I am sure every third blog here has a post on Barack Obama. There’s nothing new to write really. But the truth is, despite a sub-conscious vow to not give this hoopla a stamp on my acknowledgement, this crazy Obama-fever that’s gripped us is beginning to ruffle my feathers a bit. I am now compelled to share my views on this whole gig, from the vantage-point of an urban Indian.
Actually, what I want to know is why is India working itself into a frenzy celebrating his victory? Have you glanced at the newspapers recently? “Obama for change” , Obama for hope”, “ It’s a great day, a new dawn, not just in America, but in the world also “. Belch….
I hear he has been compared to Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi ! This a going a tad overboard….isn’t it a wee bit premature too? Obama stands for change, but why are we going gaga over him for that? Nothing is going to change for us. Uncle Sam will still be, well, just that. True, he will go down is history as the first black president of United States of America. His dramatic campaign and astounding victory has seized the imagination not only of American voters but of the whole world. But then, I feel we overestimate the US government, and underestimate the average American. Don’t we?
Its fantastic that a country that enslaved blacks for centuries, where blacks weren’t allowed to even vote till 1964, should now elect a black president! It’s a triumph for Obama, all Americans and the idea of America. But what has it got to do with us?
Let’s try and analyze this election as a layman. One candidate promises too much while the other has delivered too little. So, neither candidate is quite convincing. Senator Obama is charismatic but alarmingly vague while his challenger is politically sound but unnecessarily peevish. Senator McCain has fought a sometimes mean-spirited campaign. Mr. McCain is by far the sounder candidate. He is a tax cutter, a believer in small government, a zealot for free trade. He may have made something of a fool of himself with his grandstanding during the banking crisis, but he was not alone in that (though Mr. Obama wisely kept his counsel).
If the Democrat nominee were a white man with exactly the same CV as Mr. Obama, the result of the election would most likely be a landslide for whomever the Republicans nominated, in spite of the Bush legacy. I believe the term used by clinical psychologists for the adulation heaped upon Mr. Obama is “overcompensation reaction,” and is in some way an effort to make up for the shame over nearly 400 years of white over the brutal institution of slavery.
Besides, who was Obama’s opponent, anyway? I don’t see what the big surprise is if we consider this aspect. I mean, look at McCain. A seventy plus frumpy, blue-blooded, stiff republican with both legs in the grave. After an eight year republican reign its not surprising that democrats have won the elections. Isn’t that what always happens in US politics? What’s new? After a lame-duck president ( I am referring to Bush ) whose government policies have only disgraced the nation and brought an uproar, its only natural that someone as unconventional as Barack Obama would steal the voters’ hearts.
There can be no doubt that it is Obama who has sprinkled the campaign with stardust. The prospect of America having its first black president has energized millions - not just ethnic minorities but also the young and those who have never voted. If running a text-book campaign was the primary qualification for the office, Mr. Obama would
Yes, his uncanny win has inspired many a “down-trodden” all over. His victory has given wings to many dreams. A black man with a weird name ( it rhymes with “ Osama”, for Chris sake! ), and a Muslim background is now the most powerful man in the world. Until now, its all fine, but why is he being painted hero to all colored creeds, dalits and generally the less bestowed in India by the media? Somewhere I read “ the dalits of India see Obama as the symbol of black power”. Whaaat??
And why are our political leaders jumping and clapping? What are the expectations? How is he different from any other guy who might have won the presidency of USA,as far as India is concerned? It would be insanely foolish to expect Barack Obama to make all right with the world. Mostly people in the U.S. and the entire world will have to accept a set of compromises that, on balance, might make the world better. Barack Obama has come this far on a spell of rhetoric and charisma. Now he must undertake a responsibility for which those qualities will not necessarily qualify him. Mr. Obama has so far displayed a mixture of immaturity and naivety on questions on Foreign affairs and International security.
For those who believe that the United States' greatest strength - from which the whole world benefits - is the its boisterous free market economy, Mr. Obama presents a worrying prospect. Their economic stronghold is a mess and getting messier as we speak. Obama has spoken out against outsourcing and in favor of more rigorous international measures to combat climate change. US has slumped into the worst recession since 1929, and US unemployment is rapidly rising. The credit crunch has already made it difficult to finance trade. Obama has said in protectionist overtones that he would offer financial incentives to create jobs in the United States and has spoken out against outsourcing and in favor of more rigorous international measures to combat climate change. It should start making us nervous soon that south east Asia's relatively healthy economies will catch a dose of "American flu" earlier than we expect. What were you doing when your economy was receding, creating a bubble in the world economy pool? Now the whole world suffers.
There is also dismay over the idea Obama has floated of sending a third-party mediator to the disputed region of Kashmir. His pronouncements on India and Pakistan, which were music to the ears of people in India in the initial months of the campaign, became jarring during its closing days. The crucial issue in the region is the United States’ continuing involvement in Afghanistan and, in that context, its relationship with Pakistan.
In the initial months of his campaign he’d supported the initiatives taken by the Bush administration in relation to India and was critical of Pakistan's inadequate co-operation with the US in the war against Al Qaeda . He also criticized the Bush Administration for giving weapons to Pakistan, which it could use only against India and not against the Al Qaeda, under the pretext of strengthening its counter-terrorism capability. This got our political pundits dancing, but have they noticed that he has hardly acknowledged the Indo-Pakistan issues??Maybe Obama will actively seek to improve India-Pakistan relations so that they become predictable. Maybe not. His inclination to bring in Clinton as special envoy seems like he wants someone to pacify Delhi, while he focuses on Afghanistan. Obama is not naive enough to conclude that his route to Afghan settlement lies through the treacherous minefields of the 60-year-old Kashmir dispute.
Obama would most likely favor the retention of a military presence in Afghanistan under a NATO banner. He has repeatedly stated that not enough attention has been paid to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Mr Obama is also committed to incorporating Pakistan in a solution that deals with its Taliban. Pakistan has always been the pad on which USA has maintained its presence in the Indian-subcontinent. Paki’s have been obliging USA, while we’ve sat fuming. That isn’t going to change any time soon.
Obama and his foreign policy advisers will almost certainly emphasize a renewal of the non-proliferation agenda. Although the exact shape and scope of their policies is uncertain, it would likely involve a revival of CTBT. Another continuing bone of contention. A number of radical changes can be expected from an Obama foreign policy, some of which will directly affect India in a bad way.
Aides have also revealed that he intends to renew the commitment to hunting down Osama bin Laden. I’d personally like to see a withdrawal of U.S. military and shutdown of U.S. military bases throughout Europe and much of the world.
Diplomatic predicaments can at times be almost laughable. Man Mohan Singh may be patting himself on the back for the so-called “improved-relations” with USA under the Bush regime, what with Condoleezza Rice visiting India, and signing of the Indo-US nuclear deal. But they have only been whispering sweet-nothings into your ears, Man Mohan. Indian officials were scurrying around like headless chickens because 120 anxious hours had passed and United States president-elect Barack Obama had not yet put a phone call through to Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh - as he has done to at least nine other heads of state. Indians began to sound just like a long-suffering South Asian mother nagging her son abroad: Why haven't you called?
We talk down to the USA band-wagon. Why is our Government so anxious to climb on it? Why are we so taken by every new Tom on the US political scene? Obama can sing all he wants about peace in his “glorious” acceptance speech, but the truth is, USA is only a big-bully. It only took one attack at the world trade centre, and they’ve demolished two entire nations to dust shamelessly, and they tell us to “dialogue” with pakis on the Kashmir trouble?
Man Mohan pull your socks up, man.
Lastly, instead of getting dazzled by the starry victory of Barack Obama, and jumping and cheering for him like complete idiots, we need to sit and think on it. Just as the US has its issues with race, India has its with caste. People here are already beginning to talk of a Dalit becoming prime minister as the equivalent of an African-American becoming president of the US. Such comparisons miss one significant difference: Barack Obama became the 44th president of the US not by playing his race card, but by presenting himself as a candidate acceptable to all.That hasn’t happened so far in India, where leaders from a particular caste are more than happy to leverage this fact if it means an electoral victory. President-elect Obama’s campaign was inclusive. The election campaigns of most Indian leaders belonging to the so-called backward classes tend to be divisive. That’s no different from the politics of leaders from the mainstream parties, but that is a different issue altogether.
If we adore “change” so much and if Obama’s win brings so much “hope”, then why not do some changing in our ailing nation?