Monday, November 10, 2008

INDIA AND THE US: CHANGE TO SHED SUBSERVIENCE

"Obama will give India top billing." This is the headline that a section of India's English media ran repeatedly for more than a day. Reason for the panic? After being elected President, Barack Obama spoke to 15 world leaders, including Pakistan President Zardari, but did not call up Dr Manmohan Singh. The 'adverse impact' of the alleged Obama ignore was immediately sought to be mitigated by this headline which flowed from the report that "George Bush assured India that he will tell the next President to give India top priority."

Is India some tiny banana republic of a few million people, packed in an area smaller than Hawaii, whose destiny is dependent on a smile or frown on the face of the US President?

No one, it seems, bothered to properly check the names of the first lot of nine and the second one of six leaders that Obama spoke to. Had they done so, they would have found that Obama had not spoken to the Chinese President too, among many others. Can anyone even imagine the Chinese media breaking out in similar panic had Obama spoken to India's PM and not China's President? Would its Foreign Office have been rushing to quote the 'reassurance' of the outgoing American President in such a demeaning manner as if China's future depended on it?

How can India ever compete with China when its opinion makers do not even think of or like China and remain willingly and comfortably hyphenated to a country one third India's size and many times smaller along other parameters, except the military?

Headlines like these and the hyperbole over Obama's picking of one American who has Indian roots, as a member of the advisory board that will assist the transition team that will assist him in smooth transition of power, tell not just India but the whole world that India is still not ready be the big nation that it is. This is not the talk of a global power ready to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council. This is the weak and unsure voice of a confused country that thinks very poorly of itself.

The Indo-US Nuclear Deal has been criticised by many as one that will lead India's strategic subservience. The hard truth is that subservience will become a reality not because of any clauses in the deal but because of the appalling subservience that exists in the minds of an influential lot of Indians who individually suffer from an incurably debilitating low self-esteem that manifests in their fawning over all things American, except pride and patriotism.

That is why, while the completely unexpected rise of Obama has almost all of them gushing about the US, the almost equally dramatic rise of the non-English speaking Mayawati has many of them saying that they will leave India should she ever become India's PM! That is why, some of them actually liken Obama to, hold your breath, Rahul Gandhi, simply because the latter too has a dream for India! That is why, the question most asked these days in a 'puppy' sort of way is : Will Obama be good for India?

Every one knows that the US is the richest and most powerful nation in the world. It is also well known that of late, India's relations with that country have improved tremendously. But that has happened only because the US has decided, after great deliberation, that its supreme national interest will be better served by exploiting India's size and power as a counter weight to a rising China, among other things. It has nothing to do with the 'social partnership' that has developed between the two countries because of the many Indians who study and work in the US or the fact that many English speaking Indians love all wrong things American.

Partnership between nations does not mean that the smaller one has to behave as if it is intellectually, culturally, emotionally and politically inferior, even worthless. And Indians do not need to go far to learn how to not lose their dignity. All they have to do is to look at Bangladesh. That country is exporting millions of illegal migrants to India and has next to nothing to show as a nation. Yet, its opinion makers do not go around gushing about all things Indian and running their own country down, despite an almost completely one-sided social partnership from which India is getting virtually nothing. Except HUJI terrorists.

Change has come to America. It could not have come through a white President 'born into privilege'. That change there will soon begin to permeate the whole country and change it forever. A bigger change is needed in India for the country as a whole, so that it can finally shed its 'colonial' attitude of subservience and get its self-esteem back. That is why India needs an Obama even more than the US does.

Only then will such headlines and worse stop assaulting our dignity on an almost daily basis.
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