A Nation of a Billion Captivated

A German friend of mine just texted expressing her sadness that Narendra Modi won. It made me think about my own feelings on the outcomes of Indian Elections 2014. I’m not sure how I feel about the freshly minted leader of India. I do know – as do most of us – that he is a polarizing individual. And almost all the Western press that I’ve read thus far do not support his appointment. The Economist, usually very tactical in the manner of expressing its opinions, flat out said “[though] there is much to admire…this newspaper cannot bring itself to back Mr Modi for India’s highest office.” The US has in the past denied this very individual a visa to travel and visit the US. This man has been accused (and has never tried to negate these accusations) of playing “religion politics.”

Leaving The Man aside – let’s talk about something else that has fascinated me more. I have never seen before such collective fervor, where the entire nation’s pulse can be heard. Everyone from my 85-year old grandma to the mid-aged parents, aunts, and uncles, to my Indian friends across many different ponds holding various degrees – everyone in my circle – has been infected by “Election Fever.” As I opened my Facebook at about 1AM Eastern U.S. time – updates, both of enjoyment and disappointment, were everywhere. Calling my grandma who is in Gujarat at the moment – I could hear her enthusiasm reverberate through the phone line.

And this is not a Bollywood movie. This is living that Rang De Basanti momentum in actuality.

To whom do I attribute this to? The Gandhi Scion was always in the picture. Corruption in India has always been an issue. Push towards an economically successful country has always been on the platform. Had BJP furnished a lukewarm candidate, though, would such a historic election have happened? Would the everyday Indian citizen truly have woken up and gone out to vote and take that precious selfie? Frankly, judging from my past memories of Indian elections – I am not too sure.

Yes – he is polarizing. And no, despite being a Gujarati Girl from Vadodara, I am not endorsing him. Nor am I endorsing anyone else. Because, frankly, this election – it was about choosing between a dynasty that was successful in the past and a man who, while playing up religion in a secular country, promised economic gain. When it comes down to it – hasn’t the West too voted for individuals who favor one race over the other? Or those who push towards promoting only a certain kind of sexuality? Didn’t Bobby Jindal just recently admit switching to Christianity from Hinduism to gain more American voters?

While I do worry what is going to happen to my preciously secular India – where I celebrated Christmas, Eid, and Diwali alike – I am confident that Indian citizens are capable of decrying any moral transgressions carried out by their leader.



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