Now I’m the kind of guy who checks the ‘Apathetic’ box under ‘Political Views’ almost by reflex. The fact that the politics in India sets new lows in dirtiness and underhandedness has only strengthened this stance of mine over the years. All of that however, gradually changed over the past one year. As a democracy loving Indian, I have been gravely disturbed by the seemingly unstoppable terror attacks that have rocked our nation on numerous occassions since the 11/7 Mumbai Local train blasts. The absolute inability of the state governments and the centre to both check these attacks and bring those responsible to justice have only irritated me further. Add the emergence of divisive radicals such as Raj Thackeray to that and I’m sure most people wouldn’t blame me if I said I no longer had any faith in what has now become a mockery of a democracy.
Despite my disappointment in my very own country’s political state of affairs, I stayed awake until the early hours of the morning to watch the outcome of an election that we had absolutely no say in. It would be unfair to say that I was merely curious to see whether Obama or McCain would eventually cross the finish line and take the White House. I was in fact just as anxious and hopeful for a Barack Obama victory as any of the half-a-million people present at Grant Park, Chicago last night. The fact that this election would have a great impact on the economic conditions all over the world was obvious, but that wasn’t the reason I was concerned about these elections. The reason was Barack Hussein Obama.
This man, who today has become the first African-American President in the history of America, is certainly special. His meteoric rise in the last eight years, from the time he unsuccessfully ran for Congress to becoming the winner of the longest and the most expensive election in American history ushers in a feeling of hope in a time where hopes aren’t too high the world over. His charisma and his ability to capture the imagination of the public every time he addresses them has certainly earned my respect. The way he has beaten the odds of having neither the experience nor the conventional lineage of a US President gives hope that maybe some day the world will look beyond race and religion and consider the ability and the character of political candidates.
While Obama’s victory is a proud moment for me and possibly many other Indians, it is also a stark reminder of the fact that there isn’t a single leader in India today who excites us quite the way Obama does. While I felt privileged to have witnessed a piece of history being made last night, I couldn’t help but wonder whether the day would ever come when I would feel even half as excited for an Indian general election.
Change may have arrived in the USA, but how long will it take before we see one here in India?