Obama’s campaign energised the US, and I could not help wonder what it would take for us in India to get excited about a leader. I was in the US the night the results were declared, and it was an electric feeling all around. This is what I wrote shortly after in November 2008:
It was a terrific experience being in the US the night Obama became President-elect. This election energised people across the US – and the world. There is great hope and expectation. I wish we could say the same about India’s leaders.
Here, there is an air of resignation, of politics as usual. We need a leader who can energise us, whom we can relate to, and who embodies a vision for the New India. We need to get a large percentage of our citizens involved in the community process – which is what Obama managed to do.
So, who can be India’s Obama? We have elections happening in the next 6-odd months. We need change, but will probably not get it this time. The three choices this time are likely to be Manmohan Singh (who has disappointed more than delighted), LK Advani (let’s hope he governs as well as he writes), and a dark horse in Mayawati. I think we will have to wait a few more years before India’s Obama emerges.
What helped Obama was the Internet – in raising cash for the campaign and mobilizing millions of supporters across the country. In India, that change will come in 5-6 years with the mobile platform. But we also need leaders who can think big and put India first.
So, who will be India’s Obama? Any ideas? If I had to pick one person, it would be the Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. He is much older than Obama at 58 years, but that’s still relatively young compared to the people we have now.