An overwhelming majority of Indians (except perhaps our Prime Minister) dislike Bush intensely and were overjoyed when Obama won. To us he represents something new and different, an option, which we all wish we had in Indian politics. Without getting into too many details we see him as a disadvantaged man, who fought against the high and mighty and eventually triumphed, just as heroes of our Bollywood movies do. Our reaction to his victory is probably more emotional than well thought out.
Again, unlike our Indian politicians, politicians in US give clear concise and direct answers to questions. Indian politicians answer questions with jingoism, vague slogans and rhetoric. Mostly though, the top political leadership rarely takes questions in India.
While we all wish we had politicians and a political system like in US, we forget the most important component of a democracy, the voter. Until voters in India wake up and vote for reasons other than caste, community, liquor and money, we will get the leaders we deserve.
Ever since Obama has been declared President – Elect, countries world over are analyzing how this change will affect them and so must we.
After prolonged, not so subtle, restlessness on Dr Manmohan Singh’s part, Barack finally called him up, a day after Dr Singh went public about his explanation of why Obama had not talked to him despite ringing up 15 world leaders, including Pakistan. (The explanation went something like “I was not home when HE called (sigh)”.) Our government apparently even got Bush to tell Obama about how good Indo – US relations were and make a public statement about it, but still the phone was silent. Could it have something to do with Dr Manmohan’s disastrous “India loves Bush” remarks? Or maybe we could simply be low in the priority list, no matter how much upset we may be about it. But the point is, why is our government grovelling about it? Why are we wagging our tails waiting for even just one word from “His Master’s Voice”? Does it behold a country like India, once supposedly the leader of Non Aligned Movement, to wait with bated breath to be noticed by American President – Elect? Such behaviour shows absolute absence of even a figment of self respect.
Despite our love for Obama, a few of his policies, if he were to translate his pre-poll talk into government action, could hurt India. His talk of taxing companies taking business out of US, and the need to keep US jobs in US, could kill the thriving BPO industry in India and render many jobless. Already with the economic meltdown the BPO industry is quietly downsizing and it could be decimated if Obama keeps his promise to the American people. Similarly his statements about reducing the H1B visas can make it more difficult for Indian software personnel to migrate westward.
Barack is a staunch supporter of nuclear non-proliferation It is true that if Bush had not managed to ratify the Indo – US Nuclear Deal, Obama would not have been so enthusiastic about it. With Obama reiterating his commitment to the early U.S. ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and the early conclusion of a verifiable Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT), there is a possibility that India will soon find itself under pressure to legally pledge a halt on nuclear testing and the production of weapons-grade nuclear material forever. This is against India’s strategic interest.
Finally, what can really raise the hackles of India’s establishment is Obama’s proposal to appoint a special emissary on Kashmir. The official Indian point of view is that Kashmir is a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan and that third parties should not meddle in it. Pakistan and Kashmiri separatists, on the other hand, have welcomed such a proposal. Obama wants to sort out the Kashmir issue so that Pakistan can concentrate on controlling the Taliban. Instead of dividing its resources between the eastern and western borders, Obama wants Pakistan to concentrate all its resources on the Western border, which cannot be done until Indo – Pak disputes are settled. Hence, the perceived need for a special envoy for Kashmir.
Thus while it is true that we in India must appreciate what Obama has achieved and seek to do an Obama in India, we must learn not to be over awed by America and recognize the implications of this change of guard in US to India’s interests and try and pre-empt any fallout detrimental to our well being and security.
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