The election results 2009 fizzled out like a one-sided IPL match. By 11 am yesterday hysterical TV anchors and all the assembled experts had nothing to say, really.
And so the big story of this general election is the rise of Rahul Gandhi. For many years there have been doubts from many quarters about whether he 'has what it takes'. Well, it appears that he has changed many minds. Including mine (to some extent).
Yes, a while ago I had blogged about his doubtful academic background. My main issue was not his actual qualifications but the fact that he should earn the right to hold high office. That his surname alone should not see him through.
My exact words were:
"I do not believe that only highly educated individuals who pass examinations in flying colours have the right to hold public office. But, the issue is honesty and integrity as an individual.
If I were Rahul I would have come forward and said, "Look, I have never really been that keen on studies. What does one learn in a classroom anyways? I have had an education in what India really is - on the dusty streets of this country. I have what it takes!"
Now I do not really understand electoral politics but helping his party win 20 seats in UP on its own, against the very crude and divisive politics of the BSP and SP is an achievement . Whether it is class 10 equivalent or 'graduation' in terms of a political education, I can't say. But hey - Pappu paas ho gaya :)
A part of me still thinks it's unfair, even shameful, that a country of one billion people has to look up to a single family, when it comes to national leadership. But here's the reality: Politics is like Bollywood. If you are a star son, or daughter or wife you have an advantage.
In films that means you will get signed on by a big director.
In politics, you will get a ticket to stand for the Lok Sabha.
(Apart from Rahul Gandhi, in this very election we have several such examples - Akhilesh Yadav (son of Mulayam Singh Yadav), Supriya Sule (daughter of Sharad Pawar), Sanjeev Naik (son of Ganesh Naik) and of course Varun Gandhi, to name just a few).
The difference is that in films, your family background can propel you upto the big screen. But, when the curtain rises, the public decides your fate. No one can make you a star.
In politics, it's a little more complicated. It seems to me that you may be an inefficient or invisible turd but keep getting elected - until you really screw up(like a Jagdish Tytler/ Sajjan Kumar).
The analysts and experts say this is changing. That the 'shareholders' of Indian democracy want more accountability, more results, more kaam from their leaders.
They say, "Politicians will have to move their butts and deliver the goods, or suffer". Well, I certainly hope that is so! And in such an electoral atmosphere, I think there is a place for both 'insiders' and 'outsiders' to make a difference.
Remember For every Abhishek Bachchan, there is an Akshay Kumar.
For the great grandson of Jawaharlal Nehru, the risen-through-the-ranks and now much admired Nitish Kumar.
Each must struggle and strive, to earn his spurs.
Acting maketh an actor, and action maketh a leader.
Awaiting more action from the man of the moment. Now that electoral politics is out of the way (for now).
Update: New Indian Express had raise some doubts about Rahul Gandhi's Cambridge degree in a report dated 7th April 2009.
Mine was one of the blogs which linked to the IE report, because I felt it was a subject in the public interest.
On April 28, 2009 Cambridge University issued a statement saying that Rahul's MPhil degree is indeed valid and was issued in 1994-95.
In the light of this, I have decided to withdraw my original blogpost on this subject. Why? Because I think the matter has been clarified and the points I raised are no longer relevant.
In a further development, the Congress party has sent a legal notice to The New Indian Express, which originally published the story. The Editor has clarified that the paper stands by its report.
It will be interesting to see which way this plays out and I am sure truth shall prevail. But as an individual I no longer care whether Rahul studied development economics or development studies in the past. What I care about is the development he and his party undertakes in the future.
On which I will be keeping a close watch!
One issue of interest to young people across India would be passage of the Foreign Universities Entrance and Operation Bill which was held up because of opposition from the Left. As well as old fogeys like Arjun Singh.
There will be some pain but this bill could do for education what entry of FIIs did to financial markets. Shake up things and help India achieve a quantum leap in quality of higher education!
Related earlier post: From Cambridge to Harvard - a Political Journey