That Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a fantastic orator and that he can carry along his audience wherever he addresses a large gathering is no surprise.
But the manner in the Prime Minister’s interaction with young students left everyone spellbound on January 27 during his now much popular ‘Pariksha pe Charcha 2023’ is perhaps exemplary.
“Well, to put it in very simple way, I will say, Prime Minister Modi speaks like an uncle in the neighbourhood,” remarked my Class XI daughter Tanvi Dev. She and a small group of her classmates and teachers participated in this year’s event at the Talkatora Indoor Stadium wherein the Prime Minister generally shares personal anecdotes and understanding of things and counsels measures on how students can keep their exam-related tension at bay.
Many other youngsters and their parents were also impressed. Of course, many say the best part of the observations made by the Prime Minister on January 27 was his remarks on ‘Toka toki’ children’s complaints their parents keep making.
Much to the delight of my daughter and children of her age and generation, Modi was candid when he said, “If a family’s expectation from its children is due to societal pressure then it’s a problem”.
Personally, some of us might have been the ‘victims’ of this middle-class syndrome when dads used to be more dominating and a bit more unreasonable. Yet, we — the parents might be continuing with the same saga with our off-springs. “Log kya kahenge (What will people say?” — This is a typical middle-class problem, and it has survived for different generations, notwithstanding the progress we have made from land-line telephone nightmares to the mobile handset nightmares and ‘day-mares’ of our time.
The Prime Minister was also at his best in understanding the problem and its many facets of implications/side effects.
Prime Minister urged the students not to be distracted by technology and to allot separate time to use a mobile phone or other gadgets for interaction on social media platforms. He asked parents/students to create a ‘no gadgets zone’ in the house where they will not use any technological device and just use the time for conversations, which he termed ‘digital fasting’. Mutual conversation among family members is the next vanishing art of our times. Reading fairy tales by children now sounds primitive. The generation that grew up reading Amar Chitra Katha is unfortunately lost in the race, either working for MNCs or doing Jugads in the Country.
I know a family from Kolkata who, now in 2023, agree that lockdown time’ isolation in the body might have led to ‘isolation’ in mind among family members. “My son has landed into a severe problem. And I blame ourselves, the Lockdown and overuse of mobile during that period,” confessed his father — nearly two weeks before Prime Minister Modi’s interaction with the students. More of my curiosity, I went back to the friend. I asked whether he was aware of the Prime Minister’s ‘Pariksha Pe Charcha’ video of January 28, now available on Twitter and several other channels. His response was touching, “I wish Prime Minister had such an interaction with parents during Lockdown. As a Kolkata born middle-aged person, I consider myself intellectual and whatnot. But it is true Prime Minister’s social diagnosis of some of the causes of social decay is mind-blowing”.
My friend said the Prime Minister’s observation that the most successful people in the world were average at some point is well known, but people forget every time “we deal with our children”.
He said Prime Minister Modi’s remarks that only ordinary people end up “doing extraordinary work” simply by refining their skills and working on their capabilities was very apt.
Prime Minister Modi also said, “Every person has something different in them, to harness which is important for each one”.
No doubt, students on January 27 event clapped hands in jubilation when the Prime Minister said, “Your parents have to work hard on each one of you…they have to meet your teachers, they have to follow you, they have to know your friends and their habits, they have to check how much time you spend on mobile”.
“Then when they find you in good mood, the parents will tell you don’t do this, do that.”
But again, Modi left his audience impressed, “Aaj kal Maa Baap ke paas time nahi hae….woh toka toki karten haen”.
“So, when you are having lunch, parents will say, why eat this, why don’t you have that…This is what happens,” Prime Minister Modi said, adding, “My submission to parents is, please come out of this Toka toki (finding fault with everything your children do)”.
On this backdrop, how should one sum up Prime Minister’s performance at this year’s ‘Pariksha pe Charcha’?
My daughter has done it well more in her simplicity; I suppose, “At times, the Prime Minister was talking like an affectionate Dadu (Grandfather), at times like a caring mother and at times also like a strict and disciplinarian papa”.
One should end this piece with the quote all of us might have heard in other contexts, “they may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel”.