India Insight

Do Indian voters really choose?

Rahul Gandhi spoke at a news conference in Amritsar last month. Somewhat predictably newspapers and TV channels covering the event focused on his comments on the anti-Sikh riots of 1984 and his defense against being called a rookie by a seasoned political rival.

They ignored the context of his visit — to review preparations for the local youth Congress elections, being conducted with greater involvement of party workers at the grass-roots level. It’s a practice he apparently wants to replicate across other states.

If Gandhi is serious about it and succeeds in doing so, it will further the cause of internal party democracy, which is a major blind spot in the working of our democracy.

The expression ‘political party’ did not even enter the Indian Constitution for the first thirty-five years of its life and even afterwards it did so cursorily in a Schedule.

The Constitution ensures that we elect our representatives but does not specify how political parties should choose the candidates — it’s a decision that does not involve citizens.

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.

Yankee Doodle Banana

It’s tricky being an American outside the U.S.

It’s not just the taxman you can’t hide from — your native land really is the focus of global attention.

american.jpgWhether it’s the economy, global warming or some other guy’s fight, the U.S. is sometimes a model to follow but more often gets the blame.

I am rarely credited with superhuman intelligence and strength (even my daughter is a skeptic) but my country is.