I got a call from my brother in the US, and the excitement from that part of the world somehow transported itself across the long-distance line. “It’s like a party” he said. India was well into her morning, but in the US it was the previous day, the previous night, a Red Letter Night.
CNN announced the Breaking News a few seconds later, that Obama had won.
After the call, we rushed to watch the feverish electorate (both the Bulls and Elephants), and the historic speeches made by victor and vanquished.
An unprecedented turnout, this. It seemed like every eligible American had pitched up to their local ballot box to exercise their right to choose their next President.
Whatever your view of each candidate, whatever your leanings, you couldn’t help but admire the genuine interest that the everyday Joe & Jane has in participating in the process. Some of them may be misguided (in fact a lot of them may be) but their love for their Nation shines through.
In our India, I believe we love our country just as much. I know I do. I too believe there’s no mountain we cannot climb, if we only set our minds and hearts and our wills to it. My heart swells with pride at the sight of our Flag, at the sound of our Anthem.
What sets us apart from our American brethren is the unfortunate cynicism, the disillusionment, that our politicians have nothing new to offer us; the same-old, same-old, rhetoric, hypocrisy, nepotism, class and communal divides. I can’t remember the last time I felt a surge of hope at the election of either a Prime or Chief Minister. In fact, I’ve never ever had the experience. Maybe our forefathers did, shortly after Independence. They were lucky.
But do we lose hope? An emphatic NO.
What we’re seeing is a new phenomenon: vox populi; people involvement in what happens at the Centre, in the Secretariat, in the Panchayat, Gram Sabha, in our backyards.
Right now it is lurching forward in an un-coordinated manner, a fact that politicians are gleeful for. They think it will all come to naught. Perhaps they are right: for now. Wars are won, small battles at a time. You win a few, lose a few. There will come a time when we’ll win more than we lose. I hope I’m around to see that Red Letter Day in our own country, when our elected representatives begin to heed the cries of their people and do what they were always meant to do: to serve.