Saturday, November 10, 2012

Elections – Here and There


After a rigorous election campaign, which was running almost for a couple years, the US Presidential elections are finally over. President Obama comfortably defeated his Republican counterpart, Mitt Romney. While I was not following the campaign related news zealously, I was definitely glued to the TV on the D-Day and a day prior, when the pre-election stats and predictions were going on in full swing. And there were some stark differences I observed between the American election scenario and the India one. The first thing I noticed prominently was the supporters of both the worthy candidates had American flags. No one was without the American flag and not a single American citizen was seen holding the flag of any political party. This is a huge indicator of the fact that the nation and the feeling of nationalism is far more important than the parochial considerations which come with supporting a single political party. Another remarkable thing I came across was that there was a lot of cheering and noise, but not for once did the crowd become unruly or unmanageable.  There were thousands of supporters at the headquarters of both the candidates, however, one could not see a single cop there. There was so much order even in chaos. While the people waited at the headquarters and public places like the Times Square for Obama to speak for the first time after the results were declared, it seemed like one big midnight bash!
Youngsters, teenagers, professionals, senior citizens and people from all walks of life, of all the colours – black, white, brown were together in this. When eventually Obama appeared at his Chicago Headquarters (I hope I am not wrong here), all of them listened intently and with a lot of enthusiasm to what he had to say. The fact that Obama delivered an almost flawless speech is another story! Now when I compare all this with the Indian election paraphernalia, it is a complete contrast. Never ever have I seen supporters waving the National flag during elections. It is always those party flags, which are waved by the supporters. There are hundreds of cops which are deployed for a prime ministerial or chief ministerial candidate as there is a chance of the crowd going berserk. What also struck me was that I have never seen any of our honourable prime ministers connecting with the public, going out there, like Obama did. Moreover, there was nobody on the dias when Obama spoke.  Here in India, the dias looks like a caricature, with anyone and everyone even remotely connected with the Prime Minister (or not even that) trying to hog the limelight. Sometimes I wonder how didn’t the podium give in to the weight! There is so much of pomp and show, without any real substance in electoral campaigns run in India, most of the times.
One more aspect, I just realized while writing this. After Obama finished his dazzling and inspiring victory speech, the Vice President, his family and Obama’s wife and daughters joined him on stage. Obama was appropriately and without any inhibition was given a warm hug by his wife. He too acknowledged the hug gracefully. And here in India, if a certain minister holds his wife’s hand in public, my god, there is a furor. All the politicians with an orthodox and patriarchal mindset then get a chance to throw brickbats at him. I can never imagine , first of all such a young prime minister in India, to begin with, let alone his wife hugging him in public! In India, the minimum age for a PM is 70!
I think, even though these aspects might seem to be frivolous they reflect a lot about what we are as a nation and what US is as a nation. Of course, even US has a lot to learn from India, but I guess we have a lot more to learn from the one of the largest democracies in the world.

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