Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Indian Americans making it big in USA politics_why are we proud?

By now, a reader of the English media would have heard the name of two elected USA Governors(not our impotent Indian versions but the equivalent of directly elected Chief Minister) of Bobby Jindal and Nikki Haley. That, along with Obama's historic victory in the 2008 USA Presidential elections, often prompt unflattering comparisons with Indian politics, whether an Obama would have got elected here.

I agree that India still has dynastic politics, and that only relationships(like the Nehru family daughter-in-law controls the Congress), TINA factor(allowing the first Rajya Sabha Prime Minister) or amazing achievements(Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Azad) has led to the so called 'diversity' in politics. But still, they never had to convert/change their religon.

While religion is(and should remain) a personal choice, both Jindal and Haley voluntarily embraced Christianity, the former in high school and the latter post marriage. This was much before they entered politics. While I'm not implying that politics was the reason for choosing the convenient religion,  it appears that only by trampling on your foreign/cultural heritage, you can make it big. That, thankfully, is not necessary in India.

 In the USA, religious issues are entwined with politics in such a fashion that being a non Christian would often be a death sentence, politically. Even Obama brushes aside his Muslim roots and brandishes his Christian roots. So next time we hear of an Indian American making it big, I think we should applaud only if he has done so, with his religious identity intact. This is not a 'everyone should stay in the well' mentality but a critical one. ET seems of the view that this phenomenon is confined to the Republican party where being Christian counts.

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