Every generation has at least one epochal event in their lifetimes when they remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when it occurred. Ours seems to have more than its fair share and most of them not positive ones. The assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, the destruction of Babri Masjid or the events of 9/11 are just a few. But on the 20th of January 2009, the inauguration and swearing in of Barack Hussein Obama as the 44th President of the
As an Indian who has never had to face racial discrimination of any sort it’s hard to imagine the thoughts or feelings of the millions of African-Americans for whom the colour of their skin decided where they studied, or what they did for a living and at what wages, or where they lived. In a nation where up until 1965 black people could not vote, it must be a truly remarkable and inspiring feeling to watch a black man lead his successful black wife and kids into the White House. But Obama’s presidency also marks the end of the Bush years. How
Barack Obama has had a meteoric rise from small-time state level politics to the most powerful job in the world in the span of 5years. In that time he has been put under the scanner and given the media spotlight like no other politician before him. He has been honest, in a spectacularly articulate manner, about his origins, his influences and his political ideologies. He is probably the first President to be elected after admitting drug use in college. With a white Texan mother, a black Kenyan father, a part Indonesian step-sister and brought up in Hawaii by his white grandparents he truly brings a touch of the exotic to the White House. But make no mistake about it; Obama is where he is today not because his is a compelling story, which it is, but because he is a very smart politician.
His message of change and hope resonated with American voters, during a time of crisis the likes of which has not been seen in the last two generations. And that, along with his electrifying oratory, rock star appeal and a brilliantly run campaign has brought him where no other African American has gone before. But at the end of his term if that is all President Obama will be remembered for, it would be a massive disappointment. He has been accused often enough of empty rhetoric and inexperience. He has also, with some justification, been accused of being vague on the details. But the time has now come to walk the talk. Most commentators agree he will be given an extended honeymoon and that his initial efforts will be directed towards the ailing American economy. And that is but expected. But he would do well to remember that in the run up to the November elections, polls showed him ahead of McCain almost worldwide. That is a testimony not only to American influence on global issues, but also to the weight of expectations his candidacy has aroused. He has already brought to fruition the first of his campaign slogans; “Yes We Can.” The world waits for him to realize the second; “Change we can believe in.”