Observers sitting at a safe distance from the hullabaloo in the US – looking at the Woodstock-Oscars-Democratic Party Convention hybrid, can gloat with self-righteousness and chastise them for the farcical showmanship put up in the name of democracy, change and a new-age leadership. Yes…today was end of day two of the Dem Party Convention at Denver – and though I caught fleeting glimpses on CNN, I ended up doing the same. What a show! Michelle Obama comes to stage as the keynote speaker and “demystifies” that wonder-man who is her husband and possibly the future president of the United States. The crowd is moved to tears – most probably egged on by overeager cameramen. Then their little girls come on stage and one of them says, “I love you Daddy.” And Daddy, with look of pure affection says,”Take care of Mommy, until I am back on Thursday.” Thus securing a million more votes belonging to starry-eyed Americans desperately clinging on to some notion of the perfect American family life. And all this broadcast live and emotional to the entire world…as if saying…you Arabs, while you send your children to Madrasas and teach them to hate and kill – here we are living our perfect technicolour lives. Guess who is the loser here. Bring on the butter popcorn, dr.pepper and beef jerky – Las Vegas be damned…the world’s largest show has begun.
But, don’t gloat. Indians are no different. We are all suckers for larger-than-life… because our current lives are too small and boring for us. We are so overwhelmed by the glitz and the glamour that we get confused between Gods and men. Between actors and leaders.
Yesterday, Telugu superstar Chiranjeevi launched ‘Praja Rajyam’ (people’s rule) – the latest political party which claims to fill a gaping hole in the overcrowded Indian political landscape. This happened in Tirupati…and apparently the crowd went wild with emotion when they saw him descending down the steps of the temple. In slow motion no doubt. He says that it would be a “secular…pro-poor party.” Now which hole is it filling, exactly? It’s like Coke distinguishing itself as the only carbonated sweet drink.
Monotone political dogmas aside…what sickens is the Beatles-like mania that just the sight of him created. (At least the Beatles didn’t claim to change the world!) Standing in front of one of the most cherished of Hindu temples – thousands of people were screaming “Jai Chiranjeeva”. Eh? Has he suddenly the same status as Tirumalai?
You know what? Let me be the devil’s advocate…maybe Chiranjeevi really wants to create change. He suddenly realized that he is like God to millions of people – and unhappy with the state of his fan-base, he decided to do something about it. (Sounds unbelievable I know…but lets just assume) What change do you think he can bring? The state of the country today is a complex interplay of historical, current, parochial and global factors… what will a muscleman-actor do other than provide sufficient distraction to the poor – so that they can stare at the stars in wonder, and forget about their hunger and nakedness? Will he be a person large enough not to become larger than himself – and actually become a servant of the people he has sworn to serve?
Politicians today take oaths of stardom than servitude. Because somehow there is this impression that people will only follow the stars…in the star lies the leader. It’s sad because this has rendered a huge section of the population (which includes me, and I am sure majority of my readers) apathetic and cynical. This country (and probably most of the democratic world) lies divided…and one day we will fall.