New Delhi: In a single day, American voters have done more to boost their country’s image abroad than their government did in eight years, simply by sending Barack Obamato the Oval Office with a handsome majority.
Across the Internet, many Indians reacted to Obama’s win with more optimism than they have expressed for their elected leaders. Status messages on social networking site Facebook cheered Obama, congratulated American democracy, and in various ways paraphrased one Facebooker’s sentiment: “The change is coming.”
Indian bloggers thrilled more to the symbolic value of the win than to any expected benefits coming their way from an Obama presidency. “The win is extraordinary. Not just because he is a black. But because his Muslim-sounding name was made an issue,” wrote an anonymous blogger on AnIndianMuslim.com. “Still, Obama managed to dispel all the fears and symbolized change.”
On Trak.in, ordinarily a business blog, Arun Prabhudesai broke from his agenda to write: “Till a couple of years back, I thought America was not anywhere near to accepting a black president, but that’s the reality today—and with it—America has changed for me positively.”
A few layers below the heady enthusiasm, however, more reasoned debate had already broken out on blogs. Harish C., blogging on Desicritics.org, wrote: “A lot of euphoria may vanish over the days as the stark realities of recession hit home hard.”
Puncturing the giddiness of one post, a commenter named Sriram Vadlamani reminded readers: “Obama is not God. He cannot fix (an) America (that) was screwed up mostly in the last eight years and largely in the last two decades. His policies will not be drastically different.”
Nitin Pai, who blogs on national security at The Acorn and has written opinion articles in Mint, noted that Obama had shrewdly waited until the final phases of his campaign before talking about Kashmir.
“In fact, for a platform that emphasises change, Mr Obama’s ‘Kashmir thesis’ is a remix of an old idea that didn’t ever work,” Pai wrote. “If Mr Obama really wants change, he’d do well to tell the Pakistanis to stop worrying about the wishes of the Kashmiri people and start worrying about their own.”
And reliably present to insert tongue into cheek was Son of Bosey, a humour blog that models itself on the satirical journal The Onion. “Apparently, Mr Obama’s huge popularity in India stems from his nice smile, pleasant looks, and his general dissimilarity to George W. Bush,” wrote Anand Ramachandran.
Then, in a conclusion that is possibly closer to the truth than he realizes, Ramachandran wrote: “Things are expected to return to normal within a few days, when people eventually tire of pretending to be informed about international politics and return to watching boneheaded celebrities making fools of themselves on television.”