Jun 28 2017 : The Times of India (Chennai)
Going physical: Embracing the world, one hug at a time
Some politicians hog the headlines. PM Narendra Modi just seems to hug them these days. On Monday , he repeatedly embraced US President Donald Trump with the eagerness and abandon of reunited brothers, as seen in Bollywood's `lost and found' yarns of the 1970s.The hugs have been widely discussed in the world press and social media drawing thousands of tweets and GIFs.A Google search of `Modi hugs' threw up 8,83,000 results.
London's Daily Telegraph ran a story headlined, “Modi's Trump card: Indian PM eschews handshake with president in favour of a hug.“ Wash ington's Wall Street Journal carried a front-page photograph with this pun: “Trump and India's Modi grapple with divisions, embrace ties.“
Since he vaulted to power in 2014, Modi's demonstrative greeting of head of states and CEOs has been much written about. Some clinches have been described as awkward (with former French president Francois Hollande, 2016), others were warm (former British PM David Cameron, 2015). Former US president Barack Obama, Japanese PM Shinzo Abe, former Australian PM Tony Abbott, Malaysia's PM Najib Razak, UAE's Crown Prince Sheikh Md bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg -he's enveloped all in embraces.
Some photographs of the first Modi-Trump hug during their joint briefing show the US president a tad uneasy. But repeated viewings of the moment's video reveal a slightly different picture. As they hug, Trump furiously pats Modi on the back, then takes a moment to look at him closely .When the two go back to their respective places, Modi holds on to Trump's hand for an extra second. The second hug is more relaxed. As is the third when Modi bids goodbye to Trump and his wife, Melania.
Social commentator Santosh Desai says handshakes indicate reserve and distance in a relationship while hugs show familiarity , signalling peer status. “It is possible,“ says Desai, “that hugs were a compensatory mechanism, a way of bridging anxieties during Modi's early days as PM. They were silent yet visible declarations that `I belong to the world stage'.“
TOI columnist Aakar Patel said that for Modi, holding another man by the hand or hugging him isn't out of character -this physicality is common to Gujarati men. “Hugging is a very basic way of showing warmth. Those who've met Modi when he was CM or before -and I have know he is quite physical with those he meets, especially if he's fond of you or believes you're the kind of person he thinks you are,“ says Patel. Kingshuk Nag, author of a biography of Modi believes the PM “wants to show the world he is pally with global leaders, like Nehru was“.
Monday, July 3, 2017
MODI Going physical: Embracing the world, one hug at a time
Posted by Deva priya