Monday, November 10, 2008

The Obama Dream

As the euphoria over the Obama victory mellows down, I am still on a slow burn. I know this historical event which I was witness to, will remain a corner of hope and inspiration, in my heart and mind for decades to come.

Why did the Obama victory have such an universal appeal? Taking my own case for starters, I am political but not have been an avid follower of the ups and downs of the Republicans and the Democrats. But the Obama victory was beyond simple politics. Or that is how I choose to interpret it. It was about possibilities. It was about really believing in your dreams and it was about dreams coming true.

Keeping aside the fact that is is being considered one of the best run election campaigns in years and the fact that the economy lead to people clamoring for a change lets look at the other side of the story. A people's journey from the shores of Africa, shackled and treated worse than animals, completely stripped of basic human rights and dignity. A life of abject poverty and misery. The 'negro' staggered along what he considered his destiny. But many amongst them refused to submit and thus started the civil rights movement. The long fight for freedom, equality and opportunity began.So many names and so many historic milestones in that long and arduous journey.

The point being that someone or some people refused to believe that some thing or anything was unattainable. They dared to dream and their dreams were backed by courage and conviction. Obama is the climax to that dream. He has a tough task ahead. But I am not here to discuss that today. I want to speak about the tears flowing freely from the eyes of civil rights activists that election night, when the results were declared. I saw redemption unfolding slowly but surely. I saw a sparkle in the eyes of the African Americans. The next morning I saw them holding their heads a little higher, and noticed a skip in their steps. And I rejoiced with them.

I imagined this is what my country must have looked like, my countrymen must have felt the same range of emotions and more on 15Th August 1947. They must have felt invincible and unstoppable. A victory over the strongest imperial nation. Freedom from centuries of foreign rule, 347 years to be exact. A nation with leaders like Gandhi who were a force to reckon with and changed history forever. Gandhi inspired freedom movement in South Africa and also the Civil Rights Movement in US of A.

Our freedom fighters left us a legacy. A legacy to believe in oneself, to dream and to go after those dreams with courage and conviction. A dream that is India united in all its diversity. A dream which hangs by a thin thread today.So what stops us? Why is it easier to blame the system, the politics, the society versus owning up to the fact that we are a part of that very system, politics and society. We have taken for granted a freedom so hard fought. We shrink everyday into our little religious, regional, caste, class linguistic and cultural groups. We fail to rise and expand beyond these compartmentalizations. We love to discuss all that is wrong over a hot cup of tea without taking onus for anything. We refuse to take action till the bullet hits home. As long as its the neighbor who took the bullet we do not feel the need to act.

We do not vote. If we vote, we vote for our relative, "jaat wala" or someone who hails from our village/town/city. We choose to ignore the fact that the man/woman we voted for with whom we share the last name will do no justice to the position we are putting him in.

I think its high time we too voted for change, voted for hope,voted for freedom, voted for our children, voted for peace and harmony, voted for a better tomorrow. Let us rise above our affiliations and vote for content and character.


Nivedita said...

Well said but then hey this is India not USA. Here its not abt 2 parties, there are umpteen no of parties. Its easy for ppl to chose btw 2/3 options but its really really difficult for the common man to even rem which logo belongs to which party. The politicians here hop btw parties so much that unless u read the daily regularly it is hard to know who is in which party. When Obama campaigns he promises change, politicians here promise rice for 2Rs n even more ridiculously televisions n not to mention liquor. And wats more actors storm into politics so much(esp in d sounthern part of India)that elections here become a test of popularity of stars endorsing the political parties. As you urself pointed out there comes d religion n d jadi factor. India is so diverse n so are the problems. Well I'm not being pessimistic or anything. Neither am i underestimating the common man. Im just sad at the wretched politics in here. Sometimes d mind games r so cheap u feel so disgusted. Just hoping n praying the change comes soon enough.

Murali said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gopal said...

hi manu
dont u see the similarity in the two situations despite the stark difference in the context. on one hand u sing praises and call this event as historic on other hand u belittle his counterparts in india.

why do call this historic? because obama is black? because the oppressed associate with him? he brings hope to thousands of black americans not because of his policies. in that case his colour should not be a matter of concern. but it's different. it is more of a symbolic victory. it is about keeping your head high.

the birth of socialist thought in india had similar roots. the rise of such leaders was a result of an emotional revolt against the social set up in india rather than a wise decision for economic & social upliftment.

such leaders when they rose to power gave them a reason to hold their heads high. although these leaders never wanted to get the people out of political intoxication. but that's another story.

we are a sentimental country. yes we vote for our 'jaat wala' because that is what our society is like: a federal union of closed caste groups. we vote for our jaat wala because a chief minister of my caste makes me believe that i m no more an achhoot. who the hell wants development. who is going to benifit from it. may be u. mot me in any case.....

the point is: it's okay to the point that these issues remain a dormant force and not take over the real issues. otherwise this will prove to be a political opium.

koulvivek said...

Hi Manu,

Perhaps change is the most constant thing as they say. Obama had a very "middle class american" support,people who believe in working class hero concept voted for him.He had a very strong and a new approach to health care insurance for people in his campaign,it gave him another edge.In the times of an undergoing economic crisis american's really feel obama &co can call the shots for them.

If comparing with current situation in India,i think we also have a huge middle class base now.The middle class is driving India to economic prosperity(perhaps lets say something positve atleast).I feel politicians have always put blinders on people's eyes by winning elections on bases of f religion and caste,but as a matter of fact we have states like Bihar where last year assembly election results show that people do vote for developement.When bihar can do it why not rest of the India????Change may be slow but i think the day is not far when Indian elections will be more "democraticized".

Chrysalis said...

Nivedita, Gopal, and Vivek

Thanks for your comments. Appreciate them.

Nivedita and Vivek

I pray for change in our country. And am hopeful.


I was celebrating the victory of possibilities. I was celebrating the standing together of humanity and rising above issues of caste, color and creed.
I consider Humanity above everythingelse and that is what i was celebrating. I chose to see this victory from that triumph of humanity.
I am sure in times to come this victory will have its own angles, issues and conspiracies but I wanted to beleive and celebrate some good. :)