Yes We Have

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Woh a gya. Dekho woh agya…

Ah ha Aa Aaa Aha Aha…[Helen-ish moaning]

Obamaaaaaaaa You are my darling.

Obama is the President of the United States of America.

Flowers will now rain from the skies.

Pigs (with or without lipstick) will fly.

Good will prevail.

Shakti Kapoor will take sanyas.

Now that aaaya aaya Toofan, expect  bhaga bhaga shaitaan in the caves of Pakistan.

We Indian citizens, even though we do not have a vote in the US and are thousands of miles away, are deliriously happy. So happy that there is at last an American President whose skin color more closely resembles ours than that of the fur of a polar bear.

Of course many people wonder why Indians, many of whom have no interest in what Obama stands for and of the larger political context of the US elections, are so carried away. These people understand why Obama’s victory is a gigantic leap for African-Americans, who fifty years ago were struggling to be able to legally sit in the same bus as whites in certain states. They also understand why Obama brings a message of “Yes even I can do it” to many second-generation immigrant Americans. They get the fact that for the US electorate in general, he was by far the best choice among all the candidates from either party.

But what doesn’t penetrate into their thick skulls is why Indian citizens got all hot and steamy about Obama? Why have they “donated” their status messages to Obama on Facebook [whatever that means !]? Why did they send “Go Obama” messages to their friends and asked them to get out and rock the vote for Barak even though neither the sender nor the receiver are US citizens? Why did people in Tamil Nadu do a yagna for Obama?

To all those who don’t get it, all I can say is: Oh Baba ! Oh Mama ! O-Ba-Ma !

I mean how can we not love this guy !

Not only is he “different” like Magi Hot and Sweet Tomato Sauce, he calls himself a “desi” . Which means he goes to a buffet, orders one plate and then he and Michelle eat from that together. Not just that but he can cook daal (he does find naan tough though).

Who cares about his intention to placate Pakistan by pressurizing India to “solve” the Kashmir issue ! Or his well-known opposition to India’s nuclear program. Or that the “India is a natural ally” paradigm of the Bush foreign policy may now be put into cold storage.

Okay so he didn’t call Manmohan Singh after becoming President. Is this to be treated as a snub in the world of symbolism and subtle gestures that is diplomacy?

Of course not.

Aare bhai woh desi hain, his cell phone minutes must be running low this month and you know how these cellphonewallahs charge you a bundle once you go a minute over your 350 anytime minutes ! Of course Pakistan covers this news as:

The Indian government’s pretension of India and the US as ‘natural allies’ in the congratulatory messages by President Pratibha Patil and Dr Manmohan Singh fell flat when Obama’s aides said the first nine calls on Thursday were made to ‘US allies’.

The concerns have intensified considering the fact that Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari figured among the 15 heads of state Obama has spoken to until now.

But what of it ! This man can move mountains. He said there are no red states or blue states but only the United States of America. Now that my friends is profound. Contrast his erudition to his opposition that includes Sarah Palin who shoots moose from a helicopter, doesn’t know Africa is a continent and talks with her advisers clad only in a towel. If she had any desi laaj aur sharam in her she would have known about that legendary song from Eena Meena Deeka “Towel main bahaar jayogi to hallah mach jayega”.

So let us all, as Indians, celebrate this great totally groovy concept called Obama even though we don’t fully understand what it means. Somewhat like the idea of love aint it?

As Himesh Reshammiya would say on SareGamaPa, Obama as president is fantastic, mindblowing, superb, outstanding HISTORY.

[PS: This is my blog’s 500th post. Yes. That’s a lot.]

[Image courtesy: about.com]

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70 thoughts on “Yes We Have

  1. GB,

    My take on Obama’s victory is as follows:

    Personally:

    1. I think it proves that America is a free and open country as it claims. A lot of American friends confided in me that in spite of what the pre-election polls showed, it is quite possible that Obama might lose due to his race. But the fact that Obama got so many White votes and won over opponents like Hillary in primary and McCain in the presidential race, shows the triumph of the democratic process.

    2. It also shows how a combination of hardwork, will and perseverence can help achieve miraculous results. Obama was an unknown entity four years ago. From there to become the president of US of A is amazing.

    Globally:

    1. Obama has made sound bites that he is willing to meet heads of states without pre-conditions. I agree we cannot go by what is said during campaigning, but I would still safely assume that he is not a bullying type. I hope it will help in building better co-operative relations with other nations.

    But my biggest fear is that people will start seeking results from him in the next couple of months. One has to understand that he is an absolute rookie and is bound to make a few mistakes in the begining. And with the economy in such a bad shape, he needs a longer rope. I hope people give him adequate time (say atleast 2 years) before passing judgements on him.

    Disclaimer : The above is purely my personal view.

    Cheers,
    Salil

  2. @Salil: I agree with most of your comment. However I do not think that his personality type (whether he is bullying or not) will not influence US foreign policy. That is he will bully as well as anyone if the need arises (and I have no problem if he does so to protect US interests).

  3. Bang on target. It’s odd how everyone behaves as though Obama is their brother-in-law or something, so that his Presidency will usher in an international era of rainbows and buttercups. Check this article out by Swaminathan Aiyar of the TOI (he’s a columnist and among the few reasons to look at a Sunday TOI):

  4. my friends in india are excited about obama coming to power. they dont know why they are excited, but they still got thoroughly drunk and celebrated. heck, i don’t know why i am so excited. it won’t make a difference to my grades or get me that assistant-ship that i wanted, but i am as excited as my friends coz we probably need some hope that things are gonna get better. even if that hope is completely baseless and illogical.

  5. I partly think the jubilation is because of a sense of:

    1. Victory of David vs. Golaith. Obama was a nowhere on the radar a couple of years back. People he defeated, especially Clinton and McCain were heavyweights.

    2. Obama’s victory shows that the fabled American dream is alive and kicking. Everyone loves a story of, well, hope and change. It has an emotional appeal.

    3. Obama’s campaign involved ordinary citizens. Thanks to a successful electronic campaign, it meant not just citizens of US, but that of the world.

    4. The willingness of Obama to say that he will not be a perfect president, but will always be willing to listen to others, is a big departure from the last eight (or even last sixteen) years. People expect the Obama administration to not be a bully like the Bush or the Clinton admin.

    So this euphoria is only for the present. Once Obama team starts governing, they will receive as much scrutiny as any other; perhaps even more since Obama has set the bar that much higher.

  6. The president of US can only do so much. Obama chose conservative people like Lawrence Summers in his economic board. Also the ex goldman shadow hovers over the Federal reserve. So his current policies may seem socialist, but they are really damage control measures. I dont see any major radical changes in US. WRT economic policies, whether he is a left wing wacko will be proven only after this crisis is over. But the way this crisis is, it may not heal completely till at least halfway into his term. One of the biggest reasons for Obama’s success is George W. Bush. Secretly, he should thank him for being the president elect. The “yes we can” and “change” were mostly chants which actually meant “yes we can be sane wrt to the rest of the world.”

    Mccain could have fought another meaningless war and was thus dangerous. People still don’t know why why the US went into Iraq. A meaningless war has been fought for so many years. Bush did not pay for this foolishness, but his party did. And the economic crisis was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Also important was the age demographics- 30% of the voters were under age 30 and saw Obama as hip/cool.

    But the moment itself was truly historic and emotional. I would also like to say that I sincerely hope that GB becomes the first person of Asian descent to become the president of US someday. He has shown that he can learn about anything if he puts his mind to it. “Aaye sala, he can”.

  7. @Niket: From the time of his victory in Iowa, Obama has been a front-runner first against Hillary and then except for a brief time against McCain. He raised much more money than Hillary and McCain and outspent them both. McCain incidentally was never a heavyweight compared to the people he defeated. So yes while Obama may have been perceived to be an underdog, he was exactly the opposite.

    @Yourfan2: First the law that prevents naturalized US citizens from being the President needs to be changed. I suppose you and I can try to get that done first. 🙂 More seriously, Obama will govern from the center—-he will not most probably repeat Bill Clinton’s mistake of starting out by trying to implement liberal agendas.

  8. @whatsinaname

    I thought Obama’s Pakistan connections are all well known.

    When there were travel restrictions to Pakistan he traveled to Pakistan and stayed with a friends’ family for a few weeks (remember this was when mujahideen were the blue eyed boys of both US and Pakistan). No one knows what he did there or whether he traveled there on a US passport or Indonesian passport… There are lot of unknowns and it is still kept a secret..

  9. @Greatbong:- I felt Indians could not have been more self centred on this issue. To be honest I fail to understand this paranoia about Obama’s interference in the Kashmir issue and putting pressure on India to resolve it. Obama has his plate full and I think Kashmir issue will be the last thing on his mind. Without sounding cocky, I dont think there are many countries who can pressurize India at this point. Times have changed and India has grown in stature since the Clinton administration. So I dont think we have to worry about anybody forcing our hand. I am not sure about his opposition to India’s nuclear programme. Last I heard was he and Mccain supported the nuke deal.

    Talking about India’s excitement, I feel it resonates with feeling around the world. Without resorting to jingoism, it is really a story of an ordinary guy eclipsing all odds and reaching the highest office and that he happens to be black. It is almost an equivalent of an Algerian being appointed the president of France. But to his credit he never played the race card which is what imo won him the presidency. He also has the charisma, eloquence,intelligence and global appeal which endears him to the rest of the world. Ofcourse he is a brilliant speaker and has a right mix of rhetoric and pragmatism in his arguments. Having read his books and watched some of his interviews and speeches over the last 4 yrs, it wasn’t rocket science to note that this is one exceptional person. So I am not surprised that he has caught the imagination of so many people in India and around the world.

    About his governing from the centre or the left, I disagree with you that he shoud govern from the centre. There are no doubtts that some radical shift is required and I would rather have him do the right thing than try to appease the oppostion or his own party.

  10. @Ravi: Being concerned about Obama’s policy towards India is self-centered?

    BTW I said “More seriously, Obama will govern from the center”. That is “will” and not “should”. The reason for what is happened to Clinton when he took on the issue of gays in the military in his first term. If you think that Kashmir will be the “last” thing on his mind then ahem. It will be occupy the same place in his priority order as Afghanistan as Kashmir is seen as the carrot for Pakistan to actually do some terrorist-hunting as opposed to the shadow song and dance they do at present. As to Obama’s stance on the Indian nuclear deal, I would suggest reading this. Obama tried his level best to scuttle the deal, despite of course never explicitly saying that he opposes the bill.

    The problem is not with him catching the “imagination” The problem lies in knowing what he stands for, not from just reading his own books or watching him speak but from critically parsing his rhetoric without being blindsighted by the feel-good human interest story here.

  11. I feel us Indians and others around the world were excited not because Obama’s is a fairytale win, but because he’s perceived to be the smarter one who can get the world economy back to shape.

  12. @GB: While it is true that a lot of previously politically disinterested people have suddenly overnight became staunch Obama backers and are energetically celebrating Obama’s victory (with disregard as you say ‘to what he represents both within US and abroad esp wrt India’), one can’t argue the fact that this is indeed something to be generally jubilant about. After eight disastrous years of perhaps the worst presidency in the history of super-powers (and I don’t mean that as a hyperbole), the very whiff of change is sufficient to perpetuate a sense of euphoria in people. So in many ways, it is the sheer relief and the overwrought sense of outrage at the debacle of the Bush presidency, that is driving this heady optimism and euphoric public opinion.

    I admit that Obama is an unknown factor in many ways especially wrt India. His comments on Kashmir should indeed be a cause of concern for the Indian Govt., but I do agree with Ravi that we might be making a mountain out of a molehill. Also, he did try to scuttle the Indo-US nuke deal, but then reverted to support it later on. His stance on it remains unclear and it would be interesting to watch how it develops.

    But just because a president has reservations about (admittedly a very important) nuke deal does not have to make him automatically and implicitly an enemy of India and its people. The fact that Obama has spoken vocally on Kashmir as a carrot stick, is not sufficient grounds to disqualify him as a fit candidate for the post. True, we as Indians must be a little more cautious and lobby harder for this country. But we must respect the fact that, at the end of the day, its a democratic process there too – if the deal doesn’t go through, we must not choose to demonize either the U.S. or Obama for it.

    I for one, firmly believe that he has the requisite intelligence and insight to take on the world’s problems and re-open lines of communication with the world. I am absolutely sure that he shall revert back to a more open and direct multi-lateral framework for negotiating on various issues and in general shall be a leader which the world can trust. His enormous popularity (an economist poll showed that he would win more than 80% of the popular vote, were the election held globally) along with the fact that he is indeed an erudite, an intelligent and eloquent leader, an individual who seems frank and forthright, shall only lend him credence and stature to form consensus on a broad range of issues.

    I would love to hear more from you GB (and other regular GB commentators) on this presidency and how it bodes for India and the world.

    P.S.: shall post some more opinions/points as and when it strikes me.

  13. Obama is backed by all the usual suspects – Washington insiders (Brezinski et al.) and big business interests too. His choice of chief of staff also reflects that. Sure, Bush and the neocons leaving (not all of them will be gone) people are entitled to a sigh of relief. To expect ‘change’ is highly optimistic at best. People hark back to Clinton as if he was a benevolent king and Clinton worship in India was nauseating, but this Obama thang’s gone way out of hand.

  14. @Rajiv:

    But just because a president has reservations about (admittedly a very important) nuke deal does not have to make him automatically and implicitly an enemy of India and its people. The fact that Obama has spoken vocally on Kashmir as a carrot stick, is not sufficient grounds to disqualify him as a fit candidate for the post

    I never said he is an enemy of the Indian people. The word “enemy” is too strong a word and if you look at international relations, you realize there is nothing known as an enemy. Only relationships of convenience. Also I never said he is not a fit candidate for the post—his primary job goal is to guard US interests and US interests lie in getting Pakistan to get rid of the Al Qaeda menace–through threats, bribery and sops…whatever works. In that respect, he is just doing his job.

    My point is that Indians should not blindly start jumping up and down with joy at Obama’s presidency, carried away by the human interest thing without looking at what he stands for and being unmindful of the fact that several of his policies will conflict far more with Indian interests than that of George W Bush’s. Of course I am not saying India is not strong enough diplomatically to resist US pressures —I think we are.

    Also he was never really behind the nuclear deal in its original form. The original idea of the deal was to give Indian an implicit nuclear weapon country status. Obama and others basically scuttled that part of the deal and made it one on purely nuclear energy.

  15. @GB: Thanks for responding and clarifying. Your points are well taken and I concede that the fundamental basis of your argument (which questions the blind euphoria demonstrated by ordinary Indians, which is borne more out of ignorant jingoism than informed opinions) is sound and correct. I concur with you that we must, while celebrating this historic moment for its symbolism (and for the conclusion of Bush’s nightmarish spell), exercise both restraint and caution.

    Secondly, When I included ‘enemy’ in that statement, I was implying that Indo-US relations should not have a fall in grace just on the basis of this deal. I do believe that both the U.S. and India have some fundamental similarities (one a ruling super-power and another an aspiring power, both burgeoning democracies, both countries with large cultural and religious diversities, both nations promoting at least constitutionally secularism and freedom of expression, etc.) that facilitates closer relations. I think both countries have far more at stake (international and bilateral trade and commerce) than any bruised egos. So all I was saying is, that we as a people and Govt. must be prepared/anticipate a negative vote on the deal and must react with grace.

    Now, as far as Obama’s opposition to the deal is concerned, a neutral observer would say that it has sufficient grounds to be completely justified. Here’s a man who has been elected by Americans to make decisions that shall best serve American interests. If he (and a majority of the U.S. senate/house) believes that the nuke deal is giving too much leeway to India without getting some tangible benefit in return, I guess he has a moral obligation to Americans to block it. We can’t fault him for that.

    In spite of a real possibility of the deal getting compromised, I as an Indian am still both happy and enthusiastic about the future (not because I am as paranoid as Mr. Karat – quite the contrary actually). Because, as I mentioned earlier, I sincerely believe that the world needs a unifying force in the form of a visionary leader, who can earn the trust and respect of politicians and people across the planet. And I am willing to look PAST natioanlly relevant matters, if it means that the world moves to a sense of closure and unification. Obama seems to have already earned tons of goodwill from both politicians and average people even before his Presidency has even begun. True that he is a political novice and may seem a little imprudent about off the cuff remarks vis-a-vis Pakistan and foreign policy. True that he is somewhat of a socialist and seems to favor protectionist measures. True that he may be more hawkish on India than Bush. But one can’t deny, ANYONE can be better than Bush. The fact that a young, popular, charismatic and visionary leader, who seems very amenable to diplomacy and multi-lateralism, has been elected to the one job that requires all of the above is itself a big deal, especially given that the past eight years have been an absolute disaster. Like I said earlier, I do believe that he shall start the healing process by seeking discussion and dialogue over confrontation.

    He may not turn out to be the messiah everyone is celebrating him to be (the problems that he inherits are too humongous in scope to be solved in 10years, let alone 4 or 8), but I am sure he shall attempt hard to mend the world broken by Bush’s eight years. So in many ways GB, it is not his policies wrt India that Indians cheer or his policies wrt Japan that the Japanese cheer. It is the eloquence of his speech, the fervor of his idealism, the calmness of his demeanor, the willingness to discuss than to confront – its all these that inspires in people a certain sense of hope that the days ahead shall be better.

    Cynics would be inclined to believe that he is as an astute/shrewd politician who is manipulating people for winning an election. I think at this moment, the world doesn’t care. The world is not looking for neutral reporting and objective analysis. The world is looking desperately for an inspirational figure who can instill confidence and give them hope. Obama seems to be that figure. So long as he gets the job done (I mean the larger job of re-uniting the world as opposed to nationally relevant deals), thats all that matters.

    Here’s looking forward to January 20th, when the international disgrace called Bush shall finally be asked to give up the powers he has abused for so long!

  16. I would like to think that as this point of time, it will be a bit difficult for any US government to do things significantly harmful for India’s national interests. And that has to do mostly with China steamrolling them economically. An economic counteweight of India’s size in the region will probably be of greater value than Bin Laden’s head. However, if in course of the next few years, the US economy (more specifically the manufacturing sector) recovers significantly, it might change things.

  17. Bang on GB. 100% my feeling. Last one year I felt like I could not put forward any criticism against Obama in front of any Indian crowd. He has not been transparent about his campaign funds, all that money for sure did not come from ordinary people. He did not play race card because he knew that would not take him anywhere. Americans voted for him enthusiastically because they had to prove they were not racist.

    Everyone knows he will not be able to pull out of Iraq drastically, that would be a even a bigger blunder. His stand on the war ofcourse helped him to stay away from rest of the pack.

    He is no Messiah! He is playing all his cards very well until now and that tells that he is a shrude politician and no doubt he will be a way better President then the last one.

  18. @GB:-I think the policies of a formidable super power can affect a country directly and indirectly. Egs-George Bush-was he good for India? Maybe. Was he good for the world? Hell No!!.Unforunately, in the world that we live in, these are not two mutually exclusive events. The fact that he was nice to India is a consolation for us, but should that not be the only criteria for guaging him. As India grows in stature, I would like India to look beyond the immidiate impact and take a more worldly view when it comes to Barack Obama. Will he end the war in iraq? Will he be more proactive with terror in pakistan?Will he get America out of the current financial crisis? Can it resolve the Iran issue? I feel India as a growing power has a stake in all these aspects of US policies. Probably “self centred” was inappropriate on my part, but I would like Indians to take a more global perspective as Europe has.

    Coming to “Kashmir”, I remember Kahmir being mentioned by Obama in the context of Pakistan. Fact that Pakistan has been provided the funds and aid which he believes is being used against India than resolving the internal issues. So he felt the need to pressurize Pakistan and find some resolution to Kashmir dispute to that Pakistan can concentrate on the relevant problems. My reading of his statement was that his main concern at the moment is Pakistan and “Kashmir” is peripheral to that end. So I am kind of struggling to understand why Indians should lose sleep over this statement. Besides, statement was made on the campaign trail. I dont know how much importance one should accord to that.

  19. As has been said by the ancient saints of India – Begani Shaadi Mein Abdullah Diwana.

    One of the first advisors appointed are Barnett R. Rubin and Ahmed Rashid whose claim to fame is the following article
    http://www.foreignaffairs.org/20081001faessay87603/barnett-r-rubin-ahmed-rashid/from-great-game-to-grand-bargain.html
    The essential argument of this article is to end the Great game (The term “Great Game” was used by nineteenth-century British imperialists to describe the British-Russian struggle for position on the chessboard of Afghanistan and Central Asia) a Grand Bargain has to be made. The Bargain name, you guessed it, starts with K.

  20. Pingback: Post-election humour. « News you can’t use !

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  22. What business did Ram Mohun have congratulating the French on their revolution? Obama is a phenomenon and he is meant to be celebrated…not just because of what he stands for (the afro-american/immigrant lineage) but because of his statesmanship and intellectual image as opposed to the Texan cowboy acting-unilaterally image that one has come to associate with Republican presidents in recent times. What small repercussions this will have in a few international relations issues is surely secondary . India is not a county that stands alone whose interests are to be measured alone in terms of the points we score over Pakistan. Being of such opinion, the sarcasm is lost on me.

  23. GB:
    500 is not enough. So stop talking nonsense.

    On O:
    Whats so different this time. US Presidents have typically been neutral to negative towards India. Just because W suddenly picked the wrong country to support (typical W! I think he wanted to support Ivory Coast but got his geography all mixed up) we have started taking this support for granted.

    Its back to ‘business as usual’.

    On The Call to Pakistan Prez:
    O first thanked his friends (old pals) and then shouted at the troublemakers. Pakistan has been the dear ally of so many US presidents. Look where they are. I am glad we were not called first. Better Pakistan than us.

    On the Nuclear Deal:
    What is done is done. He can tighten the screws further on CTBT, etc. Again whats new?

    On the Hysteria:
    Typical of Indian media. Besides the content of the underdog winning there was nothing to get all misty eyed about it, specially for us. It is the Kalpana Chawla effect all over again. You can thank our channels and print media for that.

    On the Way Forward:
    More than anything else I am afraid of the lack of choices facing us in our elections that come up soon.

    We have a choice between the Gandhi Dynasty and Great Grandpa Advani & Sons, or even worse an equivalent of the Noah’s Ark. Not very appealing.

    Our lives becoming better or not depends on our people and leadership and not O or W.

  24. unless, i’m alive, fed and not among the thousand human flesh pieces torn apart by a bomb. I don’t really care whether Ob-a-ma or someone chinese-japanese-russian-african-indian-american sitting there.

  25. I was watching the US elections for two years, from afar in India. It was fascinating like a Test match with its ups and downs. So the good guy, from the US point of view, won. I liked the way he campaigned and how he came across as the decent guy. I am not a US citizen, so I really don’t care too much about what he does locally. From an Indian point of view, he does not seem to be good news. His positions on nuclear deal and Kashmir are case in point. All this yagna and goodwill will evaporate when he starts meddling in these things, which I think he will. If he appoints Lawrence Summers, the other countries can ask him to go and reproduce himself, before he can spell IMF. I hope Obama is smarter than that.

  26. 1. Can someone tell me whats wrong with his insiting on finding a solution to the Kashmir problem? If we Indians are not smart enough to find a solution to a pressing problem, should the west that gives us 100s of millions, if not billions, of dollars every year in humanitarian aid and is largely responsible for whatever little economic prosperity we have begun to enjoy, not have an interest in making sure that the place where they are investing is politically stable?

    How many more cities would we like bombed and how many young boys would we like turned into terrorists before we realize that this problem needs to be addressed?

    2. Obama has repeatedly said that he is against Pakistan using the American financial aid given to it, to prepare to fight against India.

    3. He realizes better than any of us, who have failed miserably in containing growing extremism in our country, that religious extremism in Pakistan is linked to the failure of US fight against terrorism in Afganistan. Expect a radical change in America’s Pak-policy once Obama takes over.

    4. As long as the Nuke deal makes an economic sense for US companies, Obama would not be stupid enough to overturn it in the current situation.

  27. India has more to fear from Bobby Jindal, who is being considered as a contender for the top job in 2012, than from Obama.

  28. The sad truth is that India is still not important enough to be given serious consideration in US politics. Unlike Pakistan, we have never sided with US in any major capacity. And unlike China, we are not the manufacturing powerhouse of the world. Our only major export to US is skilled labor, and irrespective of whether Obama talks to Singh on his day of inauguration or not, people will keep flocking to US embassy for visas every single day, just like they do in Nigeria and Cameroon and Mallawi. So based on this relationship, don’t expect the same kind of treatment for Singh and Brown from the white house.
    We should be happy as long as Obama does not drastically reduce the H1Bs issued to Indians every year.

  29. Tone of the post struck me as somewhat cynical. For Indians like me in Europe, there really was a great to celebrate, given the in-your-face discrimination we face here on a regular basis.

    And though his policies arent likely to be as India friendly as most Indians would like, the simple fact of a colored person becoming the most powerful in the world is a powerful symbol for a people who endured centuries of colonialism.

    What it indicates for the future course of the world is larger than how much pressure he brings on India to resolve Kashmir and sign the CTBT.

  30. I accept to the central premise of your post that Obama policies towards India are unknown and his comments regarding India so far do not have much to be celebrated.

    We in India have long been ruled by people not in sync with the fast changing global order. We have not had such a leader at the national level who is young, graceful, intelligent and a leader whom the common man can relate to. It’s the change we all want in India and have been losing hope that it will ever happen. When we see that happening in some other country it gives us HOPE that such a change is still possible in India and that to me is the reason people in India (and world over) are celebrating Obama’s success.

  31. @Kinjal,

    I am surprised you use the words “French Revolution” in any discussion on Obama because the overthrow of the monarchy and establishment of a new form of government and the implications it had for people’s rule all over the world is nothing compared to the change of a Republican administration with a Democratic one, headed by someone who talks well and whose skin color is black and who works within the traditional apparatus. If you think Obama stands for “change” or whatever else, then all I can say is that you are reading blindly from Obama’s songbook. The reason is we have not seen enough of him yet to know, for ourselves, what he stands for.

    Also I am curious as to Rammohan Roy congratulating the French on the revolution. When actually did he congratulate the French and how was the congratulations conveyed? If he congratulated the French immediately after the fall of the Bastille then that would place the thing around 1789. This was when Raja Rammohan Roy was about 15 years old. If however he congratulated the French many years after, then that means he had the advantage of hindsight and analysis. This perspective is what desi Obama fans do not have right now.

    @Kaustav: Having been in Europe for a few weeks, I know that racism is far more unapologetic there than in US. I agree. But as to the connection between Obama’s skin color and the future of the world, let me just say I dont see that connection.

  32. Being the so called natural ally of US didn’t really help india a lot. It’s foolish of anybody to expect US to help them unconditionally. I believe the support that obama gathers from desi community is mostly for the reasons of anti-establishment. People who have been following the changing rules of immigration in last eight years (including me), have noticed how much of it has become anti-immigrant and basically anti 3rd world. Obama, being son of an immigrant(well, more of a visitor) is expected to understand the issues of legal not illegal immigration issues. I think that’s what the desi’s are counting on to get their green cards within a decade of applying.

  33. I hear you GB. This man speaks well and conveys hope very well, enough to make people look beyond the fact that he is a rookie. I voted for him but only because the other option did not make sense after 8 years of what we had under a Republican government. The kind of confidence people have in him is scary. I have been told verbatim “Trust me, he will bring change” by random people who have nothing to base their trust on. The guy may be good, this mindless euporia is not and it challenges rational thinking.

  34. I think you’ve caught the Obama fever too. I came here thinking i’d see a Ganguly retirement post. Instead I get this.
    Any force that can postpone a Ganguly post has got to be something to be reckoned with. Think about that……

  35. Well GB my intent in bringing in the French revolution analogy wasn’t to compare the momentousness of the two occasions, but to illustrate that no harm can come out of a little bit of romanticism and celebration of symbolic change in a distant part of the world. You are right about the dates. This was well after the actual Revolution took place, when Ram Mohun was on his way to England : the story goes that he ran onto the deck of a French galley to salute the tricolore of the Revolution crying “glory, glory to France”. While he had the advantage of retrospection that might as well have led him to be disillusioned with the revolution that brought the Reign of Terror and Napoleon in its wake.

  36. Whyfor all these songs and dances about Mr Obama? This India too very great country, we have all mixed races living here from time immemorial. Newsweek and Time should cover some of our politicians with regularity — they’ll find that for juggling and integrating, no-one comes close.

  37. I remember when i was a kid, (don’t remember which year), congress governtment in maharashtra was toppled over by BJP Shivsena. There was so much hope and euphoria, considering all that Bal Thakre had promised for MAH.
    Bal Thakre after winning the election, said similar things.
    We don’t have a jadu ki chadi and things won’t change overnight. We will work hard though for marathi manus and so on.
    What their govt. did is history.

  38. I have seen Obama make a lot of speeches .. and none of them seem to carry any sincerity and the straight-from-the-heart feel that many of the earlier leaders have displayed in their public oratory skills.

    Obama’s speeches look so deliberate, and planned to ‘look’ impressive … I really have my doubts that this person will be able to meet even 10% of his commitments made during the speeches..

    Its so easy to make grand speeches and make everyone believe you can change the world for them, and its so damn difficult when u actually get down to that task.

  39. Four Years ago, political pundits vouched for Kerry and American’s voted Bush with a majority better than this first victory. However, that hasn’t deterred Indians from betting/ praying/celebrating/fasting/campaigning etc on American elections. So what if our Indian parliament, in a whole year, functions effectively than what a common man works for a week. We will still be worried American elections and the phone calls the president-elect makes.
    A word of advice to celebrating countrymen is not to judge a book by its cover, and a politician by his campaign trail. Obama’s “blue states – red states – United states” speech is hardly any qualification of his statesmanship abilities. The next four years should reveal the true picture.
    P.S. He is already thinking of making Hillary his Secretary of State. That should slow down people’s claim that he will bring change instead of petty politics.
    Congrats on 500. Its been fun reading your blogs till date.

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