Tuesday, March 24, 2009

In search of an Indian Obama?

In search of an Indian Obama?


After Obama won the US presidential elections, a lot of articles heralded Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati as an Indian Obama. Obama and Mayawati have lot of things to be compared on. Let's take a dispassionate look at these

Why Mayawati is like Obama?

The obvious: Obama and Mayawati are from a historically oppressed class in their respective countries.

Well-educated: Though she may not appear so, Mayawati is pretty well educated, with multiple BAs in education and law. Obama of course is a Harvard school graduate.

Oratory skills: Obama has enormous skills to move his audiences with speeches. Mayawati, too, elicits enormous response for her speech, especially among the downtrodden.

Good press: The press in both the India and America have large leftist leanings (or at least have been widely accused to have such leanings). Many people in the press feel that by elevating Obama or Mayawati, the country is setting right, decades of wrong. This has resulted in these two candidates getting enormous amount of good coverage in the press. The press largely ignores the questionable associations and corruption charges against these candidates – like Obama’s associations with Chicago underworld and Mayawati’s many corruption charges

Policies: Both Obama’s and Mayawati’s policies fall broadly in the left of the political spectrum. Both have promised or inspired hope among the lowest rung of the society, that their life will get better by electing them as leaders. Both speak for more equitable wealth distributions.

Why Mayawati is not like Obama?

Broad appeal: Obama’s first electoral victory was in Iowa, which is among the 'Whitest' of all the American states, in terms of populace. It would be an equivalent of Mayawati winning in Mylapore or some such constituency dominated by upper class. In the election, Obama won votes not only among Blacks but substantial votes among Whites, Latinos, Asians and every possible ethnic group. His message appeals to all groups both within the country and outside the country. Mayawati still gets her votes mainly from Dalits and a few other groups and mostly in a few Northern states.

Uniting people: Though much has been made of Mayawati’s coalition of Dalits and Brahmins, what she is doing is basically dividing the Indian populace, by pitting a group of people against another. Obama never tried forming a coalition of Blacks and Whites against Latinos or such similar groups.

Polish: Obama gives a more polished appearance and speech. Mayawati is more rustic in appearance and appeal. In fact, in this regard, Mayawati’s more apt comparison will be with Sarah Palin, rather than Obama.

International exposure and knowledge: Obama has wide international exposure by means of his origin, the place he grew up, the friends he had. He has enormous knowledge about world matters, thanks to his curiosity and education. Mayawati seems to be lacking in this department, unless there is a side of her, which we haven’t seen.

Debatable points:

Intelligence: Does Mayawati have as much intelligence as the Harvard educated Obama?

Love for the country: Mayawati loves the downtrodden and people of certain castes, but does she love the entire India as much as Obama loves America?

Corruption: Though Obama has some questionable associations, he has never been accused of corruption (like the Taj corridor case of Mayawati). Of course, generally Indian politicians are more corrupt than their American counterparts. So not sure if you can hold this against Mayawati.

Overall I feel that though there are similarities between Mayawati and Obama, looking beneath the surface there are also vast differences.

1 comment:

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