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APCO NaMo Namah: The Truth Behind Narendra Modi’s Ressurection!

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By Fawaz Shaheen:

Over the last 5-6 years, a man who was once on the fringe of Indian politics, considered by many an unacceptable pariah, the relic of a fading era of communal chauvinism, has emerged as a potential candidate for the post of Prime Minister.This man is Narendra Modi (NaMo for his net-savvy fans). Long derided for his role in the horrific communal riots of Gujarat, he has been re-born in the avatar of Development-Man, titled a Knight of the Order of Progress, leading the charge in service of the Holy Growth Empire.


The media sings his praises, the corporate world demands replication of his policies, and he has gained an army of fans in the urban middle class who admire his supposed ‘decisiveness’ and ‘efficiency’. (He definitely must have a lot of both, as its takes quite more than a bit of decisiveness and efficiency to slaughter a couple of thousand human beings).

What is behind this change? This growth in popularity and acceptability, and the projection of a larger than life image of Narendra Modi?

His admirers, of course, say that it is because of his performance and the growth of Gujarat under his watch. But facts do not completely bear this out. For one thing, there are many other corporate-friendly CMs, those who have scored high on the ‘development’ plank. And then there is also the fact that many considerable holes have been poked in Modi’s narrative of development, particularly with regard to the condition of tribals and human development markers like hunger and malnutrition.

The reason behind Modi’s particularly rising popularity and larger than life image may lie in the dedicated efforts of a global Public Relations and lobbying giant APCO Worldwide.

What is APCO?
APCO was founded in 1984 as a subsidiary of one of Washington’s premier law firms Arnold & Porter. It is basically a lobbying firm, but that is far from a complete description. In their own words, they offer “professional and rare expertise” to governments, politicians and corporations. This professional and rare expertise comes from a 70-odd member Advisory Council, which includes a former president, many lawmakers, administrators, bureaucrats and captains of industry from various parts of the world.

And what exactly does this illustrious council advice? Broadly speaking, APCO undertakes a range of activities meant to influence public opinion and government policy in favour of its clients.

For instance, in 2010 this firm offered to start an image-improvement campaign for the US finance industry. They have handled issues as diverse as starting a grassroots campaign against smoking regulations for tobacco giant Philip Morris to handling crises like the harassment accusations against Hewlett-Packard Company’s CEO to Ford’s troubles with Firestone tyres to shielding Kazakhstan’s President-for-life Nursultan Nazarbayev from attacks by his former son-in-law.

Apart from these and many more, APCO Worldwide has been directly involved with the American military-industrial complex and its war machine. They helped British Prime Minister Tony Blair gain support for his decision to enter the Iraq war, and then in May 2003 launched a task force to help American companies win contracts for the rebuilding of Iraq. This task force was headed by a former US Ambassador to Morocco, Marc Ginsberg.

More recently, two lawyers from their parent firm Arnold & Porter prepared a report meant to provide a legal basis for attacking Iran. This firm is also the largest known foreign agent of Israel.

APCO Worldwide and NaMo
Sometime near August 2007, APCO Worldwide was hired by Narendra Modi to rebuild his image before the second assembly elections he was to face as Chief Minister. Since then, APCO has handled Modi’s makeover and projection for an estimated monthly retainer of 25,000 USD a month. Since 2009, APCO has been selling Modi’s flagship event ‘Vibrant Gujarat , and as a result the events returns have gone up by a few hundred billion dollars.

The question that will undoubtedly be raised here is; so what? What is wrong with a politician approaching a P.R. firm to boost his image and credentials? Apart from the moral ramifications of dishing out thousands of dollars tax-payer money for personal projection, there are a few other issues to be considered here.

APCO is a global agent of neo-imperialism. As the hired voice of many autocratic rulers, exploitative corporations and imperial wars around the world, its job is to wash the sins of power and protect its clients from the consequences of their actions. It is an entrenched part of the neo-liberal manner of exploitation, acting like a sweet after-course to wash away the bitter taste of blood-soaked profit-pies, the flavourful topping over monstrous doses of exploitation-soup.

Its initial steps in India have already marked a bloody trail, for its primary task has been to make the Indian public forget the killing of over 2,000 innocent civilians and the displacement of nearly 140,000 human beings behind the facade of development. To put a velvet glove over the bloodied hands of Narendra Modi, Hindutva’s 21st century champion, and make us concentrate on the wonderful exploits of Development-Man NaMo.

In this it has been hugely successful, and a huge section of the popular consciousness is ready to shrug it off as a mere ‘blot in the past’, a regrettable but ultimately insignificant incident in the larger scheme of things.

In a democracy, the only real guarantee against authoritarianism is the consequence of public opinion. If a crime causes agitation in the public conscience, punishment will be meted out. APCO is a specialist in dulling the consequences of criminal action, in keeping the public conscience occupied elsewhere and creating consent for their client’s actions. The coming of such esteemed institutions of imperialism to India, and their success at manipulating the ballot box will probably be the greatest hammer-blow to democracy we have known so far.

The next time you hear a NaMo bhajan, it might be well to ask: “APCO pata hai?…..

You must be to comment.
  1. Syed Mohib Ali

    Looks like this is also the agency thats giving modi elementary classes in free-market economics.

  2. Sahil Chatta

    An article cannot get more biased and revolve around as pointless basis as this one…with all due respect.

    1. Akshat Seth

      Will you sir then be gracious enough to make us see the light of reason by proving what you just said which itself doesn’t seem to stand on any base whatsoever? With utmost due respect and a lot of NamoNamo’s

    2. Dev Malya

      The writer who writes this shit without proof

      “(He definitely must have a lot of both, as its takes quite more than a bit of decisiveness and efficiency to slaughter a couple of thousand human beings).”

      should be taken seriously for thriller writing nothing more than that!!

      and then this

      “Since 2009, APCO has been selling Modi’s flagship event ‘Vibrant Gujarat , and as a result the events returns have gone up by a few hundred billion dollars.”

      I don’t understand what is wrong in doing promotion of Vibrant Gujarat, it is not personality makeover, it is to show the potential of the state to the world, you have any other better way to do that, even my state WB is doing that now to decrease the drought of industries!!

  3. Ritesh Anan

    @ Fawaz Shaheen – Your bias in this write-up is overflowing. First of all let me ask you this– do you believe advertising is wrong? Coz if your write up is taken as standard then all advertising/PR/marketing firms should be banned in this world. Second of all in which age do you live in???forgot this is 21st century with its technologies, internet, social media.
    Here is a leader whose past governance record you can’t beat even by burning all the midnight oil, so what do you do? you come here and blame him for hiring a PR firm that can promote him/influence the voters/advertise his accomplishments.
    Does your article have any views about what kind of leaders you endorse- is it the Yadav -mafia-family crime infested U.P., the anti-Indian Owaisi brothers,the Congress governed severely drought effected Maharashtra, W.B. or is it that you endorse the Military regime of Pakistan or the mess that is Bangladesh.
    Oh…might be you want a leader who just doesn’t know what “PR” means someone who is an illiterate, or perhaps someone like Digvijay Singh or Lalu for whom PR means giving their audience a great laugh.
    You have to remind your readers anyway how “NAMO” is the biggest culprit of all- he himself killed killed 2000 people everytime, unless someone forgets it
    What about the anti-sikh riots of 84 ? 11000 killed- Dznt everyone knows who started it and aggravated it?
    the 93 riots in Mumbai when Congress was in power
    the 1992 surat riots in which 800 people were killed while congress was in power
    Do you even know or have data about riots in the country except gujarat riots
    here take some data from me hope it will help –
    Do you have anything substantial data to invalidate the person, to show he hasn’t brought progress or to show that other chief ministers have done better/are ruling better????? If yes then write about them, for once it just might be a worthwhile read

    1. Akshat Seth

      You know…just because someone dares to even question Mr. Modi, his fans become so paranoid that they start shouting- ‘Congress ko dekho! Vo Dekho Congress ne kya kiya!”
      Is anyone condoning the congress in trying to highlight Modi’s dark side and I will openly say in front of you dear sir that I have nowhere seen the myopia that is so rampant in the intelligentsia supporting Mr. Modi.

      As far as your discourse on advertizing is concerned, read an article by Noam Chomsky called ‘Manufacturing Consent’, and maybe you will see advertisement in a new light. Just a suggestion and not anything against you.

  4. pulakeshupadhyaya

    With due respect, come better prepared even if you want to write an inherently biased article.

    1. Akshat Seth

      With due respect- prove how she’s biased and have the liberty of patronizing that Modi fans claim as their birthright

  5. Fawaz Shaheen

    Thank you for pointing out the huge number of horrific riots our country has witnessed. I agree that Modi isn’t the only one with blood on his hands. I will go even further that no one in Indian politics has more blood on their hands than the Congress party. But what does that prove, that Modi’s crimes are justified because they are unique? If anything thing, it proves that most of our major alternatives are actually unacceptable (including the U.P. Yadav you mentioned) and that there is something seriously rotten about this kind a system that keeps rewarding rioters and pillagers.

    1. Pralay Kumar Tewary

      Your main problem is India getting fame gradually in the world arena. You are keeping no stone un turned to find flaws in Narendra Modi. Did you ever criticized Congress Government for the deterioration of the country after 1947. And other than this the communal agenda must go on. Practically after
      950 years a Hindu fundamentalist is ruling India( After Prithviraj Chowhan). You are so much irritated by that. Find some corruption and say, but you don’t find that too. You are just banging on a subject where the highest court has relieved him. Judge yourselves once again.

    2. Pralay Kumar Tewary

      After the godra riots –they found hundreds of stone pelt marks outside the compartment and stones inside the compartment — thousands of LIVE witnesses — yet the enquiry commission of the waitress declared—HINDU WOMEN USED STOVES INSIDE THE COMPARTMENT S6 TO COOK AND CAUSED THE FIRE.
      The presence of hundreds of big stones inside the compartment and the STONE SMASHED windows cut no ice.
      Since 2002 they main stream media tried to portray Modi as a murderer.

      None of the TV channels or media ever said , even once , that if the godra train massacre did NOT take place , the 2002 riots also would NOT have taken place. They acted as if 2002 riots were pre-meditated and NOT a knee jerk retaliation.

      The entire main stream media and TV CONDONED the roasting alive of 59 people including 25 women and 15 children on 27th Feb 2002– since the past 14 years .

      This train burning was NOT an accident.

      The train compartment was locked , molotov cocktails of kerosene and petrol bottles were thrown into the compartment and people roasted to death.

      The presence of hundreds of big stones inside the compartment and the broken windows cut no ice.

      Fake stories were cooked up that the Karsevaks tried to adduct a Ghanchi Muslim girl from Godhra railway station , where there was NO place even to stand in the overcrowded train compartment.

      More than 2100 muslims were involved in this massacre , waiting with jerry cans of kerosene and petrol — even before the train bearing ayodhya kar sevaks steamed in to godra station — as the train was 5 hours late.

      No train station is ever so crowded at 0745 hrs in the morning. Petrol and Kerosene is NOT available in this manner inside a railway station..

      The over crowded train itself had more than 2200 kar sevaks coming back after Ram Yagna at Ayodhya , and some of them got down at godra .

      The train was pelted with stones for a full 15 minutes before the fire was thrown through the broken windows.

      Dozens of huge stones were found all over the compartment with glass panes shattered. The train had left the platform and was stopped at a secluded place.

  6. Fawaz Shaheen

    It is one thing to highlight your achievements, and quite another to create truths out of convenience and suppress facts from being highlighted. In the great growth story of Gujarat, how many of you have discussed the rising number of farmer suicides in Saurashtra ( ) or the abyssimal sex ratio (487:1000 in ages 0-4, and 571:1000 in 5-9) or the fact that Gujarat’s health indices are only slightly better than Orissa? ( )

    It is not just Gajarat, all over India resources are being plundered and opposition to it is silenced in the most brutal ways, be it any party in power, while the news media turns a blind eye.

    In such an atmosphere, the entry of a global war-monger lobbyist like APCO, and its great success with Modi, sends the dangerous message that deception, misinformation and the cover-up of inconvenient truths is not only going to be practiced with greater frequency, but also with greater efficiency and professionalism.

    You may believe what you wish to believe as truth, but make sure it is your own choice and not one stuffed into your head by creative P.R. agencies.

    1. Siddhartha

      Hey Whatever is your name,
      Supreme court of India and SIT have found him not guilty or even responsible for the riot…
      You are definitely not India ‘s Youthkiawaaz but can be of some God forsaken country…U r just a minority n be the same

  7. kashif92

    Great work analyzing APCO’s influence on the consciousness of the voters. It seems that modern people don’t care about the murder of a few thousand people as long as “progress” is uninhibited. Though they might have second thoughts when their own families are affected.

  8. voiciz

    @Ritesh Anan:- You suffer from that George Bush rhetoric syndrome; “if you are not with us, you are with the terrorists”… So, just because the author criticizes Narendra Modi for his acts, you find it convenient enough to jump onto the conclusion that, he endorses the Congress or the rustic style of politics by Laloo Yadav.. So, what isn’t white has to be black for you.. And certainly it isn’t incorrect to self-promote oneself(from your point of view it seems pretty evident that it doesn’t matter to you even if it comes at the cost of the tax payers’ money of a state which has one of the largest rates of malnourishment among children). But, the problem is these corporations don’t carry out an image makeover for free.. I guess, you’ve read the article well to understand that they are a big corporate house who push countries to war(a good amount of dough comes up from the selling of arms), and the best part is when the war is over, the weaker race decimated they lobby for the contracts of rebuilding the war- torn nation… Pretty charitable!

    1. himanshu

      @VOICIZ Bro you didn’t read the points raised by Ritesh Anan , selectively you pick points which depicts he pro to NM and against to writer . Nothing said by ritesh what do you trying to figure out . He is very rational and logical …

  9. Vivek

    great piece of article with substantial facts indeed. Modi is infamously famous or famously infamous !

  10. Amit

    You are, I feel, taking all Indians ( at least those supporting NaMo) as fools ?? Is the writer of the article is fool enough to think Modi can fool people by hiring a PR firm ? Or is it a frustration that the opportunity was lost on PAPPU…who actually needs more than professional help to boost his chances ….of anything… or probably he doesn’t needs one, he can only be a leader within Congress party !!!

    1. Akshat Seth

      Dear Amit- you know, in the 1800’s and the early part of 1900’s, Germany had some of the best minds like Kant, and musicians like Mozart had been born in the same country. Yet that Germany of the wise men and thinking humans, supported Hitler.
      And Congress has given up long ago- they know they can’t beat him now.

  11. Akshat Seth

    Brilliantly written. Aur jaisa ki paash ne kaha hai- hum ladenge udaas mausam ke khilaaf!!!

  12. Saurav Talukdar

    Could you please provide a some references which reflect on the truth of this article. The middle class got lured because of jobs created and farmers got screwed. Surprisingly, this topics came out only months before the elections. Since 2008-09 I am hearing a lot of development has taken place in Gujarat. We are in for dictatorship now! “Boore din aa rahe hai”!

    1. Pralay Kumar Tewary

      This must be Only starts shouting before election times. As it happened recently…. Dadri!

  13. Tabish

    I went through some of the comments below, looks like APCO at work!!!

  14. Anurag Anil

    I had commented THIS on FB, last year, after HiS win :

    For those,
    who love their ‘whodunnits’,
    the Elections, in #India, in 2014
    full of twists, turns, thrills, covert stories!

    PS : Arundhati Roy, in hindsight, shows up the naivety of Indians!

    1) ;

    2) ;


  15. Vidya pani

    Modi has been marketed to the Indian populace just as a product is marketed to the consumers; and many people have bought it!

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