I really would like to know how many people in Egypt tonight (February 11) are as grim-faced as this bloke, Omar Suleiman is in this hilarious little clip. Though you can't blame him: this is how you would look too, if you watched your cozy certainties, your cozy certainties for 30 years, crumble around you.
I mean, consider it this way: pretty much half of Egypt wasn't born when Hosni Mubarak took office. And absent the revolution of the last three weeks, Mubarak would have clung to power for many more years, perhaps until death tore him from his seat. No ruler should cling to power that long; no ruler can cling to power that long without, by definition, alienating his people. You'd think Mubarak would have learned that lesson from the Duvaliers and Shahs and Mobutus, but apparently not.
One thing about this Egyptian revolution is the lesson it holds for governments in the West, though it's not clear the lesson will strike home. This lesson: If you prop up unpopular leaders in the name of "stability" and other fine-sounding words, what you get is instability. Resentment. Hostility. Alienation.
Now I wonder how far the Egypt message will spread. We've seen unprecedented things happening in Tunisia, Jordan, Yemen. How many more?
And now I wonder too, is it possible that the 1 billion-plus of us Indians will ever reach a consensus, as Egypt seems to have done, about rejecting those who have governed us, or misgoverned us, over the last 30 years? Deliberately, I won't name names. Because I know there are political favourites out there, and that's just why I wonder about that consensus. (Personally, I cannot think of one party, or leader, in this country in the last 30 years who has delivered governance. Possible exception: Nitish Kumar).
Would be good, though.