Monday, November 10, 2008

Barack Obama – Can He Deliver Under High Expectations?

US presidential elections are just over. Barack Obama won and will be sworn in as the 44th President of United States of America on 20th of January. His election has brought a lot of euphoria around the world in general and America in particular – the first reason being that he is the first African American to be elected the President of United States and the second being “changes” he has promised to clean up the many wrong policies of the past. 

As Obama becomes the President of USA, the expectations from people are sky rocketing. The Americans who voted for him expect him to fix so many things in no time – the near recession like economy, loss of jobs, loss of their retirement benefits, Iraq and Afghanistan war and the list goes on. But would he be able to live up to the high expectations of his fellow citizens? This post is a comparison between political climate that existed in India in 1989 and now in US and how such a political climate of high expectation can ruin the popularity of the politician. Here I am not comparing Barack Obama with anyone but comparing the political climate of India in 1989 when Viswanath Prathap Singh (V.P. Singh) was sworn in as the Prime Minister and US in 2008 when Obama is about to be sworn in as the President of United States. 

A flash back to 1989 political scene in India – the government of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi became very unpopular among Indians  for so many reasons – every other day they hear some kind of new corruption charges against the Ministers the most important being the Bofors scandal, Shah Bano Case, the growing terrorism in Punjab to name a few. The Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s approval rating hit rock bottom very similar to the present President of United States George Bush. When Rajiv Gandhi started his term as Prime Minister of India in 1984 he had such a huge popularity that can be compared to the approval ratings George W Bush had on the days following World Trade Center bombings. In 5 years the popularity of Rajiv Gandhi hit rock bottom that can be compared to the last couple of years of Bush’s presidency. The whole of India was fed up with the administration of Rajiv Gandhi and people wanted a “change” – very similar to majority of Americans wanting a change from George Bush and his policies. 

To lead the people of India and to make ‘that’ change people of India wanted; there emerged a person named V.P Singh. He himself was a finance minister in Rajiv Gandhi’s cabinet before he resigned over differences with Rajiv. He started organizing the people from the grass root by trying to expose the misdeeds of the people. His tirade against corruption and his taking of powerful people made him a darling of the people and soon he became very popular among Indian masses. Like Obama who formed a broad coalition that has Democrats, Republicans and independents under one umbrella, V.P. Singh did what most political pundits thought was impossible at that time – he brought his party, the left parties (communists) and the right wing (Bharatiya Janatha Party) under one platform. This coalition fought the election against the Congress party of Rajiv Gandhi and defeated Congress party handsomely. The mass appeal among Indians, V.P Singh had during the few days before the election was very much similar to the one Obama has with the Americans now – hope that “Change is about to come” or “Obama is that magician who is going to solve all our issues”. 

Once the election was over the sailing was never smooth for V.P Singh from the very first day. Even before he took the oath of office as the Prime Minister of India he started facing problems from every nook and corner. The broad coalition he created before general elections trembled as none of the partners would agree on anything. After coming to power, promising much the performance of the government was worst – economy went south, terrorism spread from Punjab to Kashmir, social unrest based on caste and religion rose, all those corruption charges raised against Rajiv Gandhi and his party by V.P Singh remained as allegation as V.P Singh government couldn’t even come close to proving it. The result – the government lost majority and went out of power in less than a year. People of India were relieved that such an inefficient government was shown the door. 

The people of India who voted V.P Singh to power wanted to see the changes he promised during election from the day one he won the election. V.P Singh soon found out that making promises for “change” is one thing and implementing it is totally different – something Obama will soon find out how tough it will be to implement the “Change We Believe In”. 


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Anonymous lakshmi subramanian said...

I liked your post. But I am wondering how you weighed Coalition(in VP Singh Govt) Vs near democratic majority in Senate & Congress that becomes very handy for Obama.

November 10, 2008 5:43 AM  
Blogger Vijay Ramamurthi said...

dude vp singh...:)))))))))))))))))

hahahah i cant stop laughing..he has the sin of ppl dieing all over his mind :) he is a funny guy

November 10, 2008 3:52 PM  
Blogger Andrew Brice said...


A concern for the Democrats is that many of the newly elected Democratic congresspeople from more conservative states may not be completely in agreement with the more liberal Democrats, creating a divide within the majority.

November 11, 2008 5:33 PM  
Blogger drsubbu said...

Dear Brijesh,
You have pains to compare the politicl climate of India in 1989 comparing Rajive Gandhi nad emergence of VP singh with incredible and impossible popular expectations and subsequent failures.
It is true Barack Obama has been elected with near impossible popular expectations.
Present World Economic Recession so lovably originated and contributed by the greedy CEOs in the USA which has very quickly engulfed the entire world economy cannot be solved by Barack Obama alone. It will need very hard working thoughtful selfless world leaders working together with sensible politicians around the world. I am sure Obama wil be very realistic and work sensibily. Secondly unemployment in USA will take a while to come reasonable level. Unless the American people sensibily accept that they have tough time ahead and work together to help Obama to work better with realistic expectation it is going to be tough! Lets wait and see.

November 21, 2008 12:41 AM  

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