An expose of how Rahul Gandhi represents a celebration of nepotism and nothing else.
In a recent program on television, a comparison was made between Barack Obama using twitter to reach out to his constituents in comparison to Rahul Gandhi’s attempts at using social media to manufacture a young constituency online.
This is not the first time that the Indian media has tried to draw parallels between Barack Obama and Rahul Gandhi, under the shallow pretence of them being “young politicians”.
It staggered me to think and then re-think the multiple levels of ignorance that this comparison reveals.
The most concerning aspect of this comparison is that there are many educated, urban voters in India who might echo this sentiment.
Why is this comparison so disturbing?
Well, first of all, Barack Obama’s ascendancy to the post of the Leader of the Free World (as the western media likes to put it), symbolizes one thing above everything else. And that is the victory of merit and ability over the considerations of birth in political life.
A man of colour becoming the President of the United States would have been beyond the realm of fantasy in America, in the immediate aftermath of World War II. And it just shows the story of the evolution of American society that within 60 years of those historic events, such an eventuality became a reality.
India became an independent nation at roughly the same time. And one of the major goals of this rising nation was to throw away the shackles of a feudalistic, colonial and servile past and emerge as a strong democracy where your birth doesn’t decide the eventual outcome of your life; a sign of a modern society.
In those same 60 years, political culture in India has de-generated in the opposite direction towards becoming more feudalistic, more nepotistic and more servile. The Congress has played the prime role in this descent into decadence, since it is the flag bearer of dynastic politics in India.
It is notable that the Congress party which fought for Indian independence against the British was not dominated by members of prominent aristocracies. There were members of aristocracies in their leadership, but the calling card of the party was that it was a “people’s movement led by the people”. The Mahatma himself came from a family of common people.
That same party today has been reduced to a group of servile, ingratiating people being led by a feudal, nepotistic, arrogant, elite family.
The pre-eminence of the Gandhi family, especially Sonia and Rahul, over the Congress party of today, is the most visible example of the defeat of merit in the selection of their leaders. Congress leaders often like to wriggle out of this inconvenient truth by trying to divert attention towards the canard that it’s the people who choose their leaders.
That statement in no way negates the simple fact that the leadership of the Congress is chosen primarily on the basis of birth, and not on the basis of their merit. And it also cannot hide the fact that the survival of the Congress party is based entirely upon the survival of the Gandhi family in the role of leadership of that grouping.
Such a state of affairs is a disgrace in a party aspiring to represent the so called “modern India”.
And educated, middle class Indians, who choose to overlook this fact to vote for the Congress, don’t deserve any part of the title of “a modern emerging country”.
Because they are endorsing the viewpoint that only certain members of a ruling elite set of families should have the right to rule their country, which is no different from endorsing feudalism, or the ancient caste based view, that if you dont belong to the proper lineage, then you can’t be king.
Why do I single out the educated, middle class Indians for this call to introspect?
Because there are large parts of rural India, who still lack the education or the world view to be able to fully understand that nepotism is not part of the accepted world order of democracies in the modern age.
The whole point of having a democracy is to empower the common people to decide the future of the country, not to abdicate that power to a royal family or suite of families.
And this fact should be visible to the comparably educated sections within our society.
After all, does their birth automatically entitle them to progress in their own fields of endeavor?
And I ask these questions pointedly to the middle class of India:
Do you get good grades in school or in college, simply because you happen to be the son or daughter of a family?
Are you able to graduate from college with honors simply because you happen to have a certain surname?
Measure up all the years of hard work, endless nights of studying, burning the midnight oil to pass examinations, taking tests, going through entrance examinations, giving job interviews and having every aspect of your character and educational qualifications be examined before being allowed to become doctors, engineers, software professionals, lawyers, bankers, accountants, etc.
Wouldn’t it be great if we didn’t have to do all that and just got those jobs simply because we happen to have a certain surname?
Why would you, as a professional or as a reasonably educated Indian vote for someone, who is asking for exactly that criterion to be applied in order to make him the PM of India?
The Prime Minister’s post in a democracy is a not a ceremonial one, like the Queen of England. It is the toughest job in the country for which only the most qualified individual should be selected.
Most Sonia and Rahul supporters could not name a single thing either of them has accomplished in life, which qualifies one to be the leader of the ruling party and the other to be an aspiring Prime Minister of the world’s largest democracy.
In Rahul Gandhi’s case, nothing is known in the public domain about his education, his life, his political ideas, what he thinks of India, where he wants to take the country, what are his views on economics, federalism, naxalism, Jihadi terrorism, national security, foreign policy, the China threat, etc, etc.
And vast sections of our visual media seem to be perfectly ok about this travesty.
Sonia and Rahul Gandhi seem to know this, which is why, you never see them being grilled in TV debates for the world to see and decide for themselves, as to how much these people really know (or care) about India and it’s future.
Today, literally every person who is a prominent public figure in India, be it L K Advani, Narendra Modi, Anna Hazare, Arvind Kejriwal, Baba Ramdev, P Chidambaram, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Kiran Bedi, Nitin Gadkari, etc., have been scrutinized threadbare about their ability, their credibility, their history, their assets and much much more.
But neither Rahul Gandhi nor Sonia Gandhi has had to face this public examination of their credibility, their capability or their intent by the mainstream TV media. That excersize is only happening in the online world.
Other than an occasional cursory gripe about dynastic politics or a light hearted attempt at humour by labeling Rahul a “mystery man”, there is no serious effort on the part of the TV media to really shed light on a man, about whom there is plenty of evidence to suggest that he simply wants to use his last name to become the PM of the world’s largest democracy.
And most significantly, our media has failed to ask the most decisive question of all:
How is installing Rahul Gandhi as the next leader of India, good for India?
It would be good for Rahul Gandhi, of course. But how would it be good for India?
A vote for Rahul Gandhi is a vote for cynicism. It is to say that for all of India’s progress in the modern age, we remain a backward society in our minds because we still like to coronate Rajas and Maharajas to lead our country. That is backwardness at its best, a celebration of nepotism that is anything but modern. And it is certainly not how a young, emerging India should be thinking of its future.
Going back to the comparison with Obama, on one side you have a person who climbed up to the top of the Mount Everest of his political career to become the leader of the world’s oldest democracy not on the basis of the colour of his skin or who he was born to or what his name or surname is, but in fact, in spite of all those factors.
And on the other side, you have a person who wants to become the PM of the world’s largest democracy, by surreptitiously sneaking into the role of PM, based only on his surname, and having done nothing in his entire adult life to merit such an outcome.
A victory of Obama represented a victory of merit over birth.
A victory of Rahul would represent a victory of birth over merit.
The difference in the outcomes could not be more stark.
Mahatma Gandhi, the original Gandhi, would have said as much.