Many people in the world, particularly the blacks and the browns, identify with the American President, Barack Obama, so much that they consider him as their President. After all, he looks like them, has more or less the same background, and also talks like them. Obama’s father was an African, his mother, a white woman, married an Indonesian after she divorced his father, and Obama himself lived in Indonesia for some time and went to school there. Obama’s grandmother still lives, or used to live, in Africa.
But, as the whole world knows, Obama is neither an African nor an Asian. He is very much an American. After all, when every thing is said and done, he is President of the United States, is paid by US taxpayers, and lives in the White House. For him, US interests come first; everything else is secondary.
During the presidential campaign, Obama used to say that American companies were, investing too much outside America and were not creating jobs for Americans inside the US. According to him, this was wrong. After all, it stands to reason that US companies, no matter what business they do and where, should create jobs in the US, and pay US taxes. Instead, they were creating too many jobs outside America and many of them were not paying taxes in the US at all.
Obama now says that US companies should prefer Buffalo, New York, to Bangalore, India, meaning they should create more jobs in the US. He has therefore decided to bring in a new tax code, under which US companies will have to pay taxes on their profits outside the US, and will have to do without subsidies. This is going to hurt their so-called business out-sourcing, business outside America and therefore their overall profits. It is also going to hurt their Indian and other local employees, but that is not Obama’s concern.
This means that US companies like Hewlett-Packard, IBM etc, which do business in India and do not pay taxes on the profits they make here, will be affected. It also means that they will employ fewer Indian employees than before.
The main thing to remember is that Barack Obama is taking steps to safeguard the interests of Americans who have elected him their President. The fact that it will also affect the interests of Indians and others adversely is not his concern. They did not elect him president; the Americans did.
The Americans are very particular when it comes to jobs inside America. It is extremely difficult for US companies to employ non-Americans without going through a large number of steps and legal hurdles. Even in Hollywood, which has the image of a free-wheeling city where anything goes, outsiders can be employed only with the permission of trade unions. You cannot bring in a non-American script-writer without the permission of the script-writres’ guild—in the US. There are actors, guilds, there are photographers’ guilds and there are electricians’ guilds. You cannot bring in foreign actors or actresses without the permission of the Actors’ Guild, which, at one time, was headed by Ronald Reagan, before, of course, he became US President.
In her autobiography, Ingrid Bergman, a Swedish actress, describes what she had to go through to secure the permission of the Actors Guild to enable her to work in Hollywood, and how she had to humour Ronald Reagan and others to get a permit to act in US films. This was also the case with actresses like Marlene Dietrich, Sophia Loren and others, and actors like Maurice Chevalier and Laurence, Olivier, who were not Americans.
In India, it is a free house for foreigners. We are like a dharmashala where anybody can come and stay, and take any job and even become the president of a national political party. Any Tom, Dick and Harry from anywhere in the world can come and work in India, collect money by the bagful and go back—or remain here—no questions asked. Gazal singers come here regularly from Pakistan and sing to bejewelled women in Delhi and Mumbai, and go home loaded with goodies, also no questions asked. Such a thing can never happen in America or Britain, where even Charlie Chaplin was threatened with jail, unless he paid up.
The other day, there was a court case about a Pakistani singer called Adnan Sami who has or apparently been working in Bollywood for the last decade or so and has collected crores and amassed a huge fortune, according to his own wife. He owns dozens of flats in Mumbai and elsewhere and is said to be worth more than Rs 50 crore. In Pakistan, he was a nobody. In India, he is a celebrity of sorts and the twenty—some thing females who man our TV channels swoon, or used to swoon, at his appearances. Incidentally, he has brought his whole family to India, including his father.
The question is: how did he come to India in the first place? Who gave him permission to come and work in Bollywood? Does he have a permit and, if so, how did he get it? Does he pay taxes here at all? There are scores of Indian singers of a vastly superior calibre than Sami. Is there a Pakistani ring in Bollywood that works for Pakistani performers? If so, who patronises it? Incidentally, did Indian singers lodge a protest against foreign singers performing in India? And if not, why not?
This is the main difference between the US and the Indian government. The US government, including the US President, works for Americans; the Indian government works for foreigners. If a man like Quattrocchi, can get away with murder, figuratively speaking, and of course, Rs 64 crore, what is the government doing? By this time, Quattrocchi should have been in jail, along with his Indian patrons, for looting Indian taxpayers’ money. Instead, this commission agent from Italy is richer by Rs 64 crore and enjoying the loot in Switzerland or wherever it is that Italians go after robbing other countries where they do their business.
Under Obama, people come first, companies afterwards. Obama is working in the interests of the country that elected him President, not foreigners who work for US companies. Companies in India can and do purchase politicians and get their work done. That is how we find Adnan Sami and others making money in India. But men like Barack Obama are made of sterner stuff. This is the main difference between India and the United States of America.