A few minutes watching CNN-IBN tis evening reminded me of one reason I am so glad I don't possess a TV. The reduction of complex issues to simplicity, even simple-mindedness, is hard to swallow. And add on top of that the way panelists sometimes shout each other down -- indeed I am glad I don't have a TV and almost never watch this stuff.
This was a session discussing the fallout of President Obama's visit, and in particular the question of whether US-India relations were now "better" or "stronger" or some such than US-Pakistani relations. Rajdeep Sardesai repeated that Obama had said something about the US-India relationship "defining" the 21st Century and wanted the Pakistani guest to react to that. Didn't that itself show that the US was more interested in India than in Pakistan? One guest, a G Parthasarathy, said to the Pakistani guest that India has self-respect and does not go about with a begging bowl the way Pakistan does, and therefore he could not understand why this Pakistani was on the show, there should instead have been a Chinese man on.
I find this all nearly infantile. What does "defining the 21st Century" mean anyway, apart from just sounding nice? What else would we expect a visiting US President to say in public except mostly ego-stroking non-sequiturs like that? What does it say about us that we take it so seriously? (Consider, will we take just as seriously Obama's suggestion that "India has often avoided" speaking out about rights abuses in Myanmar and other countries?)
As for begging bowls and self-respect, this report from just a few months ago tells us about new World Bank financing for building transport infrastructure in Bombay. Why did we take this money? In fact, the World Bank and other foreign agencies have poured money into India for years for development projects. Does Parthasarathy so easily forget that?
Besides, what does it say about a nation's self-respect when we hold up innocuous pronouncements by US Presidents? (Remember Bush's I Do?)
What does it say about a nation's, and a man's, self-respect when we (and he) yearn only to be compared to what we ourselves perceive as the big boys -- China for example -- and not to Pakistan? It says the Pakistani guest was right: what Parthasarathy said only showed his own obsession with Pakistan.
The day we stop caring who compares or equates us to which country is the day we'll find self-respect. Maybe then I'll get a TV.