Uday Dandavate
4 min readApr 19, 2020


Narendra’s Journey

Understanding the psychology of distinct personalities is a part of my curiosity. I read, “Creating Minds: An Anatomy of Creativity Seen Through the Lives of Freud, Einstein, Picasso, Stravinsky, Eliot, Graham, and Ghandi,” by Howard Gardner several years ago.

In his book Gardner reviews the lives of these individuals with three lenses, The relationship between the child and the master (the experiential influences of early childhood on his or her learning leading up to the mastery), the relationship between an individual and the work in which he or she is engaged (the domain of knowledge/wisdom in which he attains mastery and produces outcomes), and The relationship between an individual and other persons in his or her world (other people that influenced him/her during formative years.).

This book has allowed me to develop a curiosity to understand even individuals who I do not agree with. I believe, that just holding an opposing point of view, or engaging in opposition to their views or actions, does not serve the purpose of either evolving my worldview or of influencing the change I want to see in the world.

I do have an academic curiosity for the psyche of India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a self made man whose rise from an ordinary family to the commanding heights of a popular supreme leader is worth a deeper study. I realize that it would be hard for me to make an objective analysis of his mind since I am fiercely opposed to the ideology he champions. Yet, my curiosity stems from a distant view of his own journey in search of his version of truth. I am curious about how he reconciled the truth he seeks himself versus the ideology he has imbibed through his grooming in the RSS. I am sure historians and psychologists will attempt to explain him once he himself becomes history.

This morning I woke up to read his comments on LinkedIn in the wake of rapid spread of Coronavirus in India. In his comments he talked about the need for Inclusiveness and sustainability.

“Let us develop business models that attach primacy to care for the poor, the most vulnerable as well as our planet. We have made major progress in combating climate change. Mother Nature has demonstrated to us her magnificence, showing us how quickly it can flourish when human activity is slower. There is a significant future in developing technologies and practices that reduce our impact on the planet. Do more with less

COVID-19 has made us realise the need to work on health solutions at low cost and large scale. We can become a guiding light for global efforts to ensure the health and well being of humanity.” (Modi 2020)

I have been closely following his actions and speeches as the pandemic entered India and began to grow, and as the seriousness of its spread began to grow on people. My political lens forces me to critique his failure in anticipating and planning for the mass migration of immigrant labor after the lock down. I am also pained to see vilification of the Muslim community in the wake of irresponsible behavior by Tablighi congregation in Delhi. I attribute it to a systematic communal polarization engineered by Advani, Modi and Shah for political power. Yet, while arguing my political views, I am also curious to see the impact Corona virus will have on the evolution of Narendra Modi’s mind and his journey for truth.

A flicker of hope in my mind reminds me of Samrat Ashoka’s transformation after the Kalinga War. I wonder if witnessing the economic, and social havoc and deaths caused by coronavirus, will give a new turn to Narendra Modi’s journey. Will it tame his ambitions and ego? Will this global crisis open his mind to a realization that “we are in it together” regardless of the religion, caste or creed that trap us in our identities? Will he become more sensitive to the need to maintain ecological balance? Will his ideas of development change? Will he have a renewed understanding of the ideals of people like Narendra Dabholkar, Medha Patkar and Hamid Dalwai? Will his conscience lead him in a new direction?

I do believe that cathartic experiences such as the one experienced by Samrat Ashoka can have a deep transformational impact on people. I do believe caronavirus will have profound impact on people around the world. Today humans are trapped in their homes and wild animals are wandering in the cities, pollution is receding. Nature has given us the opportunity to reclaim a balance and contain our greed.

In this background, I’m curious to learn more about the real journey of the real Narendra, beyond the image carefully crafted by his script writers, media managers and social media trolls.

For now, I only hope that the coronavirus pandemic will inspire us all including the Prime Minister Narendra Modi to reflect deeply. I hope he finds the path Buddha walked on and Ashoka discovered his salvation in.



Uday Dandavate

A design activist and ethnographer of social imagination.