is finished. Perhaps someone convinced Thottam that the BJP could win the next general election with Modi’s help?


Why Time decided to run this story is what is interesting but since Time has done away with that little publisher’s note in the first few pages and no one seems to have asked them, we have no idea. Instead we have to wonder why Hindustan Times decided that the Time story was front-page worthy and why channels like NDTV thought the issue needed a debate.


In any analysis, Time is will within its rights to do what it wants on its pages. Incidentally, Danish super-chef Rene Redzepi gets a four page spread in the same issue. Also, we are talking about the Asia edition of the newsmagazine, not the international or American editions. (Though according to comedian supreme Jon Stewart, the American edition of Time is most likely to have a cover story on whether pets like to wear matching clothes with their owners.) There is no significance to the timing – except that after the article appeared, the BJP lost a significant Lok Sabha by-election to the Congress in Gujarat.

Enough said about nothing, I think.




The hysteria on TV over the allegations that two BJP MLAs were seen watching porn in the assembly by a senior journalist was vastly annoying and much less amusing than the jokes on twitter: “One Gujarat MLA to another: came cho?” (Thanks to Peter Griffin of Forbes).


As usual TV lost the plot – the issue is about the appropriateness of watching porn in the legislature. Instead we went into screams and shouts about banning or legitimising pornography. Rahul Kanwal on Headlines Today though was quite sharp about stopping Shaina NC and Yatin Oza of the BJP making the debate about Narendra Modi!




Congratulations to CNN-IBN for being the most watched channel (it says) for the election results and the budget. They were certainly less annoying for most of the day on both days.




This bit is personal. When I complained a few months ago that Indian newspapers (particularly the Times of India) were not giving enough due to tennis star Roger Federer’s remarkable recovery after he won the yearender in London 2011, a young person commented (sounded young to me anyway) that Federer’s achievements were unremarkable or words to that effect. Now suddenly, according to the media, Indian and international, he’s the hottest thing on the tennis firmament and he’s everywhere.


That’s vindication on two counts!!


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One response to “Freaking News: Much ado about Time’s Modi cover?”

  1. Krishna says:

    You do not even know fundamentals but comment on everyone and everything. BJP lost assembly by-election in Gujarat but not Lok Sabha by-poll. I don’t know why you always criticise each and everything.

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