Audacity Of Hope


‘Does your father eat people ?’ was one of the many questions that Obama was asked as a child. He faced discrimination not just from his classmates but also from his teachers who were curious about the tribe to which Obama belonged. Obama obviously did not forget those incidents as he vividly mentions them in his autobiography. But of course he moved on, graduated from Harvard Law School (on an education loan) and went on to become the President of his country at a time when the country is undergoing its worst financial crisis.

Obama’s rise will obviously inspire a lot of people in different parts of world. Under despotic regimes, it will give rise to yearnings for democracy. In India, Obama could also act as a source of inspiration for politicians who cannot think beyond their respective vote banks. Since the rise of Obama in US politics 22 months ago, the Indian media has been wondering whether India can too have an Obama. By an Indian Obama they mean someone from a minority or disadvantaged group who has the support of majority of Indians nevertheless. Naysayers caution that India is not US and so there would not be any Obama here. Little do they know racial discrimination has not yet been completely eradicated from the US and disparity between the Blacks and Whites is still big if not as big as it was some 40 years ago but that didn’t stop Obama.

Mayawati is often compared to Obama and there are some valid reasons to do so. She is a Dalit and not long ago Dalits were as marginalized and powerless as the Blacks in the US. In fact the ordeal faced by Blacks is nothing when compared to Dalits in India. Mayawati could become the Chief Minister of UP because of the support of upper castes and primarily Brahmins. This is equivalent to White conservatives of Deep South voting Obama which did not happen in this election (Florida is an exception) despite the fact that at the national level Obama got more White votes than John Kerry and as much as Bill Clinton got.

But the similarity ends right there. Despite winning votes from almost all caste groups and Muslims, Mayawati has not done enough as far as development of her state is concerned, to consolidate her support amongst various sections of the people. In fact she was more in news for a duel with the Gandhi family for Dalit votes which still remains Mayawati’s core constituency.

Obama on the other hand has no core constituency. In the 2004 Democratic Convention when he first said that there was no Conservative America or Liberal America but just the United States of America, it was not just an election rhetoric. This was proved when he quoted Lincoln in his victory speech saying, We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.

Obama was not a black candidate running for the office of the President of America who happens to be very good. He was in fact a very good candidate who happens to be black. The Indian Obama wouldn’t be different.


7 thoughts on “Audacity Of Hope

  1. Very nice post. Mayawati has not understood at all what Obama did very early own. Blacks are his ‘core’ constituency. That is a given. But he was aiming to become the President of the whole of The United States of America, which includes the white majority. To do and be that, he cannot talk and behave like like a black leader.

    Mayawati wants to become the PM. But she wants to that as a leader of dalits and as a ‘dalit ki beti’. That is not going to work. In her own way, she has partially realised that. That is why the old call ‘Tilak Tarazu aur Talwar, in ko maro jootey chaar’ (shoe-beat the three upper castes) has been replaced by “Haathi nahin Ganesh hai, Brahma Vishnu Mahesh hai'(BSP’s election symbol, elephant is Ganesh and the Trinity) and the like. Due to this hesitant inclusive change, she came to power in UP.

    Obama’s inclusive approach is going to get a lot of potential Obamas thinking. The result has to be good.

  2. Nice one !

    The best thing about his campaign is that he has never played the race card !

    That speaks volumes about the man he is…he wants to meet people on a common ground. That’s a very good start.

    Heres wishing him luck and some sense to our own Politicians.

  3. Well written Vikas!

    From being a consumer of marijuana, cocaine, and alcohol in school and being a chain smoker to being able to successfully quit these habits, from being a swimmer, a basket ball player to being the Harvard Law review President, from being sworn in as a Senator just 4 years back in 2004 to winning two Grammy awards for ‘Best Spoken Word Album’ for both the books he has written till date, this ‘Mutt’ (a mixed breed),as he very often calls himself, has in the real sense EMBODIED CHANGE.

    Well, he won his first Grammy In 2006 for his autobiography, “Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance” and his next in 2008 for “The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream”.

    One thing is for sure…This man is far more than just a Black.

    It is a historic win not just for the Blacks but is a desperate and a refreshing win for America, which has finally managed to Lift the Veil to be able to look at the CHANGE that awaits its today and eventually its tomorrow!!!

  4. very good post. Obama is inspiring and influencing people bcoz he is able to create a wave which others are not able create even after having so many restrictions. I dont know and i dnt think so, that mayawati can anyway be compared to him.The only good thing i could see for her is that, she was able to rise above all though being a dalit. But i dnt think she is able to go beyond people’s expectations other than her stupid political games. Though i am in India, i am more than happy for obama, not bcoz he is black, but bcoz it proves that good leader are still there, though its a big bad world.

  5. Indians should realize that colour, cast, religion, REGION should not be important criteria to become the Most important leader of the country…but that person should ve substance…good heart and decision making power…then it doesn’t matter which colour, cast, region or religion he is from…
    I hope he takes entire world together on Global warming issue…there is no more important issue than this for world…

  6. I agree and happy to read someone say, ‘Obama was not a black candidate running for the office of the President of America who happens to be very good. He was in fact a very good candidate who happens to be black. The Indian Obama wouldn’t be different.’

    I also like the fact that he is so tolerant and so Democratic. I read about his religious beliefs, he is truly open minded. And then he knows how to make great speeches – not inflammatory but unifying. We have nobody like that in India.

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