Dhoni and Obama: Two leaders of the same mould

Posted in cricket, politics by armalcolite on November 11, 2008

Dhoni and Obama: Birds of a Feather?

As my first post on this blog (which has been a long time coming, Gautam you know what I mean) I thought I’d write on something that combines two of my greatest passions: cricket and politics.

Both these spheres, over the past few days have seen unprecedented events, and I found something strikingly identical to two leaders in both fields; a thought which was articulated on a news channel only this evening. As the title of this post clearly suggests, I am talking of the resemblances between Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Barack Obama. Though they make a living out of different professions, the qualities of a leader, they say is universal.

Firstly, both Dhoni and Obama are young relatively inexperienced men upon whom the responsibility of arguably the most trying positions has been thrust. While Dhoni as Test Captain of the Indian team is practically a novice with just 33 Tests under his belt, Obama on the other hand is a first time Senator with alomst no experience of politics at the highest level.

The second similarity is that both are underdogs who come from backgrounds hitherto not heard of (or not encouraged). Obama as we all know is the first black President of the USA, and is only one of six black senators in the history of American politics. Dhoni is the first player from Ranchi and one of few players of who made it big from the erstwhile undivided Bihar. Furthermore, Dhoni belongs to the first generation of Indian cricketers who come from smaller cities and undermined the supremacy of Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi as the hunting ground for fresh talent. Besides, the idea of an American President with a Muslim middle name or a last name that rhymes with a terrorist and a Test Captain who is just as comfortable in front of the camera as he is wielding a bat can be described as unconventional at best.

The most important aspect of the commonalities between Dhoni and Obama is their style of functioning. Both these men, according to me have shown the world the importance of keeping things simple. In an age where every event in the public sphere is thoroughly analysed for want of sensationalism, at a time where every decision taken is scrutinized endlessly, it would be safe to say that Obama and Dhoni have, as the adage goes, ‘stuck to the basics’. A significant, if not the most important characteristic of their leadership is belief. The two leaders have through their undying belief in their respective causes inspired their men, and through them have captured the imagination of an entire generation. Dhoni has instilled in his team a belief that anything is possible and created a well knit team that has dispelled all notions that one has hitherto held of the Indian team. Be it at home or away, the Indian team under Dhoni has built an aura of invincibility about themselves. Obama on the other hand built his campaign on ideals and wooed the masses with his dream of a ‘Perfect Union’ and the dream of new world order; at a time when politics has become a game of speculation and projections, Obama has upturned all accepted notions on politics with what politics was always meant to be: a working ground for timeless ideas. In short Obama has shown the world that the great American Dream that we hear of, is a reality, and Dhoni has reinforced the idea of the possibility small town boy’s dream.

Through their dramatic rise to the top, the pair have also have taken their share of brickbats and have done so with an ease uncharacteristic of their age and experience. Obama, has at different times been accused of not being ‘black’ enough or being too ‘black’ and on one occasion even of being a terrorist. Dhoni has been criticized for playing shots out of the book and being too attacking by experts. Fans too have not been too kind to him, a case in point being the 2007 World Cup debacle after which his house was attacked by disgruntled supporters. But both have handled these criticisms with excellently. While Dhoni responded with his performance as Captain by wining the inaugural T20 World Cup as also repeatedly defeating World Champions Australia with relative ease, Obama has silenced his critics with his resounding electoral success.

I conclude with a word of caution. Both Dhoni and Obama are riding on a wave of optimism, and have not, irrespective of their difficult journey to the top been tested sufficiently in their current positions. Unprecedented as their ascension to the top has been, so is the task at hand. Obama faces, by his own admittance, the worst financial crisis of the century, and resurrecting the American economy also means supporting the economies of atleast a dozen other countries who have shared the effects of the recession. Dhoni now leads a team that is overflowing with young talent but is fast losing out on valuable experience through the loss of senior players who have lent direction to the team. Past events show that the invincible Australians, at the top if their game could not, on two separate occasions (post 87 and 07 World Cups) sustain an exodus similar to the one that the Indian team is seeing, with the passing of it’s ‘Golden Generation’.

Both Dhoni and Obama have established that they are more than capable of their current roles, but it is yet to be seen if they can stand the test of time. But, I cannot think of anybody else who can be in their positions to handle tasks that they face.

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3 Responses

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  1. varunagarwal said, on November 12, 2008 at 11:01 pm

    the point tat u r missing here is tat cricket is but a game, it may entertain us and hold some sway over us for some time, but politics is the real deal, something tat affects our lives and our world in the real sense. so in effect, wat u are doin is comparing two tigers, one in real life and one on paper

  2. armalcolite said, on November 12, 2008 at 11:24 pm

    While I accept the fact that they are from different fields, I never tried to put cricket and politics on the same footing. I was merely examining the similar nature of turn of events that takes up so much of our media space and most of our waking hours. But to call cricketers paper tigers is stretching it a bit too far not to mention irrelevant, primarily because cricket is real and an integral part of our lives (atleast the ones who bother to read posts such as the one in question).

  3. varunagarwal said, on November 12, 2008 at 11:53 pm

    i concede to ur point abt how the two of them hog much of the media limelight. but the point remains, comparing a president-elect and a cricket captain is a great oversight. both cannot be considered leaders in the same sense of the world. one holds the love of a few million cricket lovers, he may inspire them an dmake them happy but the other must take decisions tat could affect almost all 6 billion people on this planet, in tat regard, my frnd, one is for real, one is on paper.
    i really like cricket, but tat does not make me oblivious to the bigger picture

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