Friday, June 29, 2007

Roping in Bollywood for Hillary campaign?

Read in the media that some US resident Indians are planning to rope in Bollywood stars for the Clinton campaign. Thought our biradari in the US had more sense. I can understand their enthusiasm for the US presidential race. But getting Bollywood stars to campaign for Hillary appears a corny idea. Does anyone really believe Amitabh Bacchan or Rani Mukherjee can sway the electorate? Indian-Americans account for less than one percent of the US population.

I can understand Bollywood stars doing a door-to-door in Mumbai to collect old clothes and cash for flood or quake relief. Involving them in a poll campaign, even in India, has been little more than a media hype. In the recent UP elections the Samajwadi Party featured Amitabh Bacchan in TV promos. The super-star probably was more effective flogging Dabur Chyawanprash on TV.

I can’t see Shahrukh Khan or that Zinta girl campaigning for Hillary at community centres in the US suburbs and the gurudwara Sunday congregations. Whoever has thought of drafting Bollywood star may be having in mind a song-and-dance programme as fund-raiser . Which is old hat. Besides, live shows of filimy item numbers may no longer be the money-spinners they once were. Someone mentioned a recent Asha Bhonsle concert bombed, insofar as there were hardly a thousand people in a venue that could hold ten times that number. One reason is that they are too many of them, held much too often, featuring the same old faces.

A report in speaks of plans by Indian Americans to raise at least $5 million for the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign. For her senate bid the New York Indian community had chipped in $50,000. Accepting the gift, at a fund-raiser held by a Maryland dentist, Rajwant Singh, Hillary had reportedly joked, “I can certainly run for a senate seat in Punjab and win easily”. At a more recent fund-raiser in San Jose, a participant identified as director of a Mumbai-based tech firm is reported as saying, “If Bill Clinton ran for president or prime minister in India, he’d win”.

Hillary Clinton spoke at the Maryland fund-raiser what her Indian audience wanted to hear. But her folksy talk hasn’t evidently gone down well with the Americans, for whom India has come to be identified with one word – ‘outsourcing’. The point is, in her bid for Indian-Americans' support, Hillary may stand to lose more votes than she might gain. Her opponents are making an issue of the Clintons’ apparent closeness to India and Indians.

A recent newspaper headline said, ‘Clintons’ support to Indian companies deserves attention’. The media article, by Newsday columnist James P Pinkerton, reasons that America under Hillary wouldn’t be such a good idea. As he put it, if Hillary could cruise to the Democratic nomination, and perhaps, the presidency, ‘American jobs will continue to cruise to India’.

In Pinkerton’s reckoning the Clintons seem to have, what he terms, ‘unnaturally close connections’ with foreign companies interested in draining American jobs. “Shouldn’t this be of interest to Americans”, asks the columnists, and answers his own question, “but the mainstream media seem to say no”.

To further his point Pinkerton says Bill Clinton has invested $50,000 in an India-based electronic-transactions company. He has accepted $300,000 in speaking fees from Cisco Systems, which, among other enterprises, helps American companies outsource jobs to India.

The flaw in Pinkerton’s piece is in its statistics. The columnist cites an economist’s projection that “40 million American jobs could be lost to outsourcing in coming decades”. How many decades? That is not made clear in Pinkerton’s commentary.

Cross-posted in Desicritics and Zine5

1 comment:

david mcmahon said...

Good writing never goes out of date - ever.

More power to your pen.