Tomorrow, the Aam Aadmi Party led by Arvind Kejriwal will form the government in New Delhi after a stunning victory in the state elections held three weeks back. The best pre-poll and exit poll predictions had said they would get between 6 and 18 seats in the 70-seat Assembly. That would have been a great start for any political party that’s just a year old, like AAP is. But how many did they actually get? 28. Twenty eight!
And this after several of the ‘iconic’ leaders of the anti-corruption movement had distanced themselves from the newly formed political entity.
The naysayers had said then that that would be the end of the movement. That the party was doomed without Anna Hazare and Kiran Bedi and others.
The naysayers must also have said that Gandhiji’s non-violence idea would never work. That Edison’s bulb would never go mass. Or that the Wright brothers’ experiment couldn’t possibly change the world of travel.
Sure, naysayers are only presenting the other perspective, being the devil’s advocates, pricking balloons to see if there’s anything in there. But sometimes I think that perspective needs to be asked to shut up. To give hope a chance. To allow a new idea or ideal an opportunity to grow up a little and defend itself against the experience-laced bitterness of the cynic’s opinion. You may tell a young man that he’ll never amount to much. Would you tell a baby that?
The glass may be half empty. Promises may be easier to make than keep. High hopes may lead to deeper disappointments. But right now, today, I’m more optimistic about my country than I have been in a long time. Because I’m hoping that perhaps, just perhaps, we may be seeing the beginning of a great change in India, after years of watching it slipping – down the rankings in the Corruption Index, down the value of its currency, down the scale of global influence.
Sure, the know-it-all, seen-it-all pragmatists, realists, and ‘intellectuals’ are firmly on the pessimistic side of the fence. But I am not. While they discount and fear, I’m optimistic and hopeful. Because it’s constructive. Your pessimism is, if anything, destructive.
I read an article recently in The Atlantic that says “Optimism, as the theoretical physicist David Deutsch so brilliantly describes in The Beginnings of Infinity, doesn’t mean surety about good future outcomes. Optimism is simply the certainty that any human progress to date has been a product of our collective ability to understand how things work and to craft solutions.
“The conviction that the present is a prelude to a bad future negates that collective ability. Yes, we may indeed be at the end of the line, but by angrily dismissing optimistic arguments we are likely to fail more rapidly. Why bother striving for constructive change if you firmly reject the possibility? That leaves only one viable alternative: to envision a path forward. That path may not materialize, but striving to find it is a vital component of creating the future we dream about, and not the one that we fear.”
If you still want to smirk about the possibility of all this amounting to something good, please keep your negativity to yourself. As the national elections in a few months will show, I’m sure India is a nation that sees the glass as half full. Good luck, Arvind Kejriwal, the people of Delhi, and India!