Violence, both public and private, remained an all-too-pervasive part of Indian life. India’s politics still revolved around religion, clan, and caste, wrote Obama in his book ‘A Promised Land’
WASHINGTON — The quickest route to national unity in India is “expressing hostility toward Pakistan,” says Barack Obama, America’s first coloured president in his new book, “A Promised Land.”
The book, released worldwide on Nov 17, also includes a pen portrait of former Indian prime minister, Manmohan Singh, whom he first met at the 2009 G20 summit in Pittsburgh, writes The Dawn.
When Obama met Singh again during his visit to India in November 2010, Singh told him that he feared “rising anti-Muslim sentiment had strengthened the influence of Hindu nationalist BJP”, the main opposition party at the time.
Obama described Singh as “a gentle, soft-spoken economist” who engineered the modernisation of his nation’s economy.
Obama quoted Singh as saying that the “call of religious and ethnic solidarity can be intoxicating” for politicians, particularly in a country like India, which was still racked by poverty, wealth inequality, violence and ultra-nationalism.
Obama noted that “many Indians (took) great pride in the knowledge that their country had developed a nuclear weapons programme to match Pakistan’s, untroubled by the fact that a single miscalculation by either side could risk regional annihilation.”
“Violence, both public and private, remained an all-too-pervasive part of Indian life. Expressing hostility towards Pakistan was still the quickest route to national unity,” Obama wrote.
“Most of all, India’s politics still revolved around religion, clan, and caste.”
But Obama also acknowledged that “in many respects, modern-day India counted as a success story, having survived repeated changeovers in government, bitter feuds within political parties, various armed separatist movements, and all manner of corruption scandals”.
But “despite its genuine economic progress, … India remained a chaotic and impoverished place: largely divided by religion and caste, captive to the whims of corrupt local officials and power brokers, hamstrung by a parochial bureaucracy that was resistant to change,” he added.
“A Promised Land” ends with the US raid on the Bin Laden compound in 2011 and, therefore, does not include the current Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi.