I understand Dutt’s interpretation of the moment in question but with reservations about what it signals for the nation’s many oppressed. For starters, how many people actually gave a damn?
A few hundred people – many of them mainstream journalists – have been saying that over a billion people did, or should. But even if you are a stickler for arithmetic correctness, it is hard to believe that this claim is true when, for example, The Wire just received a report headline ‘In Kashmir, communication gag ‘robs’ people of the right to mourn their dead’.
This is an entire state that has been labouring from inside a communications blackout for the last month, and the undermining of whose people’s democratic rights was met with less anger than news of Prime Minister Modi’s hug has been received with sheepish joy.
To be sure, my contention is not with whether Modi was being nice when he hugged K. Sivan but entirely with assuming the softness of the gesture extends to hundreds of thousands of people around the country who remain unable to speak up for themselves, or be heard when they do, because of Modi’s actions. If not Kashmir, there is also Assam.
I cannot, will not claim to know what these people really want, and certainly not that their spirits ought to be elevated by a hug from the Man.