Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A new sort of togetherness

AT A Hindu temple in Chicago, hundreds of people of Indian descent, professing many faiths, turned up from across Illinois and farther afield to hear a speaker from back home. But the meeting on May 15th was not the usual style of diaspora politics, in which a nation’s far-flung children are urged to cheer for the homeland.

The man they came to see was Jayaprakash Narayan, head of a movement called Lok Satta which opposes corruption and wants electoral reform. And the aim of his month-long American tour, which includes venues like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Google headquarters in California, is to get support from Indian-Americans for a drive to correct some of India’s failings. That sounds a lot better than passing round the hat for hardline Hindu nationalist causes, something else that occurs in the diaspora.

Bad, sleazy government, Mr Narayan says, is holding India back, crippling the country in its race with China. Having voted with their feet by leaving the country, he adds, Indians abroad should now help make their homeland worth staying in. Independent India’s early rulers had picked up statist ideas when studying in Britain; a new cohort of Indians, having thrived in economies like America’s, are nudging the country towards a freer market. This transmission of ideas, he notes, is easier in an electronic age.

Courtesy: The Economist

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