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Waiting for Mana Barack - Indiatimes 6th Nov 2008

HYDERABAD: As an African-American with a Muslim middle name and no political lineage but a sound academic record and a clear vision gets ready to be sworn in as the 44th President of United States of America, an obvious question that makes the rounds back home is, can Hyderabad have an Obama too? Someone who could break the barriers of caste, creed and religion to become the face of the state one day?

Well, the city throws up one name Jayaprakash Narayan as the closest to Obama but note that the man with his heart in place has not been unable to connect with the masses. Other than him, they say, there is no hope for an Obama in Hyderabad until educated citizens join politics.

Denizens believe that even if Lok Satta founder Jayaprakash Narayan managed to gather appreciation for his "clean'' political efforts so far, but has failed to appeal to the masses. "Sometimes only having a clear vision does not help. The leader is a visionary but has been unable to generate public following which is stopping him short of becoming the face of the state," feels Director of Centre for Indian Ocean Studies P V Rao, who feels that Telugu Desam Party supremo N Chandrababu Naidu scores on the mass appeal front.

English and Foreign Languages University Vice-Chancellor Abhay Maurya also agrees with Rao and says that there is perhaps no one but Jayaprakash Narayan with whom some parallel could be drawn. "He is an activist known for his integrity and honesty. He is the only one who has tried to do something different in the state. Even though he probably has no chance of victory he comes the closest to being the 'Obama' of our state," says Maurya.

While some feel that issues in both countries being very different from each other leave no room for comparison between their leaders there are some others who are in awe of the latest American hero but have lost all hopes of a similar figure back home. "Politics in our country is very dirty. There is a huge leadership crisis and, therefore, I do not see myself looking up to anyone in politics," admits J Krishnamurthi the vertical group manager of a leading firm in the city.

"Perhaps it is too early to expect something like this in our state or for that matter in our country," feels D T Vinod Kumar, president of the Architects Association. "We will need to bring about a radical change in the mindsets of politicians and general public to get a leader like Barack Obama here and this can be achieved only through education. However, these days even if educated people enter politics with good intentions they change in no time and become like the rest," he says.

However, amid all this complaining there are people like film producer Sudish Rambotla who are still optimistic and are of the opinion that it would not be long before India too could boast of an Obama or two. "Things are changing in politics these days. Parties are becoming more professional and searching for talent outside. Unlike in the past when young people abstained from entering politics because they thought it was full of murk, today I see a lot of them taking interest in the field and coming forward to be part of it," says a hopeful Rambotla.

Friday, November 7, 2008 - 12:31