Today the US President & First Lady visited Holy Name School in Mumbai to take part in a cultural activity to mark Diwali. A small crowd, no speeches, no garlanding. So un-Indian in India! The First Lady did not hesitate to join the girls in a dance. Obama clearly displayed his hesitation to dance in public but couldn't resist for long, he too shook his leg with the kids. The confidence and enthusiasm seen in the kids who danced with Obamas was infact inspiring. India's future looks good.
Twitter was flooded with the same message - Why don't our politicians mingle easily with us? I do recall seeing photos of Indira Gandhi dancing with adivasis and possibly even the former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. But it ends there. We don't see it often enough. However, we do see our politicians making us dance to their tunes all the time.
Next stop was at the prestigious St. Xavier's college in Mumbai. Everyone knows Bill Clinton & Barack Obama for the ease in which they conduct Town Hall meetings. The media, audience, citizens in India were keen to see Obama in action at an Indian university. Michelle Obama gave the introductory speech and asked the audience to pose tough questions to Obama. There were no dignitaries on stage, just 'brand Obama'. Doesn't happen in India.
Look closely at what happened at St Xavier's college. Obama must have answered at most 8 questions but we feel he has answered hundreds of questions. Why are we so awed by Obama? One of the main reason being our politicians don't like us. They contact us only during elections (if at all). None of our politicians are approachable to talk about our problems.
After the Town Hall meet, Obama made sure he shook hands with a sizable number of people. His security maintained distance and did not interfere in this 'brand building' process. You can see Indian security just not allowing a free interaction between an Indian politician & the crowd. Do we Indians behave differently when we interact with Western & Indian politicians? May be.
Western politicians freely display their sense of humor. We don't. Yesterday Obama addressed Indian CEOs in Mumbai. He talked about benefits of democracy even though the results of elections don't turn out the way one wants. You could see the crowd in splits. He was obviously referring to the recent performance of Democrats in the mid-term elections. We can't expect our politicians to have a sense of humor and they claiming responsibility for failures is a distant dream.
The negativity towards politicians in India is sure to rise in the coming days. But that will have no effect on them. Life will go on as usual. For both, we citizens and the politicians.