By Snehal Nawal
When Sharad Sagar took the stage at the Swami Vivekananda Memorial Lecture Hall in Vadodara on June 5, 2017, you could tell there was something special about it. Not very often, you see a 20-something draw such a crowd – old men and women, young professionals, families, school and college students seated in their places ahead of time to attend the lecture. And, to add to that, people in over a dozen countries hooked to their screens for a live stream.
Sagar addressed a crowd of a few hundred people of varying ages and generations, received a long-standing ovation and moved the audience to tears while speaking. At the end of the talk, an old lady approached Sagar, held his hand and said, “I teach in college. When I watch the TV and read newspapers, I wonder who will lead this country. But, today, I have my answer. When I see you, I know this country is in right hands.”
Almost exactly a month later, when videos of the same speech went live on Facebook and YouTube on Sharad Sagar Official (the CEO's official social media handles), it took the Internet by storm and sparked very similar reactions. The video has received over 1 million views on Facebook and over 100,000 views on YouTube in less than 5 days. Leading media house, Divya Bhaskar featured it among India’s 40 most trending videos on July 6 and the video was ranked No. 1 all day.
Listing it as India’s most trending video, prestigious mediahouse Divya Bhaskar wrote, “This is Vivekanand of the 21st Century, young generation must listen to his speech”.
It wasn’t just the media that chose sobriquets and nicknames to address Sagar, the video truly inspired the Internet and the netizens were not far behind. Robin R. commented on the video and called Sagar the “Indian Obama”, a 71 year old from the South of India, Chidambaranathan wrote quoting his age that he was finally assured that the country’s future was bright with leaders like Sagar. We saw a 56-year-old invite Sagar to be the face of the nation and lead the country while several millennials wrote how they saw their hopes for a brighter India in him and insisted on him leading the largest democracy in the world, so that one day they could get the kind of leadership they deserve in their lifetime.
It is on very rare occasions that a twenty-four-year-old is seen to be the ideal of so many people, varying across so many generations.
“Brilliant! Very energetic leader… get elected, lead the country towards better India”, wrote Koyu J., from an Indian state that is under turmoil by Chinese encroachments as he hoped to see a better tomorrow while Neelam C. from Lucknow wrote, “Our Nation needs fearless, honest, enterprising and hardworking youngsters and you seem to be one of them”, as she called for change. Udak R. wrote, “This is the type of clip that still keeps me attached to Facebook.”
Snehal Nawal is an Anthony and Kimberly Bugai Scholar at Texas A&M University and a DexSchool alumna.
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