how the world sees america

How India Sees America

bush_fire
AIIMS central lawn, where my father studied medicine
New Delhi - In 1976, my father graduated from All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), one of the best public med-schools and hospitals in the country. Tens of thousands apply, 50 are accepted; then the Indian government sponsors their topnotch education. But like well-known author alum Deepak Chopra and more than half his class, my dad left for the United States after graduating. Three decades later, I visit AIIMS to see if students are still leaving for America in droves.

The med-school isn’t the gleaming structure my dad described. It’s dark and dilapidated. Thousands of patients of all ages huddle on the ground awaiting treatment, stretched out on mats in the sweltering heat. Monkeys swing on exposed pipes. It’s a stark contrast to Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland, where my dad now treats his predominantly geriatric clientèle in cool bleached rooms.

Cardio-thoracic surgeon Dr. Balram Airan is among the few members of my father’s class to stay in India, practicing and teaching. Outside his office a sea of bodies throb, jockeying for attention. I take a minute of his time to ask if his students are leaving India for America in the numbers his classmates once did. “No,” he says, “many more are staying put.”

As I leave, he tells me not to be deceived by appearances. AIIMS provides astonishingly high quality care to a massive number of poor patients, roughly 3.5 million per year. It’s one of very few hospitals in the world to treat so many so well. Being part of it gives Dr. Airan purpose and a thrill.

Over the past month traveling across India, I’ve heard many variations on this point: America isn’t the only “land of opportunity” anymore; India is one too, but often for different reasons.

America is still a wellspring of creative and entrepreneurial ideas. In setting up a movie production studio, laying out a retail mall, launching a private hospital or establishing a coffee shop chain, America has perfected business models that can be grafted to fit India. And for bright students, America can be an important pit stop to educate themselves further, develop skills, and save up cash before making a more fruitful return home.

America’s most important role in India is perhaps the ideals it stands for. Restrictive social mores lock many women at home and firm class hierarchies cut whole communities from the job market. America is still seen as a genuine meritocracy. A 20-year-old call center employee named Rakesh Kumar tells me in the America he imagines, family connections aren’t necessary for success and corruption bows to the law.

But as a country, Indians complain, America bows to no one, and cannot be trusted. The U.S. government has long been viewed by Indians as an unreliable international partner, willing to side instead with Pakistan or China in past decades. Now the Iraq War is very unpopular, and the “Global War on Terror” is seen as a U.S.-centric enterprise. What about India’s terrorists? The recent nuclear deal has settled a few nerves but Indians still worry about falling into a patron-client relationship with the U.S. I hear apprehension from political elites and ordinary citizens alike.

“Uncle Sam go back! But take me with you.” This is a longstanding quip here. America is great on its own turf, less so on others. Today one might add, "...and send me back before too long.”

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Comments (37)

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Bikram:

Amar
Once you are in Pakistan, please visit the Taxila.
And, remember that we Indian are coming to get back our land. Alexander invaded Sindhu, and we fought back. It was 250BC! We not only got back our land but established the great university of Taxila. Now, Arabic agent Pakis are invading our land, and destroying the brick walls in Taxila. Let them collect their sins and play the Muslim card. But, we are coming. And, oh yes, do not forget to visit your ancestor home in Lahore and meet those four Hindu families (the last one to survive in Lahore). Tell them the good news: Hindus are coming again.

Milagros de Santana:

Mohammad, Swift Current, Canada

There is a line of vanishing thinness between hatred of American foreign policy, American public officials, and dislike of the American people. International polls taken in Europe and the Middle East have traced the evolution of hatred for American foreign policy to hatred of Americans. As a man with a Muslim name, you must aware that many who express contempt for Islam also are contemptuous of Muslims. The parallel is exact.

Many of those posting comments on this site do not draw the distinction you drew between policy and people. And the distrust for the policy is so great among so many that I wonder how the writers can wish the people well. I suspect they do not.

I do not know all Americans, of course, but of the ones I do know wish that Mr. Gonzales was no longer a public official. None of my American colleagues and friends express any fear of him whatsover. And, truthfully, the organizations of internal security in my own country are much more intrusive than those in the United States. That is true of most of Latin America in fact.

MdS

Sam:

DUA,

Noone likes the American War on Terror just because they seem to go to war for the wrong reasons and with no evidence to back their theories. As for Indians wanting to immigrate to the US, show me people from one country in the world that don't like to immigrate here.

I am sorry about your lack of knowledge, but the Kashmir issue has been going on for about 60 years now and I don't think that the last 6 years would have "solved" the problem just because of 9/11. The terrorists that the US is fighting in Afghanistan are the very same ones that were armed by the US not long ago. If you don't understand, please refer history to see how Taliban was armed by US to fight the Russians in Afghanistan. That has nothing to do with Kashmir or the problems in Kashmir. You also forget that India has more Muslims than all of Pakistan and Afghanistan taken together.

Again, where exactly do you live? Living conditions in India are horrendous for you? Are you doing anything to fix it or improve it or just visited and keep complaining because it doesn't meet your "high" expectations??? If that's the case you just need to shut up. And what did you expect at AIIMS? Air conditioned rooms and gleaming buildings? You need a reality check pal!

It is people like you who gives America a bad name!!!

Reddy:

On the plantation:
SPREEDHAR,

As you note, "Nehru approached US, not the USSR."

Perhaps the simple realization the the U.S. would not turn a visit into permanent residence entered into India's decision on how to direct a request.

The serious historical problem that any deep thinking analyst must have with India's posture today is this. India was the antecedent cause of the present war in Iraq. Had India not recklessly defied the world by not entering into the NPT, and then subsequently undertaken developments to trigger a nuclear arms contest in central Asia, then there would not have been a nuclear development response by Pakistan, and then there would have been no WMD threat from within Iraq that would have forced U.S. military intervention.

Plantation ...that must be the joke of the century..I am rolling all over the floor trying to control my laughter.

So America went to war with IRAQ for nuclear weapons..so I guess they came back after they didnt find them.

I am waiting for your analysin on how Roman empire is responsible for Vietnam war.

Dua:

Yes, Indians hate America and its war on terror but most of them want to migrate here.

Indians do not realize that America is fighting their wars for them. If US did not come into Afghanistan, then Kashmir would have been gone by now and there would have been numerous terrorist attacks against India. The Islamists are now busy fighting US rather than "infidel Hindus" of India.

Also, the living conditions in India are horrendous. I have seen AIIMS. It is pathetic.

BV:

Tian,

Your link is pretty good. Read the passage fully. Tian, I am afraid you may be one of those who is working for PLA(Chinese Army) doing PR work for China? Hope you are not, however there is a perception!. Countries dont go to war purely based on a small piece of property in the Himalayas. The issue may be geographical, but the tipping point usually is personal/monetary/religious. One might think seriously about the primary tipping point for Iraq war, then you will find the answer. The great expanse country of China did not need little more sparsely populated land in Tibet. The Tibetan annexation and the Arunachal annexation comes from historical perspectives, it did not start with a line. Nehru's acceptance of Dalai Lama was the personal factor here.

Also, saw this story on DrudgeReport today. The thinking in China has not changed positively yet on this matter.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/article2194682.ece

SR:

On the Plantation stated:

"The serious historical problem that any deep thinking analyst must have with India's posture today is this. India was the antecedent cause of the present war in Iraq. Had India not recklessly defied the world by not entering into the NPT, and then subsequently undertaken developments to trigger a nuclear arms contest in central Asia, then there would not have been a nuclear development response by Pakistan, and then there would have been no WMD threat from within Iraq that would have forced U.S. military intervention.

Not only was it bad policy on the part of India, conducted over a long period of time, it was stupid and globally harmful policy."

I'm surprised that no one has challenged this extraordinary assertion. Perhaps it's because the reasoning is so specious that folks have been stunned into silence. If you really want to excavate the true engineer of the current global mess, I suggest you direct your gaze to the US and its legacy of incredibly incompetent, morally bankrupt and profoundly short-sighted foreign policy. Indeed, the genesis of many present day global crisises, including Iraq, can be traced back to the US’ amoral development and breathtakingly ruthless and irresponsible use of nuclear bombs against Japan’s civilian population during World War II. The US has NO standing for sermonizing to the world on nuclear armament.


On the plantation:

GG,

I am an "old fart" or very close to being one, as well as someone studied in economics and finance, with a full career in the field. The revenue strategy I mentioned seems good enough for other creative nations having discovered the idea is not so bad, Costa Rica as an example. And if medical training in India is as high quality as claimed, then that might put it on par with Costa Rica that has medical resources to brag about and leverage to its economic advantage.

While I can appreciate your attempt to insult me personally, and to tag on references to my presumptive family members as well, the attempt does not quite hit the mark. Please try again if you like. You now have a bit more information to work with, but please keep in mind I am not very sensitive so you will to be more blunt, or simply have more wit.

On the plantation:

SPREEDHAR,

As you note, "Nehru approached US, not the USSR."

Perhaps the simple realization the the U.S. would not turn a visit into permanent residence entered into India's decision on how to direct a request.

The serious historical problem that any deep thinking analyst must have with India's posture today is this. India was the antecedent cause of the present war in Iraq. Had India not recklessly defied the world by not entering into the NPT, and then subsequently undertaken developments to trigger a nuclear arms contest in central Asia, then there would not have been a nuclear development response by Pakistan, and then there would have been no WMD threat from within Iraq that would have forced U.S. military intervention.

Not only was it bad policy on the part of India, conducted over a long period of time, it was stupid and globally harmful policy. If you want to delve into the topic further, read _Bomb Scare_ by Joseph Cirincione.

Sreedhar:

Tian,

Thanks for the link.

On The Plantation,

Tian's link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sino-Indian_War in fact shows that India and US were on pretty good terms around 1962 - specifically note this:
"On the evening of November 20, Nehru made an appeal to the United States for armed aid, including airstrikes, if Chinese forces continued to advance, and air cover, in case of raids by the Chinese air force. With the Chinese outnumbering every Indian division and facing the idea of a bombing on Indian towns, the United States Navy ordered an aircraft carrier to the Bay of Bengal due to reach there in late November."

Obviously, India would not have appealed for US support, nor would the US have offered the help - right around the Cuban Missile Crisis - had there been any enmity between them.

Also to note: The Sino-Soviet split had already gathered much momentum, so the USSR would have helped if requested. But Nehru approached US, not the USSR.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sino-Soviet_split

I wonder if the Indira Gandhi - Nixon meeting was the point of departure. Nixon's signature achievement was rapprochement with China, so it entirely conceivable that spurning India was a part of the bargain. Indira Gandhi did not give much scope for clear thinking either - she got help from the USSR, and, a couple of years later, nationalized many companies, including some Banks.

At that point arguments to counter the perception that India was going the Communist route would have been too subtle to be accepted.

Ali Ettefagh:

Interesting comments and good to read that there is more than one way to get things done. Aside from the large number of people treated, the cost-result comparison must also be taken into consideration, if only to reach a measure of efficiency.

But and any way, let us simplify it for all: "Are they with us, or against us?"....The Decider wishes to know!


Good luck.

Mohamed MALLECK, Swift Current, Canada:

Miladros De Santana,

But of course, you're right! The only problem is that you DO NOT read properly.

What everybody is complaining about (the Indian bloggers, myself, Jimmy Carter, Ray MacGovern, etc.) is not the American people but, above all THIS Particular administration's foreign policy, and also generally an American foreign policy that,under too many different administrations, sees its 'manifest destiny' in shaping the world to a configuration that promotes the idea -- ensconced in its constitution, of the 'pursuit of happiness', irresepective whther that pursuit is effected in a predatory fashion or not.

But, to come back to you, even on a purely domestic policy basis : is not Mr. Gonzales a person for reasonable people to worry about? You doing anything about it? Your compatriots back from Latin America are!

On the plantation:

BV,

Your posting reads to me like the thoughts of a pretty cool thinker. The sort of person one would like to drink tea with, and have a real conversation.

The major thing to appreciate here is, as India has changed so quickly, so has America. I, personally, am not the pretentious moderator of any of this debate, and am no more than a simple observer, and an old guy who has too much memory to make happy talk to cover over these serious issues.

As you explicitly state, in 1947, modern India was formed. Specifically, on that point, I said that the cultural depth of American, that is that which is relevant to all of those of us who are living, is deeper than in India. I find that an ironic finding, as perhaps you do as well. Indeed, I never cared nor would care to see America expanding beyond geographical America; or, indeed, selling her point of view -- take it or not. No offense intended; America was never never meant to be governor of the planet, but merely a model common people may adopt should they so choose in some modified form.

There is so too much to learn from Indian culture than one can absorb as a foreigner in one's lifetime. In geopolitical terms, the fact that India has done all the wrong things (Soviet alignment, NPT defiance leading to WPM proliferation the M.E.) does not make them good buddies at this point.

Tian:

BV:

How does China enter into this picture?
You are propagating a biased view that is not even remotely accurate. Learn your history:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sino-Indian_War

Dr S Banerji:

Since the demand for higher education outstrips supply so widely in India, I think that the country should hold places in its educational institutions for citizens who are willing to serve their poor brethren after they qualify. India cannot afford to produce doctors for the developed world.

bala srini:

like many of my fellow bloggers it is only in america a nation born out of planned parenthood as a result of written constitution and visionary forefathers;as opposed to many european countries which evolved out of historic accidents can any immigrant strive truly to attain ones goals or ambitions.indians as a whole are fully aware of it and so does the fellow americans taking note of that achievements.in post 9-11 era both america and india because of their convergance socially philosophically,politicaly academicaly are realising in a global sense the compulsion to work and strive to the comman goal of uplifting the common man.afteral ultimately everything including peace and prosperity of the whole world depends on this very simple concept"MAY THE MANKIND LIVE A CONTENDED LIFE" an old sanskrit saying.

Milagros de Santana:

Like many foreigners residing in the United States, I am struck by the contrasts between what I expected to find in America and what I have actually found.

I expected a loud, brash, hostile people. Americans are polite, friendly, and hospitable.

I expected materialists. I found a deeply spiritual people.

I expected to see violence. And I have, on television.

I expected to meet imperialists. The majority of Americans I've met are furious with their government and can hardly contain their impatience for it to go.

It is well that so many Indians have come to America. They will have their own experiences to relate to their countrymen. But I will be surprised if they speak of an America whom Indians cannot value as a friend.

MdS

XYZ:

Lashkar e Taiba is a Pakistani terrorist group which has been killing Indians since 1992-1993. This terrorist organisation with headquarters in a big campus outside Lahore (which foreign journalists on the Lahore beat take care to never visit) was banned by the US government only post 9/11, and then too, only in December 2001, after the Indian Parliament was directly attacked by suicide bombers. Until then supporters in the US were a major source of funding for this terrorist organisation. Based on this, one must ask, why do the Americans hate India?

BV:

On the plantation,

You said, "India distinguished itself as a quietly resentful foe of the the United States for decades, choosing to align itself with the Soviet Union or whatever other unfriendlies, but was certainly not in an American camp. "

I would like to note some points about that part.

The young generation in India love US a lot these days. Lot of older generation people in India remember it differently. They always suspect our foreign policy.

The older generation in Kerala,India read lot of newspapers. Their experience that I gathered from there is given below. The religions did not matter much for most people in those days in Kerala, so their thinking was much rational. Their pain as a fledgling democracy was as follows.

1947 Modern India was formed.

1947-54 India and China were friends. China wanted to claim Tibet, where there were no chinese people!!( I am not kidding, the Tibetans are not chinese.). US sided with China to gain favors from the communists Mao and Zhou. Dalai Lama came to India as refuge and India took the moral decision to take him. 1954 China attacked India. The primary human reason was India accepted Dalai Lama. India as young nation had no significant Army at that point. China took whatever they wanted.

Pakistan attacked India in 1971. It was a preemptive strike! Anyone know preemptive, these days?. It had the formation and design of "Arab-Israeli Six Day War" !! Remember these were the days before Pakistan even had a secret service. A lot of their guess was that the plan surely must have been handed over to them by Henry Kissinger! Why did they strike India? India supported democracy in Pakistan, where democratically elected Awami Leauge members from East Pakistan was not allowed to form a goverment! US even ignored the US Ambassoder's advice, not to destroy the democracy in Pakistan. India defeated Pakistan, yet the surrender was dictated by the Seventh Fleet led by USS Enterprise in Indan Ocean. The major american corporations operating in India, refused to show full support to Indian government.No wonder those corporations were nationalized later.

These events kind of forced India to think differently. The Indian leaders were educated and trained in Oxford. They knew and liked British and American values more than Russian. But their experience in reality took them to assess the relationship differently.

I think our foreign policy in US had its chanllenge in those days. We suddely had the power and was figuring out what to do. The decisions were not as moral as the decisions that we take today. But we at least try to make better ones today. Most of it was because, the general population in those days in America were unaware of global politics. For them America was an island. What happened in outside did not matter. Your quote, "India is on the other side of the world, and in the wrong hemisphere" was exactly the thinking then.


I am glad we have made the progression in our thinking. People are much more aware these days, thanks to information technology. I think no matter what decisions, we make, it should be the moral decision, not opportunistic. The morality is largely established by the majority when their thinking is clearer.

The challenge is not to repeat the mistakes, but that is asking too much.

Subash Paradkar, Dont put all the blame of India's problems on US policy. Indians are making all the decisions at the end of the day.

GG:

On the plantation:
Pretty good ironical commentary, I would say.

India is on the other side of the world, and in the wrong hemisphere, so a fear of a patron-state relationship with the United States seems totally absurd; perhaps somehow irrationally connected to the historical British relationship, which is no accurate guide whatsoever.

India distinguished itself as a quietly resentful foe of the the United States for decades, choosing to align itself with the Soviet Union or whatever other unfriendlies, but was certainly not in an American camp. It deviated from the NPT and took resources from a poor country to make useless nuclear bombs. Inexplicably, the USA is giving a complete pass on this this huge blunder. Furthermore, outsourcing is favoring India in ways that America's own best loyal allies could only be driven into epileptic seizures to comprehend.

Don't get this message wrong, India matters, and should take a rational course in its own interests. But to suppose that India was ever a past friend of America is a delusion/illusion.

Certainly there are things to learn from their society, and their culture. Hindu, after all, is the bedrock of all existing faiths. But Americans have no binding obligation to India, even while Americans have no particular animus towards them. Live and let live as it goes.

The other side of the world is the other side of the world. Fretting over Indian immigration into the USA is not likely to get any sympathy. Frankly, America is in better balance if native-born Indians, regardless of their skills or intelligence, largely stay put and provide their wonderful services at home. If India wants to make an economic place in the American population, it should leverage its low cost of living and develop retirement living situations for our old farts. No real social cost to the Indian society as the commitment is very short, and plenty of revenue to cream off the top. Seriously. Then work on thinking straight for about fifty years before presuming that natural intelligence is an automatic ticket to entry into American society. Believe it or not, American cultural roots grow deeper than yours.

---------------------------------------------

You piece of Crap ! I wonder if you call you dad and mom "old farts" when you talk to them . You ungrateful SOB ! If you want to outsource this country's "old farts" why dont you just outsource your woman to other countries atleast you wont have a son who will call you "old fart" So very unamerican !!

Subhash Paradkar:

India is a diversified culture with thousands of years history. India has 25% population below poverty line with less than $150 per capita income. Some areas like Sindhudurg District in State of Maharashtra has 50% population below poverty line. No drinking water wells and toilets in the school, and these 8 Million villages are untouched by elite urban and suburban India and outside world. Milk is cheaper than Pepsi and Coke. No drinking water, but American free enterprise with our of box thinkers brought KFC, Malls, McDonalds and junk food to add unhealthy life style to main strem Indians. Less that 0.01% people are miliionaires and Foreign investors are making money with skyrocketing stock markets whe India farmers are commiting suicides. So, Indian villages, tribals, lower caste Hindus and other backward casts that now exceed 50% population do not see America in a good spirit. They see hungry stomaches, neglected god's children, and capitalism that is destroying India's social and cultural fabrics and family system under the banner of free enterprise.

There is 1 doctor and 2 nurses for 10,000 people, who have abandoned Yoga and meditation for stress free life style. They are promoting American drugs causing enormous financial burden for 95% of India's population. American industry thrives on cheap Indian labor. Some 12 Miilion kids under age 14 are forced child labor. Corrupt Government officials show no regards to health, education, polluiton, water. energy, education and housing related issues. Drugs and Alcohol consumption, family break-ups, and terrorist violence inside India are on rise. Gas prices are twice as high in America. American connection with Oil rich countries are blamed because alternate sources such as solar energy is not encouraged by Americans. 100 Million Moslems in India just don't like George Bush for neglecting cross border terrorism in India. I traveled Indian villages as a person who is retired from the US Dept.of Defense. Learned that large population hates current Indian UPA Govt and George Bush, are pushing American life style on Indians. They feel rich Americans are exploiting third world countries and really do not care about spread of Diabetes and HIV/AID, poverty. Family planning, basic needs of water and electricity, girl's education,food for students are neglected by current Government because they are influenced by American industry and Foreign Investments.

Subhash Paradkar:

India is a diversified culture with thousands of years history. India has 25% population below poverty line with less than $150 per capita income. Some areas like Sindhudurg District in State of Maharashtra has 50% population below poverty line. No drinking water wells and toilets in the school, and these 8 Million villages are untouched by elite urban and suburban India and outside world. Milk is cheaper than Pepsi and Coke. No drinking water, but American free enterprise with our of box thinkers brought KFC, Malls, McDonalds and junk food to add unhealthy life style to main strem Indians. Less that 0.01% people are miliionaires and Foreign investors are making money with skyrocketing stock markets whe India farmers are commiting suicides. So, Indian villages, tribals, lower caste Hindus and other backward casts that now exceed 50% population do not see America in a good spirit. They see hungry stomaches, neglected god's children, and capitalism that is destroying India's social and cultural fabrics and family system under the banner of free enterprise.

There is 1 doctor and 2 nurses for 10,000 people, who have abandoned Yoga and meditation for stress free life style. They are promoting American drugs causing enormous financial burden for 95% of India's population. American industry thrives on cheap Indian labor. Some 12 Miilion kids under age 14 are forced child labor. Corrupt Government officials show no regards to health, education, polluiton, water. energy, education and housing related issues. Drugs and Alcohol consumption, family break-ups, and terrorist violence inside India are on rise. Gas prices are twice as high in America. American connection with Oil rich countries are blamed because alternate sources such as solar energy is not encouraged by Americans. 100 Million Moslems in India just don't like George Bush for neglecting cross border terrorism in India. I traveled Indian villages as a person who is retired from the US Dept.of Defense. Learned that large population hates current Indian UPA Govt and George Bush, are pushing American life style on Indians. They feel rich Americans are exploiting third world countries and really do not care about spread of Diabetes and HIV/AID, poverty. Family planning, basic needs of water and electricity, girl's education,food for students are neglected by current Government because they are influenced by American industry and Foreign Investments.

Mike S:

plantation/sreedhar

I think the touchpoint for this is the notion in Amar's post that India considers the US, as a nation, to be "an unreliable international partner." Well, yes, that's understandable. And Americans who remember India siding with the Soviets and buying their weapons must also feel similarly toward India.

All of which colors the relationship, perhaps, but both countries, acting in their own national interests, appear to find ways to work together, and indeed, their peoples certainly do. Ultimately this probably makes for one of the healthier bilateral international relationships out there.

Amar:

BV. Thanks for that note. I do agree with you. Ultimately, the grey is what this project is about. I certainly see it everywhere. I've never met an America hater or lover, pure and simple, it's always very complex, and I hope to convey that through text and video. Thanks for seeing that too. Amar

bala srini:

this article by amar exemplifies the notion that when a rich young energetic yet lacking in experiance in international dealings and having political compulsions a country like united states do not have the vision or patience to deal and engage with countries like india who have gone thru multiple times what united states is now because of its millenium of empiredom and the corresponding cycle of zenith.it is almost like generational gap between nations in understanding common goals and in pursuit of it.hopefully both get it right for the future of humanity.

BV:

Amar,

Thank you for presenting the fact at least rather than the usual jingoism and kerala bashing and blind religious enemity. There are real disagreements for Indians and the rest of the world against US policy. Terming that as hate is unfortunate in many of your earlier stories. 'Hate' is a strong word which brings extreme views to your stories. There are those hopeless who do hate. No story or writing is going to change that, so let us not waste time and bytes for that. I suggest you drop the word "Hate" from your title caption in all your stories. The powerful in America always looks for their strategic benefits, which many in the rest of the world disagrees strongly. The charecter of America is built by the real unsung heroes of America. BTW, the powerful Mighty America is usually agaist the real good Americans at home too. The real good Americans strongly disagrees with the Mighty America all the time. Their voice is not again just as powerful. That does not come across as hate, because the Mighty America stand on the charecter of the good. The matter, as always is, grey.

The grey part makes people think and make changes in their own lives and only a few want to do that. Most would rather choose black and white, because it is easy. But Amar has started and built this series in simple dualistic fashion. There is no better illustration of that dualistic ideolody than the heading caption. Dualistic writing is promoted strongly in American school students writing. Because the markets like dualistic thinking.

My only hope is that Amar uses the dualism to attract readers and use the forum to present the grey. Also the good, bad and grey are beyond the borders of any geographical line, but we are not advanced enough to think at that level.

But I certainly cannot agree with you thinking that certain powerful american companies which is slowly deroding the health and well being of good American people is championed in your series to illustrate American values. The disagreements with their values and their means from the non corporate trained free thinking Kerala were treated as hatred against America in your earlier stories is rather unfortunate. Offering some dreadful diet in attractive way and saying the market has the choice is like showing Chicken Nuggets and ketchup to a kid and ask him to eat healthy. Any resistance to that kind of thinking is healthy !

Sreedhar:

On the plantation,

Some historical facts for you to consider. Please understand that I try not to attach any value judgments; if I slip up and do make a value judgment, ignore it and consider just the fact.

You said "India is on the other side of the world, and in the wrong hemisphere, so a fear of a patron-state relationship with the United States seems totally absurd; perhaps somehow irrationally connected to the historical British relationship, which is no accurate guide whatsoever"

Considering that Pakistan has been patronized by the US for nearly 70 years now. Surely, the fear of a patron-state relationship is not as absurd as you think.

You also said "India distinguished itself as a quietly resentful foe of the the United States for decades, choosing to align itself with the Soviet Union or whatever other unfriendlies, but was certainly not in an American camp. "

Actually, it was US that spurned India, not the the other way around. Papers declassified by the UK government a few years ago prove beyond any doubt, that the UK and US were sure that an independent India would not side with them in the cold war that Churchill already foresaw. Whether it was Nehru's affinity to Fabian Socialism or his own irrational contempt for India, Churchill failed to see that India would never become a communist country. As an aside, it might interest you to know that the Communist Party of India opposed Quit India movement, and did not recognize India's independence until nearly a decade after the fact.

Anyway, Churchill rightly decided that the USSR should be denied access to the warm seas of the south. The area around Karachi is one of the most important areas to be brought under the control of a government allied to the UK and the US.

So Churchill figured that partition was the only way to do this. Correspondence between Churchill (written in his secretary's name and address and Jinnah, as well as Jinnah's strange behavior in the negotiations (he would not put forth any arguments; he'd just say no to any proposal for unity) clearly indicate the pivotal role Churchill played in India's partition.

FDR in fact pressed Churchill to grant India freedom before WW-II heated up. General Chiang Kai-shek and his wife often spoke in glowing terms about Nehru to FDR, and this was no doubt one of the reasons behind FDR pressing Churchill about giving India her freedom. Nehru was likewise very grateful to FDR for that.

The US also thought that Pakistan, being a country with all its citizens belonging to a single religion (for all practical purposes), was a more viable nation than India. Accordingly, they supported Pakistan in the UN, whenever the opportunity arose.

Nevertheless, India remained non-aligned, and you'd be surprised to know that, by 1952, we were buying military equipment from the UK, USA, as well as USSR.

Indian freedom fighters, including Nehru, took inspiration from the American Revolution. When India wrote her constitution, it is to the US constitution that they turned for guidance. India's took the idea of the Bill of Rights and devised the chapter on Fundamental Rights. If you read it closely, you'll see that apart from being parliamentary and not presidential, the Indian constitution is very much like the US constitution.

India (Nehru) and the US (Kennedy) worked closely to avert the Vietnam war: http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2005/06/06/papers_reveal_jfk_efforts_on_vietnam/

Significant dealings with the USSR started only around 1974. Indira Gandhi wanted help in stemming the flow of refugees from what was then East Pakistan (no Bangladesh). Nixon flatly refused. So, then, from the US, she went straight to the USSR. And got the equipment there. For decades after that, the USSR was India's major arms supplier. The actions of the US in the war for the liberation of Bangladesh were not exactly friendly, either - records of Nixon asking China to invade India from the north are now declassified and available for any one to read.

Even so, India has never aligned itself with or against any country; it has definitely taken sides in individual issues, some of which turned out to be for the US, and some against. In that sense, you are right, India was never in the american camp - but, by the same token, it was never in any other country's camp, USSR included.

Unfortunately, the US seems to have seen the Indian subcontinent through the prism of UK's opinions - understandable to an extent, considering UK's vast experience in the region and US's lack thereof.

For instance, India's public sector was seen as a tilt towards Communism. History shows, however, that it is hardly so - even Chile, held up as one of the best examples of free markets in recent times, still pursues policies similar in spirit (but tempered with the experience of the last 50 years). See the Op-Ed by Chile's ambassador to India in The Hindu: http://www.hindu.com/2006/04/20/stories/2006042005130800.htm

To me, all this seems more like a series of misunderstandings rather than hostility - whether from the US's perspective, or that of India.

Shalini:

Amar,

While you are in Srinagar, do make an effort to talk to some members of the Kashmiri Pandit community. As Kashmiri, it distresses me to no end, that when folks think/speak of Kashmir they only think of Muslims. Kashmiri culture owes a lot to it's Hindu population and that perspective should be presented as well.

Kautilya:

Amar - I don't know how else to say this, but be direct.
Your father and his friends should be ashamed -
For abandoning their compatriots after benefitiing from the first rate [indian tax payer funded] education.

Manohar Ravela:

Friends, let's come to the understanding that every country and society has it's own merits and demerits, culturally, socially and politcally. At the bottom, all that a common man wants is security for life, hope for success and provide future for their kids. That being said, countries makes mistakes and those mistakes, unfortunately, turns into blunders. If USA had Vietnam and Iraq, India had Sri Lanka (IPKF). The sad part is this. Our nations are spending trillions of dollars when our societies are barely able to meet the basic needs. Even the richest US is crippling under huge debt that the future generation have to pay. My fear is that neither US nor India is willing to learn from their part and pave a new path. At the political level, there are no permanent enemies and friends. India and US chose their partners before and now they are realigning for strategic benifits. That's all.

On the plantation:

Mohamed in Canada,

You seem very centered on yourself, imagining that so many internet postings relate to you individually -- Rest easy, and be assured, they do not. Please stay on your medication and do not miss any future appointments.

Whether Amar is Hindu or Islamic is his cultural endowment and his decision, and of course of absolutely no relevance to any ordinary American's (i.e., USA) assessment of the person as they are.

The basic point you miss is, a person's professional resume, however gloriously illuminated, and whatever their network of family and influential friends, does not qualify them for automatic entry and residence into the USA. Our large corporate employers would like that not to be the case, but they are not completely yet in charge of it all. If Canada wants to operate differently, and you find happiness and comportment there, and intend to live in peace, then bless them for that decision to admit you, and all its consequences.


Amar:

Hi Laura, well played. All his friends from India are now in the U.S. I haven't ever seen him making a call to friends in India...

Amar:

Hi Mohamed, Thank you for the note. You sound like you've been all over the place! I haven't yet entered Pakistan. I go there this coming Monday. Right now I'm in Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, where I'll make several posts before heading off. I am very eager to see Pakistan for myself. I hope to find a few voices there that can help me parse through it all. Not sure where you read me saying anything against Pakistani intellectuals, but I can assure you I have utmost respect. Among my favorite professors are from Pakistan and my grandmother was from Lahore!

Mohamed MALLECK, Swift Current, Canada:

Amar,

I hope that you read some of the postings on PostGlobal in response to your comments before you left the US, and in the process, maybe read one of my comments too.

My wife also completed her medical education at Madras University (in 1979, about 4 years after your dad) and since then has done her specialization in South Africa (DGO, FRCOG) and in Canada(FRCSC), even doing pro bono work in Senegal while I was working with the Association of African Central Banks. My brother-in-law (a Thoracic Surgeon) and his wife (a Gynaecologist like my wife) -- all very good practising Muslims, of course -- have a highly successful medical tourism (healthcare-cum-tourism-business) complex in Tiruchirappalli, where just-exiting President Abdul Kalam went to high school.

Contrary to the prejudices that you (and several of those posting responses to your comments) have about Pakistan, they know that Pakistani professionals and intellectuals are every bit as competent as their Indian counterparts, some times more (e.g. like eminent physicist/mathematician and New HumanisT Association prize winner Pervez Hoodbhoy of Quaid-e-Azam University, among countless others) sometimes less so.
An op-ed in The Guardian of UK today heralding possible civil war in Pakistan is thoroughly irresponsibel as are calls among some of the American administration's hawks that the US invaded the wrong country in 2003 (Pakistan should have been invaded instead of Iraq, to make up for the failure of Nixon in following the advice of Bill Kristol's dad, Irving in 1974, that America should ahve invaded Saudi Arabia -- see the March 1974 issue of Foreign Affairs if you don't believe me). That was one year before your dad came to America.
At least one of the readers of your comment who posted his Islamophobic rant was concinced that I had also come to settle in America. He was wrong, of course!

On the plantation:

Pretty good ironical commentary, I would say.

India is on the other side of the world, and in the wrong hemisphere, so a fear of a patron-state relationship with the United States seems totally absurd; perhaps somehow irrationally connected to the historical British relationship, which is no accurate guide whatsoever.

India distinguished itself as a quietly resentful foe of the the United States for decades, choosing to align itself with the Soviet Union or whatever other unfriendlies, but was certainly not in an American camp. It deviated from the NPT and took resources from a poor country to make useless nuclear bombs. Inexplicably, the USA is giving a complete pass on this this huge blunder. Furthermore, outsourcing is favoring India in ways that America's own best loyal allies could only be driven into epileptic seizures to comprehend.

Don't get this message wrong, India matters, and should take a rational course in its own interests. But to suppose that India was ever a past friend of America is a delusion/illusion.

Certainly there are things to learn from their society, and their culture. Hindu, after all, is the bedrock of all existing faiths. But Americans have no binding obligation to India, even while Americans have no particular animus towards them. Live and let live as it goes.

The other side of the world is the other side of the world. Fretting over Indian immigration into the USA is not likely to get any sympathy. Frankly, America is in better balance if native-born Indians, regardless of their skills or intelligence, largely stay put and provide their wonderful services at home. If India wants to make an economic place in the American population, it should leverage its low cost of living and develop retirement living situations for our old farts. No real social cost to the Indian society as the commitment is very short, and plenty of revenue to cream off the top. Seriously. Then work on thinking straight for about fifty years before presuming that natural intelligence is an automatic ticket to entry into American society. Believe it or not, American cultural roots grow deeper than yours.

Laura:

Dr. Airan sounds like an interesting character. I think concentration of talented people is a problem in the U.S. as well, and admire those who "stay behind" in their old neighborhoods or second-tier cities to do meaningful work. Does your father keep in touch with his colleagues still in India?

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