Presidential peccadilloes: Obama’s macaca and the UPA’s chutzpah

July 16, 2007

Presidential peccadilloes: Obama’s macaca and the UPA’s chutzpah – 1

There was a mild flap when Senator Barack Obama, candidate for the US Presidency, exhibited his own “Macaca Moment”. Obama’s team displayed the ugly edge of racism behind the blow-dried billing-and-cooing of a campaign, even that of a supposedly liberal black man. It also demonstrated yet again that it is safe for anyone to bait and malign Indians: there are no consequences; indeed, Obama’s people are out there flashing million-dollar smiles at $500-a-plate Indian-American fund-raisers for their candidate.

 

Obama’s campaign sent out a memo to media professionals, attacking Hillary Clinton for allegedly pandering to the Indian American community. The document, titled “Hillary Clinton (D-Punjabs)’s Personal Financial and Political Ties to India,” suggests that Clinton may be compromised, and may favor India over her country’s interests. This shows an ugly protectionist streak; and indeed, xenophobia and racism. Obama later semi-apologized, calling it a “screw-up on the part of our research team”; but it may be noted that nobody on his team was actually fired. (New York Sun, Jun 12, 2007
http://www.nysun.com/article/56332?page_no=2)

 

This is notable for two reasons: first, it demonstrates yet again how little anybody knows about what Barack Obama actually stands for; second, that everybody of every stripe knows it is fine to attack Indians.

 

Can you imagine any candidate of any persuasion daring to denigrate Jews or Mohammedans, or the Irish, Italian, Greek, or Chinese connections of any other candidate? Of course not. The reason they can get away with offending Indians is that the Indian government will surely never support Indian-Americans, not to speak of ever supporting Hindus. For instance, the Indian Government was thunderously silent when white bigots, chanting religious hate slogans, disrupted the US Senate’s proceedings being opened with a very secular and non-denominational Hindu prayer on July 12th (http://www.hinduismtoday.com/hpi/2007/7/12.shtml#1 ). (Of course, if a Mohammedan prayer had been disrupted, the Indian Government would have protested with great moral outrage, as it did over the Danish cartoon on Mohammed. Dhimmitude rules.)

 

The Macaca incident was a gaffe by former Senator from Virginia, George Allen, referring to S R Sidharth, an Indian-American campaign volunteer for his opponent, as a ‘macaca’, a macaque monkey, sometime in the 2006 mid-term elections in the US. It was a racist slur, intended to put down Sidharth as a foreigner and a non-white amongst an overwhelmingly white audience of Allen’s supporters. Allen’s campaign never recovered from the blatant racism. Interestingly, this also put paid to Allen’s ambitions for the Presidency: he was at one time considered a leading Republican contender!

 

In a nutshell: a one-time Republican Presidential hopeful trashed an Indian-American; and a current favorite Democratic hopeful is dismissive of Indians. Some Indians and Indian-Americans insist that somehow the Democrats are a lot better for India than Republicans. This is a myth, based partly on publicity photographs of John Kennedy walking with Jawaharlal Nehru in the Rose Garden, which were widely distributed by the US Information Service and graces many Indian homes. It turns out that Kennedy loathed Nehru, but the impression of bonhomie has stuck.

 

Besides, Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger did India no favors in their eagerness to preserve Pakistan’s territorial integrity in the 1971 Bangladesh war, which surely stemmed from their gratitude to the Pakistanis for having created the opening to China, Nixon’s lasting legacy. Saber-rattling, US warships steaming into the Bay of Bengal, and the contemptuous animosity the duo had for India (as we learn from recently declassified documents) did not help Indo-American relations.

 

Nevertheless, and I have said this ad nauseam before, neither Republicans nor Democrats are India’s friends. They keep America’s national interests in mind, as they should (not India’s), and it is foolish to be deluded into giving up – as India’s current Prime Minister appears to be doing – long-term Indian interests in the nuclear domain in return for nothing more substantial than sweet-talking by the Americans.

 

Hillary Clinton isn’t exactly lying awake nights worrying about Indo-American relations. Having said this, it is still important for India to figure out what makes Senator Obama tick. The chances are that the new US President elected in 2008 will be a Democrat, as two terms of Republican George Dubya Bush have left the country feeling a little battered and bruised. As to the chances of either a woman (Hillary Clinton) or a black (Barack Obama) winning, it is anybody’s guess. My personal belief is that the United States is not ready for anything so exotic as a woman or a black being the Commander-in-Chief, and that when it comes down to brass tacks, it will be some good-old-boy white man in charge again. So Obama may not matter, in the end.

 

But there is a very good question about the sudden, meteor-like appearance of Barack Obama. Who is this man? What drives him? What does he believe in? What is his track record? Since he appeared out of the blue, and his track record is relatively slim, these are questions that raise considerable anxiety, and should. What is the source of his support? What will he do if elected? Is he beholden to any vested interest?

 

There is always the worry – as in the chilling films of the same name – about a Manchurian Candidate, one who is a robot or a mask for some malign interests. This is not necessarily to suggest that Obama is in fact a Manchurian Candidate, although similar allegations have been made about various other hopefuls in the past. But let us take it hypothetically – who is most likely to want to control the US Presidency?

 

The most obvious answer is China. This is not baseless suspicion: the Chinese have demonstrated in the past their willingness to interfere in US elections by discreetly funding certain candidates. In 1996, the Clinton campaign raised millions of dollars from what turned out to be fronts for the Chinese government. Even Buddhist temples, for instance in Los Angeles, were used to illegally channel funds.

 

China has zeroed in on America as the target of asymmetrical warfare – total war by any and all means at its disposal. A low-cost and discreet way of gaining influence could well be to spend money on propaganda for someone who would be beholden to them. The Chinese know that buying media and politicians yields rich dividends: they have been spectacularly successful in, for instance, India. The only difference is that they buy Indian media and politicians for peanuts.

 

Another potential seeker after influence is Saudi Arabia. The House of Saud certainly has the money, and has been accused of buying up by the boatloads oilmen, bureaucrats, diplomats and others to ensure American support. But there is also a more subtle religious issue. According to Mohammedan belief, someone born to a Mohammedan parent can never convert out of the religion. Using this logic, a practicing Hindu woman in Malaysia is currently being tortured and forced to become a Mohammedan, according to the Indian Express http://www.expressindia.com/fullstory.php?newsid=89170 and Singapore’s Today newspaper http://www.todayonline.com/articles/198694.asp

 

Obama’s father was a Kenyan, and his step-father was an Indonesian. Since no mullah has ruled either marriage unlawful, it follows that his white American mother must have converted to Mohammedanism, too. Therefore Obama was born to two Mohammedan parents. Then, as far as the Saudis are concerned, Obama is a Mohammedan, and could never cease to be: there is no provision for apostasy; or rather, the penalty for apostasy is death. This gives them the intriguing possibility of a quasi-Mohammedan in the White House. Saudi purse-strings would loosen with alacrity on consideration of that delicious prospect.

 

None of this, of course, presages any good for India. China and Saudi Arabia (directly and via Pakistan) are the nations most actively involved in subverting India (with the possible exception of the US). The fact that Obama’s staff has essentially written off the Indian-American voter speaks volumes. One can take away two conclusions: first, despite all the hoopla, the Indian-American voter, and his money, counts for nothing in the mind of the American politician. Second, alienating India is has no consequences. If this is the attitude during the courtship, we can expect worse after the honeymoon.

 

This also points to the utter failure of the allegedly first-class lobbying firm engaged by India. This firm, Barbour, Griffith, is headed by former US Ambassador to India, Robert Blackwill, but the casual observer is hard-pressed to see any benefit to India. The interminable meanderings about the Indo-US nuclear ‘deal’ are going from bad to worse, as India is pressured to give up more and more for nothing, which India’s babes-in-the-woods politicians are entirely likely to do.

 

 

Presidential peccadilloes: Obama’s macaca and the UPA’s chutzpah 2

It is a fair question as to whether there is a whiff of a Manchurian Candidate in the Indian Presidential elections. However, Hindus do not have freedom of religion or political or civil rights in India (it’s official now: see the Economist’s chart http://www.economist.com/daily/chartgallery/displaystory.cfm?story_id=9464795 on freedom in various countries. In India, it clearly shows the oppression of Hindus). Therefore it is not prudent to speculate, or to consider who the shadowy Svengalis in the background might be. But it is certainly interesting to consider the implications of the stands taken by various parties in regards to the Presidency and the candidates on offer.

 

First, the outgoing President is a man of integrity, and his conduct in office has been largely impeccable despite one or two acts that one might possibly quibble with. His personal demeanor, his humility, simplicity and uncorruptedness have been exemplary. He has manfully attempted to inspire the youth in the country with his patriotic and nationalistic views. All of this would, in sane nations, be considered good reasons to extend President Kalam’s tenure for another term. But not in India, of course.

 

The animosity exhibited against Kalam is so deep and so vicious that it suggests personal vendettas on the one hand and external influences on the other. The President was humiliated, quite unnecessarily, through the refusal to extend his tenure for another term.

 

The Congress apparently cannot stand Kalam; this is almost certainly because he told Sonia Gandhi that she shouldn’t bid to become Prime Minister due to the controversy over her citizenship. This was, you recall, just before Sonia Gandhi’s ‘Inner Voice Moment’, when she suddenly discovered that she didn’t want to be Prime Minister, after all. (We note in passing that that was quite a change from her previous ‘272 Moment’ when a more pliant President Narayanan, following the expected custom, bent over backwards to accommodate the Dynasty aspirant-du-jour.)

 

The Communists have always been allergic to Kalam, going so far as to run the hapless Captain Lakshmi against him the last time around (humiliating the old woman in the process). This is a little surprising, because Kalam, being apolitical, has done nothing that should upset the Communists: other than the fact that he was involved in defense and nuclear R&D.

 

There have been complaints that the defense labs that Kalam used to work with has not produced any breakthrough equipment or weapons. The failures of the Arjun Main Battle Tank, the Light Combat Aircraft, etc. are legendary. But here is indirect proof that the DRDO and other defense labs have actually done some good: the Communists are very concerned, which means that the Chinese are very concerned! It must be the case the handlers in Beijing have told the Communists that they must hate Kalam. Naturally, given their blind faith, they have obeyed without demur.

 

It is wonderful news that China hates Kalam, then. The indigenous efforts at creating a nuclear and missile armory (recent estimates are that India has around fifty bombs, and the Agni has been at least a partial success) apparently have succeeded to the extent that the Chinese take it seriously, and seek every possible avenue to cap, rollback and eliminate India’s arsenal. This is a good, sincere back-handed compliment to Kalam.

 

All this leads to the general question of what kind of person the President should be. The ceremonial leader of the country, which the President is, should really not be a politician. So far as I can tell, none of the politicians who held the position particularly distinguished himself. Kalam, on the other hand, certainly stood out. This is quite possibly because he was a working engineer, not a politician, and he was a leader unafraid to roll up his shirtsleeves. I remember photographs of Kalam and others sitting on the ground in Thumba forty years ago, assembling a sounding rocket to be fired into space, and carting the thing around on the pannier of a bicycle.

 

What India needs are leaders, intellectuals and others who can inspire the citizenry to dream and to aspire to greatness. Perhaps the scholar Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was a good President, for he was a towering intellect. But there has been a succession of relatively unremarkable politicians who have held the post.

 

It is time to revisit this. There are men and women of consequence all over the country who should be sought out by political parties, and they should be exceptional in some way: perhaps a great writer, a great businessperson, an inspiring leader who has shown results, maybe a soldier.

 

I can think of several people who would have made wonderful Presidents. My sentimental favorite would have been the late O V Vijayan, a formidable intellect who was arguably India’s greatest writer in the 20th century, not to mention an insightful political cartoonist. Another choice would be E Sreedharan, the man behind the Konkan Railway and the Delhi Metro, who accomplished what were deemed impossible engineering feats. Narayana Murthy or Ratan Tata or Lakshmi Mittal or Azim Premji, tycoons all. KPS Gill, one of the most thoughtful men analyzing national security. Jagdish Bhagwati, the globalization guru, or C K Prahalad, the ‘fortune the bottom of the pyramid’ strategy guru. The list of outstanding candidates is endless, so we can ignore the ideologically metastasized ones who simply mouth party lines.

 

Then there was Manmohan Singh’s suggestion that “a woman should become the President in the 60th year of the Indian Republic”. Fortunately, M Teresa, the soon-to-be-sainted-one, is dead, or she, I suspect, would have been Singh’s first choice: we must be thankful for small mercies. But if it has to be a woman, I can think of a few candidates: the diplomat Arundhati Ghose, who stoutly defended India’s right to be a nuclear power as representative to the UN; Fathima Beevi, formerly Justice of the Supreme Court; Vandana Shiva, a respected environmentalist; and so forth.

 

The problem is that neither the Congress – which cannot think beyond the interests of the Nehru Dynasty – nor the Communists – who cannot think beyond the interests of the Chinese – are particularly thrilled at the prospect of an activist President. They would much rather have someone who will do what they are told. This may well be a reason for choosing Pratibha Patil despite (or perhaps because of) the accusations against her. Interestingly enough, the Economist magazine says: “Then came the bad news, planted no doubt by the opposition.” Planted, really? This website http://www.knowpratibhapatil.com gives some startling data.

 

Furthermore, Manmohan Singh’s cryptic statement about wanting a woman President can be deciphered as follows: he is really saying that Sonia Gandhi should be made President. Yes, there is a Dream Team from the Congress and here is my conjecture as to what it is:

  • Rahul Gandhi as Prime Minister, now that Manmohan Singh has kept the seat warm long enough
  • Priyanka Gandhi as Defense Minister, all the better to ensure that good family friend Uncle Q is not harassed
  • Priyanka’s child as Home Minister.

 

Manmohan Singh can then proudly note that India has become the first country in the world to appoint a toddler as Home Minister, which is appropriate since the job is child’s play: the Home Ministry has nothing to do now that POTA and other anti-terrorist laws have been rendered toothless, and anti-nationals run several states.

 

And oh, please note that these appointments will be for life. The voice of NATO, the Economist magazine, noted with approval http://www.economist.com/world/asia/displaystory.cfm?story_id=9409258 : “For evidence that there may, after all, be some virtue in dynastic succession, monarchists need look no further than the muddle India is making of choosing its president.” Naturally, the Economist would be delighted at white people ruling India.

 

Also delirious with joy would be the Communist hacks known as the ‘eminent historians’, who have long disseminated a flat-earth theory known as the ‘Aryan Invasion Fantasy’, recently upgraded to the ‘Aryan Migration Mythology’. They would reason that if white people are running India just a mere sixty years after independence, why, it must be true that white people invaded India a few thousand years ago. QED. Evidence? Who needs evidence? You just have to believe!

 

The office of the President has so far retained a certain amount of dignity. But with the current mess, the UPA + Communists are destroying yet another pillar of the Establishment. This, of course, fits into their long-term plan of keeping India backward and exploitable forever. “Barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen” is their prescription for Mother India, echoing the views of the West Asian desert.

10 July 2007

 

 

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5 Responses to “Presidential peccadilloes: Obama’s macaca and the UPA’s chutzpah”

  1. diivolunt Says:

    Hi,
    I believe the simplest explanation for Obama ‘s memo was in his roots. He is Kenyan where Indian-origin success story has created angst among the locals. I was part of radio call in regarding OBama ‘s gaffe and where several Kenyan-Indians pointed out to the host that they have always recieved (how to put it diplomatically) less than preferential treatment (the Kenyan americans on program were more graphic in description) from Kenyans abroad including Kenyan embassies. They were not all surprised that a Kenyan American’s campaign would disseminate this. There is also a psychological opinion that disadvantaged groups tend to be more violent (verbal as well as other manifestations of aggression) against the more successfull groups with same roots than against the percieved opressors themselves. An example would be the OBC-SC warfare in Gangetic heartland or Dot busters in New Jersey.

  2. catchharish Says:

    Hi Rajeev,

    The Council on Foreign Relations has this piece on how the different candidates stack when it comes to India..Seemed intresting..

    http://www.cfr.org/publication/13848/

  3. rajeev2007 Says:

    The Kenyan explanation is intriguing but I am skeptical. Obama hardly knew his biological father, and his formative young years were in Indonesia, where it is the Chinese that are the objects of hatred, so if you follow that argument it would be the case that Obama would be anti-Chinese, which is not true.

    On the general issue of the ‘native’ perception of Indian immigrants as rapacious intermediaries, this is true of all trading communities. This was the accusation raised against Jews in Europe and Chettiars in Burma and Indians in Uganda and Fiji, and is the accusation raised against Chinese in SE Asia. The fact is that traders who prosper provoke hostility among the ‘natives’ because they believe — rightly to an extent — that disintermediation would help. But the fact usually is that the intermediaries are providing a useful function, which you only realize when you have liquidated them and your commerce falls apart. This was certainly the Ugandan experience.

    I must reiterate that I have nothing against Obama as such; in fact I am quite neutral as far as the candidates on hand are concerned. The only people I would be immediately suspicious of are the evangelistic far-right bigots such as Pat Robertson; so far as I can tell, there is nobody like that in this year’s crop of Presidential candidates. I don’t know enough about, or have genuinely neutral feelings about, most of the people in the running today.

  4. Nita Says:

    Rajiv, when one looks at the whole blog (not a particular post) the sidebar is slipping down. you need to check why this is happening.

  5. vivek10 Says:

    Hi Rajeev:
    Sorry for posting my message here. I did not know how to reach you. I have written a new book on Hindu Nationalism Would you please review it in your columns. I can send you an e-version.
    PRESS RELEASE

    Lies, Lies and More Lies.
    The campaign to Defame Hindu/Indian Nationalism
    By Vivek

    Title: Lies, Lies and More Lies
    ISBN: 978-0-595-43549-1
    LCCN: 2007904121
    Publisher: iUniverse (1-800-288-4677)
    Publication date: June 26,2007.
    Author: Vivek

    The last decade has seen the publication of a plethora of books like Christophe Jaffrelot’s, The Hindu Nationalist Movement in India, Thomas Hansen’s The Saffron Wave and more recently Martha Nussbaum’s The Clash Within that have been highly critical of the Hindu Nationalist Movement in India. This genre of books has been a one-sided, prejudged narration that has failed look at the movement from the Hindu perspective or even accord Hindu Nationalism a fair and scholarly treatment. At times these books have highlighted dubious incidents to put forth their point of view or held up radical fringe elements as representative of Hindu Nationalism. Lies, Lies and More Lies presents the other side of the story in a balanced manner with tangible proof backed by sound references that puts to paid many of the false innuendoes against Hindu Nationalism that have been bandied around for years; in fact it is inadvertently a point by point counter to many charges found in Nussbaum’s The Clash Within.
    Over a span of 22 readable, concise chapters divided into three sections (Genesis, Kashmir and Contemporary India) and spread out over 163 pages with detailed references (at the end of the book), Lies, Lies and More Lies makes a convincing argument in favor of Hindu Nationalism, characterizes the true nature of the movement and debunks the charge that it is a hate rant or a negative ideology. According to the author: It (Hindu Nationalism) is the agonizing cry for justice and dignity of a people long suppressed and tortured; a cry that embodies the agony of the past and a new-found confidence of the present which together hopes to ensure a secure future.
    The Genesis section contains an introduction that succinctly traces the origin of Hindutva: not a long winded treatise but a logical explanation put in plain words. For example, the author’s definition of Hindutva is simple: a feeling ‘which seeks dignity and justice through civilized assertiveness”. Other chapters include a critique of Naipaul’s idea of the Hindu land as a “Wounded Civilisation”, the concept of India as a nation and a review of the theories of temple destruction that occurred during the Muslim invasion. Extremely revealing is the chapter on the changing demography of South Asia: with statistics and impressive graphs this chapter spells out the dire strait of the Hindu community in Pakistan and Bangladesh and projects the changing demography of India in an all telling graph. The author makes a chilling prediction: I predict that (unless there are drastic changes) the present democratic secular republic of India in its present format has a maximum lifespan of another 50 to 100 years. The boundaries of India will shrink further with the appearance of a greater Bangladesh in the east and the secession of Kashmir in the north.
    While Pakistan and Bangladesh represent the consequences of an age gone by, Kashmir is a standing preview of the events to follow in the remaining rump of the Indian sub-continent. Titled Kashmir, this section has 4 well written chapters focusing predominantly on the plight of the Kashmiri Pandits. There is an interesting article on how the CM of J&K is chosen: tongue in cheek, the title of one chapter asks: A Hindu CM for J&K: Any takers and goes on to show how the dice is loaded against the Hindu.
    The last section, Contemporary India addresses the Godhra issue, the state of temples in secular India, discourses on the lack of intellectual leadership in the country and finally proposes ‘three new pillars’ of a New Secularism: Religious Détente, Demographic Status Quo and Equality.
    The author ends with a note of caution: Without proper guidance, there is a real danger of Hindutva degenerating into a rampage of revenge. Hindutva is not to be equated with communal riots that kill innocent humans. Hindutva cannot be an ideology that relegates another individual to second-class status. It should be a force that makes all Indians conform to the pluralistic, secular tradition of our land that respects one and all.
    In other words, Hindutva should always evoke the image of Sri Ram: strong and powerful, yet humane and compassionate.
    This is a “must read” for all Indians and non-Indians as well especially (businessman, academics and others alike) who wish to understand the Hindu/Indian psyche better.
    Links
    http://www.iuniverse.com/bookstore/book_detail.asp?&isbn=0-595-43549-1
    http://www.amazon.com/Lies-More-Campaign-Defame-Nationalism/dp/0595435491/
    (Book Available on amazon.com)
    Vivek


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