Andy Marino is a London-based British author and filmmaker. His latest, ‘Narendra Modi: A Political Biography’, is due to be published later this month by Harper Collins. Excerpts from an interview:
How difficult was it to deconstruct Modi as a subject? Was being a foreigner a disadvantage or an advantage in putting such a book together?
Modi is a straightforward man and at the same time a complex one. The media sometimes tries to make fun of him for being unsophisticated, but they are missing the way he has used his intellectual powers to channelise an immense popular appeal. As for being a foreigner, I think being an outsider allowed me to remain immune to the discussion and arguments about Modi that arises from an often over-heated Indian context.
How much time did you take to write this book?
It took me about a year to write, but I have had quite a long relationship with India and have been interested in its politics and history as far back as I can recall.
As a biographer do you feel that you got honest answers to your questions from Modi? He is not known to be a biographer’s delight.
It may be because biographers and journalists, from what I have gleaned from my reading, approach him with hostility. As a foreigner I didn’t carry that baggage and I found him to be very good company. Was he honest with me? I have checked and cross-referenced every fact he mentioned, and they all correlated.
What is it that fascinates you most about Modi?
I don’t think I have ever come across a better administrator or anybody so completely possessed with enthusiasm for what he does. His brain runs non-stop thinking about ways to improve everything, and there’s an incredible energy.
Some polls suggest that Modi is the preferred choice for PM among the urban youth. What do you think is the reason for it.
The youth recognises that he represents change and threatens to transform a system that keeps them marginalised. The youth believes that there will be an essential change in the nature of government and its relationship with them if Modi is in charge.
What will Modi’s rise to the post of Prime Minister mean for Indian politics and India as a country?
Economically, it will bring in more foreign investment, opening of markets for jobs and services and supply-side reforms. And, politically, essentially a change from the colonial-style elite rule.