Saturday, February 25, 2017

Indian American's political dichotomy.

During recent Presidential elections in the USA and last general elections of India, there were a lot of political discussions and debates on social media and outside of it. Especially due to heavy use of social media in both the elections these debates didn't have the regional and geographical restrictions, one could discuss with anyone available on the social media. I guess this is the new trend started from this election and will continue in the future also. I also participated in few of them, I noticed one critical thing during all those interactions with my Indian American friends (who are either residents or citizens of the USA), many Indians living in the US have very contradictory political views and they don't even realize this dichotomy in their political thinking. In India, there is a growing support for a right-wing national party BJP. I am calling them right-wing due to their social policies, as far as economic policies are concerned, all parties in India are socialist and I feel this should be one of the major concerns of Indian voters, they should know that based on the history of world socialism never works, you need some hybrid system with as less as possible governmental interference.

Many Indian immigrants in the USA support BJP wholeheartedly back in India, they passionately debate to support the current Prime minister Mr. Modi and his political party BJP. But, in the USA when Mr. Trump used similar rhetorics during his election campaign, most Indian Americans didn't like that. Many with whom I talked were worried about his stance against immigrants (even though he didn't target Indians specifically) and Republican's pro-Christian views. As a minority, most of them are Democrat supporters, many of these people are concerned about their religious freedom under the Republican rule. They want as much freedom and support government can provide to their activities. They want to celebrate their festival in the Indian way, some even boast that now they can immerse Ganesh idols in American lakes and rivers, just like they do it in India. They felt this all might be threatened if some conservative party and plus some unconventional leader like Mr. Trump comes into power. They loved the same combination in India but were very apprehensive about similar prospects in the US.

This contrast surprised me a bit, I asked many of them what is the difference between the campaign style of Mr. Trump and Mr. Modi? They both used the same rhetoric, they both targetted a certain group of minorities and tried to make use of feeling of resentment among certain sections of society against each other. So, why Mr. Modi was OK, and Mr. Trump is not? Is it because in India they all represent a majority group, and that is why they want someone who asserts majoritarianism, and as they are a minority group in the US they want the party who is a pro-minority? When I pointed out this contrast (or hypocrisy), only some of them agreed that indeed there is a contrast and very few of them offered any explanation for it. One of the explanations offered was that this is a survival tactic to survive in a nation where they are not in majority. I really appreciate this honest confession, it is not easy to accept such contradiction in your own behavior. I requested some of them to think about the behavior of minorities in India as far as political affiliations are concerned and compare that with their own behavior here and maybe they can find some similarities.

There is no right or wrong political ideology, one can choose whatever political party or leader they want to support. But, when there is a sharp contrast between people's political choice based on their demographic status, it is very interesting phenomena for an observer like me. I hope Indian Americans realize this dichotomy present in their political views and give some thought to find some reasons to why it exist and what can do to narrow that gap. This might help to bring some political harmony between minority and majority groups back in India as well as reduce their own anxiety and fears due to their minority status in the US.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.

[Copyright: Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing]

Tuesday, February 21, 2017


Recently I attended a conference where there were panel discussions about changes in government's position and other aspects of American society after the election of Mr. Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States. I can understand the apprehensions and concerns of people to see a nonconventional candidate registering a surprise victory over a well qualified strong candidate, but I didn't understand irrational fear and phobia associated with Mr. Trump and some of his policies. It was pretty clear from the beginning that Mr. Trump is not a conventional candidate, the way he conducted his campaign and his speeches were enough to prove this. In the end, people from more number of stated preferred his rhetoric over Mrs. Clinton's and he won a bitterly fought election. Quite understandably Hillary's supporters were shocked to witness this, but I thought that they will get over this defeat and try to search for reasons why this happened so that they can fight back next time. This is what any political party should do after facing a defeat in any election, reflecting on what went wrong is very important to make sure that we don't repeat the same mistakes again.

The in general tone of most of the panel discussions was that the USA is moving towards a dictatorship, minorities will be targetted with government's tacit approval, there is a fascist regime in the White house and something else on similar lines. There is a change of regime and it is very clear that current administration has different outlook compared to previous one. But, this is what happens when one party replaces another, that's why we get to chose which party (hence, which policy) we want the country should adopt. This time people thought Mr. Trump might do a better job to forward American interest, let's give him chance to do that. Others, who don't agree with Mr. President, definitely have democratic means to protest against his policies and resist in peaceful ways. But, at the same time, it is wrong to spread unnecessary fear and phobia about a person who has not even completed 100 days in office. In a democracy, we need to respect people's choice, free and fair elections are a backbone of any democracy, and we should honor results of such elections. 

I also registered my strong opposition to Mr. Trumps' comments about women and his in general attitude towards them. I still have my reservations about some of his policies, but I also know that he has a clear mandate to be the President of this great country and will need the support of its citizens and residents to run it successfully for next four years. In 2020, there will be another election and there will be another chance for all Trump opponents to fight another electoral battle until then they need to watch his actions closely and appreciate the good work. Political opposition is necessary to make sure voices of all sections of society are being heard and interests of each and all groups are represented, but this opposition should not become such a huge hindrance in governance that nothing moves forward. Sonner people get over this Trumpophobia, better for the country. There was an Obamaphobia in certain sections of political circles for the last eight years, and now there is an emergence of a Trumpophobia, I believe such phobias are bad for a political and social health of the country like the USA. Let's give new President to prove his capabilities and be vigilant about country's interest first, there will be another election soon to take care of political interest, but let's focus on the country and its welfare first.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.

[Copyright : Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing]