Modern Indian and Philippine Political Landscapes: Similarities and Differences
A couple of months ago, for some reason, I got really into Indian politics, society and culture, and even now I’m still in this Indophilic phase.
Somehow, I ended up on this subreddit, which seemed to align with my personal views, and upon viewing this sub, I noticed that there are so many things that connect with me as a Filipino when it comes to Indian politics, so much so that some members of this sub have asked me why. Tonight I’m going to elaborate it even further.
1. POPULIST LEADER CURRENTLY AT THE HELM.
Of course the biggest similarity I can sense within both India and the Philippines are the two people who currently rule them: Narendra Damodardas Modi and Rodrigo Roa Duterte. Both men are septuagenarian politicians who are not only extremely charismatic and extremely loud, but also VERY populist. Both Modi and DU30 have stated anti-corruption as part of their key platforms, as well as standing up for the common man, and against the elitist establishments of their respective countries. And of course, they both have extremely loyal “fanbases”. Which brings us to…
2. EXTREMELY FANATICAL SUPPORTERS.
Just as you guys have “bhakts”, we here in PH have the DDS (which stands for Duterte Diehard Supporters). Both sets of supporters are extremely loyal to their chosen leader, even so much as giving them affectionate names such as Modiji and Tatay Digong (translates to “Daddy Digong”). And both bhakts and DDS will commit multiple acts of mental gymnastics, and call the opposing side multiple amounts of names. For bhakts, it’s usually “sickular”, “anti-national”, “urban naxal”, and of course, “librandu”, and for DDS, its “libtards” (copied from the U.S., I know), “NPA” (New People’s Army, a Maoist rebel group and basically our version of the Naxalites), “oligarchs”, and most notably, “yellowtards” and “dilawan” (yellow), referring to the color of the opposition party, the Liberal Party. And speaking of the Liberals…
3. FRAGMENTED OPPOSITION.
The Liberal Party and the Indian National Congress are very much DWARFED by the BJP and the PDP-Laban (DU30’s party) in the legislatures of their respective countries. Add to that is that both the LP and the INC have had poor results in comparison to their rivals; both leaders at the time of their election weren’t so popular either, Rahul Gandhi and Mar Roxas (the Presidential Candidiate of the LP in 2016) were both seen as weak, elitist, uncharismatic, and out of touch with ordinary Indians/Filipinos. Even now the LP still struggles to capture the common man as Duterte has.
Of course, as with similarities, there are of course a lot of differences in the political landscapes of the two countries. Such as:
1. THE PRO-GOVERNMENT SUPPORTERS’ PERCEPTION OF THE MASS MEDIA.
A key difference between modern Indian and Filipino politics is how pro-government supporters see the so-called fourth estate. While in India a sizable chunk of mainstream news channels have been at least partial to the Modi government (and has been pejoratively called “Godi media” by anti-Modi people), and is therefore left untouched by bhakt venom, in the Philippines it’s quite the opposite. DDS constantly complain that the mainstream mass media is against them and is always negative towards Duterte and his administration; in fact “BIASED MEDIA” is a common buzzword uttered by DDS.
But perhaps the most important difference between Filipino and Indian political landscapes has to be…
2. CELEBRITY POLITICIANS.
I have to elaborate this one, because this is pretty long. Philippine politics, for the past few decades, has had its fair share of politicians who were huge celebrities before they got elected, and India had only (unfortunately) recently caught up (e.g. drama star Smriti Irani elected in 2019). Celebrities here often join politics either because they know their peak of success is slowly waning, or they know that their past successes with give them easy access to the electorate, and many of them do become successful.
The most famous example, at least in the international stage, has to be Manny Pacquiao, perhaps one of, if not the greatest boxers of all time, who won a seat in the House of Representatives in 2010, as well as a Senate seat in 2019. Another infamous example was when Fernando Poe Jr., legendary action star of the ’80s and ’90s (and whose closest Indian equivalent I could think of is Tamil screen legend Rajinikanth), came dangerously close to become President of the Philippines in 2004, by sheer popularity and charisma alone. As much as how Godly SRK’s reputation has been in India, I highly doubt he could do the same in India.