An ode to Grit

Oh! It was such a a happy day when I found out I am headed to Brazil this spring. My excitement came from the journey upto Brazil in which I would learn about 2 things – Lula and Rochina. And when I told one of my classmate from Ecuador, who shared my affection for President Lula, how the language is a big barrier in exploring these topics, he provided me an incredible 2-part video series which were an autobiographical narrative of Lula, with English subtitles. For anyone interested in Brazil, these links are highly recommended – Part 1 and Part 2.

His journey from a lathe worker to the President of Brazil, has been due to his sheer persistence and immense talent. Coming from the poorest North Eastern part of Brazil, his day to day survival, his work as a union leader and 3 defeats in presidential elections gave him an education worthy of conceptualizing programs such as Bolsa Familia. A visionary conditional cash transfer program, modeled on Mexico’s opportunidades, which changes the way poor view themselves. Literally translating as funds for the family, he tried to build on the strengths of a collectivist culture such as Brazil. He asked them to learn, earn and aspire for social mobility, using his own success story to convince them of it’s possibility.

Despite championing 2 opposite models of growth – In my mind – PM Modi and President Lula, have uncanny resemblances. Their humble beginnings, their wisdom to temper respective party ideologies extreme factions, their world view. The liberal institutional-ists who desire to see their country benefiting from the technological advances of the world, but also have the foresight to use “regional” solutions for local problems.


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