30 Apr 2015

10 Similarities Between Dhoni and Modi

Despite being anti-IPL, I have been following it a lot this season, partly because I want to rally behind our players who couldn’t win the World Cup. Sounds lame, doesn’t it? But hey, I’m being honest with you here.

A couple of weeks ago was my 32nd birthday. I was thinking of keeping celebrations low-key and chilling at home. Chennai Super Kings were playing Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede stadium and I was going to watch it at home (you can figure out my birth date now). Instead, Ramya got tickets for the Sachin Tendulkar Stand. Thanks to her, I finally saw Mahendra Singh Dhoni live in action.

If you know me (or have read my posts), you know that I am a huuuuge MS Dhoni fan. More than his powerful hitting and habit of winning, I admire his philosophies on life. I consider him as Dhonicharya and myself as Eklavya, though I haven’t learnt enough from him yet.

Dhoni was his typical self in the match - calm, composed and unhurried. It was mind-blowing to see the number of CSK supporters in a stadium in Mumbai, until Dhoni came out to bat. It then hit me like a bullet in the chest. They were all Dhoni fans! While screaming “Dhoni, Dhoni” with thousand others that night, I felt like I had seen this somewhere else. Oh yes, I had seen it on TV. A lot! Only instead of “Dhoni, Dhoni”, people were chanting “Modi, Modi”.

Dhoni and Modi
The similarities are striking

I thought about it on the way back. Are Dhoni and Modi similar? My heart and brain emphatically said “Yes! In more respects than one.” And when your heart and brain agree on something, you really want to talk about it! So I thought of listing 10 similarities between the two veterans in their respective fields.

  1. Both carry the hopes of 1.2 billion countrymen on their shoulders
    One thing that unites India is cricket. And one thing that divides India is politics. Events in both of them impact the entire country massively. Being the captain of the Indian cricket team places a colossal burden on Dhoni’s shoulders, just like being the Prime Minister of India does to Modi. The entire nation’s hopes rest on them. But why do we have high hopes of them? Well, read point number 2.

  2. Both possess unwavering self-belief
    As long as Dhoni is at the crease, any target, however distant, looks achievable. Remember the last time we felt like this? Yes, it was during the Sachin Tendulkar era. Similarly, when Modi galvanizes himself and his team into action, we are left inspired almost always. Remember the wave of delight across the country when the BJP won a landslide victory in the 2014 Elections? How do these 2 real life superheroes make us believe in them? How have they been so effective in what they do? It’s because they believe in themselves. They back their abilities, and deliver more often than not. And since others see in us what what see in ourselves, people believe in Dhoni and Modi too. Their sheer presence exudes a certain charisma and gives us hope - the only emotion stronger than fear.

  3. Both have brilliant perspectives on things
    Yet another commonality between Dhoni and Modi is their enviable intelligence. This intelligence stems from years of mental and physical training, empowering them to have a brilliant perspective on things. They are astute students of life, possessing the ability to look beyond the present and chart out plans to handle situations before they even arise.

    For instance, here is how Modi meticulously plans every action of a strategy down to the last detail. And Dhoni… well, he says “People generally have Plan B to fall back on. I have Plans B, C and D.” Unbelievable!

  4. Yet, both are massively misunderstood
    In this post, Oliver Emberton has beautifully explained that the more you impact people’s lives, the more they will misunderstand you. Since 2.4 billion eyes (and a lot of foreign ones) are watching both Dhoni and Modi closely, every move they make is scrutinized and dissected. And then there are us Indians. The more the world applauds one of our own for being unconventional, the more more we hurl insults at him (APJ Kalam is an exception to this rule, thankfully!). Someone who doesn’t tell us what his intent is, becomes an antagonist. Thankfully, both Modi and Dhoni keep away from the limelight. This saves them time that would otherwise be wasted in explaining their actions to people who won’t listen anyway. How they do it? How do they soak up this pressure and still be retain their amazing attitudes? The next point answers these questions.

  5. Both have mastered the art of detachment
    The Bhagavad Gita preaches about performing action without attachment towards fruit. But how many of us can follow it? Well, Dhoni and Modi are two living beings who do so every single day. "If tomorrow he has to say goodbye to all the trappings of fame, Dhoni will calmly get on his motorbike and go away. He is that rarity who treats both those impostors - wins and losses - in the same way. He simply plays the game”, said Sunil Gavaskar.

    We have read unlimited articles and posts about Modi’s simple and austere lifestyle also. The sheer dignity with which our Prime Minister conducts himself despite what people say about him shows what he thinks of critics. I would love Modi to have 2 more terms as India’s Prime Minister. But if he doesn’t, I’m sure that he will still be at peace, knowing that he gave it his all. Such remarkable clarity of thought and ability to endure cannot be accomplished without detachment - from others’ opinions about them, materialistic pleasure, results and everything else.

  6. Both aim to serve Mother India
    It’s amply clear from the Indian Prime Minister’s and cricket captain's interviews and speeches that their prime goal is to serve their nation. For Dhoni, his country comes above everything else, even above his parents. Narendra Modi has dedicated his entire life to serving his nation, including valiant actions that we don’t know about to keep India united.

  7. Both distrust the media
    It’s no secret that both Modi and Dhoni distrust the media. By now we’re familiar with Modi’s aversion to mainstream media. Thousands of media journos beg for an interview with him, but he and his cabinet air their views only on Doordarshan and All India Radio. And he has substantially reduced the size of the entourage of the press traveling overseas with a Prime Minister, which has pissed off many journos who now write and talk horse shit about him frequently.

    Similarly, Dhoni has instructed the Indian cricket team not to speak to the media. He has shown what he thinks about the media on multiple instances. When asked about his retirement plans recently, Dhoni said “The media should conduct a thorough research, come up with conclusions and write the exact opposite, because that will be the truth.” On another occasion, when Dhoni was asked whether a rumor about the Indian team’s dressing room would be spread, he said “Newspapers like Times of India will do that for us. So I won't bother.” And I’m a sucker for people who don’t trust mainstream media.

  8. Both give credit where it's due and prefer avoiding the limelight
    The Indian cricket team is called ‘Dhoni’s boys’. The current Indian government is called ‘the Modi government’. However, rarely, if ever, do we see either of these evolved souls taking centre stage and hogging the limelight. When India wins a trophy, Dhoni is generally invisible in the team photo, often standing with the support staff in the second row. When a good budget is announced or good policies are implemented, Modi is nowhere in the limelight either. He stealthily goes about his work to make India a better place to live in for you and me. Did you see his response to #ThankYouPM?

  9. Both live in the present
    There is no denying that Dhoni and Modi work with the future in mind. They have to. However, they both possess the remarkable trait of living in the present moment. I have never seen Dhoni fuss about the future - he simply focuses on the current ball of the current over in the current match. Rahul Dravid says, “He has a unique ability to ignore consequences and soak up pressure. This makes it easier for everyone else. He is calm and measured. Win, lose, he can walk away.” And when he is off the field, he simply switches off from cricket and enjoys life outside.

    Modi is no different. Yes, he thinks a lot about our future (as he should), but he works in the present. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure out that he asks himself “What can I do now to improve our country’s future?”, and works accordingly. The last time developmental work was carried out at such furious pace was 1991. Instead of dreaming about our ideal future, Modi prefers to act in the present. And living the current moment to its fullest is the mark of a great human being.

  10. Yet, we choose to learn from neither
    Both Dhoni and Modi have infinite lessons to teach us; lessons which will make us better human beings. Yet, we refuse to learn from them and instead carry on with our mundane and hollow lives. It’s like we fear the consequences of living like them. But trust me, life is much better when you emulate Dhoni and Modi. The shackles fall off and you no longer feel like singing “I want to break free” because you already have broken free.

Each of us comes in this world to serve a purpose. I think that God sent Dhoni and Modi to inspire millions of us, apart from excelling in their fields. And boy, do they serve their purposes well or what! I hope that someday, I get to meet them and learn more about the core philosophies that govern their lives. If I can be 10 percent as honest, as genuine and as driven as either of them, my life’s purpose will be accomplished.

I’m sure that you can point many more similarities between them which are not listed here. Why not share them in comments? And for heaven’s sake, keep them positive. There is enough negativity in this world, so you don’t need to contribute to it.


  1. Awesome post! If only the others in this country were as positive about these men as you are! :-)
    Thanks for sharing buddy.
    Cheers, Archana - www.drishti.co

    1. Thank you for the compliment Archana... There are many like me in this country... We simply have to look for them :)

  2. A very interesting perspective mate. I really like the detachment part, I believe it is one of the hardest things to do to detach yourself from something you really like so that you go on to take the larger roles and probably even more level headed decisions. There have been very few leaders all through history who have actually done that or even thought like that. I do have an immense amount of respect to Dhoni for these factors. He is perhaps the best captain India has ever had and about Modi - he might well turn out to be the best PM India has ever had.. Time will surely tell :)

    1. Thanks Vinay... Yes, time will tell... hoping for the best :)

  3. It is the title of the post - that pulled me to reading the entire write up. Very interesting and honestly, only after you put up the similarities, that i am actually beginning to see them...

    1. Thanks Viyoma... Hope you enjoyed the post :)

  4. Very observational post. About Dhoni i totally agree but Mr. Modi is promotional and media lover. Loved the idea though.

  5. Brilliant post! Since you asked, I would like to add a point here - Courage. I think these two have been daring enough to think differently (point no. 3) and then also had the indomitable courage to follow their thoughts by putting them successfully into action - that's what makes people turn around, take notice and stand up in awe and admiration.

    1. So true, Arti... Thank you for the insight :)

  6. Your post went from IPL and your birthday, belated wishes by the way, to Modi and Dhoni. Like you, I have always admired Dhoni. I think he is a man after my own heart -- courageous, strong, talented, humble and so human. He is also so calm and collected which is a really big deal in the sport he plays. And Modi brings me hope. Despite his excellent speeches -- he is such a good orator, he is also a man of action and a methodical worker. I have lived in Ahmedabad and have witnessed the change on the ground. So, yes, there is a lot to learn from both of them and the learning you shared are very true. I didn't watch IPL. I watch cricket only once in 4 years these days. :)

    1. Beautifully put Rachna. Makes me happy to know that you respect and admire both men :) Just wish more people appreciated them. If they did, the world would become a much better and honorable place...

      We should talk about the changes that you have seen in Ahmedabad sometime.

  7. I too hate IPL, get confused who is playing who...and feel in bilateral series they are so different.

    When it comes to Modi and Dhoni, they are examples of almost perfect leaders...you will find very few who are so humble. I compare them to Anand Mahindra, who has so much of pride and ego. But then that's they we spoke about them in the first place, and not the latter.

    1. Thank you for your insights Alok. The IPL is confusing indeed. The only heartening thing is that, in the end, an Indian team wins ;)


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