Wednesday, November 12, 2008


I think some of my blog visitors got me all wrong. What I meant about India's Obama was not an Indian citizen with attributes that correspond one to one with Obama's. Expecting to find someone like that is as ridiculous as desiring it. Most certainly, I was not talking of an Indian with cross national lineage, or a law degree equivalent to a Harvard law degree or or or or or - --

What I had in mind was the 'Obama Impact' which I would define as
  • a nation being inspired to rise above a historical prejudice fundamental to its psyche
  • the people being inspired to put their country above all other divisive interests
  • a people being charged with enthusiasm and energy at the prospect of correcting the mistakes of the past
  • a people being inspired to cast away cynicism and to believe in the possibility of their participation in the governance of the land
  • the youth being inspired to believe in a great future for their country

My take on Obama is informed by the unusual nature of the campaign which involved people of all age groups and all walks of life. My source was not just the media. The blogs were a real eye opener and I realised that Obama is an impact, a movement. People talk about how happy they were to contribute to this campaign, people who were averse to contributing to political activities.

To see the Obama impact, one has to only go back to the 'we can' chant, the like of which I haven't seen anywhere. Black and white, red and yellow and brown - all were chanting without any inhibition. A leader with that kind of hold on the people can take difficult but momentuous decisions.

That's the impact. We dont know how he will perform as a president, what policies he will make, how he will deal with international issues. But those are not the issues here.

The issue is the Obama Impact. It's all about the curing of a nation of its cynicism and restoring faith in the system. It is uniting a people not with narrow nationalism, but with patriotism.

Is there a person in India who can do it? That was the question i posed.

Apparently, i didn't make myself clear. I dont know if I am making myself clear now.


  1. You made it clear now.But can your choice Priyanka do all that? Never.
    As per your definition he/she should be from a lower caste either a Harijan or Adivasi or even a poor Muslim, who can inspire people by his/her words and deeds.Even if such a person is there,India has not grown for such a historic choice of its leader.

  2. @ charakan
    I dont think that i have stated or implied that the person must be from any of the group u've mentioned. but he/she must be acceptable to them.
    'Even if such a person is there,India has not grown for such a historic choice of its leader'-agree 100%. & it'll take India ages to grow that high. Till then what do we do? allow these petty selfseeking politicians to divide and loot the country.
    i could be wrong about priyanka-but it's worth giving a try for the reasons i have stated in my posts.

  3. Hey Molly A,
    I guess the big difference would be that Obama came from a single-mother middle class family and worked his way up in life. His campaign advisors talk about how he insisted when starting out that this had to be a grassrooots approach, getting people involved at every level and asking them to be involved in their democracy. Priyanka Gandhi would be a top-down choice. The privileged continue to wield privilege. I am not holding that against her, I'm just pointing it out as a basic difference between these two candidacies (if she were to run). I also wonder if she can be the same person that you admire, once she gets into office. People disappoint us when they switch roles because different roles require wearing different hats.

  4. We wouldn't even know Priyanka...if it wasn't for the Gandhi tag...

  5. @ anita P
    let me begin with thanking u for commenting- as a journalist who was actively involved in Obama campaign, you are for me the horse's mouth.;-)
    seriously, thanks. i feel honoured.

    i agree, Obama & priyanka are as different in their circumstances and contexts as two human beings can possibly be. My only point is (put this way it is a vast oversimplification), can she unite India the way Obama united the US? can she inspire at least a small percentage of the misguided youth to rise above the narrow, parochial and communal concerns the way obama did in the hardcore southern states? Achieveng that in india is a million times more difficult than in the US, we know. but unless that happens, we are soon going to have Indias. hence, priyanka is the last ditch hope of my generation which still remembers the nehru legacy.
    "that this had to be a grassrooots approach, getting people involved at every level and asking them to be involved in their democracy' - remeber indira gandhi's garibi hatao, bank nationalisation, abolition of privy purses? true, they might have been populist moves, but what if ? so llong as vote catching policies benefit the bpl population, does it really matter.
    priyanka who keeps a low profile, is reported to be doing a lot of work in the rural UP -in amethi & raebareilli.
    finally, the possibility is there. like u said, she might prove to be a very different person once she gets power.if she does that, the voters will take care of her.

  6. Kochuthresiamma,

    at an asia society leadership conference, an indian ABCD stood up and said that she wanted to be like "Indira Gandhi". I was wondering- boy the gandhi's have weled such a strong image. Now which iron or steel glue should I use to erase this.

    if you read between the lines you know better that garibi hato ..etc etc are all coined by the IAS chelas who want to be rise up in their kursi. Somebody needs to make a movie on How Indira Gandhi conspired to kill Lal Bahadur Shastri and and replaced him and all the dirty tricks of the congress.

    May be I am very bitter about the congress and their roots in their land lord legacy, and rule that is the root of my opinion

  7. @ anrosh
    anything better than this communal madness that is tearing the country apart.
    there was a time when i too believed in integrity, equity, unpolluted demopcracy, secularism.yes. there was a time when i too had stars in the eyes. i was a violent critic of Indra gandhi and her autocratic ways. believe it or not, in the post emergency period,i have sat late into the nights at meetings in open grounds listening to jagjivan ram and chandrashekar - all those janata heavyweights who dethroned indra gandhi.
    but the happenings in this country in the past 2 decades have totally disillusioned me.the stars in the eyes grow dimmer and dimmer as we start making compromises. we choose the lesser of the evil, or what we think is the lesser of the evil.india's leap in the economic front does not really cheer you up.
    someone who will not set one community against the other and someone who will revive the concept of socialist democracy, and someone who has mass appeal from kanyakumari to kashmir - can you think of someone?
    guess i'm being very naive!

  8. vikram garg writes about Kiren Rijiju on his most recent post on the blog an academic view of india-may be you want to check it out.

    you are first person to tell me that economic scene is not cheering you up. i had some dozes of the real scene at an alumni meet up. but trust me..aren't you glad that many people are able to find work when it was difficult in the early 90's and even mid-90's. (i think it was more difficult early too )at least i am. ( of course if one is not in IT- the scene could be less glamorous, nevertheless the scene has changed quite a bit. minus the US/UK companies trying to set up shop there are more venture companies, products least for me it does make me happy to see my fellow country men do not having to go through the agony of finding work for bread and butter..of course the question is how many percentage of people ? it can only go up from here. onward..forward, upward..

  9. @ anrosh
    'india's leap in the economic front does not really cheer you up'
    the 'really' says it all-it means that it does not cheer u up as much as it should. how can it not cheer me uo at all when i am a benefifiary myself:-). but that cheer is tainted by an anxiety - about increasing number who are not part of this growth; about the ever increasing margins caused by this mode of development. look at the increase in the class didivide. naxalism & marxism are spreading.
    if growth is quantified factoring in all this, i dont know what the figures will look like.


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