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If Americans Want To Flee U.S., Where Does That Leave Us Indians?

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If Americans Want To Flee U.S., Where Does That Leave Us Indians?

Donald Trump yelling

People want to leave the US because Donald Trump might become President. The question is: are people being flippant because they hate Trump or is it something more deep rooted?

 

At 9.8 million square kilometres, it is the third largest country in the world, after Russia and Canada.

 

It has a coastline that runs for 19,924 km and has a terrain that spans from a “Vast central plain, mountains in the west, hills and low mountains in the east to rugged mountains and broad river valleys”.

 

Average life expectancy is at a healthy 79.6 years and if you are a woman it is even higher at 81.9years. If you do, god forbid, fall ill or worse, get hospitalised, worry not.

 

Health expenditure here is 17.1% of GDP (In India, it struggles at the 2% mark incidentally) and there are 2.45 physicians per 1,000 members of population. And the chances of your getting a hospital room are bright, there are 2.9 beds per 1,000 population. Don’t even ask what that number is for India.

 

Access to drinking water is available in this country to almost 99% of the population and so is sanitation. Actually, these are not even issues. Did you ask about India ? Well, only 47% of households in India had toilets according to the 2011 Census, but then, this was an improvement of 11 percentage points over the 2001 Census.

 

And finally, GDP for this clearly impressive place is $17.9 trillion (India is $2.1 trillion) and per capita GDP is $54,800. India’s per capita GDP is around $1,500 by the way. Not much of a comparison is there ?

 

And yet, people want to leave the United States of America (if you hadn’t guessed already) because Donald Trump might become President in the coming November elections.

 

Trump haters Canada

Jay Rosenthal’s blog offering his concierge services to Americans who would want to leave the US for Canada if Donald Trump becomes president. (Screenshot)

 

News reports quote stars like singer Cher and Lena Dunham saying they will move to Canada if Trump were to win. AFP cites a Morning Consult/Vox poll that 28% of Americans would `likely’ consider moving to another country if Trump wins. Now, that’s a quarter of America’s population of 319 million !

 

The question to an outsider like me is: are people being flippant here because they hate the sight and sound of Trump or is it something more deep rooted ?

 

Thus, will they actually pick up bag and baggage and head to the airport ? Answer is, we don’t know, at least today.

 

To be fair to Trump, apparently the “I want to leave America” chorus starts playing whenever there is an election. Right now, there are calls for leaving America if Hillary Clinton wins or if Bernie Sanders wins. There have been similar calls in the past as well. But apparently, none at the magnitude that Trump has evoked.

 

 

On March 2, “Move to Canada” was the most searched phrase in Google’s history. Note that Google has been barely around for two presidencies and previous American urges to run away have not been documented.

 

Flippant or not, this raises three larger points:

 

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  1. Faith In Democracy:  America was created in July 1776 when it declared itself independent from England. It’s constitution was signed in September 1787 which makes it almost 230 years old. Without delving into much popular history, America has a democratic tradition that goes back more than two centuries and has survived long and withstood many changes.

    It ought to follow from a strong democratic tradition that citizens trust the democratic process enough to say that they will accept whoever or whatever the process throws up, as it has all these years. India’s democracy is only 69 years old in contrast and we are quite obviously finding our way around.

    The next logical question is: does the call to move out of America mean that people (at least some) have lost faith in the process, even if this is being expressed somewhat flippantly ? The answer to this is not clear but has somewhat dangerous ramifications. Because it suggests – at least by inference – that the process of democratically electing a leader is now fraught with risk or cannot be trusted. Not what you would want to hear from the citizens of a 230-year-old democracy.
  2. Are We Are All The Same: We Indians actually don’t threaten, we do. America alone has close to 3.4 million Indians who have settled there. Saudi Arabia has around 3 million but it is likely many could get kicked out (along with others) if oil prices start diving and stay there.

    Most Indians would not link their continued stay in India to either this Government or that or a particular individual, however much you say you hate Prime Minister Narendra Modi. We are fairly neutral that way. Yes, you would be right in saying the cumulative impact of the Nehru-Gandhi dynastic misrule has led to many voting with their feet, particularly over the last four decades.
  3. Who Takes Responsibility: Fact is not everyone migrates. For every Indian who goes orAmerican who wants to, there will be more who will stay on to try and fix things. They will do this by exercising their electoral rights or by working hard in their chosen fields or, if they are more driven, take up jobs and roles that will help serve their country in a more direct manner. The good news is that this is the majority.

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Trump may well become President though the statisticians claim the numbers don’t add up right now. But they also acknowledge they have been wrong in judging his popularity so far.  Fact is that there is widespread discontent with Trump and his way of life. And this includes his own Republican party members as well.

 

It is intriguing that America’s democratic process that threw up its first African-American president Barack Obama just eight years ago is also debating choosing between a first woman president and a realtor cum reality show exponent.

 

It’s a great test for democracy too, one which hopefully will trump all Trumps.

 

 

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