United by country, divided by ideology

Politics of convenience of Indian Americans


July 31, 2021

/ By / New Delhi

United by country, divided by ideology

Indian Americans are highly divided over ideologies for India and America

Indian-Americans have been seen as the most heavily left-leaning diaspora among the Asian-American community, but the diaspora switches colours when it comes to their ancestral country.

Rate this post

It is often said that it is the environment that you are in those shapes you, it moulds your perspectives, your opinions, and your view of the world, from your favourite ice cream flavour to your political leanings. For Indian Americans, that comes as a mixed bag because they grow up in a fusion world, with west and east, coexisting side by side and influencing each other at times.

Growing up in two very different societies, in culture and ideology, Indian Americans find themselves smack in the middle of this divide. And the divide is perhaps nowhere clearer than in the political arena.

Over the years, there have been several surveys saying that a majority of the Indian American population considers itself to be liberal or centre leaning left in America. It would normally be safe to imagine that the same ideology would also apply to vis a vis their homeland. But a study by University of Pennsylvania, Johns Hopkins-SAIS, and Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, shows otherwise.

How do Indian Americans view India reaffirm the belief that Indian American lean more towards the left. About 65 pc disapproved of the Trump administration. “Given that Indian Americans heavily favour the Democratic Party, their disapproval of Trump is to be expected,” reads the report, “but this disapproval does not mechanically extend to Modi.”

The survey reported that 36 pc of the Indian Americans think India is on the right track (politically), while the other 39 pc thought otherwise.

“I think it has a lot to do with, the community’s general perception toward politics in India,” says Purnima Sharma, a dermatologist in Virginia. “We grew up listening to our parents and families complain about just how bad things were under the previous government, that it really didn’t matter if a right-wing party is going to be in charge. The general feeling was, anyone but the Congress,” she says.

This sentiment was also shared by a majority of respondents as only 12 pc identified with Congress, but on the other hand, a striking 32 pc of people most closely identified with the BJP. The report read, “When it comes to the Congress Party and (Rahul) Gandhi, however, both Democrats and Republicans are relatively bearish.”

Though the difference didn’t only stop there, one of the questions on the survey was if they approve of the Modi government and the religious divide among the respondents became stark clear. Over all 49 pc of the Indian Americans viewed Modi in a favourable light, but people who identified with Hinduism were more likely to view the current regime in a positive way. “The religious divide is striking. Almost seven in ten Hindus approve of Modi’s performance, while just one in five Muslims do the same. Indian American Christians are evenly divided,” reads the report.

“It’s not news to anyone that the Modi government have had an old habit of trying to appease the majority,” Sharma tells Media India Group “and in recent years, he has tried to do the same in America, with his massive rallies. Personally, I don’t think any other Indian government has reached out to the Indian American diaspora like the current one has, and specifically the Hindu Indian Americans, he has fed us the same slogans and narratives that he told back in India,” adds Sharma.

This survey also makes it clear, that the respondents are very much divided over government policies in both countries. “Indian Americans’ policy views are more liberal on issues affecting the United States and more conservative on issues affecting India,” the report informs.

“While Trump was in power, most of the community did not agree with most of the policies be it on migration or rights of minorities, but it is interesting to notice that at this same time, Modi’s administration was making some of the same policies, just put into Indian context, and a lot of people here in America got behind them,” says Sharma.

Almost 55 pc and 51 pc Indian Americans backed the NRC and CAA respectively, while a majority of them had somewhat negative views on America’s migration laws under Republicans, “I would call it a bit hypocritic,” adds Sharma, “it just goes on to show, ideologies count for nothing sometimes, as long as it benefits your lifestyle, you’ll go with it.”



    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *