USA + India = BFF, y’all

A few hours ago, a mutineer who covers the Executive Branch sent me this:

For Immediate Release
January 25, 2009
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT
Message on the occasion of India Republic Day
As the people of India and people of Indian origin in America and around the world celebrate Republic Day on January 26, I send the warmest greetings of the American people to the people of India. Together, we celebrate our shared belief in democracy, liberty, pluralism, and religious tolerance.
Our nations have built broad and vibrant partnerships in every field of human endeavor. Our rapidly growing and deepening friendship with India offers benefits to all the world’s citizens as our scientists solve environmental challenges together, our doctors discover new medicines, our engineers advance our societies, our entrepreneurs generate prosperity, our educators lay the foundation for our future generations, and our governments work together to advance peace, prosperity, and stability around the globe.
It is our shared values that form the bedrock of a robust relationship across peoples and governments. Those values and ideals provide the strength that enables us to meet any challenge, particularly from those who use violence to try to undermine our free and open societies. As the Indian people celebrate Republic Day all across India, they should know that they have no better friend and partner than the people of the United States. It is in that spirit, that I also wish Prime Minister Singh a quick recovery.

Incidentally, if you were unaware of the latest regarding the health of Prime Minister Singh, here you go (thanks, Manoje):

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday successfully underwent a coronary bypass surgery at the All India Institute of Medical Science in New Delhi as doctors removed 10 blockages in his heart…
Dr Ramakanth Panda, the chief of the Asian Heart Institute in Mumbai, headed the surgical team comprising doctors that performed the beating heart surgery. The prime minister had undergone his first heart surgery in 1990 and then had an angioplasty in 2004. This week, he complained of chest plain and the angiography revealed 10 blockages, which prompted the doctors to opt for a surgery. [rediff]

I am ridiculously delighted to learn that the surgical team was headed by a panda. I love pandas.

For those who crave some learnin’ about the reason for the thoughtful press release:

The Republic Day of India is a national holiday of India to mark the adoption of the Constitution of India and the transition of India from a British Dominion to a republic on January 26, 1950. It is one of the three national holidays in India…
To mark the importance of this occasion, every year a grand parade is held in the capital, New Delhi, from the Raisina Hill near the Rashtrapati Bhavan (President’s Palace), along the Rajpath, past India Gate and on to the historic Red Fort. The different regiments of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force march past in all their finery and official decorations. The President of India who is the Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Armed Forces, takes the salute. Floats exhibiting the cultures of the various states and regions of India are in the grand parade, which is broadcast nationwide on television and radio. Also part of the parade are children who win the National Bravery Award for the year. The parade also includes other vibrant displays and floats and traditionally ends with a flypast by Indian Air Force jets. [wiki]

Unfortunately, the “National Bravery Award” is not given out to those who have the intestinal fortitude to admit to their parents that they’re not going to med school. Totally sounds like that’s what it could be though, right? Yeah, not so much. I looked it up for us and discovered that its back-story is a lot more interesting than anything as prosaic as disappointing one’s parental units:

The origin of the award dates back to October 2, 1957, when India’s first Prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, was watching a performance at Delhi’s Ramlila grounds, at the Red Fort, and a fire broke out in a shamiana (decorated tent) through a short circuit. Subsequently, a 14-year-old boy , a part of the student’s scout team, promptly took out his knife, and ripped open the burning shamiana, saving saved lives of hundreds of trapped people; this incident inspired Pt. Nehru initiate the awards, he asked the authorities to constitute an award to honour brave children from all over the country, and the tradition has continued hence. [wiki]

But, uh, back to the lecture at hand. Perfection is perfected, so I’m ‘a let ‘em understand. From a young G’s perspective, maybe in 2010, President #44 can be in India for Republic Day. You see, a different head of state is honored as “chief guest”, each year. Last year, it was Nursultan Nazarbayev, the President of Kazakhstan, and in 2007, it was Mr. Carla Bruni. A girl can dream…

124 thoughts on “USA + India = BFF, y’all

  1. 100 · rob said

    she’s not anywhere as kooky as elst though, who seems to have a cult following here.
    So, ok, I get it–Hindus with views = “cult.” Nice. Haha, you walked into that one! ;-)

    i’m a hindu with a view too :) cult following != cult does membership in the saffron brigade come with a complimentary primer on misinterpretation? first, you ride roughshod over rawls (no — that’s not good if non-consensual), and then you mangle my words too. like in mangalore, those girls were sitting in the bar, but the goons claimed they were prostitutes who danced naked. not that naked dancers or prostitutes should be beaten up anyway.

    meanwhile, here is a panda’s assistant doc talking about the surgery at some(http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/holnus/000200901281792.htm) length, for those into that sort of thing.

  2. anna: thanks for that nice little history of the bravery awards. i never knew a kid who’d received that prize; but last year, i met a desi guy who got to shake hands with the president for doing well on his board exams. it’s so apt — considering the indian/desi obsession with marks and academics (as has been pointed out on the valentino thread).

  3. I hope NDA comes to power..you will have an assured career then.

    he.he.. Narendra Modi’ji is responsible for many flourishing careers. They should be thankful to him. :-)

  4. 73 · right said

    72 · rob said
    the priority of the 1st principle of justice (which includes, inter alia., freedom of religion) does not apply if we are outside of the “circumstances of justice”
    ah, never fail to deliver, exactly what i expected – a self adjudicated liberty exception in the lawless wilds of hindustan that allows abrogation of any of the basic rights because, hey, why not?

    I think Chris Rock can help us get Rob’s point here. Chris Rock: Now I’m not saying [O.J. Simpson] should have killed her. I’m just sayin’. . . I understand.

    What would you do if you’re a poor, unemployed, and frustrated Hindu who gets word that some Muslims just burned a trainload of your fellow travellers, possibly including kith or kin? I know it’s easy to sit on an armchair and say you wouldn’t get swept up in the fury but that’s a mighty high horse you got thar.

    And before someone tries to draw a parallel to Islamism, yea I get that the same forces are at work there too. But controlling riots are a law and order issue. You give them a lathi to the head and they will disperse. You make the government a credible and reliable administrator of justice and they won’t even riot in the first place. (This applies to Muslims too, since some of you seem to forget that they have also been guilty of rioting.)

    Controlling terrorism, on the other hand, is a different animal since it’s not just a one-time deal where a huge mob of people get swept up in the emotion of a situation. It’s the difference between murder and manslaughter. Both suck, but to stop them you need different strategies.

  5. i feel that the standards of civility in indian politics have deteriorated across all parties and states. open casteism decides who gets plum positions after elections; these things used to be more internal in the past, but now leaders unapologetically make off-color demands on record.

    Blame the personality-cult around the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty built up by Indira Gandhi. Once political parties stop organizing around ideology and start rallying around tribal allegiances that’s what you get.

  6. 104 · Noogie said

    Chris Rock: Now I’m not saying [O.J. Simpson] should have killed her. I’m just sayin’. . . I understand.

    if that’s the best example you can come up with…

    100 · rob said

    So, ok, I get it–Hindus with views = “cult.” Nice.

    This might help ESL candidates understand the meaning of cult following and how it bears no relation to cult.

  7. 103 · Ponniyin Selvan said

    I hope NDA comes to power..you will have an assured career then. he.he.. Narendra Modi’ji is responsible for many flourishing careers. They should be thankful to him. :-)

    yes, butchery is labor intensive.

  8. yes, butchery is labor intensive.

    Good, looks like you’re one of those career’ists. :-)

  9. 108 · Ponniyin Selvan said

    Good, looks like you’re one of those career’ists. :-)

    you would be too — if you had those goons’ guts, isn’t it? luckily, nursing your persecution complex online is all you’re capable of doing.

  10. you would be too — if you had those goons’ guts, isn’t it? luckily, nursing your persecution complex online is all you’re capable of doing.

    Hmm.. I donate to IDRF and planning to support VHP some time in the future. :-)

  11. 110 · Ponniyin Selvan said

    you would be too — if you had those goons’ guts, isn’t it? luckily, nursing your persecution complex online is all you’re capable of doing. Hmm.. I donate to IDRF and planning to support VHP some time in the future. :-)

    right, butchery is capital intensive too. just hope that your friends in india don’t get beaten up with the lathis you financed, as they have a nice valentine’s day dinner with their significant others. or when they hang out at the local bar. or hope that violence isn’t visited upon adivasi communities thanks to your greenbacks (http://www.indianexpress.com/ie/daily/19990204/ige04097.html).

  12. ‘Monetory’ contributions from VHP supporters?. The best way to destroy the organization is to ask Indian followers to ‘tithe’ like some other crazy reliogions. Some of the H1Bs sent money out there, because they dont know ‘beer’ and ‘honey’, but that’ll change over time. There is only one way for them to raise money from an Indian, that is to charge $20 (no more than that!) for a mantric talisman from a temple. $10 for water from Ganga(anyone know why it is salty?). $100 contribution to build another temple or to put a golden tome. $10 for devotional songs DVD, $20 for email pooja. LOL.

  13. right, butchery is capital intensive too.

    Good job, You can advance pretty fast in your career. Good luck. :-)

  14. Portmanteau

    If you are ever in Delhi, there is a little flower shop by Palika bazaar that was given to a boy who received the bravery award many years back. He had lost both his arms I believe but can’t recall the exact details.

  15. 114 · umber desi said

    there is a little flower shop by Palika bazaar that was given to a boy who received the bravery award many years back.

    it requires a rare and very admirable alchemy of presence of mind, courage and altruism to do what many of these children who are recipients of the bravery award do. i am always awed by the self sacrifice of these kids, many of whom even lose their lives and limbs (as umber above mentions) while saving others. anna, thanks for showcasing this aspect of the celebrations.

  16. but last year, i met a desi guy who got to shake hands with the president for doing well on his board exams.

    sounds like a loser :) did he try and impress you by telling you this the first time you met? “Hello, my mom thinks I’m gay because all I do is study. Want to pose for a photo with me? I’ll help you with your homework”. are you sure his name wasn’t shawn valentino?

  17. 99 · Kumar said

    You give a laundry list of things done by Congress, and then blame Hindutva :-)

    Reading comprehension: apparently you can read, but not comprehend. I suppose that’s what makes you all so charming.

    :)

    (that was for specially Ponniyin Selvan…my favorite slow thinker)

  18. Reading comprehension: apparently you can read, but not comprehend. I suppose that’s what makes you all so charming.

    Dr.A,

    Good.You are improving.See, you have actually started writing in simple setences :-)

    Here, take this pass from the left.

  19. 116 · right said

    are you sure his name wasn’t shawn valentino?

    i’d tell you; but ladies don’t kiss and tell.

    umber desi, i’m in delhi actually these days.

  20. i feel like politicians had to maintain some semblance of allegiance to law and order and the constitition before the 1990s. just anecdotally, at least politicians would offer to resign if something egregious happened on their watch.

    That makes sense. But I would think that the 90s were just when a lot of trends quickened.

    So bascially I agree with the moral decay in the 90s, but would refrain from looking into the past for a model The causes of what happened in the 90s and since — The rot has always been there. For example, TN was a certainly a kleptocracy in the 80s — MGR made bribery a normal part of doing business (and used to instruct the briber to pay Karnanudhi too!).

    L.K. Advani’s first post in his blog (scroll to bottom) talks about how caste was the deciding factor even in free India’s very first elections.

    And when you mentioned a culture of unaccountable thugs — I grew up hearing tales of what a horrible thug Sanjay Gandhi had been. And looking at his bio shows how muchof power he was a model for every type of abuse of power we read about today.

  21. 120 · DizzyDesi said

    But I would think that the 90s were just when a lot of trends quickened.

    yes, i’d agree with that. no doubt about sanjay gandhi — but at least his goondaism was couched in a rhetoric of how much good he was doing for the country (not that it lets him off the hook at all). i don’t think politicians even bother with justifications anymore, and neither does the public.

  22. Portmanteau and DD,

    Interesting comments from both of you.

    There is probably some correlation to these ‘quickening trends’ and what the country has gone through between late 80s to mid 90s:

    Corruption in high political office – Bofors scandal..many facts came to light, but the alleged perpetrators went scot free.A message to politicians that ‘graft is good.’ And the greater the scam, the easier it is to escape.

    Mandalisation of politics – We started accepting ‘violence’ by special interest groups (both pro-mandal and anti-mandal violence);Union ministers, and State chief ministers started taking sides and encouraging disruption of law and order by their supporters..openly flaunting the success of caste equations in electoral politics became a virtue of real politic.

    Mandirisation of politics – Advani’s Rath Yatra sought to play up emotions and convert it into political capital;Mob violence, violence by State police forces (Provincial Armed Constabulary in UP), inaction/collusion by Union and State govts etc etc; also, for the first time, large numbers of middle and lower middle class people across the country realised the power of disruption (of civic life)..

    Arrival of cross-border terrorism in Kashmir valley, and the IPKF fiasco in Sri Lanka – ISI did in Kashmir what RAW did in Sri Lanka..terror strikes on civilians, ethnic cleansing of Pandits from the Valley, open support by TN govt and TN businessmen to LTTE terrorists..

    The balance of payments crisis forcing PVNR’s hand..economic liberalisation unlocking many avenues for the businessman/criminal/politician nexus, to loot the country..

    Ok..we did better than many neighbours, but we also failed miserably on many accounts..while it is simplistic to blame only the Congress and/or the BJP, what is appalling is the way successive Congress/Third Front/BJP govts, did zilch to address any of these trends..instead, whoever is in power acted as ‘guardians’ for the opposition Netas, and did not prosecute even a single corruption case to its logical conclusion.For example, the BJP did nothing during its tenure to bring the Bofors culrpits to book ( and Vajpayee allegedly intervened with US State Dept when Rahul got caught with USD 200,000 in hard cash at JFK)..similarly Sonia kicked off her 2004 election campaign highlighting the NDA govt’s corruption, but after coming to power, the UPA govt conveniently forgot all those accusations.

    Even at the states level, we can see the same pattern.First, Chandra Babu Naidu or Mulayam Yadav are alleged to be corrupt, and even courts will pass verdicts against them. And then, they lose power, and in comes YSR or Mayawati..and these leaders indulge in even more corruption.The conning of the aam taxpayers continues without any end in sight.

    The late H.K.Surjeet (no, I am not a fan of Mr.Surjeet..I used to hate his brand of coalition politics, but credit where it is due)used to say that corruption has increased as a direct result of thoughtless economic liberalisation.But even the Left did not push MMS & Co to probe into the NDA’s alleged scams.

    The loot is still on…and the violence by special interest groups are growing by the day.And the trend of selective amnesia in the media is also growing.And the public is just not bothered about corruption or violation of law and order any more.

    Is there hope? Yes, there is..but we are not yet in a situation where we can keep our ideological blinkers aside and try to agree on ‘what is best for the country.’

  23. OK, was thinking about this–let’s say you have 70% of the population at zero (on a line ranging from -100 to +100), and 30% at -20. Now, if you favor zero as an outcome, mightn’t you sponsor some +20 groups, in the hope that the eventual compromise will be closer to zero than to -8? Hmmmmm–I would, and I think that there are plenty of historical precedents to support it. E.g., modern (post WWII) history of, say, Taiwan, S. Korea or Chile.

  24. 2 · my_dog_jagat said

    They invited France three times? Three times? And still the French won’t learn Hindi.

    I know tons of French people studying Hindi in India right now! :D