…and he was! Barack Obama has made history by becoming the first African American president of the United States of America. This was a closely watched election around the world (the US election generally is!), but what was different this time was the spontaneous erruption of joy the world over and a feeling of having achieved something! A change is truly coming.
But why, for someone sitting in India, should this be such a magical moment? Maybe it’s the interconnectedness of human beings, maybe it’s joy at seeing the rise of a historically opressed race…maybe, it gives a glimmer of hope that something similar could happen here, some day.
While we all followed the US presidential campaign and watched the US elections, the fact of the matter is that for most youngsters in India, elections in our country hold absolutely no charm. I was discussing this with some friends over lunch yesterday, and we came to a few conclusions.
The US system is, in some ways, really simple. There are just two majour parties and two major canditates to vote for. Election manifestos are available and accessable to the general public, and most of what they talk about during the rallies seems relevant to the nation as a whole, unlike here, where vote bank politics rules the roost. The candidates, typically, are people you would want to see as leaders, who you could put your faith in — Obama this time, Al Gore during the last presidential election — whereas here, we really couldn’t care less. We have old foggies like Mr. Advani as PM hopeful — and he’s in his 90s! People in the US actually queue up and cast their vote! We take election day as a holiday, the perfect time to sleep-in late! But then, look at our choices!
We have no faith in the system, things aren’t going to change. Even if there are a few politicians willing to bring about a change (Rahul Gandhi seems to be doing quite a bit these days), most of the old guard and the old parties are not going to let them function. We have a huge number of political parties here, none of whom we have any faith in! There’s the Congress, which was famous for the Mandal Commission, and now is known for its sectarian politics. The BJP is blatantly pro-Hindutva — they still field and respect Naredra Modi after the Gujrat carnage! The Left is against technology and progress. The BSP is Mayawati. I’m not entirely sure why people are against her, though. She’s the Obama of India, a Dalit who is a PM hopeful. Yes, she has got corruption cases against her, but then, which politician doesn’t? And she has done a lot for the Dalits. She is someone I don’t know too much about, but there seems to be no support for her either.
Unless there are some changes to our political system and to our politicians sometime soon, I don’t think we’re going to see the youth or the young professionals turning out to vote. I know I wouldnt! I simply couldn’t care less!