There was a story in my school curriculum, in seventh or eighth standard, called 'The New Blue Dress". The story was about a shabby little girl who went to school everyday in a tattered dress, unwashed face and unkempt hair. It was not her fault ofcourse, as she came from the poorest house in the gloomiest part of a town filled with unpainted houses, broken fences and dirty, glum faces. One day the little girl's teacher took pity and gifted her a new blue dress so that she can look a little better. The girl wore the new dress when she went home and her mother realised that there was some potential in her after all! So she washed her face, brushed and made a little bow with a ribbon in her hair. The father saw what a pretty little girl he’s got in a very dirty house, so he decided to wash himself too, clean the house a bit and paint the fence as spring was around the corner. Seeing the bright new fence , the neighbours were ashamed at their own dirt and got down to cleaning their houses. What followed was an amazing transformational revolution not just in that neigbourhood, but the entire country when people woke up to what can be better and brought back the light into their lives, one face at a time.
Ah, what a silly romantic story! Is such a thing possible in real life? Yes it is, says the eternal hope engine. What I just told you is a true story of human interest that took place in the US in aftermath of the Great Depression. Of a tiny seedling in a vast barren land, metaphorically speaking. So easy to be ignored, so easy to be snuffed out in its bud. But it was a remarkable change brought about in a neighbourhood by just a pretty blue dress.
Yes, you guessed it right. This piece is about the hope given to us by Obama. And after the one billion opinions you heard so far from everyone and his mamma about his victory, I would like to contribute my two kopecks of opinion too.
When Obama spoke of the audacity of hope, I’m sure even he would not have believed in what he could achieve. I followed his campaign closely for the past one year through online press, TV programs, opinions of talk show hosts etc. and it was clear that even until the last day, not many people could totally believe in his hope. The sheer audacity of this hope of a young, inexperienced, little known black man, a first time Senator from the state of Abraham Lincoln was difficult to digest and seemed almost like a fairy tale to many. For all the hype about his rise to the top job in the world, and the counter views you hear about it, one has to give it to him for doing what he did. No I’m not talking about just the election he won. He lighted a beacon of hope for millions of young people across the world who lost their will to change the way their countries are ruled. Politics, unfortunately, had become synonymous with crime, corruption, power games and irrationality. Not anymore. Politics is now possible for you and me, if you want to put your ideas into action. Obama has shown to the world that to achieve such a dream, you have to step out of your apathy and believe in hope. That’s a pretty easy formula, isn’t it? For all of you who thought you can never do it, he’s standing there and telling you that there is hope. Yes, there is a chance of only one in a million, but hey, there is a chance. Here is a man who stood up to show you that the chance exists and it is indeed possible. And if you cling on long enough to that chance, who knows!
I am talking about ‘hope’ and not Obama because if Obama fails as a leader and pushes the world further into chaos, you can still call his a story of success. Not just because we belong to a different country and we have our own little lives to live. It is because he’s given us a weapon for combating the evils of the modern times. You may protest, ‘Oh he has a lot to do. It isn’t over yet. Only if he is successful as a President will he validate his success.’ You may cringe at the silliness of my opinion that hope has won its war even if the promises can’t be delivered.
I want that hope! When I wake up in the morning everyday I have to fight the divisive politics of regionalism, the hate of religious radicals, the cancer of corruption, the impotence of the police system, the heinous reality of caste and above all my own apathy to these things. I don’t have a clue how to get into this fight. I don’t have a plan for convincing myself for this cause. I don’t have the money, nor the time, not even the capability to be another Obama. Yet, I want to cling to the hope he has given to a billion others like me. I want the euphoria of his victory to translate into a revolution of thought in my country. I want to raise my voice for change too, and I want to be a part of the change we want.
What Obama had done is to rekindle that hope among the youth of the world. When generations of power-hungry politicians systematically destroyed the power that young people can wield, a retired old man raised his voice and brought about a revolution in the seventies in our own country. Jaya Prakash Narayan is a forgotten hero, because the governments he built failed. What he has done is, he has given hope to the country to build an alternative to the dynastical rule plaguing the country then. The young people who raised their voice at that time are shaping the country’s destiny now. Six out of the last nine Prime Ministers of India are products of the Jaya Prakash Narayan revolution.
Where is that hope now? How many leaders today rose through genuine grassroots movements and student unions? How many new MPs today even have an idealogical agenda? Most of the young leaders who want to lead us in the 21st century are sons and daughters of yesteryear politicians. They carry surnames heavier than their credentials and demand their right to rule over you with their birth certificates as resume. We need a revolution in the country that cries out against dynasties. We need hope that we can change this. We need to be able to believe that when we step out in the street to raise our voices, no bigot with a stone in hand dares to question our right to protest against the Gandhis, the Yadav families, the Abdullahs, the Thackerays, the Chautalas and numerous others who want to bring back royalty into this country. I want hope that I can make a difference to the political will of this country and change the way we govern ourselves. I want that new blue dress in my life and yours too!