Sunday, 17 May 2009

Born in the USA?

There was a lot of enthusiasm amongst folks I know on the American elections. Barack Obama fans in India were all over Facebook, Blogspot, Twitter rooting for him.

Recently I have come across some folks questioning the apparent apathy of such people when it came to the Indian elections. Questions raised were whether such people even voted here. Or on why there was hardly any chatter on social network sites on the Indian elections.

Now let me lay my cards down in the beginning. I voted. It was not easy to get registered but Imanaged it over three years. I am sure many would have tried but couldn't. Secondly I too was cynical of the obsession over the American elections. Especially if one was not active in the Indian political scene.

Having said that I must say that I can relate to those who were over the moon with Obama but inert on India.

In the American elections you had a man who was inspiring. A man has appeal cut across economic and social classes. Who was fighting against a President who was seen to have left crises behind in whatever he touched. People were hoping for a change. The promise of what would change was clear.

So there was something you could identify with, get inspired by and support.

Cut to the Indian elections. First of all I don't think that India was in a crisis the way the US was and therefore the need for change was not that in your face. Secondly there were no clear and visible polarisation in stances between the parties. And thirdly there were no inspiring leaders you could pitch your lot behind. The PM candidate of one party was not even directly elected by the people of India. And the candidate of the other has definitely had a questionable past when he had polarised the country.

So whom do you root for? And for those who argue that we are not a Presidential system, which party do you root for?

And this 'parliamentary system and therefore the leader doesn't matter' argument is one of convenience. By that logic we wouldn't have had the Nehrus, Gandhis, Vajpayees, Thatchers and Chruchills who were part of parliamentary systems but were clear leaders too.

In such a scenario what is wrong if people look for inspiration outside? After all Obama, Mandela and Dalai Lama looked to Gandhi for inspiration. By that logic one should mock them too.

The results have shown that the electorate have pitched their lot with the Congress and the UPA.

But there is nothing wrong in hoping and wishing that someday we have a leader who inspires the whole country of not the world. To start with the Congress could at least chose someone who was elected in the Lok Sabha to be the PM. And if they do stick with Manmohan Singh, which seems likely, can't they at least get him elected in a Lok Sabha by poll than depend on a technical Rajya Sabha seat? In fact, if memory serves me right I think Narasimha Rao did that when he was appointed Prime Minister. He was a RS member who then contested in the Lok Sabha and won in the by polls.

After all a knockout punch is always more convincing than a technical points victory.

And for those who are Obama fans but alienated here, I think it would be better to see why that is so than to mock them.

Perhaps we are missing a trick.

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