Obama finds more support among Indians the world over(Special)

June 16th, 2008 - 3:10 pm ICT by IANS  

By Kul Bhushan
Having faced racial prejudice at one time or another, many Indians across the globe have expressed support for Barack Obama as the Democratic candidate for US president. Although Hillary Clinton would have been the first woman in this office, which too would have been pathbreaking, Obama as the first possible non-Caucasian US president seems more popular with Indian origin people in the US and in other countries.

“Many Americans are somewhat taken aback that their next president may be someone whose name is not Anglo-Saxon as all the previous incumbents have been,” said Placido DeSouza, a retired Indian envoy from New Jersey. “But it’s clearly the sign of a mature democracy.”

Anil Madan, a senior attorney in Boston, says, “Obama, a very smart guy, has good instincts. Other than some form of universal healthcare, he won’t get much done unless he has an overwhelming majority of Democrats in Congress and that could happen with the Republicans on the run. The presidency allows for a change in tone. We can’t extricate ourselves from Iraq easily, but he’ll change the tone. He’s the least dangerous of the three and even universal healthcare is a major accomplishment for him, so I’m positive.”

But what about the great support by Indian Americans for Hillary Clinton? Says Madan, “I see no relevance of ‘Indian’ to Hillary, although I did send a sharp note to Obama when he made a disparaging remark about Indians. He (his campaign people obviously) sent a thoughtful apologetic note.”

About Obama’s skin colour and the discrimination he must have seen from time to time, Madan said, “He’s grown and realised that the racial divide has to be healed and after his mistake on the Indian outsourcing issue, it became clearer to him. I don’t view him as having a black agenda. One of the great tragedies is that we waste the talents of many blacks and women due to discrimination. His presence in the White House won’t cure that, but it will go a long way to adding great strides to the progress we’ve made so far.”

A management trainer in Chicago, Vivek Singhal, said, “Great to see Obama, someone whom you characterise as a ‘black man’, get as far as he has in the US political system. This certainly helps enhance the credibility of the US people and their respect for freedom and democracy as defined and practised in the US. I am hopeful that his so-called inexperience will help him test some fresh ideas to manage the global reputation and reach of this truly remarkable superpower.”

Nawal Kesavan, from London, said, “I supported Obama all the way and still support him. Thus I’m happy that Obama is going to the White House. I heard that Hillary was to be a good ambassador for India, so I do feel a little sad, but since I supported Obama all along, I don’t think I felt really bad.” On his ethnicity, he remarked, “I am pretty sure Obama is an American first, then black and, as always, an American is going to live in the White House.”

Kenyan Indians are ecstatic about Obama’s nomination. “I was so, so, so excited and even cried watching TV news on Obama,” exclaimed Oscar Fernandes from Nairobi.” A Kenyan TV anchor, Smriti Vidyarthi, said, “As a Kenyan, I share the excitement of most other Kenyans that Obama could be going to the White House. He’s won an incredible race thus far and has given Kenyans a sense of pride and hope. As a global citizen, I see Obama as a great world leader, who will bring fresh policies and fresh thinking to the US and the world.”

Shamlal Puri, an author and a senior journalist from Tanzania, said, “Many Kenyans have taken Barrack to heart because he stands for them, he stands for the African Diaspora. It will also help break the wrong image that East Africa is an isolated region. At least, Americans who know little about the world beyond their back garden would now know where, on the globe, Kenya is situated.”

Puri added, “Obama will make a very good president. He will have the tough task of proving his worth in the top job. He is a charismatic speaker, a good orator, who knows what he is talking about. He is an action man. To run for the top job as a black man, his own community - the African Americans - will put a great store in him hoping that he will fight for them and get them equal rights so far denied to a majority of them. Obama knows that he will be serving all Americans, irrespective of the colour of those who backed him and those who did not.”

From Melbourne, S.K. Gupta, a qualified accountant, said, “Right from Monica’s (Lewinsky) days, Hillary has never impressed me. She could not rule Bill, then how could she be trusted to rule the whole world? Aussies have no problem with Barrack. He has worked very hard to reach where he is today.”

Of the two million ethnic Indians in the US, around 30,000 doctors have registered for Republican candidate John McCain showing whom they want in the White House. So the race is far from over. And if McCain chooses Bobby Jindal for vice president, the action for Indians will begin at a new, feverish pitch.

(Kul Bhushan previously worked abroad as a newspaper editor and has travelled to over 55 countries. He lives in New Delhi and can be contacted at Kulbhushan2040@gmail.com)

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