What Bobby Jindal must learn from the newest Indian in America

Bobby Jindal by Derek Bridges

From India with love

(This piece first appeared on my blog Ankit Grover’s Shack)

In a country with a teeming population of over a billion people, not every Indian has an opportunity to make it big in the country of his birth. Millions of patriots flock to greener pastures in search of sunrise, and return home to find things still moving at the pace of a bullock cart.

There is hope though. There is always hope as long as the young Indian grazes on perseverance and determination. One such Indian giant by the name of Satnam Singh Bhamara did exactly that. He made it big — in America — by becoming the first Indian-born basketball player to be picked in the NBA draft (by the Dallas Mavericks).

Unlike Sim Bhullar — who is a Canadian of Indian-origin; Satnam is FBI (Full Blooded Indian). With cows for company, he honed his basketballing talents in the hitherto obscure town of Balloke in Punjab; and now, five years later, he has a one-way ticket to Dallas.

A little more than 170 km away from Balloke lies the town of Khanpura, the ancestral village of a man whose parents who had a one-way ticket to America, and never looked back; a man who’s running for the most powerful job in the world — The President of the United States of America.

No prizes for guessing who the subject in question is — Bobby Jindal! The real question is: Who is he?

As Shashi Tharoor puts it, in an immigrant nation of atavists and assimilationists, he is the latter’s dream; except that he takes his extreme belief an extra country mile.

In 2008, a 36-year old Bobby (née Piyush) Jindal achieved no mean feat when he became the first US Governor of Indian origin. He had broken the glass ceiling of American politics by occupying the highest office in Louisiana despite the brown colour of his skin.

India too reveled in the victory of their greatest export (albeit indirectly) to the American political arena. But is it to India’s credit that Jindal has achieved the success that he has? He doesn’t believe so in the least.

Bobby Jindal hates, nay despises any association with all things Indian. The hyphen is his least favourite punctuation mark, the mirror his most disliked object- he loathes being called an Indian-American; he hates the colour of his skin and his Hindu past. He is among the most conservative of the conservative Republican Party, a white interior trapped in a brown exterior.

It is quite alright to not want to be termed a hyphenated-American, but to reject the idea with such indignation and disgust towards the nation of your parents is simply deplorable and disrespectful to anyone with Indian blood running through their veins.

Never mind that he is the antipode of all Indianness, or that he doesn’t like to acknowledge or celebrate his ancestry, one thing is quite certain: the road is the White House won’t be easy for Bobby Jindal. And he certainly isn’t banking on the support of the over 3 million strong Indian-American population to be US President.

But Jindal mustn’t forget: Indians may be a divided community; but when they detest someone, their hatred is so fervently profound that it unites them notwithstanding the colour of their passports.

And remember, when an Indian makes it big in America, the nation rejoices (ask Satnam). An Indian — who never forgets his roots.

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