Vantage point

Friday, May 06, 2011

India-US Relationship Parallels with Angsty College Non-Romances

I have been amused at the self-righteous outrage in the Indian media over the US supposedly "refraining from drawing a parallel between 9/11 and 26/11". So what did we expect? That the US will say - "yes, yes, you absolutely have the right to go after LeT guys in Pakistan. In fact, allow us to do that for you! How many navy SEALs would you like?"

On one hand, the Indian government, most of the Indian media, and a large chuck of the laregly-lefty intellectual class want India to maintain an arm's length distance from the US. They cheer and support steps like snubbing US firms in the $10bn fighter jet deal. They want us to be pro-Iran. They find nothing wrong with India's protectionist measures against the US.

Which is fine. Not something I agree with, but these positions, stressing independence from the US, are fair ones to take.

But on the other hand, they also want the US to go out of its way in supporting India. They want explicit blessings for our "hot pursuit" dreams (And dreams is what they are. Are we really capable of taking out anyone inside Pakistan? Get real!"). They want the US to increase the number of H1B visas and are opposed to hikes in visa fees. They want the US to carry us into the UN Security Council and execute the nuclear deal according to our wishes.

India's general attitude towards the US reminds me of a species of girls that are all too common in colleges in India and among Indian grad students in the US - the "chaste good friend" species.

You all know the "chaste good friend"! She is very friendly with a couple of guys in college. She proudly says "I find guys easier to be friends with than girls". These guys will fix her ailing laptop, give her rides to class or for some work, help her with her homework, do her share in a group project, and generally be her unofficial handymen. They do all this because they generally have the hots for her.

But remember, she is "chaste"! So when one such guy's feelings come out in the open, she either "thinks of you only as a friend" or "hasn't thought about him THAT way" or "feels this is the time for her to focus on her studies/career" or "doesn't think her parents, whom she respects too much would approve". But but but, "your friendship still means a lot to her, we should stay friends". So the guy continues to be her handyman/driver because they are such good friends! And of course, he is optimistic that some day, she will upgrade their friendship.

That is India's general attitude towards the US. India wants the US to go out of its way because "we are such good friends". But India doesn't want to go that extra mile (or "put out" if you will), because it doesn't think of the US "that" way.

The thing is, America is not a socially awkward grad student with limited prospects. If India won't "put out", America isn't giving India a ride anywhere. America has other options, several girls who will put out. Heck, they even have a dysfunctional relationship with this superhot but schizophrenic chick that they can just visit late at night and do anything they wish, as long as they keep paying for her meals on dates. They don't need to keep carrying the water for India hoping that one night, India might invite them up for a cup of chai.

So Indian media, the next time you feel like outraging about the US not exhorting India to attack Pakistan or raising visa fees or suchlike, remember the "chaste good friend". And calm down.