What will be Obama’s legacy?
What will be the state of freedoms for the people?
The changing meanings of freedom in today’s world!
A new ode to freedom likely to be sung for our time?
In the year 1935, I remember and recall Prof.Harold Laski, the famous British political scientist, in those heady days of Soviet Russian Communism in ascendency, the expressions, political thinker and philosophers were not the fashionable phrases, wrote a book called, Liberty in the Modern State.
For those who were growing up in those times, it became a bible of sorts.
There used to be much Leftism, there were Communists and Labour party activists, the British Communist party in fact, actively cultivated a number of Indian Communist leaders who all came back later to India and played critical roles in building up the Indian Communist party and also much of the Leftist politics in India.
The Indian Socialists within the Congress were also an outcome of the rise of Leftists in the then British Labour party and society.
The fashion then was the role of individual liberty was so critical for British Parliamentary democracy and most of the Indians of that generation, why, even those who came after, following the footsteps of the earlier generation, the generations that went to Britain fir their education and who came after and who entered government service as the norm of British education were all trained in the belief of individual liberty as the basic for all our other beliefs.
Now, the world today, in the 21st century, seems to have changed radically. For one thing, the Soviet Russia is no more. It simply disappeared one fine morning, even Gandhi and Nehru would not have dreamt in their wildest of dreams that the world would so radically change.
Even during the Indian freedom struggle, Gandhi and Nehru imagined that America, instead of Britain, could come to play the role it plays today.
Britain would become, descend to such a diminished role, a neglected small nation as it has already become!
Today the Indians have what is called the American dream. Barack Obama symbolises what for Indians, why, certainly for the wider world all that is new, all that is good, the America of hope and inspiration.
Now, Obama, in his second term and what many, his admirers and even his critics, see and ask questions.
What would be his endearing and lasting legacy?
There is a new book on another much-loved American President, John Kennedy. The book, not the usual hagiography but a serious study of what is Kennedy’s enduring legacy.
Kennedy, after a small tragedy in his family, the premature birth of a child, says the author, lost much interest in his governance and started asking himself about his possible legacy.
May be, Obama too, in these days seem to ask himself such questions.
The American Constitution and society are such that you can’t seek power beyond the mandatory 8 years, two terms.
This is one of the other many democratic features of the American democracy. Prof.Laski, though he called himself a Marxist, written authoritative interpretations, was a great admirer of the American Presidency on which he had also written very in-depth books and interpretations. He was also a close friend and observer of the American judiciary.
Now, Obama. Obama is seen as a peace-seeking, on-interventionist, non-military interventionist American President. He is in shark contrast to his predecessor, George Bush. Now, Obama is faced with multiple challenges, as any American President has to be. America is the world’s great power, military power, and economic power too.
American market is the very large. America is also an open society; so many fortune seeking migrants are always seeking entry there. So, America has to maintain peace, so many countries in turmoil and so many interventions, minor and not so minor and so many strategies issues to be tackled.
As it is today, Obama has cancelled his summit meeting with Russian counterpart. Putin has given asylum to Edward Snowden, the 29 year old young American who leaked out the US intelligence seeking surveillance secrets.
American diplomacy in Egypt has not succeeded, though American aid to Egypt is in the range of one billion plus dollars.In Afghanistan there are problems to be solved. In Syria and elsewhere.Obama would certainly like to go down in history as a peace-seeking, civilised world order seeking nation. Obama had got and received all the power he wanted, all the glory he could have dreamed. Nobel Price for Peace! While in office and that too in the midst of wars in which America was an active participant!
Yes, this is America’s contribution and also American contributions.
So, what would be Obama’s legacy?
Certainly, world will celebrate Obama’s great foresight and wisdom, though he is only 52 and young and many years ahead for him to be an inspiration for the future of the world. As for India and Indians in particular, Obama has been good. Indians seeking to settle down in the USA, in 2012 alone, are now about 35,472 with the H-IB visa, got green cards.India for its part, we feel, hasn’t played its role, international role, as Obama might have expected.Because India is not forthcoming, sufficiently forthcoming on a range of issues, Obama, we are sure, is really handicapped.
International diplomacy was once India’s forte. Under Pundit Nehru and V.K.Krishna Menon India counted in world affairs. Not now.
We have suddenly become a timid nation.As open news headline put it, India is cowardly and also servile in its international conduct. We have no leadership, alas!
India for its part must have some minimum sort of clear articulation of great issues. Certainly, India, as the world’s largest democracy, must speak for freedoms of the people everywhere and also uphold democratic values in all dealings.In Egypt, India is strangely, cowardly silent. We can’t even call the military intervention a coup. In the USA, it is called a coup and the military aid has to be cut.
Also, in Afghanistan we have to do what we can to smooth matters.
Once India reaches out to nations where freedoms and democracy matter, then, India will get back its own stature, now not realised, not shown by our own leaders.
This is a pity. We have to stand up with the Obama peace efforts, Obama’s seeking to articulate and seek allies in a great cause, international peace. USA has to distance itself from the UK.UK is a tricky ally. India has to acquire an identity of its own. It is time we realise that the world is getting better, both economically and politically.
Now, freedoms are sought after by all peoples. Even in China it is an issue. Human rights, various individual rights, right to freedoms, right to travel, right to information etc are all now greatly valued.
Of course, the international media, TV news channels as in Qatar and in Latin America and elsewhere are becoming more free and more assertive.
These are the exciting times for the man. This may be described by successive generations as the most open society and the world. More freedoms humankind enjoyed.