Thursday, September 23, 2010

Personalities of World Leaders -- Dissected!

In July this year, I had blogged about some world leaders and whether Mars was to be blamed for global political instability.
Today, when I was reading a story on Nicolas Sarkozy in The Economist, an interesting thought came to my mind.
Nicolas Sarkozy, Barack Obama and Julia Gillard, all three were not born in the nations they lord over now. They neither come from the dominant political classes of their respective countries, nor did they have privileged upbringings. I realised that their upbringings could have had a role in shaping their policies of today.
Nicolas Sarkozy was born to stateless-Hungarian soldier and French Catholic - Greek Jewish mother. He and his mother were abandoned by his father, and he was greatly influenced by Gaullist grandfather.
Is there little surprise that France appears to have turned xenophobic in the last few months, with the Sarkozy government banning the burkha and deporting the Romas?
Perhaps not. His Jewish roots and right-winger Gaullist philosophies seem to be at interplay whilst shaping French policies of today.
A statement allegedly attributed to Sarkozy clearly shows where these influences come from. It is claimed that he said "What made me who I am now is the sum of all the humiliations suffered during childhood".
The machiavellian Australian prime minister Julia Gillard, who had been titled "The Australian Horse Trader" by The Economist, was born in Wales but had to migrate to Australia as she had a medical condition.
Now the Welsh are considered a bit sly and stubborn. It is also said - Never cross a Celt they say ......they have long memories! (You may call them stereotypes!)
Little wonder, she ruthlessly engineered a political (bloodless!) coup by ousting Kevin Rudd. Then, she called for an early election, in which the Labour barely scraped through. Calling for early elections, for a brief while, seemed like an act of bravado, political hara-kiri in retrospect.
But the feisty Celt slyly bounced back. She finally engineered her ascent to prime ministership by extracting support from three independents and one Green. How she keeps the Greens happy is another question, especially when the contentious issue of mining taxes comes to the fore. Perhaps then we'll see another round of machiavellian maneuvers Down Under!
Welsh blood, eh?
And now Barack Obama. Born to a Muslim Kenyan and his white American mother, he does not, at all, fit the typical black American upbringing. His parents divorced when he was young. His father rarely maintained contact with Barack or his mother. It is said Barack met his father only once after his parents' divorce came through.
His mother then married an Indonesian, and they all moved to Indonesia, where Barack spent a considerable part of his childhood, before trotting around the globe.
Having a Muslim father and growing up in an Islamic country, naturally, seem to have reflected in his sympathetic policies towards Islamic countries. Remember his address in Cairo and his address to Iran on the occasion of Nowruz?
Also, his well-talked about idealistic concepts seem to come from his understanding of his father (or the lack of it?) and the world that he had seen, as a child, which are very, very un-American.
Does that explain why he does, what he does? Perhaps, yes, perhaps not!

All these leaders were not a part of the establishment. Each of them resorted to something unique to survive - Sarkozy to xenophobic policies, Gillard to machiavellianism and Obama to appeasement. Will they succeed with a world-view constrained by their past is a question only time will answer.
At home too, if the lives of our politicians were well documented, one could come up with interesting inferences, like the conclusions Meghnad Desai had drawn on Gandhi's personality and character, in his very-readable book, "The Rediscovery of India".
Will our politicians let a dissection of their personalities ever happen?

1 comment:

anupknair said...

One on Gandhi..

Excerpted from
Eclipse of the Hindu Nation: Gandhi and his freedom struggle
Radha Rajan
New Age Publishers (P) Ltd., Delhi, 2009
Price: Rs 495/-
ISBN 81- 7819 - 068- 0
The book may be ordered from the publishers at
or at 011-2649 3326/ 27/ 28

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