Dec 2, 2023, 06:43 AM IST
Young Indians on social media are now aware of Italy's Prime Minister, thanks to the memes that linked her with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The memes on the subject are mostly healthy expressions of sarcasm and rarely possess the vile discourse of misogyny that becomes typical of such conversations.
The Modi-Meloni equation, frivolously manufactured on social media, shows the repulsion of India's youth from the celebration of celibacy that has prevailed in India.
India's Prime Minister Modi, who separated from his wife at a young age, is often seen as a flag bearer of the kind of masculinity that is not easily provoked by romance.
The moments of bonhomie between Giorgia Meloni and Narendra Modi on the internet led to the melting away of Modi's popular imagery as a leader who remains indifferent to matters of romance.
The Modi-Meloni discourse on the internet also shows a move away from the decades of conservative attitudes of Indian citizens on perception of romantic attitudes of popular political figures.
This is because centuries of British colonialism have left a mark of Victorian conservatism on matters of romance in the Indian subcontinent.
After independence, many Indian politicians lost their careers owing to the nature of liberal romantic attitudes of themselves or their aides.
One prominent example is that of Babu Jagjivan Ram, a Bihar politician, who lost his chance to be India's Prime Minister after his son's pictures with his girlfriend in so-called objectionable positions were published by a magazine.
Jagjivan Ram's reputation nosedived after his son's pictures with his girlfriend were passed off as a 'sordid sex scandal'. The Dalit reformist politician, a favourite to be Prime Minister after Morarji Desai, never became India's Prime Minister.
Decades after the end of Babu Jagjivan Ram's political career, the conversations on the internet on Modi-Meloni's show of bonhomie, however misinterpreted, show the evolution of the way a normal gender expression is perceived in India.