The GameStop story has been hitting headlines for a while now. A bunch of small stock traders on the Reddit site decided to teach the big hedge funds a lesson. They not only did that very successfully by cornering GameStop shares and made millions from it but they also proved what Reddit CEO Steve Huffman calls the incredible power of communities of ordinary, everyday people when they find a cause they can identify with.
Since not everyone here follows the NYSE nor knows the GameStop story, let me switch over to a more familiar example. The Story of the Big Bully.
Just when we thought the horror of Donald Trump’s presidency would never end, that’s exactly when it did. Those who had quietly watched with disgust as he stomped the world stage, a conceited, self-indulgent bully, walking out of the Paris accord on climate change, WHO, the Iran nuclear deal and reneging on so many other tacit understandings the US was globally committed to, they pulled the plug on him.
His support for the white supremacist lot began sneakily but soon became blatant, as the Black Lives Matter movement gained momentum. This started bothering the liberal whites. They were also angry with the killing of George Floyd, the African American man who died when a white police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for nine and a half minutes after he was handcuffed and lying face down. Two other police officers assisted Chauvin in restraining Floyd while a third prevented bystanders from intervening in the public display of brutality while Floyd kept trying to say he could not breathe. The charge against Floyd was not terrorism. It was using a counterfeit bill. A charge he kept trying to deny till his last breath.
That’s when people got really angry. Trump was seen as not just a bully but a shame. It helped that people who mattered– thought leaders, the media, popular celebrities, Hollywood actors, stand-up comedians—began to question him, talk against his offensive ways. Slowly, the miasma of fear ebbed. And, with that, his popular support. All he was left with him was white trash and a few greedy allies, hoping to make a last minute killing. Even supporters in his own Republican party quietly backed away when he claimed the election was stolen and, after stoking the terrible Capitol Hill riots, refused to attend his successor’s inauguration. Today, the man who believed he was the most powerful man on earth has discovered he is also the loneliest. Parler, the social network his right-wing supporters vented on, once the fastest growing app in the US and known as Trump’s very own Facebook– an app Trump was reportedly negotiating to buy a 40 per cent stake in– is now banished. No, not by government fiat. But by the regulators of the very tech platforms whose rules their users so gleefully violated during the Trump years.
As for QAnon, there are not many takers left for the discredited far-right conspiracy theory alleging that Trump was dislodged from his office by a cabal of Satan-worshipping, cannibalistic, paedophiles who ran a global child sex-trafficking ring with links to liberal Hollywood actors, Democratic politicians, and high-ranking government officials. The Russian state-backed troll accounts on social media that amplified its hysteric and insane charges have also cooled off. No one roots for a defeated president with a second impeachment charge to boot.
Instead, the American people chucked machismo and voted for Joe Biden, a man seen as too old and weak to be a serious candidate, teetering on the edge of political retirement. They prioritised change over everything else. I mention this because ever since India had its first prime minister, the same question keeps always coming up. After Nehru, who? It came up when Indira unleashed her Emergency and people were angry. Her defenders said: But after Indira, who? She defeated Pakistan, helped create Bangladesh. Who can replace her? We have heard this question reverberate across the world. After Tito, who? After Nkrumah, who? After Nasser, who? After Mao, who?
In India, the question is even less moot. We are 138 crore today. Many among us are world leaders in their own areas of distinction. We have Nobel Prize winners, Pulitzer Prize winners, Booker Prize winners, Oscar winners, Fukuoka Prize winners, Magsaysay Award winners, Abel Prize winners, winners in every area of human endeavour, from science and technology to management and the liberal arts. Some of America’s biggest corporations are run by Indians today. Their best hospitals have Indian doctors. And we worry about who can lead India? Anyone can. India is a working democracy with some of the finest institutions still around to keep the values enshrined in our Constitution.
Luckily, we have not had a Trump yet though historians may say Tughlaq was a close approximation. Hopefully, we will never have one. But it’s important to remember that in a democracy there must be no fear. Any leader can be rejected at any time without worrying about who can take over. India is a nation of amazing talent, incredible genius, and very capable leaders. It will always find its way into the future if only we stop looking for dynastic succession, if only we stop fearing change. Whoever you look for, be it for a company CEO, a chief minister, a yoga teacher, the head of a political party, a banker, an ambassador, a university dean, a brilliant nuclear scientist. The person is always there. That is the way of democracy. Everyone gets a shot at success.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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