27 November, 2020

Gen Gana Mana Of Youth

Aspiration screams out of every billboard in Bihar, and could well decide who gets to rule the state, come November 8

Shekhar Gupta
Gen Gana Mana Of Youth
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

Writings on the Wall is a metaphor that emerged from travels across the subcontinent, particularly, but not necessarily, through elections. Zip across the cities and the fast rurbanising countryside, your eyes, ears and minds wide open, and it’s the writing on the walls, or what echoes off them, that tells you what is changing and what isn’t. It tells you that change in India never slackens, never fails to surprise you. Particularly how logically our people have moved from grievance to aspiration, and now to assertion and ambition. So in the poorest India, such as in Bihar circa 2005, nothing was selling on the walls because nobody had the money to buy anything. Five years of rapid growth and the return of the rule of law under Nitish Kumar, and the walls were selling branded underwear and English-medium school education. By the time of the 2014 parliamentary elections, the hottest selling items were coaching classes for IIT-JEE and medical ent­rance examinations.

This progression up the value chain was fully reflected in electoral fortunes. The...

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