Expectedly, the Republicans have gained substantially in the US mid-term elections, a shadow that will hang over President Barack Obama’s India visit. But India has little reason to worry. The Republicans will only tone down aspects of Obama’s policy that work against Indian interests. A case in point was Obama’s legislation against outsourcing that was voted down thanks to Republicans even before this recent victory. This only illustrates an old Indian dilemma. In their viewpoints the Democrats seem more palatable; in their actions, it is the Republicans who are far easier to live with. In the end, the practical mode of behaviour is the same for individuals and nations—India needs to judge people by their acts. But by the same token, Indian Americans have little reason to celebrate. The only Indian American winner is the Republican Nikki Haley, once known as Nimrata Randhawa, who is now Governor of South Carolina. The truth though is, Nikki has made no attempts to claim her Indian identity, in contrast to the Indian-American Democrat candidates who contested with an open affirmation of their identity and lost. Haley is not the first to take this route. She is preceded by Piyush Subhash Chandra Amrit ‘Bobby’ Jindal, who is currently Governor of Louisiana. While Haley—a Sikh—converted to Methodism before her marriage in 1996, Bobby—a Hindu—converted to Christianity in high school. Either conversion may have been heartfelt, but it does seem that neither would have made much headway in their political career without this step.
After all, both Haley and Jindal seem to have selected among the many available options in the Deep South with some care. They could have exercised options such as the one offered by Haley’s sister Simran Singh, a ‘visionary and a life coach’ who brings out a magazine called 11:11: ‘There definitely is a shifting of the universe. There are gridlines that are shifting within the earth that are energetic. The 11:11s are showing up more and more for people as they are opening up to their own spiritual path. And it is basically to symbolise the gateway, that here is the gate.’ But perhaps not the gate Nikki or Bobby had in mind.