Barack Obama — it seems he’s India’s choice too
It’s not hard to see why Indians would be interested in an election thousands of miles away. Many see Barack Obama’s victory in the presidential poll as a sign that America has finally transcended the question of race and changed the course of history.
Obama may have won by a landslide in the U.S. but going by the number of Indians rooting for him at New Delhi’s American Center on Wednesday, it seemed a useless exercise to gauge his support base in India.
I was hard-pressed to find a John McCain supporter among the many students and guests thronging the lawns of the Center as election results trickled in.
The McCain-Palin pavilion and a Republican elephant made of plastic balls stood forlorn as people posed for pictures with cutouts of Obama and Democrat running-mate Biden in a courtyard festooned with red, blue and white balloons.
When the umpteenth American citizen told me she had voted for Obama, I just shrugged my shoulders in despair. Did no one vote for McCain?
“Go to the Embassy and you might find one,” she quipped. “I don’t know if they will admit it any more though.”
Given Obama’s campaign promise of ending tax breaks for companies that ship U.S. jobs overseas and reducing the number of H1B visas issued to foreign workers, I would have thought McCain would be the obvious choice at least for Indians.
I was wrong.
“Obama’s not against India. He’s only going against outsourcing,” said Sharad Chandra, founder of the Society for Human Values and Universal Responsibility.
“And there’s nothing wrong with stopping outsourcing,” she said, adding that working in the BPO industry had made Indian youth unfit for any other profession.
Obama’s personality seemed to be the more relevant criterion among youngsters.
“He’s young and dynamic,” said college student Stuti Jain, one of many to cast votes in a mock election organized at the Center.
“The elections won’t make much of a difference in India but it’s exciting to be here and vote.”
For some, it was Obama’s stance on the war in Iraq that won them over.
Aditi Juneja, 17, recalled her experience of meeting families of American soldiers in Iraq during a trip to the U.S. — the idea of them suffering for no reason “didn’t seem right”.
“Obama will stop the war in Iraq,” she said.
“He was big on human rights even then,” Singh said, adding that the Harvard alumni association in India planned to celebrate Obama’s win.
“I always knew he would play a great role in the future but never imagined he would become American president.”
And in case you were wondering who won the mock elections at the Center — the final tally read 357-22 in favour of Obama.
I voted for him too.