Friday, September 11, 2009

The Rahul Gandhi Phenomenon

I get the feeling that Rahul Gandhi will do better than his father. In the past five years, this reserved quiet scion of the Gandhi family who could have easily stepped into any position he liked, kept a low profile. Maybe, he is taking a leaf out of the Mahatma’s book by not plunging into politics till he has had experiential knowledge of what it is about.

And he is proving to be a clever politician. Yes. He is playing the Gandhi-Nehru card wherever and whenever he knows it’ll pay dividends. He seems determined to reclaim the Congress Party’s foothold in the Hindi heartland and in Southern India. He seems to have registered some success in this mission, if we are to go by the recent general elections.

I can well foresee the barrage of accusations that’ll jostle against each other in my blogsphere – accusations of me being an advocate of dynastic rule. Regarding that issue, my position is this. The son should not rise only because he is the father’s son. Or the grandmother’s grandson, or the great grandfather’s great grand son, or the great great grand father’s great great grandson. But if the son can rise because he is clever enough to turn his lineage to his advantage, and consequently to the advantage of his country, give him a chance. After all this is a democracy. We cannot deny an opportunity to a person simply because he is the son, grandson, great grandson and great great grandson of a particular family. And the Indian democracy does not have the history of having given a person with the above credentials a free hand to misuse the dynastic advantage to oppress the people. When these advantaged people overstep democratic limits, or fail to perform, the voter punishes him. That’s the tradition in our democracy.

So if a person is young and seems earnest and sensible , and is making every effort to familiarize himself with the huge complex reality called India, let us accept him. Let’s not cry foul simply because he is somebody’s somebody.

After all every human being has to be somebody’s somebody.

During the elections, the media was tom-tomming about his average academic records. To this I say, where is it written that one has to be an Albert Einstein to become the leader of a nation?

The Rahul Gandhi whom all of us dismissed as ineffective, is coming into his own. He is patient, training himself to perhaps lead the country one day, or just to lead the party. He is starting from where an Indian politician always should. From rural India. He is nurturing the party from the grass root level. The party which had lost its directions and was well on the way of becoming just another political outfit, might (let’s hope), under this person reinstate the ideology and values which it had been happily compromising for political expediency. The process is slow, painful and time and energy consuming - and Rahul Gandhi appears to have a sizeable repertoire of patience and energy. He seems to have that race winning quality of slowness and steadiness.

I do hope I am right when I say, if this son rises, it will not be a case of greatness thrust on him because he is born great – it’ll also be because he has achieved greatness.It could be a rare case of the confluence of all those three phenomena that Shakespeare spoke about.


  1. The media had a prob with his party giving inaccurate(embellished) details of his course and results and not his poor grades.Lying is not a great way to start a career .

  2. Exactly my thoughts on Rahul.

    I was surprised when he did not take up a plum post this year even after being instrumental in reviving the congress in UP.
    Agreed, his long term goals are pretty evident. But then I admire him for his patience to groom himself and for his determination to revive the party unlike some other politicians who think the PM post is their birth right (Read fourth front).

    I don't have my hopes pinned too much on him but I'm a curious observer of Rahul Gandhi. Hope he continues the good work of the Manmohan govt.

  3. He has an extreme lack of personal charisma. While he speaks well, he does not appear to be a great orator. At a glance, he seems to be the kind of guy who would be better off at the background managing stuff, than at the helm of things.

  4. I too have started liking Rahul now-a- days.And I do agree with your line of thinking too.But dont say "Gandhi " family.For Indians Gandhi family is that of Mahatma's and only Mahatma's.You can say Nehru family,no prob.

  5. Whiile I believe it is too early to reach an opinion on Rahul Gandhi there is no denying that he has the potential. He is da man for Congress; has media spotlight on him, educated, good looking and has a cult following. Perhaps he is being groomed to step into the shoes of the late Mr. Gandhi, but only time will tell how he will fare.

    Anyway fingers crossed, hope we wont be disappointed by this turk, if he could usher in a change to the way young people in this country view politics then that could be his best contribution to India.

  6. Too early to tell. I wonder if he would have come this far without the family backing. Priyanka Gandhi seems more articulate and shows more wisdom than he does. And for that matter the other sons - Sachin Pilot or Jyothiraditya Scindia.
    Right now, we have YSR's son trying to rise much before his time in AP and that is a cause of concern. When would our country realise that governance skills cannot be inherited?

  7. rahul has only got so far because he was somebody'son - don't u agree. that's a huge lead in the race ( a h-u-g-e lead in the race. since you are a big advocate of tharoor, let me ask you this - who has a good chance of becoming the PM - tharoor or rahul gandhi.

    rahul gandhi - right ? why - just because they do not want to upset the balance of power. psychologically the majority of collective consciousness of indians
    want gandhi to be the PM and many others who do not have the lineage and are much much much capable should not be given , because it will create a huge fight among the members of the party ( you know that sharad pawar wants to become the PM and has been in delhi since more than a decade now, right. i am not much on par these days with the indian scenario) so in order to keep the status quo - lets have gandhi - isn't it?

    come on kpj - i expected better from you :) - since only people like you can create a sense of awareness of why people of greater capability , even without a political lineage or pedigree, but because of wanting to create a better nation ( this aspect never surfaces in india) or nation building ( we don't hear this in india either) should be given a chance. No wonder great many amazing people leave the country because they won't be given a chance. by the way - if you do get a chance do read the book - breaking free of nehru ( half the book is online you will get a picture)

  8. The Rahul Gandhi Phenomenon!!

    Phenomenon? Really? Phenomenon??!!

  9. @ stoic
    yes. phenomenon, if we go by the definition as "observable occurence" (wiki, or any dictionary for that matter). even in the sense 'extraordinary event', i'd still use the term.
    Time might (note that i didnt use 'will') might vindicate my use of the term :-)

    @ anrosh
    'come on kpj - i expected better from '
    I too did:-( - but at my age one learns to compromise.

    @ radha
    'When would our country realise that governance skills cannot be inherited?"
    never i guess. But rahul gandhi seems to realise it - hence a reluctant "prince" (dont go ballistics over the word prince :-))who is putting himself thru school at the moment - - -
    @ others who dont seem to strongly disagree with me
    this sums it up well: 'Whiile I believe it is too early to reach an opinion on Rahul Gandhi there is no denying that he has the potential'

  10. I had to return to say this, though I swore that I will retire from blogging.

    You praising Rahul Gandhi as the next best thing? You mean, he has great potential? Well, maybe he has. After all, the Bofors was only for a crore or two rupees, and India's economy has progressed a lot, creating the potential for much, much more.

    You are so hopeless, ma'm KPJ. Did you drink too much coffee? Or did you get all too excited by reading Mathew's beer post, that you got drunk by proxy? Seriously, please consider stopping blogging. And join some support group for schizophrenia, hallucinations and all that.

  11. Like Louis XIV said about France once, now the Gandhi dynasty can say with pride, "We are India".

    1947 August 15 was the day when the yoke was turned over from white Englishmen to Kashmiri Nehru family. It was a change from colonial rule to Feudal rule.

    Like the Nanda or Mourya dynasties, now in future textbooks Gandhi dynasty also will be studied. This dynasty ought to be the most singular one in the history of the world. No greatness was required, no terrible wars happened, and most incompetent people were placed on the grand throne by pure luck.


    KPJ, you will burn in hell for writing this post. Take the heavy volume of the Constitution of India, and hit yourself in the head a hundred times, to knock these bad notions out of your head. And be sure to confess your sins and get your soul cleared, as soon as possible. Until I hear that you did it, I won't return to your blog.

  12. @Anonymous:

    "If you are distressed by any external thing, it is not this thing which disturbs you, but your own judgment about it. And it is in your power to wipe out that judgment now."
    : Marcus Aurelius

  13. I love this post, Actually when these kids came to limelight the focus was always on Priyanka, what with her inherent grace and dignity, she always was the one spoken about, while rahul was ouit of focus, hazy. But off late Rahul has definitely come on his own and has done so by his will to put in good work and the results are there to see. I think hes mature, and if he is training to lead the party or the coutry, my wishes are with him.

  14. We have had sixty years of existence as an independent nation - and look where we are. It may be fashionable to speak of the freedom of expression we enjoy, but given a choice between dynastic rule with two square meals assured and democracy with starvation, most of our countrymen would choose the former.

    I am now on a holiday in Viet Nam, a war-ravaged country which has risen, Phoenix-like, in half the time. Political power is with the handful of party bosses and rulers who swear by communist socialism, but the economic power is with the middle-class which is not bothered about the polemics or ideology. Communism, the mantra for a generation, has taken a back-seat and capitalism is upbeat; the country is in a hurry to embrace the market. People seem to be enjoying the fruits of a capitalist economy, though they do not have the freedom to voice a opinion. (Even newspapers have no editorials!)

    Our country needs someone who has the vision and can lead from the front, someone who has the integrity to spurn inducements and not succumb to temptations. I am not concerned if he/she is the scion of the Nehru family, the Ambani family, the Tharoor family or even the Sorem family - provided he/she has what it takes and will deliver.

  15. @ wannabe
    'though they do not have the freedom to voice a opinion. (Even newspapers have no editorials!)'

    This is the key to the success of China too. r we/you willing to accept this? this denial of 'fundamental right"? If we are, then all isms can be manipulated, without any hassls, to the advantage of the people.

    your last para - exclude soren and I'm with you all the way:-)

    i wonder if we have come to believe that fundamental rights are like pieces of cake given to a bread deprived people. an oft heard opinion is 'what india needs is an emergency".

    @ sujatha
    yes, that's what i mean. lets give him a chance too. if he delivers, well and good. if he doesnt, we voters are always there

    great philosophy - something which i try to follow - which i guess make me inconsistent at times.

  16. Bread or Freedom...? The question might never be correctly answered.

    I am ready to half-starve for freedom. And if I have to starve totally, all other things cease to matter.

    Yet, if someone that has both, tries to deny either to me; I might opt for a fight unto death.

    Bread and freedom - is it too much to hope for?

  17. I forgot to add. While 57% of us starve, we spend only half a crore a day to ensure the Gandhi family's security. The money given to Italian contractors for the Chandrayaan mission contracts would have dug 5 million village wells.

    We ought to be proud that we can afford this. Such prestige is preferable to a full belly.

  18. @ stoic
    bread or freedom? bread or moon?

    Like u say, there can never be correct answers to these qyuestions.

    i suppose for the hungry man God appears in the form of bread.yet, the truth is, even this hungry man does not live by bread alone.

    but then, that does'nt answer either question - - - -

  19. I know, I am again breaking my promise not to return to your blog.

    But it thoroughly upsets my stomach to think that you make use of your English degree by citing Shakespeare to praise Rahul Gandhi.

    And you have borrowed even from Jesus. . hungry man does not live by bread alone.

    Jesus! Jesus!

    It is much more upsetting to see the number of positive comments this post has got. Spineless sycophants, that's all I can call that bunch.

    Seriously, KPJ, how much did you get for writing this?

  20. This debate - bread or freedom? - has arisen only because those who are supposed to protect our freedom stole our bread. And to paraphrase what 'A Stoic' said, between bondage and half-starvation, one may choose
    the latter, but between bondage and total starvation, most would choose the former.

  21. We might begin from John Stuart Mill again?
    Or Spartacus?

  22. The phenomenon does not know about the education bill.

    This phenomenon rose only because he is the son of Rajiv.

    None of us know what he has done for the first 34 years of his life.

    Give anyone an MP ticket and unlimited party cadre and he will win the seat. So nothing great about Rahul winning then.

    He is slow. He himself accepts it. He wants to set things right slowly. In the meanwhile, it is ok that the problems in the country pile up.

    We still do not know his specific thoughts on multiple subjects.

    Very conveiniently, all of us say, he is learing, let him learn. My question is this - why are we even allowing him to learn? Why can't we question the ignorance of a leader, and expose his thought process more? Is it because we should not question the Gandhi's, for it forms their birth right to lead the country?

    From us thinking to him being ineffective, we have now been slow poisoned into believing that he is learning politics. Perhaps, nowhere in the world will a whole party conspire to "train" one person to lead them!

    - Sudhir

  23. @ sudhir

    guess a people get the leaders they deserve.

  24. To me, a single recent statement shows how matured this guy is, can't recollect anything similar coming out from any politician of our times.-
    "This differentiation occurs in the media, this doesn't happen in my mind. I personally don't believe in the caste system... The only difference I see between a poor person and rich person is that of opportunity."
    Whether he has had an easy ride into politics, compared to a regular party member? Yes, but that needn't be a disqualification. The real world is a bit different from Utopia, some people will have it a lot easier than others(especially in Congress;) but the party's culture is to be blamed for that). And this advantage is not going to last for ever for Rahul. So let's wait and watch and give the guy a fair hearing.


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