By Pravin Mundkur
LEXINGTON, MA–Some Indian Immigrants, especially those who are now US Citizens, may have observed that India voted against the United States and Israel, with regard to the move by the US to recognize Jerusalem as essentially wholly part of Israel.
The question is, how do Indian Immigrants feel about this vote?
The Indian Immigrant Community in the USA is a relatively new community — most of us arriving in the USA only after 1965 and the passage of the “Civil Rights Act” by the Johnson Administration. Many of us, first generation immigrants, have felt welcomed in the USA and have managed to establish ourselves as a growing and successful community here. As such, we are always looking for stronger relationships between the US and India – the country of our origin and, for many, the country of our heart. We tend to look for, and cheer, every positive step in this relationship. And we are dismayed if this takes any backward step.
India is on the verge of establishing a growing and favorable relationship with the United States and Israel. A relationship with the US has been troubled at times. In this, India can benefit greatly, as the US and Israel both have advanced Defense Technologies (among many other technologies) — technologies that India is trying hard to establish rapidly in India. With the threat from China, India needs all the help it can get.
On the counterbalance, India also has a relationship with the oil rich and Islamic Middle East — especially Saudi Arabia and Iran. With Iran especially, India is working on getting a route to transport supplies to Afghanistan, and also to establish a lower cost route to trade with Russia and Europe.
While neither Saudi Arabia nor Iran have been propagating a “kinder and gentler” Islam, India has a sensitive relationship. For the longer term, India needs to develop a vision for its own Islamic population that is clear and distinct from that of Middle East. She needs to promote a vision that permits this Islamic population (as well as the majority Hindu, and Sikhs and Christians) to integrate well with the rest and to advance to a unified thinking suitable for the future of a nation. It does not need to antagonize Muslims, nor does it need to pitch strongly for them — unless they unequivocally support India on sensitive topics such as Kashmir or other topics.
In this situation, it appears that smartest vote for India would have been to simply stand aside and abstain. No need to involve in another hot issue. Jerusalem is far from India, but near and dear to Israel.
(Pravin Mundkur has been active in the Indian-American community. He holds a B.Tech for IIT, Powai, and an MS and MBA, from UC, Berkley, California. He is currently working on a BlockChain startup with his son Shiv Mundkur.)