So I heard the US President speak. Those of who have had enough from my Facebook newsfeed in the last 24 hours and want to tell me to shut the hell up about it already, I’m sorry. But this is the one last time I’ll be ranting about it. Rather than the little details of how UB was swarming with cops and how there were identical cars and what an expensive ride his bus was, I think it’s time to reflect on the thoughts I had about the man and his speech itself.
I was on cloud nine when I heard of his visit for two reasons- 1) The most powerful man (fortunately or unfortunately) in the world was visiting my University and 2) I could actually hear him speak in person after having admired his oratory skills ever since he first got elected as the President. That was it. I definitely do not agree with every damn economic or immigration or foreign policy of his Government or think highly about the recent revelations about the NSA snooping around everyone’s Inbox. I do not think that America has any right to send missiles and install military bases all over the world. I certainly don’t think that a display of such armed aggressiveness is doing any good to improve non-Americans’ opinions about the U.S.
My excitement was simply because I could hear Barack Obama speak. The man who became the first ever President of African American descent, who never fails to talk about his family in every other speech he makes and who’s genuine deep voice first gave me goosebumps when he talked about the ‘new era of responsibility’ in 2008. The man who’s book ‘The Audacity of Hope’ I read with earnestness but sadly gave up because I was too young and unfamiliar with the political jargon of the West. The man who’s visit to India I keenly followed and who’s political face I was oblivious to..
The speech was clear and crisp. It was all about cutting college costs. He explained the problem and then proposed three ways to cut college costs and help students pay their debts. I’m only sad that he didn’t mention the International students at all, UB being a premier institution for foreign students. But then, like my friend pointed out, International students don’t vote in America.
Before the speech started I wondered if I’d have lined up at 4 am to hear an Indian President speak. Fact is I would have, had it been someone like APJ Abdul Kalam. Currently however I’m sad to confess that I wouldn’t be motivated to go for a speech by any Indian politician (assuming that they even make one; I’d be surprised to even see Pranab Mukherjee or Manmohan Singh visiting a college or making speeches about relevant issues). Kalam was at least an inspiration. His talks were engaging and worth listening to. Hailing from very humble backgrounds in Rameshwaram and making it big with his genius and hard work, Kalam could be the only Indian to give Obama a run for his money. But he’s not the President any more and I doubt whether the rookies of Indian politics will ever let Kalam take the reins again. This, I speak personally of course reflecting on how I respect hard work and the ability to overcome inevitable hurdles in life. I feel that Barack Obama is inspiring enough to be a great leader with more insight and plans than action. More talk, than duty? Maybe. But if you can hear the talk that’s good (and free) then why not go for it ?
Also, I liked seeing how the people in Buffalo were excited to see their President. I also observed how many of my American friends were critical about his speech especially in the light of the economic crisis. Later people who were initially hyped up about his visit pretended to not care as much and those who were skeptical about it made sure they got tickets. What do we learn from this? That (like my Amma says) if there are three people talking, they’re bound to have five different opinions. Touche.