There is nothing in the world like a persuasive speech to fuddle the mental apparatus and upset the convictions and debauch the emotions of an audience not practiced in the tricks and delusions of oratory.
—Mark Twain, The Man that Corrupted Hadleyburg.
In the last five years, amidst the varying assessments of Narendra Modi’s performance, one constant that has endured is the assertion that he is a great orator. This claim is made even by his trenchant ‘liberal’ critics. Ramachandra Guha calls Modi a “spectacular orator”; Shashi Tharoor refers to Modi as a “very fine orator,” and Shekhar Gupta thinks Modi’s “phenomenal oratory” makes him “our most powerful public speaker and communicator.”
When your opponents agree with your supporters, an assertion becomes a fact. Nevertheless, this assertion, as with many other aspects of the Modi regime, has, remarkably gone unchallenged. And Mr Modi’s communication skills have become...