The Elite Are Not the Whole of India by Mohammed Ataur Rahman (JANUARY 15, 2009)

Mohammed Ataur Rahman questions the outgoing US President George W. Bush’s assertion that he is popular in India

Sorry to begin it with a negative: Mr. George W. Bush has never been counted among the more intelligent presidents of the United States. Even if we forget his familiar penchant for gaucherie there is not really much about him that makes him anything resembling a popular (or pleasant) person. That is true of his persona as US president as well.

At his farewell conference in Washington on January 12 he declared that he might not be popular in the US or Europe, but he was certainly popular in Africa, China and India. Only time will tell how popular he has been with Africans, but the China claim is highly exaggerated.

He said that to gauge his popularity people should ask Indians. That claim is largely based on two points. The first is Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s reported assertion that Mr. Bush is popular with Indians, the second being a survey that reportedly said Mr. Bush was highly popular in India.

Now, let us examine the first point. Mr. Singh, being a former World Bank employee, is expected to be appreciative of a US president (any US president, for that matter) and his ways. That is standard World Bank-employee behaviour. Secondly, how reliable such surveys are is anybody’s guess. By now we know how reliable the psephological claims of our “experts” really are with the end of every election season.

Mr. Bush has said that he is unpopular among the Western elite only. The other side of it is also true: Mr. Bush’s “popularity” in India is limited to the elite in cities only. The villages, the middle class, the left, the centre-left have no great love for the outgoing US president. Add to those vast numbers the 15 crore Muslims of India who don’t see a hero in Mr. Bush.

Mr. Bush is what Mr. Bush is: a man who has seriously harmed the world, the Muslim world, the future generations. To top it all, he has harmed the United States which, too, has to live in the same world Mr. Bush has harmed.

Mr. Bush is in the company of Nero and Hitler, grossly unpopular figures of history. He is not certainly the stuff of which his predecessors Lincoln and Jefferson were made. Mr. Bush is popular? That must be the biggest joke of 2009.


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