What Obama can learn from his visit

As someone who grew up in India at a time when there was hysterical paranoia about all things American, I have found the breathless excitement over President Obama's visit most interesting. It is a measure of how much India has changed that not even our communist parties are exhibiting any signs of hysteria this time. When George Bush came visiting, they did their best to ensure that the American President noticed that even if the Soviet Union was no longer around, there were people in India who remained committed to its memory and to Stalinism. Then they tried to bring Dr Manmohan Singh's first government down on the absurd grounds that by signing his nuclear agreement with President Bush he had turned India into a 'slave of America'. They quickly found how out of touch they were with the public mood when last year's general election reduced their strength in Parliament by nearly half.

Considering the aggressive anti-Americanism on which Indians of my generation were bred, it is extraordinary how much India has changed. When I got my first job in Indian journalism with The Statesman newspaper in the summer of 1975, it was impossible to meet either politicians or journalists in Delhi who were not anti-American to some degree. On account of some very bad timing, my job began two months before Mrs Gandhi declared a state of Emergency and imposed press censorship. For me, personally this meant that I realised instantly that the only kind of journalism I was interested in was the political kind.

As someone who was not drawn to Marxist ideas, economic or political, and was not impressed by either China or the Soviet Union, I remember being constantly amazed by the number of 'intellectuals' who saw capitalism as evil and America as proof of this.

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