Gnanai is one writer who continues to amuse me. Reading Gnani makes me wonder how one part of the world can be so ignorant, churn out well structured articles in popular media and have people like me read and comment about them.
To get to the context - in Gnani's own words - "குறைந்தபட்சம் தமிழ்நாட்டில் ஒரு தலித் முதலமைச்சர் ; டெல்லியில் ஒரு முஸ்லிம் பிரதமர். (நிச்சயம் ராசா, கலாம் போன்ற பொம்மைப் பிரதிநிதிகள் அல்ல.) அதை நோக்கி நம் அரசியலை நம் மன நிலையை வளர்ப்பதுதான் நாம் செய்ய வேண்டியது."
What he fails to understand is - the Indian society is a 100 times diverse than the American society. Its diversity helps in local priorities, local leaderships and local centers of power - that can have an impact on their day-to-day life. The Indian political leadership doesn't come in the way of the common man's lifestyle, jobs etc. Indians do not believe that their PM or President is responsible for state of the society. At a local level, a Chief Minister may have some influence on the common man's lifestyle.
Indians do not see their Prime Minister as Americans feel about their President. In the US, a good economy or a bad economy is usually attributed to a President's administrative capabilities. In India, a good economy is when the rains are timely and enough. A bad economy is when there is drought - PM or President can do nothing about it.
So, Indians and Americans differ on their perception about their political leaders at a national level. But India has its share of leaders, though not political leaders in the true sense of the term - leaders who can instill optimism and pride. Abdul Kalaam definitely is one such leader, though not a politcal leader. The last political leader who could offer that kind of optimism was Rajiv Gandhi - not because of his color or pedigree. People believed in his sincerity in the 1985 elections, he was more like the Obama of today - a leader who can get the nation out of the problems of separatism and terrorism. To be fair to him, he sincerely addressed the problems and also had a vision for the nation.
I do not think Indians are confused about caste or religion when it comes to recognising leadership. BJP chose to field Abdul Kalaam not because he would be their puppet, instead it believed that Kalaam is apolitical and is a leader well respected by the people and the office of the President. BJP also had the important portfolio of defence ministry handled by George Fernandes - a popular trade union leader!
Event at a local level, where leadership has influence on people's lives, caste or religion does not come in the way of electing their leaders. There are other factors in the Indian Polical dynamics that matter - definitely caste and religion are not. A big Hindu majority state like Maharashtra did have a Muslim Chief Minister - A.R. Antuley.