From One Democracy to Another

If there’s one word I could use to describe the last couple of days, it’d be ‘unexpected’.

Two occurrences, one planned and the other unplanned, have been critical in my own understanding of the trials and tribulations that large, diverse democracies face, as the flip side of the coin.

First, I was lucky enough to witness the euphoric build up to the final lap of the US Presidential Election, and the complete shattering of predictions, expectations and forecasts, with the controversial, unexpected candidate emerging victorious. And as the nation, and the global community watches with bated bread, this is going to be a critical Presidential term for Mr. Trump.

Second, closer home, our Prime Minister stole the show. Again, a rather controversial move with the sudden decision to ban currency notes of a certain denomination, with the intention of black money disclosure was a breaking news millions of Indians woke up to with mixed reactions. Again, a sudden, yet pathbreaking move, which although partially met with condemnation, will in my opinion, go a long way in the corruption cleansing drive mission Mr Modi seems to be on.

Both different events, with different agendas. Yet the common ground they both found, was that they both represented strong, individual moves, where two powerful personalities, backed by equally strong execution teams, took powerful steps which will have strong political, financial, even operational ripples in the long-haul. In the world’s oldest democracy, a newly appointed President occupies what arguably is the most important office in the world, taking on the next 4 years to deliver a multitude of promises. Meanwhile, in the world’s largest democracy, a dynamic Prime Minister, who already has a number of pioneering initiatives to his name, introduces a maverick step, throwing a number of people in doubt,stress and frenzy over wads of black money kept stashed away.

Democracy is usually the most celebrated form of governance, for from an outsider perspective, what could be more empowering than every individual in the community having individualistic power to take on the government? Yet, having grown up in a large, growing, occasionally ‘difficult’ democracy, I can make one strong statement – Democracy isn’t easy. Particularly, when you’re massive, heterogenous and when you’re undergoing what can be labelled the ‘transition’ phase. Because that’s when you’re turning cycles, and when the country is in turmoil. And in need of transformational leadership. And the media forces are in full blast, expressing opinion after opinion after opinion, judging, criticizing, commenting. Every position has a strong opposition. And every person feels empowered in a different manner. And when a cohort of a segmented population, driven by a differential of motivations, inspirations and priorities, faces or participates in a decision that will affect the nation as a whole, any major change is bound to be accompanied by chaos.

Yet, it is also this very chaos that is the precursor of order, the ashes from which rise the phoenix. It is roughest before the storm calms down, the darkest before sunlight breaks in. And while what is anticipated is not be what happens, there are times when the only option you have is to give in to optimism, and hope that in the end, the dots connect and every political, economic and global move meets with its intended objective.

So, in the end, as we move across the globe, from one democracy to another, let’s all cross our fingers, wish each other luck, and brace ourselves for the journey ahead,



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