Expect nothing, live frugally on surprise.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Great Obama Revolution

I love the American presidential elections. They remind me of the Western movies Americans love so much. It goes something like this. The big shots of a town get together in their local saloon and start beating the hell out of each other till one man is left standing. He is then declared that town’s sheriff. This process is called the primaries and takes eight months. A similar exercise happens in another town which selects its sheriff. Then the two sheriffs and the towns go to war against each other. It’s a no-holdsbarred battle where both the sheriffs are turned upside down and sideways, and every nook and cranny of their lives is investigated much to the amusement of the onlookers. The last man standing in this vicious gunfight is declared the President of America. If you are a watcher of Westerns, you would know that the selection of a Black sheriff was inconceivable. It was probably as unthinkable today as it was two centuries ago. Till this week when Barack Hussein Obama was elected President of the United States of America. It was a proud moment for a country with a despicable record for discriminating against their own citizens who happened to be Black. Ironically, Obama has not become President because of his race. I believe he got elected because he symbolises modern America.The America which is young, energetic, cerebral, culturally diverse, technologically savvy, urbane, cosmopolitan, knowledgeable and idealistic. Sometimes history conspires with good fortune to give a country a leader best for its times. Such is the good luck of America with the election of Obama. Here is a country mired in a war it doesn’t really want 11,000 km away, the economy is in a mess, the government has one of its largest deficits and its international image is at rock bottom. Now, it is time for Obama to step up to the plate and deliver the change he has spoken so much about. The sentence I liked best from his victory speech was when he was talking about if anyone doubted that America is a place where all things are possible. He said: “It’s the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many to be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful, of what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.” America and the world wait for him to bend those words into reality.Indians seem worried about his remarks on outsourcing but more important was his statement that “America and India share many common goals and interests” apart from the growing partnership in trade and investment. So far, however, the clues to what Obama’s presidency will be like have been defined by his campaign, his personality and his connect with the American people. We were fortunate to have our Indian journalists -covering the elections. His analysis and psycho-profile of Obama forms the core of our cover story this week. As he says: “He is the post-racial face of a nation awakened.” We also look at what Obama’s win means for India in terms of bilateral relations, the Pakistan equation, Kashmir, and trade and commerce, particularly outsourcing.
I recall, as a student 48 years ago, the electric anticipation and idealism created by John F. Kennedy’s election and his promise of generational change. Although I am no longer a young man, in fact, much older than Obama, yet I feel the same rush of enthusiasm and hope that the world is going to change—for the better.

Obama to work for stronger Indo-US ties
N-deal: The democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama backs the Indo-US nuclear deal but may he be under pressure to reinforce non-proliferation rules that could restrict transfer of technology and fuel to India.
He will work in the Senate to secure all dangerous weapons and materials against terrorist threats worldwide, including in South Asia.
Indo-Pak relations: Obama may also want to play peacemaker in J&K. His recent remarks that the US should try to help resolve the J&K problem so that Pakistan can focus on hunting down militants on its restive north-west border have also been seen in some quarters as suggesting outside interference in the issue.
Indo-US ties: However, Obama's objective after winning the election would be to strengthen US relations with India, the world's largest democracy and a growing economic power.
Outsourcing: The Democrat has made outsourcing one of his main campaign themes, and this has found traction among an electorate increasingly wary of being “Bangalored”. Having raised the pitch, Obama may find it difficult to back down if he is voted to power. This can have far-reaching consequences for the Indian IT industry, which still depends on the US for the bulk of its revenues.


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