This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Chitranshu Tewari. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Modi Faced His Toughest Press Conference Yet…But It Wasn’t In India

More from Chitranshu Tewari

By Chitranshu Tewari:

Two days after BJP’s debacle in Bihar, Modi did what he does best- board an Air India for a foreign visit to enthral thousands of people from the Indian diaspora abroad and capture mainstream media’s attention back home. This serves both Modi and BJP conveniently. While the BJP leadership faced questions about the loss and the vitriolic campaign that ensued it in Bihar back home, visuals of Modi enthralling a 60,000 plus audience of expatriates at Wembley Stadium made the TRP driven mainstream media of India drop the questions of bickering within the BJP ranks and the accountability of Modi-Shah duo for Bihar loss to focus on Modi’s UK visit. Unlike the Indian media which has mostly gotten accustomed to Modi’s one way communications strategy (18 months into the new government, Modi hasn’t held a presser himself or given an interview to an Indian media house), British media took no time to pose direct, sharp questions at Modi during his visit this time.

Image source: Twitter
Modi at Wembley stadium, UK. Image source: Twitter

The Q&A

Away from home, the last thing Modi wanted to address was the growing intolerance in India and the 2002 Gujarat Riots. However, hours after he landed in London, at a joint press conference with his British PM David Cameron on Nov. 12, here’s the first question that a BBC journalist asked him – “Prime Minister Modi, India is becoming an increasingly intolerant place. Why?” For someone who, barring one token remark that accused opposition of ‘communalising India‘, has maintained stoic silence on such matters, Modi was facing the brunt of questions in public for the first time. Though Modi responded to the question by referring to Gandhi and Buddha, and their ideologies of non-violence and how every incident of violence matters to his government, one couldn’t help but notice how he ducked the question about the 2002 riots when asked about how his record as Chief Minister of Gujarat during the riots made him underserving to be given the “respect that would normally be accorded to the leader of the world’s largest democracy”. Though Cameron deftly tried to defend Modi, stating the huge mandate won by him in elections last year, these were direct, tough questions: questions we haven’t seen our Prime Minister respond to or even entertain, back in India. After all, the last time such questions were put to Modi, he chose to walk out from the interview. Remember the infamous Karan Thapar interview? No wonder Indian journalists were envious of British Journalists:

Protests, ‘Former Persona Non Grata’, ‘Ex-Pariah’ And More…

In the run up to Modi’s ascent from Gandhi Nagar to Race Course, a considerable effort and PR strategy was spun off to position Modi as a ‘Vikas Purush’, away from his image of a ‘Hindu Hriday Samrat’ and someone under whose watch the 2002 riots took place. But it is increasingly getting obvious that not everything can be buried with a PR exercise and an image makeover. In London, as Modi made speeches, one after another, hundreds from the civil society took to the streets to protest against Modi’s past, his governments attack on civil liberties and his silence on the increasing communal tension in India. British media, again, hasn’t been behind to remind Modi about his past and hold him accountable. While Telegraph dubbed the red carpet being rolled out to Modi as “Pomp and ceremony for an ex-pariah”, a column in The Times read that you hold your nose before shaking the PM’s hand. It seems David Cameron’s defense of Modi on human rights didn’t go down well with media, calling Modi ‘Former Persona Non Grata‘. Not to forget the series of articles in Guardian by the likes of Arundhati Roy and Pankaj Mishra who described Modi as ‘the divisive manipulator who charmed the world’:

British media certainly didn’t hold back any punches. The message was clear. David Cameron, the British PM, was neglecting Modi’s role and accountability in muzzling dissent and civil liberties in India for trade and finance deals. Though many may argue how British media’s scathing criticism and sneering remarks reflect their own scornful attitude- some remarks on Modi’s humble beginnings were clearly quite spiteful, it is certain that Modi remains a polarizing figure even after becoming the Prime Minister. If anything, as a healthy, evolving democracy, we need such narratives- narratives that don’t buy into the PR hype or give in to one-way communications and don’t let leaders get away without facing questions. I hope the Indian media can take a cue from British media’s extensive coverage of Modi’s UK visit, so can Modi. Because he has to be answerable to the public at one point or the other, he can’t escape such difficult questions all the time

You must be to comment.
  1. Javed Mo. Habib

    Add Antimodi in your profile description Mr. Chitranshu.

  2. Aditya Akshay

    Biased journalism is seriously uncalled for. Shame on you. I didn’t read the whole article of yours but the mentioning of Karan Thapar was enough. How easily you said that Modi ran away from interviews when questioned abt 2002 riots, try looking into the details of it, that interview happened in 2007/2008, 5-6 yrs later and still same questions were repeated. Shame on you and your anti Modi campaign

More from Chitranshu Tewari

Similar Posts

By Rushikesh Barje

By Prashant Pawar

By Jyotsna Richhariya

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below