By Vidya Bhushan Rawat
Indians are ‘rejoicing’ over Kamala Harris becoming the ‘first’ woman US vice president of the Indian origin. The other day, we saw, Priyanka Radhakrishnanan being sworn in the New Zealand Ministry and Keralites have been proud of her ‘achievements’.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau already have four Ministers of Indian origin, three of them being Sikhs who are represented far better than in Narendra Modi cabinet in India.
Apart from them there is one woman Minister too. In the United Kingdom, Rishi Sunak heads the Finance, Priti Patel is Home Secretary and Alok Sharma is Secretary Business and Industries.
There are many other leaders of Indian origin who were leaders of their countries like Surinam, Gayana, Fiji and TOP FM Mauritius but yes, these countries had Indians who suffered a lot and were taken as indentured labours or I would simply call them as ‘slave labour’ even when slavery was abolished by that time, by the British to work in their plantation fields but over the years they slowly rebuild their lives and many of them became the leader of their countries.
Obviously, they loved their Indian roots but had no connection with India as they forefathers had left long back and had no support like the NRIs today have. Those were the difficult years but they manage to maintain their dignity and succeeded in these countries.
The stories of Kamala Harris, Priti Patel, Priyanka Radha Krishnanan and other ‘successful’ politicians of Indian origin in US, UK, Canada and New Zealand are bigger proof of the social diversity and opportunities provided by these countries rather than a ‘contribution’ of India or Indian system.
Kamala Harris’s grandfather i.e. Nana was a joint secretary during Jawahar Lal Nehru’s time and he sent his daughter to study in US which was a favorite destination for youngsters who could afford to go in search of better opportunities.
All these new leaders who we all are feeling proud of, are just first and second generation who migrated to these countries in either mid 1950s or 1960s and many are of 1980s generation and yet they got the opportunity to lead.
Listen to Kamala Harris and Joe Biden and they are speaking of inclusion, fight against systematic racism and unity of the country.
Kamala Harris’s success is attributed to the American Social Justice. That US is a country of possibilities and hope for migrants. So most of these leaders who have flourished are not there for several generations but not more than fifty years.
What is happening back in our country? The leaders of division and hatred don’t want people whose seven generations are settieled in India. We are asking hundreds of questions about history of some body great great great great great great grand father. We are seeking revenge for the wrongs of past.
A government or political class which is stuck in the ‘wrongs’ of history can not provide vision for future. What happened to the issue of Sonia Gandhi when she could have become the leader of Congress Party. Even after refusing to be leader, she has been harrassed and humiliated by the Sanghi media. How can you make a country stronger if you make Muslims suspect of all the evils and wrongs of the country.
What would have happened to Kamala Harris if she were in India. Her marriage to a Christian would have become the hunting ground for Sangh Parivar and they would have brought the conspiracy theory of the Christian evangelists by ‘converting’ our ‘innocent’ women. The whole attempt to bring Love Jehad laws state after state are nothing but to harass the couples particularly where the male partner is a Muslim or Christian.
Why are we celebrating for Kamala Harris ? Because we dont want our children to decide their own fate ? Becausee we dont treat our minorities equally or make them look suspect ? Because the representation of minorities is reducing in every sector and our politician want to intimidate them and suggest to them that you are a second class citizen of this country and because we dont want to give protesters even right to protest and file cases after cases against them.
There is a lot for Indians and Indian ‘nationalists’ to introspect of what has happened in india. Just before ‘celebrating’ about Kamala Harris or Priti Patel or Priyanka Radhakrishnan please peep into your own prejudices and how you have made every neibhour of our look like unwanted.
Socieites which embrace diversity and are inclusive in nature, which leave their prejudices aside will grow and progress. Indians who want to enjoy democracies elsewhere need to strengthen the same kind of structure in their own country.
Whether it is US or Canada or New Zealand or England, we need to ensure that we too respect freedom of expression of the minorities, respect individual’s right to chose their faith and partner, respect differences of opion and as Joe Biden said that differences do not mean that our opponents are anti national.
Let us understand that providing level playing field to all will make us better and encouraging minorities and migrant to be part of our decision making will always bring their knowledge and strength to our political structure.
At the moment, we hope that leaders of Indian origin will prove successful in raising issues of minorities and immigrants and will have the same message back home in India to respect the similar values so we become a true democracy.
A country without fair representation of marginalised and minorities can not become a true democracy.
Let us hope our political class will read the message of hope, love and healing from these the outcome of the elections in the United States.