March 20, 2020
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Anti-US? Who, Us?

Anti-US? Who, Us?
One piece of conventional wisdom which survives, indeed prospers, is the belief that anti-Americanism is alive, well and living in large pockets of Indian society. The media is supposed to be anti-US, the political class, it seems, is still under the spell of Nehruvian socialism, the bureaucracy is in love with state control, the ngo sector takes money from the Ford Foundation but shouts slogans against George Bush, the useful idiots (read bearded intellectuals, who Auden memorably described as persons who cheat on their wives) bow at the altar of Chavez, Castro and Chomsky. I have no poll to back me up, but what the Indo-US nuclear deal row has revealed is precisely the opposite. The overwhelming majority of India Shining believes the United States is a land of milk and honey where freedom and liberty flourish, and where rags-to-riches stories are common, confirming that if a chap toils hard, has the right colour and worships the right god, he can end up in the White House.

Before you call me a "commie lover", let me declare that I’m a wishy-washy liberal who distrusts all ideologies because any kind of dogma has totalitarianism built into it. My heroes are Willy Brandt, Adlai Stevenson, Olof Palme, Roy Jenkins and Jawaharlal Nehru, all centre-left politicians passionately committed to democracy and freedom.

Besides the name-calling the deal debate threw up, what has been most revealing is the intense hatred shown towards those who dared to question the deal; and to people like me who were generally in favour of the deal but felt it was not worth the supreme sacrifice—losing the government. The demonisation and vilification of both groups earned the ultimate insult, "anti-national". Almost the entire English media was convinced that those who opposed the agreement were "on the wrong side of history". And this charge was taken to the extreme, warning that if the Manmohan Singh government reneged on the deal, India would become a pariah state.

Thus, instead of being anti-American, India is madly, blindly, incoherently smitten with Uncle Sam. It is a 24x7 love affair in which the current setback is a minor stumble. So, how did 59 comrades block India’s tryst with destiny? That’s a story yet to be told.

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