Everybody has been pontificating about what Narendra Modi needs to do now that he’s Prime Minister. Headlines such as “Top five things Modi must do”, “Ten initiatives the new government must seize” remind me I have been very lax about telling Mr Modi what he should do.
But while I am certain he would be delighted with my advice, there’s a scientific way of going about it. Mr Modi is a world leader now and he needs to study what great world leaders do.
Let’s start with Obama. He has two dogs, Bo and Sunny. Dogs have happy, bubbly personalities, which makes them ideal pets for Mr Modi. After all, as they say in Ahmedabad, “All work and no play makes Narendra a dull bhai”. Manmohan Singh used to work 18 hours a day and look where that got him.
Obama also plays basketball. But the game you play depends a lot on your country. Evo Morales, Bolivian president, plays professional football. Mr Modi, of course, should consider cricket. The only other outstanding feature about the US president is that he’s left-handed, but it may be a bit too late to imitate that.
Mr Modi has been frequently compared to “Iron Lady” Margaret Thatcher. She had Cavalier King Charles spaniels as pets, but that’s almost a toy dog, unsuitable for a global boss. The really important thing she did was to get a cat, Humphrey, appointed as Chief Mouser at 10 Downing Street.
Should Mr Modi get a cat then? David Cameron, the present British prime minister, spends weekends singing karaoke and playing tennis and has a cat called Larry. But forget Cameron — if we want to look to Europe, study Angela Merkel instead. Unfortunately, all she does is grow her own vegetables and cook. Not really photo-op stuff, I’m afraid.
The problem with keeping cats is they are good judges of character. As Winston Churchill said, “Dogs look up to us. Cats look down at us. Pigs treat us as equals.” Perhaps keeping pigs is a better option? But Churchill also kept horses, cats, dogs, birds and even a goldfish, apart from painting, bricklaying and writing well enough to win a Nobel Prize for Literature. That might be a tough act to follow.
Japanese PM Shinzo Abe sings folk songs. Another chap who sings is Canadian premier Harper, who also plays the piano. A global leaders’ singing quartet — Abe, Cameron, Harper and Modi — would be so much fun.
Mr Modi is apparently very impressed with China. Among Chinese leaders, President Xi likes swimming and mountaineering, Deng Xiaoping played bridge and swam, while Mao swam the Yangtze. Mr Modi could easily swim the Ganga.
And now to President Putin, who is in a league of his own. He swims in freezing waters, fishes, traps polar bears, rides and goes scuba-diving, apart from being a black belt in judo. He also goes about shirtless. There is much to learn from him.
Mr Modi writes poetry. If you want to showcase your fondness for literature, there are easier ways of doing it. Oscar Wilde, for instance, used to walk around with a lobster on a leash.
Based on these deep insights, Mr Modi must take the following steps immediately: 1) keep a dog; 2) swim the Ganga; 3) sing karaoke; 4) play cricket; 5) walk with a lobster on a leash. And oh yes, I almost forgot — 6) fix the economy.
Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint
The views expressed by the author are personal