POTUS’ comments on democracy, rise of radicalism relevant to India….writes Bikram Vohra
Barack Obama came to Chicago and stitched up what Meryl Streep had rent asunder at the Golden Globe Awards when she went all schmaltzy and theatrical over her dislike for Donald Trump. Obama advocated unity and togetherness and a promise of a better future after him. Meryl chose division of the people and ‘performed’ to a perfectly scripted role in slagging off the 45th President of the United States. While the initial reaction was to applaud her courage, a second thinking brought doubt that she showed disrespect while attacking it.
Obama, as well, took the moral high ground but he sent a strong message of intent to the world’s democratic nations. India included. In fact, listening to him, I thought it could have been a speech for New Delhi. Here’s how:
We are all equal (so much for the caste system).
We must work together for a stronger country and the common good (so much for the BJP, Congress, Samajwadi Party and the infighting we witness).
Power is not ours to keep, we must hand it over with grace and dignity (a promise we, in India, often forget).
Potential will only be realised when all of us work with common purpose… on that depends the state of our democracy (we could take something home from that).
Democracy does not require uniformity, what it needs is solidarity (Hello? The five states going to the polls, get the message!)
We must meet the challenges to our democracy where everyone has an economic opportunity and poverty is falling (perhaps the demonetisation detractors could hold their fire, maybe there is a pot of gold at the end of the arc).
Do better than I have done on any project I initiated (Obamacare) and I will publicly support it (hear that, Arvind?).
Politicians serve, they do not score brownie points (Every single time Parliament is disturbed or derailed and pomp, splendour and arrogance take first place).
We need a better and stronger and fairer economy (point taken).
We must create opportunity for all the people (Are we doing that? Is the populist reservation system the answer?).
Race relations are better than they were thirty years ago but we are not where we need to be (can we say the same about our system and the wars on Dalits, have we become worse?)
We need Tolerance (we seem to have lost her).
We must have laws against discrimination but laws are not enough…we must change the minds (and so must we. But will we, can we and do we even want to?)
Should protest any attempt to alienate any part of our country from the rest (Absolutely. Think Kashmir).
Regardless of the station we occupy each of us must value hard work and work together… it is not easy because we retreat into our own bubbles… where we become so secure (Indians are so good at this ,we say one thing and do another, we love birds of our feather and that is the only opinion we reflect).
The third threat to democracy is our inability to not listen to the other side. We pounce on the other party for doing the same thing we have done but are doing. (Do we do anything else back at home? I am looking at you Rahul?)
Global warming is a problem… to deny the problem is to betray the world (We have a 498 point pollution level in our capital).
We must ensure the primacy of right over might (molesters, gangsters, Mafioso, the bully boys and cabals of India, are you listening?).
We must salute our troops and the men and women who risk their lives (Give us an answer, BSF. Tell it like it is).
We must guard against the weakening of the values that make us what we are (think about it, think about how our prejudices are growing, frightening thought).
Our democracy is threatened when we take it for granted (voting rates should rise, it should be easier to vote, not harder).
The trust in our institutions is low (yes, it is, abysmally so).
Because we have to participate (not sit in our home and pontificate but not get involved).
Our political dialogue has become so ferocious (and ugly and mean and rotten).
We blame the leader we elect without examining our role in electing them (high note to end on, need one say more).