Look into the mirror yourself Mr.Patel

In the 19 October edition of TOI, the ever-erudite Aakar Patel, gave us the most important criterion a leader should have in order to be elected.

Check: Integrity


Check: Articulation


Check: Confidence


Check: Charisma


Check: Track record


Indeed, it is much simpler than these confusing adjectives. In Phenomenal Patel’s books, it’s only the looks. Looks maketh a leader. Check this out:

Across its ranks, Hindutva fields a phalanx of rotund, moon-faced figures. Uma, Amit, Sushma, Smriti, Anandiben. Faces to launch a thousand Chandrayaans.

Meanwhile on the other side, lefties are mostly thin. I present the Karats, both he and she, and bird-like Jyoti Basu. All good-looking. It is true Sitaram Yechury’s barber takes a chisel to that hair instead of scissors, but there’s something aesthetically pleasing even about him.

The Congress leadership may not be bright or honest or, truth be told, even competent. But one thing we cannot accuse the Gandhis of is ugliness. They are a singularly striking looking family, like those other dynasts, Bollywood’s Kapoors.


Let’s be charitable to Mr. Patel. I remember reading somewhere that during the 44th US presidential election, people elected the Democratic candidate—the debonair, dazzling and well-built John Fitzgerald Kennedy over the Republican Richard Nixon whose face according to many “resembled a rotten potato.” It had nothing to do with Nixon’s dull performance in the televised Presidential Debate or Kennedy’s dynamic approach in fiscal and foreign matters.

nixon kennedy

It was the dashing smile that won Kennedy the elections—I mean, who wouldn’t vote for the man who had impressed the Marylin Monroe? Why would Americans care about the economy when they can hear Ms Monroe sing ‘happy birthday’ to the President?The lasting image of the handsome Kennedy even helped his Vice President, the not so handsome Lyndon Johnson win the 1964 Presidential elections  which took place a year following Kennedy’s assassination.

The Republican candidate of that time, Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona, was deeply disliked for his conformist political positions. Whereas Johnson advocated social programs to curtail racial segregation, collectively known as the Great Society, Goldwater was not clear about such issues. Also Goldwater’s aged face could not stand up to the chubby Lyndon Johnson, who had the additional fortune of being associated with the handsome Kennedy.

goldwater johnson

But then it starts getting confusing—during the 1970s and 80s, with the exception of 1977 elections, the Americans went on to elect frail and wrinkled Republicans like Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan (past his cinematic prime) and George H.W Bush over handsome hopefuls. What on the earth went wrong?

For answers, serious reading is required—books by folks like Peggy Noonan, William F Buckley Jr., and Tom Brokaw are fairly decent. Actually, no. All that’s required is the formidable Aakar Patel who makes it as easy as this: the American idea of beauty must have changed; the fashion of the season is wrinkles over beauty. Reverse-botox won those aged and wrinkled Presidents the day.

reagan bush

Back to India, reading Patel gave me the idea as to why the CPM led by the suave Buddhadeb Bhattacharya in West Bengal was routed by the rugged and loud-mouthed Mamata Banerjee’s TMC in the 2009 general elections and the succeeding Bengal assembly elections of 2011: the comrades couldn’t beautify the state. In their three decade rule, whereas comrades Jyoti and Buddhadeb were aging handsomely, the state of Bengal was sprouting acnes of stagnation and looked less like ‘India’s France’ and more like a random Parisian marshland.

Unlike the comrades, the moon-faced Amit Shah was part of an administration that ensured that the face of Gujarat does not get sullied by craters on the state’s roads.

But to be fair, we should let Mr. Patel explain if say, the good looks of Rahul Gandhi were among the reasons his party didn’t win? Maybe the public didn’t want the young Gandhi scion to lose his dynastic splendor trying to fix the country’s problems. Mr.Patel would agree if I paraphrase Marlowe in claiming that Rahul Gandhi has ‘a face that can empower a thousand women and light the bonfire of the Grand Old Party.’


Earlier in the article Mr.Patel states:

As a student I noticed handsome SP Mookerjee on BJP posters. Seduced, I purchased his book, ‘Leaves From A Diary’. The writing was pedestrian (Page 109: “What is the aim of this life? Wallowing in luxury and pleasure? Certainly not! We are here only in transit and will have to move on” etc). This was acceptable since Hindutva is about passion, not intellect. What disappointed was the cover, sporting Mookerjee’s chubby face. What happened to that patrician I was promised on the poster?

But we always thought of not judging a book by its cover. Sigh. Maybe I need to follow Mr. Patel in ‘judging the book by the poster of its author.’ Perhaps that singular event has contributed immensely to penning pieces like this.

That also explains his statement that Hindutva is about passion, not intellect. Aakar Patel should have tried the writings of Ambedkar, Savarkar, and KM Munshi , not because of the erudite expositions on philosophy, society and history they make (Mr. Patel wouldn’t have the ability to comprehend them), but because he would have been mesmerized by the rugged handsome looks these savants have been gifted with.

image  veer savarkar  km munshi

Finally at the end of this sorry saga we see this:

What puzzles me is this. Conservatism originates with the aristocracy, which is usually good-looking. So what went wrong here in India? Could it be some mutation? And will it affect their future? Friends studying natural selection tell me that it has ever been thus: those unequipped to face modernity and change, clinging on to ancient prejudices, fade away. But I hope Hindutva remains with us, if only for the variety. And, having read this, they shouldn’t worry themselves too much about what to do. It does not really matter because, as Churchill observed, you will still be ugly in the morning.

Aakar Patel has immersed in his ugly treatise on beauty that he has abandoned his knowledge of history. Although conservatism worldwide did originate with the aristocracy, it became successful when it struck a chord with the rising middle class and became a proponent of social progress.

That is the reason why, in modern societies like Germany and England the conservatives have been led by people hailing from middle-class backgrounds. Two of the most successful heads of state in these two nations have been the teacher’s daughter Angela Merkel and the grocer’s daughter Margaret Thatcher in recent times. And by Aakar Patel’s standards, both these women aren’t blessed with drop-dead looks.

angela merkel maggie

In fact, Mr.Patel seems to contradict his own slanderous thesis when he tries to pitch the scientific notion of natural selection that is, in his words:  ‘those unequipped to face modernity and change, clinging on to ancient prejudices, fades away.’

Let’s put this to test with the Karats and the Gandhis. By Aakar Patel’s own theory, they must now look physically horrendous because they still cling to discarded ideologies like Nehruvian socialism and communism. Aakar Patel must first look at himself in the mirror and confirm for himself that his own face indeed reflects the revolting condition which his writing does.


  • southernwonder

    mahatma gandhi was often accused in his time, and still is accused, of picking a pretty handsome nehru for congress president several times and also later as the pm, passing over a supremely capable sardar patel each time. if the mahatma can do it, what chance do we, the less mortals have?

  • Sam

    Aakar’s plaintive lament only echoes those of the “beautifool” peoples bordering us to the west. Pakistanis often let slip that they believe that they are better looking (read fairer) than Indians and Bengalis, and therefore are the natural-born leaders of the region. Bengalis in East Pakistan were targeted for mass rape in order to helpfully beautify the succeeding generation, and the whole history of the Pakistan-India conflict can be easily understood in these terms. They specifically chose their diplomats and foreign ministers for looks over intelligence because it stirred pride in them to have “beautiful” people representing them – doesn’t Hina Birkin Khar look smashing in comparison to dumpy Nirupama Rao? So what if Khar doesn’t have half the brains or the diplomatic skills of Rao, she cuts a fine figure in those photo ops and that’s all that matters in Pakistan. And heaven forbid that a “Bihari” plays a Pakistani in the Homeland TV series. They can accept their country’s descent into mindless barbarism being shown but never their people looking like those dark Indians. Never mind that the average Pakistani crowd image has people looking more like Hafiz Saeed or the average “Bihari” than Sahabzada Yaqub Khan. Or that by the same token the average illiterate Afghan peasant is lighter skinned and therefore “better looking” that the average Punjabi “beautiful” peoples doing “beautifool” things in ornate rococo homes with Filipino maids patiently bearing glasses of water. This is the same utterly misguided and racist mindset in India that makes feckless and asinine courtiers like Aakar flit and dance around the “beautifool” dynasty or upper-caste communist leaders with giant bindis, and why Aakar can’t stand the “ugly” peoples in the BJP who rose up strictly on merit and not on looks. How dare the rabble take over? It makes Aakar and his “beautifool” friends want to partition the nation once again so that the Eloi again can be ruled by the “beautiful” people, and hanker for the good old days when the truly beautiful (by these idiotic standards) Angrezi people lorded over the likes of Aakar in the most natural order of things.

    • Sujata Srinath

      Now that’s what I call a fantastic and articulate rant…enjoyed it immensely!!:)

  • Paundra

    Well, who said Gandis are beautiful? Ask an honest woman if she would like a buffoon like RaGa or a man like NaMo.

  • Shanu Athiparambath

    Once when I hinted that girl is too pretty to be a BJP supporter, she lashed out, asking me whether I expected her to tell me, batting her eyelashes, “Why, oh, Thank You!”. But, the Hindu nationalists are ugly for the same reason porn stars are not the prettiest people in the movie industry. Pornography is a fundamental need of human beings, but when a girl pulls off her clothes in a porn movie, people look down on her.


  • Vikar Patel is fascinating in his ugly obsessions. Take a look.

    1. The British left in 1947, and they left too soon. We celebrate Independence Day, but another six decades of dependence as Great Britain’s colony would have been good for us. We could have learnt how to run cities. No harm in admitting what is obvious for all to see: We cannot even manage traffic.

    2. The British talent was building cities. They gave the Chinese Hong Kong and Singapore, they gave the Lankans Colombo, they gave the Burmese Rangoon, they gave the Kenyans Nairobi. To us they gifted Bombay, Madras, Calcutta, Bangalore and New Delhi, the five greatest cities of the subcontinent. The Indian talent is renaming things others built. We gave the world Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Bengaluru.

    3. As I heard Ali Khan sing Shikwa after having a few drinks, I want to mount my horse and charge at the infidels.

    This Raj lover also obsesses about the Caste System, and is an ideological descendant of Herbert Risley.

    The pathology of the self-loathing Indian is fascinating, like watching ghoulish vampire movies. I can’t avoid looking at him. Ugliness is in the eye of the beholder, right, Master. Shakespeare?

    Note: Place your mouse over phrases “British left”, “Herbert Risley”, “obsesses about … ” and “I want to mount …” to see linked articles, if you can stand it 😮

    • Sujata Srinath

      ‘The pathology of a self-loathing Indian’ is a great theme for a conference that IndiaFacts could initiate. Aakar Patel and that Priya Ramani can be the targets to be discussed first.:)

  • Kishan Sharma

    Aakar Patel has totally lost his brains. That’s what hate of & opposition to Modi does to people. They lose all sanity.

    • SEKOOLAR is history

      Hate hatera nd hate more…….. suddenly, they realize inspite opf their hate speech, Modi pulls hte carpet from under therit feet… they suddenly feel like “Emperor without his Clothes”……Let these seculars wallow in their notions and let that imfluence a limtied few in teh coming years……. Modi should keep these folks busy in theirwriting and keep them from sources of information…….professorship, book writing ( goivt) or histor ywriting and influecing policy in any way…. wE can elimiate the influence directly in 10 years nad eradicate the mto the lines of history all the 40-50 SECULAR, INTELLECTUAL, SENIOR JOURNOS to a paragraph in our history books…

  • Kattabomman

    Very well put. I had a small hope that you may comment on Aakar’s beauty before ending but you have been a gentleman.