If people do not live for the country, will they die for it, asks Modi

Written by: Ian Faria

Narendra Modi, Prime Ministerial candidate for the BJP was at a function in Mumbai on the 27th of January to celebrate the 51st year of Lata Mangeshkar's iconic rendition of the song- Ae mere Vatan ke logon.

As usual, Narendra Modi was impeccably turned out and looked cool and in control.

This speech started on a sombre, sedate note. Very unlike the power speaker that Modi is known to be. But if you look at the event - this is not a situation that Modi thrives in. Here is a mixed audience that does not seem politically inclined, but rather it seems there to celebrate a special occasion. This meeting is a celebration of over half a century of a song that has deep and almost spiritual patriotism attached to it.

The first 6 or seven minutes is centred around the army and its service to the country. It talks about our martyrs and the impact of the song Vande Mataram and how it uplifted the country while it fought for its independence. He also speaks reasonably well about how Lata's song infused courage and determination into the armed forces as they fought the war in 1962. Then he turns up the heat. He brings in the tragedy of Indians dying to the bullet of the terrorist. He stirs up some more emotions as he gives a shocking view that India loses more people to terrorism than to proxy wars.

Then the speech then starts to work under the skin, as Modi refers to a small country that cuts off and parades the head of an Indian soldier. He gets to the emotional level when he speaks of the beheaded Indian soldier and the touching narrative of how she screams in anguish for the return of the head. He then uses this emotion to drive a powerful point. "If do not get people to live for this country, then where will we get people to die for it."

He takes a dig at the sad state of the country not having a fitting War Memorial for brave hearts who have been martyred for the country. His questions are powerful and impactful as he leads the listener to accept the need for a fitting war memorial as a tribute to our heroes. He asks the question and builds a crescendo for the answer "YES" to the building of a war memorial and then rather nonchalantly says maybe it is destiny that he (Modi) will build the memorial. The generalization he uses of the entire country from Kashmir to Kanyakumari wanting the memorial is a projection of the inference that he is in touch with the sentiments of people across the country.

Another strong point of the speech is the reference to the high budget spend on importing weapons and arms from foreign countries. He strongly states that these weapons can actually be made in our country itself. This is a point is rhetorically powerful, as it logically assumes that it not only saves the country foreign exchange, but it also helps build national pride. Fighting for the country using Indian weaponry, is a point that is meant to stick. He goes further by saying that if we make up our minds, we can, in the next 10 years not only be totally self-reliant, but that we could also become exporters of arms and ammunition to the rest of the world (like we did when we sold swords in historical times).

Bringing the youth into focus he speaks of cyber wars which are fought without even shooting a single bullet. An educational objective is also referred to when he asks why we can't introduce a subject of Defence Equipment Manafucturing/Engineering. The bogey man of 1 ¼ lakh crore Indians not being able to sleep well until we look after the requirements of our defence forces is nicely slipped in. The reference to the Kargil War was also brought in to stir up emotions and to get the audience to buy in to his pitch.

From there to the Vajpayee Government's nuclear programme to the housing projects for the armed forces as our responsibility, Modi does well to show his respect and fondness to the men in uniform. He does manage to focus and reinforce the importance of our armed forces and what they mean to us.

Towards the last five minute minutes he praises the contribution of Lata and what her song has meant for the army and for the country. It was touching to hear that she even donated the earning from the song towards the army.
The role of the army not only in war but also in peace times like in Uttarkhand is a nice touch at the end that lifts the image of the army in a subtle, effective way. His motivation at the end through the chanting of Vande Mataram was driven to lift the spirits of those gathered there.

As a communicator, Narendra Modi is acknowledged as one of the most powerful speakers in the country. He has a great voice and what is commendable and impressive is that he speaks without resorting to a lectern, and he does not use notes. His style of rhythmical paraphrasing can still do with some improvement.

He has a great way of connecting with the audience with his impressive eye contact and confident posture. He stands tall and his stature is imposing and all this enables him to communicate powerful messages. On a slightly critical note should all speeches, be political in intent?

Can a speech at a special occasion (such as this one) be focused on the occasion, and the main star (Lata) and not on political posturing? But then again if you were the Prime Ministerial candidate with a large platform and an occasion such as this one would you not have used the moment to position yourself better?

Modi's speech at the function-

[The author -- Ian Faria is a corporate trainer and success coach. His forte is leadership and communication skills, and he is the founder of Talk Temple, a corporate soft skills training organization]

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