A friend whose opinion I value raised a point about Modi’s election about how it worried her and what it implied for India when its people elected someone like Modi.
My two cents: One way of looking at it is that the pantheon of choices we have is a reflection of our society more so than the ultimate choice India makes. We have Rahul – who pays lip service to freedom of expression and economic development alike, Arvind – whose notions of leadership are immature and policies are positioned in opposition to those in power, not self-standing on their own and finally Modi – whose economic credentials are probably stronger than his social freedom and development credentials which are questionable. Why these tradeoffs? Seems unfortunate, but it is a reflection of the progress India has to make.
Yet there is a silver lining in this cloud and that is this: for a country of 1 billion (or at least the majority in the best way possible in a representational democracy) to agree on one leader in a democratic manner is saying a lot for how far we have risen above caste and communal lines. Did Modi get the vast majority of Muslim votes? Perhaps not. But India is not just divided along Hindus vs Muslims lines. India has also been pitted as a battlefront between Kshatriyas and Brahmins and every combination of caste and sub-caste possible by every party. This is probably the only country where you can be a practicing member of a non-Hindu religion and still face discrimination as a member of a caste within that religion. It’s easy for us (and by us, I mean the English-speaking Indian middle class that have reaped the benefits of the economic liberalization) to access an identity as an Indian above everything, but for most people in India, that is still a pipe dream. So these election results have surprised me in a pleasant way; I am hopeful now about India’s future, because if the youth of India can unite behind a leader, that means they are ready to unite behind an idea. And that day too is not far away.