Expect nothing, live frugally on surprise.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Why we cant?

So the obvious Day-After question is: Can We, Too? It was a question bound to be asked by the less fortunate ones elsewhere in the wake of the Obamaization of America. It was bound to be asked by the wretched and the damned. It is coming from those who are suffering from ossified gerontocracies, boastful autocracies, tired democracies and outright dictatorships. The generosity of American democracy and its beneficiary have become a narrative of Hope Americana worldwide. And as I said earlier in this space, we were all American on November 4th, and many of us missing our voting rights. If Barack Hussein Obama—each part of that name carries foreignness and irony—can be elected the 44th president of the United States, why can't we too bring the change we believe in? If America can become the United States of O!, why can't we too undergo such a national catharsis? Before we weigh in the questions, let's be clear: More than Obama's, it was an American Revolution. More than one man defying the racial barrier, it was one nation renewing its democratic spirit. And of course, Candidate Obama was not your average politician in the fray. He changed the rules of the game, and such a smart campaigner that he was, he turned his dream into an entire nation's hope.Coming back to the question: why can't we? To be specific, why can't India, the other big democracy, do an Obama? It's not that we don't have talents. It's not that we are a graying nation. It's not that we are devoid of ideas. We are a nation of the young. Sadly, our democracy is managed by people who are afraid of change. Within our party structure prevails a kind of tyranny of order, and I'm not talking about the commies (who live in another world anyway, beyond the day-to-day intrusions of history.) Take our own GOP. In Congress, any change is intended to strengthen the inevitability of the dynasty. You just can't expect an implosion of ideas in the party. The new and the young are subordinated to the Highest Command, which is 10 Janpath. On the other side of the political aisle, I mean on the right side, it's not any different. There, the future is a leader who is in his eighties. He may not be all that ancient in his thinking, but, however honourable and experienced he may be in national politics, he still can't be "change we can believe in." Elsewhere, it's a story of either regional satrapies or sub-nationalist dynasties. In the Indian party structure, breaking the establishment barrier will be an achievement as audacious as Obama overcoming the racial one in America. In our democracy, change is still optional.


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