Why America Treats Indians So Well, and Arabs So Badly

Think carefully if you will, about this dissimilarity: the leaders of the West, with George Bush in their lead, are competing to visit and make inroads with India and conclude transactions and agreements with her, while content to send second – or third – tier officials to lecture and offer lessons, dictate conditions and criticize the behavior of governments in the Arab region!

There are two ways for us to interpret this Western behavior. The first is a simple one, and proposes that they hate us, are using double standards and are just carrying on their traditional hostility toward Arabs and Muslims.

The other explanation is more nuanced, and looks at what distinguishes the Indians from us [Arabs]. Why do these Indians meet with such treatment, noting that – until the beginning of the 1990’s – Indians looked upon the West with hostility, and considered the CIA the principle cause of the country’s poverty and suffering. On the other hand, they aren’t fair-skinned or blue-eyed to the point that the West has embraced them. So, there must be other reasons for this Western affection.

The first of these reasons is that India’s democracy is real and not a formality or just for outside consumption. It is just as Indian-American Fareed Zakaria says, Americans accept petulance from self-confident democracies, but they refuse the same from dictatorships, and indeed they sometimes pressure them into cooperating. Furthermore, Indian democracy corrects mistakes and uncovers corruption, despite the fact that the task is daunting, the system favors the most well-qualified people, and great strides have been made to reduce inequality based on color, gender and religion. The case of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is exemplary, for he descends from the Sikh minority, but has risen to the highest position based on competence and integrity.

But democracy alone is not enough, for despite the fact that it has existed in India since 1947, the West still wouldn’t accept her. So here comes the second reason: the economic, educational, and technological boom that India is experiencing – a boom felt in the West through India’s various exports, and because of the Indian workers that have been absorbing American jobs while remaining in India, in what is known as outsourcing.

What makes this boom distinct is that it is the product of – not government decrees as is the case in China – but a society comprised of the largest educated middle class in the world. For that you will find hundreds – nay, thousands – of success stories from individuals who began with nothing and made it to the top. And this resembles what happened in America in the past. This is the image of India in the eyes of the West … a friendly democratic State working for progress and development.

So what about our image? States that emanate violence and terrorism (the September attacks) and in which there is no place for democracy, that do not succeed in achieving economic advancement despite their wealth in natural resources … and unfortunately, many of our actions work to reinforce that image. So can we blame the West for the way it treats us?

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