The preset times are a multicultural times. Failing to understand another people's culture and psyche is failing flat-footed. India and America have come a long way in establishing deeper ties. Ideally. both these great democracies should be good friends. Now, to some extent they are. But if the recent spat between the two is any indication, then all's not well between them - below the surface. Why?
The American dream is many an Indian's day-dream.
The Indians are a poor but a prospering, proud people. With some potential. But when push comes to shove, dollars make prouder that many, that much more. Hence, given the chance, a large number of Indians would let go crapping at the bumpy roadside and jump bail, on the tail of the ferry that takes them to the fair tale ending - of going abroad, especially to America. It's a different matter that many an educated lot, now, in the present day, is also sticking to baking one's bun and bum in the Indian cauldron. However, an overwhelming majority of Indians would rather bum it out in America than get bummed in their motherland, India.
What he or she would not touch with a barge pole here, that an Indian would embrace there, in foreign lands - if not in glee, than in gluttony. Travelers from India often joke that no matter where they land, in almost every airport of a foreign country you can find an Indian either sweeping the floor or cleaning the bathroom. Of course, this had been the norm for years together in the past -- now, people of Indian origin are often found in the upper strata and white-collar jobs too. In either case, now a days Indians are perhaps more visible than the American Red Indian, in America.
They may crib much about loose morals, child molesters, racial prejudice, materialistic mindsets, and uncensored sexual practices of Americans -- but they covet more the mullah they make here that they cannot, could not dream raking in their mamma's land. Thus, like immigrants from any other nation, Indians too carry a "Coming to America" notion.
Back in the motherland, not a few Indians love to leer at long-legged American beauties who come to visit India. They even gush over American dignitaries -- like the time Bill Clinton came to India; the way Indian parliamentarians eagerly sought to shake his hand was a comic sight to behold. But the same politicians are quick to spout venom at the same faces when Americans get pally with the Pakistanis. They along with most Indians, take it as a personal affront -- at least on a subconscious level. Why so?
After independence from the British colonizers in 1947, the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, was at the forefront of non-aligned movement. The Indians did not like being dictated to. Russia was a friend, still is. The Americans were like "You are either with us, or against us!" This pissed off the Indian laity as well as the elite. The "firangi' -- white people, the British -- had come in the guise of friendly traders but had ended up usurping the lands and looting the riches of India; ruling it by deceit and draconian laws for more than 200 years. Post independence, the Indians were real touchy, much pissed off by any white man dictating terms to them. They still stay pissed. Even the younger generation. Why?
Frankly, America is seen as two-faced by many a pensive Indian.
They cannot fathom as to how, in the past and to some extent in the present, a democratic country like America be friendlier with an on-off dictatorship as Pakistan -- an exporter of terrorism, as Indians confirm -- than with a truly free democracy like India. How dare the "gora' -- white fellow -- tell us who to be friends with? The Indians in past, as also of today, want America to respect their country as an independent democracy -- not a banana republic that the Americans can piss on. In the cold war era, Indians found much solace in the friendship of Russia. They wanted very much to be friends with the Americans, but not at the cost of giving up a trusted ally. The newly independent India, as too the present lot of independent-minded freethinkers that are the Indians now, having the DNA of the much-wronged ancestors -- in more ancient times invaded by Alexander, then marauded by the merciless Muslim Arabs, and finally the intrusion by the wily British -- gets going an unspoken, unknown bacterium in the bowels. It starts eating their entails, making them crappy. Thence, these mild brown man is willing, if not wanting, to crap on everybody who's anybody in the depraved white lands.
The recent incident of the American officials strip-searching, handcuffing, and then putting a lady Indian diplomat -- obviously enjoying diplomatic immunity -- in the jail with prostitutes and pimps and the like, has got the goat of not only the Indian politicians but the whole lot of Indians in general. It's like "Who the hell are these two-faced Americans to insult us?" One ex-Foreign Minister of India, now in the opposition, even suggested that since the Supreme Court of India has declared homosexuality a crime and as illegal, the American diplomats with their same-sex partners now in India, must be arrested and prosecuted under Indian law. Many other privileges of the American diplomats have been withdrawn -- including the road barricades and the security personnel thereof. More such strict measures are in the pipeline.
It is not as if the above-cited incident is an exception. A Sikh diplomat was asked to remove his turban at the airport, which he indignantly refused to do. In fact, the hate crimes against Sikhs, mistaking them for Arabs, by a section of nincompoops among the Americans makes the Indians wonder if the latter "get" India, its culture or its people at all. George Fernandes, at one particular time the Defense Minister of India, was asked to remove his shirt twice at American airports. The case of ill-treatment of Dr. Abudul Kalam (Nuclear Scientist and former President of India) by American customs or "cavity search" recently of a lady Indian diplomat, arouses deep disgust if not dislike of America in toto in India. Could one imagine Bush, Obama, or Hilary Clinton given an identical tit-for-tat treatment by the Indians?
What are the Americans missing out?
As in the past, in the present too, US has failed miserably to "get" the Indian psyche and ethos. They could not understand that owing to their dark track record in murky international ventures -- whether in Vietnam, Afghanistan, the African continent, or the Arab peninsula -- America is seen as a big, bad bully. It may see itself as a defender of the faith as if, coming to ready rescue of the poor and the powerless; but the less-privileged world, including the Indians, do not envision the Americans in such a favorable fancy. Maybe unconsciously, perhaps even very consciously, the Americans remind them much of the double-dealing white man, the British, who had done much harm to their beloved country in the past. At the least, the Indians have no patience to be lectured on morals by any white man -- for even the Portuguese, Spaniards, and even the French had looted India as had the British, very much at the same time in history, before Indian independence.
The wolf cannot teach the sheep a lesson in honesty, honorable intentions, or holiness. The Indians, rightly or wrongly, consider themselves a much more ancient civilization than all the white people and nations put together. Hence, they are not ready to learn anything worthwhile, culturally or metaphysically, from the white folks -- except for their way of making some 'fast' money. Even in that, in the present financial environment, a large section of Indians, especially the intellectuals, feel the West needs India as much and in no way less than does the latter.
Despite the hiatus in Indian economy right now, the Indians have a "feel-good" optimism about their country's future. Hence, they resent being dictated to, deprived of or dismissed in anyway - in thought or in deed. It makes the Indians feel looked down upon. It pisses them off.
In a nutshell, the West, more so the Americans, must "get" it good and for good that the people -- from the illiterate to the most literate -- of India, despite wide difference in their intellect, do not differ in their understanding of the West. The vast majority of Indians, sorry to disappoint, do not find the Westerners superior to them in any way; be it culturally, spiritually, or intellectually. In fact, some even consider the Westerners more foul than flavored, foolish than "forward'. And, in many ways, much, very much backward.
Thus, the only way for the West -- more specifically the Americans -- to do "business" with India, is to give it its due respect. To get respect. Otherwise, in the present times, all the Americans can expect from the mild, mundane, or the mad Indians is a disdainful "holier-than-thou" disrespect. In fact, now a days, not very many in India would disagree with what the Nobel Laureate, writer, and humorist George Bernard Shaw had quipped - "The 100% American is 99% an idiot."
Poet. FREE MYSTIC. Writer. M.B.A.
Trained in Yoga and Classical Indian (Vocal) Music.
Written more than 30 Metaphysical Books in English, Hindi and Punjabi. 10 Music Albums based on Metaphysical Poetry of the author, in public domain.