The cacophony of this Indian General Elections sends out many signals. Of which the most poignant is one where an entire nation is desperate to hope. Hoping that things will change. Hoping that a new government will rid India of the evils of corruption and worse still, indecisions. Never has an entire nation either been so starved of hope or so expectant of change.
By the time you read this article, the results would have started coming in. But to call these mere election results would be trite. To my mind these are a referendum of hope. Of the belief we have in intrinsic good triumphing over evil or what we believe to be dastardly. Why did we become the way we were? To blame the politicians alone would be escapist and being in denial. We have for long been a convenient nation. When it suits us we light candles and go on long marches but the light within us is forever dimmed until we believe it will impact us. To that end we are a selfish people. We have no spirit of nationalism and more often than not, this is a spirit that rises more to the trumpets of religion and caste than any real change we wish to bring about.
But this time things seem to be different. Narendra Modi is a symbol both of hope and despair. Hope for the many who believe the ultimate nirvana is the one that is delivered through the prism of economics whereas there are many who believe he will polarize and ultimately harm the soul of India.
The soul of India has been wounded many times including by those who are venerated by the so-called liberals. Modi did not invent communalism in India. Gandhi had to sit out Independence Day in Bengal in order to protect Muslims. But then Godhra happened during Modi's watch.
I am however a believer that Modi is obsessed with his legacy as any true leader is. Churchill was. Gandhi was as was Nehru. And for that and that alone, Modi will tread very carefully. He more than anyone else knows there is an entire army of liberals who are waiting for him to lock up free thinkers and people belonging to minority communities. And it is precisely this he won't do. Leaders when they come to power are tempered by visions of their own legacy and the power of the system. In India we have too many institutions to protect the basic fabric of this country.
On my part I believe Modi will be good for India. Very good in fact. Because he is the kind of leader who is report card driven. Much like the topper in Grade 1 who doesn't believe in coming second. His middle-class background will help him get a sense of reality rather than a sense of entitlement. Finally, unlike Manmohan Singh, this will be a Prime Minister both in office and in power. That alone should steer India to a future it deserves.