I am in NY this week on vacation with family – except for one day that I had to show up at work to host the CEO of a partner company .
Modi , India’s Prime Minister, was in NY when I landed here . And he was literally the talk of the town . I have lived in US for quite a few years and have practically never noticed when an Indian leader has landed here . Modi was on his campaigning best – everyone noticed , whether it is the Manhattan Cabbies or the CEO I met . And they are all his fans . I did not expect that in the least .
There was the unfortunate incident of Rajdeep Sardesai being pushed around and heckled outside the garden . Then I saw another video of Sardesai pushing a guy in the crowd as the beginning of the fight that ens . Either way -manhandling is a poor way to settle differences . What was interesting is there was hardly any support for the journalist other than a few fellow journalists . Modi fans are everywhere !
Modi no doubt is a top notch politician and a gifted speaker . But I also think that a good part of this grand welcome was that the decade long UPA rule have driven a lot of people nuts . Their craving for solid leadership is what Modi is delivering now through words and I hope that will turn into action .
I won’t hold my breath on Modi changing much in Washington . And to a large degree , that doesn’t matter . If he captured the imagination of the business leaders in NY – that is more than sufficient . Politicians eventually need the business behind them – and will actively support Modi if American businesses believe in his reform agenda .
Another category of people Modi seems to have impressed is the NRI population in US – who are generally affluent and can make tangible investments in India . I really hope that NRIs step up and form an organized VC/Angel culture in India to back the Desi companies .
Then there is Jayalalitha , who had to go to jail and resign her CM job in Tamilnadu . I did not expect this to happen at all . She might still win her appeal and go back to work as CM . What worried me is the sheer number of suicides in TN , people resorting to violence on the streets and film stars protesting her conviction and sentencing . On one hand – rule of law prevailed and the other hand a large section of people believe she is above law . It was also weird to see the new cabinet swear in with tears in their eyes and photos of Jayalalitha held by them . Who are they pledging allegiance to ? The people of TN or their convicted leader ? I admire the loyalty – but I do worry if the state will get into a lame duck mode of governance till she comes out of jail .
And finally there is the case of the poor Indian boxer Sarita Devi . I am seriously outraged by what happened in Asiad semi finals . I am less worried about the host country being favored by the judges – I just can’t figure out what the officials in indian delegation were thinking about not supporting Sarita’s appeal . It’s despicable that the poor lady had to borrow money from others to file the appeal . Modi talked a good game on empowering women – now it is time to walk the talk . I am waiting to see him fire the officials who didn’t support Sarita . Such a huge shame .
Between the news on Modi, Jaya and Saritha in matter of three days – it amazes me how much India has changed , and how much India refuses to change . It’s such a fine balance between hope and despair .