Twitter founder Jack Dorsey was recently in Delhi, where he attended an interactive session at IIT Delhi and met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his political rival, Congress President Rahul Gandhi.
Little did Jack realise that his meeting with Modi will anger the supporters of the Indian prime minister. No sooner was his photo with Modi made public, did Modi supporters, often referred to as bhakts (blind followers), launched a coordinated campaign against the Twitter CEO. These bhakts were incensed because they did not appear pleased over the manner Jack sat during his meeting with Modi.
In the photo shared on social media, the Twitter CEO was seen sitting cross-legged next to Modi. Supporters of Modi instantly declared him disrespectful as the Twitter CEO had purportedly violated the ‘code of conduct’ by sitting cross-legged.
— jack (@jack) November 13, 2018
One Modi supporter wrote, “Can somebody please tell @jack that it’s utterly rude to sit with crossed legs opposite the head of State. Shall be happy to give you free advise on intercultural communication!” Another user agreed, “Totally agree! Good cross cultural communication is a must for global players. When companies recruit staff they look for people with effective intercultural communication. Now what do we do here.”
However, not everyone was impressed with how some of twitterati had reacted to what has been a hallmark posture of the tech geek, who is used to working in a non-formal environment. Many were quick to point out that the very same people stayed quiet and did not detect any insult to the prime minister when others had sat cross-legged next Indian head of state. One user referred to the Microsoft chief Satya Nadella’s meeting with Modi, while some were reminded of Modi’s encounter with journalist Megyn Kelly in Russia last year.
Notice Kelly’s sitting posture including her high-slit outfit in the first photo while sitting right in front of India’s prime minister.
Kelly had even insulted the Indian prime minister by expressing her shock that Modi too had Twitter presence. After arriving in Moscow to take part in the International Economic Forum last year, Modi had excitedly told Kelly of NBC media network, “I saw your tweet with the umbrella!” This was in reference to her earlier tweet posted with an umbrella to announce that the rain had stopped.
To which, Kelly had replied, “Oh yes!” before asking “Are you on Twitter?” This despite the fact that the Indian prime minister had more than 30 million followers on Twitter then.
— NBC News (@NBCNews) June 1, 2017
Modi supporters’ latest anger comes a year after they slammed Indian actress Priyanka Chopra for sitting cross-legged next to Modi in Germany last year. The Quantico actor was also attacked for not dressing appropriately during her meeting with Modi.
The Genesis of the latest controversy lies in how Modi’s image has been cultivated as that of a demigod. His blind followers had managed to project him as someone who is beyond criticism and contempt and who must be revered or who is definitely beyond questioning. This explains why Modi has never held a single non-orchestrated interaction with members of the media.
Jack is a tech geek and is used to working in an environment, where formality and protocol get scant attention. Sitting cross-legged in front of an elected prime minister can hardly amount to contempt.