India: Confident in Obama

Ask not what India can do for America but what projected President-Elect Barack Obama can do for India. This, at least, is what many Indians are asking in their blogs as the world awaits the confirmation of the news. From bilateral relations to immigration, Indians are sounding off their confidence when it comes to Obama. To them, there was nobody else more qualified to be the next president of the United States.

Three Months in Delhi describes Indian sentiments in his blog:

“Indians see Obama as a kindly face, and have done so colourblind. Obama is celebrated here, his profile on the masthead of the Times of India almost every day for the past two weeks. It would be interesting to take a poll of how many Indians realise that the votes have yet to be counted.”

With their eyes glued to their laptops, Three Months in Delhi blogged about watching the elections with American friends in New Delhi.

“Tonight represents the pinnacle of this month's anticipation. Five Americans live with me, the lone Brit – two from New York, one from San Francisco, another from St Louis and a last, unfortunately, from Wisconsin, America’s equivalent of Bognor. Since we’re all journalists, we’re all, according to most Republicans at least, Obamaphiles who have controlled this entire election campaign, steering it in the Democrats’ favour. They’re probably right. Therefore, for lack of dinnertime debate, we spend our evening swapping internet satire, from Sarah Palin being fooled by comedians to, well, Sarah Palin being fooled by comedians. There has also been a breakdancing Obama, a Halloween Palin, and a hamster-faced McCain. The latter didn’t even need any photoshopping.”

In any case, election mania has by no means been confined to our household. India, like most other countries outside America, has become Obama-crazy, says this blogger.

“The newspapers have, for days, asked, not ‘what India can do for America’ but ‘what Obama can do for India.’ The election result a foregone conclusion, of course. But what seems more interesting is that where America demanded of India circa Dubya Bush, India is expecting some kind of recompense from the first Black President.”

The question whether or not Indians will have any difficulty getting working visas to the US in the future is what concerns blogger Krittivas Mukherjee the most.

Since the first Indians came to the United States in the late 18th Century for work, several thousand more aspire to one day work in what is still referred to as the land of ‘milk and honey’ one day.

Mukherjee wonders out loud in Blogbharti, “Who’s good for India?”

“On the economy, Republican presidents have historically been far more supportive of higher work permit quotas for Indian workers, and push more for free trade.

Obama has voted to reduce the number of H1B visas issued to foreign workers. McCain is said to favour more H1B visas.”

With his wife glued to the television watching CNN India in English, eleventoes said his head “exploded” after he heard three Indian political faces jabber on about the Deep South. He even threatened replacing his bride if she didn't stop watching television.

“They just called South Carolina for McCain.

“I think my head just exploded hearing three Indian political faces jabbering on about the deep south.

“Now they've flipped to Wolf B on the CNN proper.

“Oddly enough, he's more alien to me than the CNN IBN faces.

“I want to sever his head from his neck to see if he bleeds straw or not.

”My brain is melting from exposure to nonstop factoids about black people in the south voting for Obama and crackers voting for McCain.

”My God. It's full of stars.

”If she doesn't stop this soon I may need a new wife.”

American presidential elections provide a near perfect test to understand the difference between European and Asian world views, even if the two continents are far from united internally. If you want America to lead by the power of example, you favour Barack Obama; if you want to be reassured by the continuation of America’s power in a traditional security sense, you probably prefer John McCain, says shinai.

“Whereas a majority of Europeans – with the exception of those who for historical and geographic reasons are obsessed with the return of the “Russian bear” – support Obama, a majority of Asians, particular among the elite, seem to support McCain. This difference stems above all from strategic considerations, but it probably also contains a cultural dimension.

“In Asia, Indonesia may look “European” in its Obama craze, but it essentially constitutes an anomaly, easily explainable by Obama’s brief Indonesian upbringing. Otherwise, and for very different reasons, a majority of Asian elites are awaiting the growing possibility of an Obama victory with some bewilderment and even apprehension. For example, Japanese elites tend to favour continuity over change. In their mind, the hard power of the United States is more important than its soft power, and their vision of an America “bound to lead” is largely unchanged. For them, the US is above all the strategic counterweight needed to balance China. But the Chinese, too, may very likely be favouring McCain, for the opposite reason. The decline of America’s image and influence in the world does not annoy them. As Asia’s leading power, China has seized the mantle of “hope” from the US. America could regain it under Obama, but not under McCain. Why favour change, when continuity works so well? Indian elites reach the same conclusion for different reasons.”

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