Open Letter to PM Modi

September 19, 2016

Dear Modiji,

Back in 2014 when India overwhelmingly voted for you, we voted in the belief that the aspirations of modern India would now be met. That we would finally get away from the platitudes of ‘we want to remove poverty’ while ensuring that the poor remained so. That the long-ignored middle class would finally get heard. That we won’t be ignored as a useless clump of 500-600 million people that don’t belong to a clear cut vote-bank, and are thus irrelevant in the democratic scheme of things. That India will finally become a country that values merit, instead of caste and community.

That national security will get a serious look. That never again would a terrorist state dare to behead our soldiers and we would mutter feeble murmurs of ‘we strongly condemn’ and complain to the arguably impotent United Nations.

Two years later, we’ve arrived at what is perhaps one of the bigger tests of your leadership so far. Terrorists attacked an army camp and killed seventeen of our jawans. So far the government reaction has been what we’ve grown up on. We don’t want strong condemnations. We don’t want to hear that ‘those who did it will not be spared’, because so far every time they’ve been done exactly that.

It seems like a farcical situation where on the one hand we call Pakistan a failed terrorist state, yet we have conferred a unilateral MFN nation tag on them. Or how we continue to abide by the Indus Water Treaty against a nation that has fought four wars against us. Or how we treat it like a long-lost brother who just lost his way and can’t wait to return to the family fold. The buses and trains we run to Pakistan when we should be sealing off our borders.

Our new friend America would bomb entire nations for much less, but here we have jawans slaughtered, and we continue to treat with kid gloves a nation whose only purpose for existence seems to be India hatred.


I can only hope that you’re listening to the increasing discontent and clamor on social media. We need to see the political will that lets the army do what it does best. We need to know that you are not so worried about your haters in the media and the Lutyens cabal that they hold you back from tough decisions. We need strong action against the separatists in Kashmir and elsewhere, not Z+ security. We need to know that you weren’t just bluffing when you criticized the previous government for its inaction.

The solution may not be war, but we could start with strategic actions that don’t require any artillery or bloodshed. We need to do a better job of showcasing Pakistan’s crimes to the world and make it stand isolated. (As it turns out they are already suggesting that India staged the attack, and asking us for evidence.)

We need to hurt it where it hurts. I wish I could pretend to have a solution, but maybe an immediate squeeze on any trade and diplomatic relations with them could help. But please, for heaven’s sake, don’t invite a Pakistani delegation to inspect the site of the terror attack. And don’t stop by Nawaz Sharif’s for dinner any time soon.

If you want to build a lasting legacy, it will not happen by being soft, whether on the motor-mouths in your party, assorted cow-lover Hindu radicals, the hate-mongers in the media, or our enemies abroad. We’d rather remember you as the person who achieved much more in one term than those before you in fifty years.

Please don’t let us down.

Yours and all that.

PS: What’s with holding high-level security meetings with the army chiefs, NSA and others in front of the cameras? How does that work? Please stop worrying so much about PR and media. We’ll be cool with that. God promise.

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One Response to “ Open Letter to PM Modi ”

  1. Prateek on September 19, 2016 at 7:14 pm

    Dear Atulya ji,

    I have followed you for many years on social media and have always loved your work, including your first book. Your open letters have always been the most entertaining, frankly precious, of the lot. Your letter to Bilawal Bhutto is a stuff of legends, in my opinion !
    But I have to admit, that I had got a little disenchanted, even frustrated, by your political views, of late. It was becoming harder and harder for me to distinguish an educated and knowledgeable writer like you, whose humor originated from intelligence, from those numerous pages and accounts on social media whose only job is to justify the actions of this government. It’s hard to navigate any form of social media now without stumbling on these pages that have mushroomed in the last 3 years or so. They fail to distinguish flattery from constructive criticism and the common folk refuses to see their vested interests. All in all a very frustrating situation for the ‘ differentially minded’ individual like myself.

    And I felt for a while that you had followed the suit.

    This post is like breath of fresh air in the poisonous environment of social media. You, sir, have written a masterpiece calling a spade a spade. That ours is democratic country with no room for political flattery is reinforced in this post. These are hard times with tough choices ahead and reminding our government that we expect them to make those for us, is a must.

    Thanks again for saying what no one is saying for some reason or the other.

    With warm regards,
    Prateek Mathur

    P.S. I promise to use my limited reach on social media and share this to my best ability.

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