DIASPORA LOOKS AHEAD
The cover story in INDIA EMPIRE’s December 2008 issue was highly inspiring. ‘Yes We Can’ makes it abundantly clear that Indians are a formidable force when their spirit and enterprise is allowed freedom. Many Indians living outside India, such as those in Fiji where Indians are discriminated against, will now be able to dream of higher things. Over 70 per cent of Indians living abroad are no better off than they were back home. The sheer numbers of Indians abroad—estimated at 25 million—ensures there are numerous success stories like Ashwin Madia and Satveer Chaudhry, but millions more struggling to find the American dream, Australian dream or European dream and sundry other dreams must be remembered too. It’s for people like them that Obama means a hell of lot.
Barack Obama’s victory gives a new direction to the diaspora. Most Indians living abroad are focussed on wealth creation. Many migrated from India in search of a better work atmosphere. Now the whole equation changes. If Obama can win the highest office in the US against all odds, so can many overseas Indians. This is the overwhelming feeling of overseas Indians in the aftermath of the 2008 elections in the US. Now Indians will aim for political and governmental jobs that are the ticket to power. While business, IT and top professions like doctors and CAs attract Indians, these jobs have limitations in that they bestow one-dimensional success—you can only be rich. But the pursuit of power makes a whole community powerful. You can pump the Clintons with money, you can back sundry US governors and senators. So can other communities. But no amount of money can do what Satveer Chaudhry, Ashwin Madia or Swati Dandekar can achieve by influencing US policy in favour of India.
The 2008 US presidential election are significant because for the first time we see a major mobilisation of Indian election workers and voters. While Indians are famous as active fund raisers, this time Indian volunteers played an active and important role in canvassing and get-out-the-vote efforts. In fact, their efforts played a key role that led to Obama’s decisive victory in Iowa. In many ways it’s a coming of age of Indians in America.
One should not forget that Barack Obama has inducted as many as five Indians in his transition team of 17. While they remain behind the scenes, unlike the various department secretaries, these 17 people will play a key role in setting the agenda for Obama’s America. These being patriotic Americans, and a bit wary of a jingoistic American press, it would be futile for India to expect direct gains from their appointment. But what is surely going to happen is they will pave the way for a more Indophile America. If American Jews can do something for Israel, so can American Indians for India.
NO SMALL BEER
People like Karan Billimoria re-inforce our belief in India. Every time we become disgusted at the state of affairs in our country, and ponder whether it’s worthwhile to return to a country that has changed little in our absence, words of inspiration from a leading NRI industrialist makes all the difference. In Betting on India, you have brought out the key reason why India has so much promise—we are a nation of young people, and the old generation that has so muffled our voice can restrain us no more. They say, with age comes wisdom but looks like Indian politicians only become more senile. Billimoria’s faith in young India gives us faith too.
INDIA EMPIRE is doing a tremendous job in bringing us stories that are different from the usual. Many stories that are neglected by the media are getting print space here, which is good for us readers. Keep up the great work.