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Modi Chai v/s Global Tea – An African Saga

Rakesh Manchanda for BeyondHeadlines

During my 2006-11 visits to Republic of Mali, a French colonized West African country, I learned about Malian Chai cultural and its magical impact. In Mali villages all civil servants are found missing during tea time. Offices get empty. There’s no equipment, no computers, nothing – not even a chair except a 24×7 kettle outside the office waiting for the ‘chai walla’ to pour tea in a single glass. The single glass of tea gets shared by all Malians who believe sharing enhances unity and brotherhood.

Although working in Africa was impossible, I learned three things. First – Africans are hungry to participate in and learn new skills which I saw while installing a cotton oil factory. Second is a sharing cup of African-Malian tea, and third is pirated old Hindi movies dubbed in French of Bollywood actor Mithun Chakraborty (known as ‘Jimmy’).

Take A ‘Sip’ from history of Chai

Almost five thousand years ago, when people in China started sipping beverage made from dried leaves, different regions had different names for it. Portuguese traders, claim to be the first to bring the herbal drink to Europe in the late sixteenth century, followed new names: cha, shai, choy. Same story with overland routes to Central Asia, the Arabian Peninsula, India and Russia resulting in the hence use of “chai” in many languages. Dutch traders, who had a control on the tea trade in Western Europe – including Spain, France, Germany and Italy – got most of their derivations on its Min Nan Chinese name: té, tèh, tey. Europe as evident exported the word “te” to their colonial regions.

Back to NaMo:

Thanks to media discussion of the favorite ‘tea comment’ of Modi during his past visit to Russia where he asked for tea several times but got nothing. When Modi asked for ‘chai’ only then he got some tea.

The BJP PM candidate almost makes it sound as if the Chinese-French-Dutch-Russians all had borrowed the word “chai” from India. Instead of getting trapped in the patriotic riddle that My Hindustani Chai is better than your tea let us talk real issues.

A global city-village needs to protect against price rise and in order to function it needs jobs, wages, electricity, water, gas, banks, marketplaces and basic government services such as the town hall and a judiciary.

The NaMo Tea Stall invited you for a cup of chai but refuses to discuss the stand of prospective BJP PM-Modi on current A/C deficit and fiscal deficit. Instead on each tea stand you hear the religious chants of Har! Har! Modi replacing Mahadeva (Lord Shiva) in the slogan appears ready to replace ‘God Shiv’ in each house with ‘God Modi’.

According to AAP-leader Manish Sisodia findings the Modi Model in Gujarat has fixed Rs.5200/- as ‘Entry’ stipend for 3 years for government posts like police, doctors, IT expert, nurses. For job confirmation after 3 years huge ‘bribe’ in Gujarat is an open secret.

Let us dump tough questions and try to enjoy Modi ‘wave in Chai’. People fail to understand NaMo Economics with Corporate ‘sweetheart deals’ at the cost of lesser wages to workers. Modi has no respect for hedging and wasting taxpayer’s money Rs 70 lakh plus while contesting safe from two seats-Varnasi and Vadodara. Shall we give a benefit of doubt to Modi and stop questioning him as he messed up in the location of Takshashila in Bihar instead of Pakistan in his recent speech?

Sample a chat over tea- ‘Chai Pey Charcha’ in NaMo Tea Stall: BJP promoter drums a boost – “Modi Ji will solve our problems. He will attack Pakistan and shall bring ‘development’ like he has in Gujarat. Arvind Kejriwal and Congress both are American Agents and cannot fight China or Pakistan.” An elder sipping Chai said – “Vajpayee our credible ex-PM is forgotten – he tried to settle many India-Pak roadblocks over a cup of ‘Chai’. Today’s generation has no consultation and respect for elders in BJP.” Advani comment on Jinnah’s ‘good’ works and Pak is also buried over a cup of tea. Jaswant Singh ex-Defence Minister NDA has resigned says a tea drinker.

‘Settle all global problems over a cup of tea’- is a worldwide trend started by elite class from 7 Race Course Road to White House. The shameful list of tea party invitees at times were Osama Bin Laden invited to White House or Bhinderwala of Khalistan demand over tea with then PM-Indra Gandhi.

Chetan Bhagat in the recent past wrote big volumes on ‘Corruption and how AAP can help India grow’. Thanks to impact (over mind) of NaMo Tea stalls, Chetan Bhagat now takes a U-turn and become Ambani-Modi Poster boy.

Instead of addressing the root cause worker- management human relations (Maurti-Nano factory strikes) Modi is often seen showing ‘false carrot’ to the investors based on his corrupt police control in Gujarat. Modi is found protecting only the cotton exporters and traders who want to export all cotton Lint/Fiber to China with ‘No Quota for textile mills’. This is done for a petty short term profit. (Please refer my published article: Politics and Shades of Chetan Bhagat)

As an Indian I tried my best to help Africans to replace the China tea leaves with India Tata Chai but failed. My African friends in several countries used to accept ‘free’ tea leave packs but later followed their old tradition flavor of making tea outside the office using cheap outdated Chinese tea leaves. They refuse to call it Chinese tea and insist that their local tea preparation as the best.

My appeal to all tea lovers including Chetan Bhagat is to go and enjoy the NaMo ‘Tea’. Once the ‘Chai’ is over ask what they will do for a better India. If the stall owner fails to convince then ditch the stall by taking a ‘T’ turn and explore serious and safe ‘desi’ options. It is possible to have a corruption free life with ‘chai’ and no Modi-there are alternatives.

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