Sunday, March 22, 2009

Brave or Foolish?

The great Indian electoral tamasha is well and truly underway. And in a couple of months time, we will have a new government at the helm in New Delhi... (or the same one, again). A cursory visit to CNN IBN's website last week brought my attention to an interesting story. Challenging BJP's LK Advani himself, on home turf, in Gandhinagar, is former dancer, actress and activist, Mallika Sarabhai. Also, from Trivandram, we have the articulate, cosmopolitan and former UN official, Shashi Tharoor. Rajdeep Sardesai, on the channel, called this, rather sarcastically, the so-called rise of the urban, English-speaking neta. He seemed to believe that while this made for a good story and all that, these neophytes had nil chance of actually winning at the hustings. Hence their efforts in this regard would end up being nothing more than interesting day time news fodder.
I reckon Sardesai might have been a tad uncharitable to both Tharoor and Sarabhai. The current political scenario is already replete with examples of young, educated, professional, articulate albeit second generation politicians, ie, the Abdullahs, Pilots, Gandhis, Scindias et all. It is perhaps rarer to see urban, educated professionals, who after making a name for themselves globally in their chosen fields, opt to give up their flourishing careers and get their hands dirty, so to speak, in the muck that is Indian politics, and therein lies the heart of the matter. They have chosen not to be armchair participants in India's destiny. They intend to use their expertise to make a change in the India they see around them, and that is laudable. Take Tharoor's case. One of the most passionate Indophiles I know (as well as an alumnus of my high school in Calcutta), his writings on India and being Indian have influenced me a great deal. He has risen to the top of the UN in an exceedingly short span of time. Imagine what a person like him could accomplish in Government. An effort in the right direction this is indeed, as India needs bright, educated and clean professionals in politics. Outsiders we may brand them, but it is this breed that we need now more than ever, if we are to build on the momentum of India fulfilling her destiny. They might well lose the election, more Sarabhai than Tharoor, but this is a start and hopefully they have already set an example for others to follow. In a small way, the cleansing of the political system has begun. So go forth Mallika, and continue your 'Satyagraha against the politics of hate'.

PS - Here's a link to an interview with Tharoor, about his life and work, from the archives of UC Berkeley(Conversations with history series). It's an hour long but a very interesting watch.

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