Being like America

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Should one wish to be like ‘America’:

So what does it mean for India to ‘be like America’ – semiotically charged as the phrase is? Should we ‘be like America’? Are there positive lessons to be learnt, portents and cautions that need be judiciously considered, institutions, ideas and processes that may be adopted? Or is it to be an unfalteringly foot-stomping ahead on to being a ‘superpower’?

The boundaries between nation building, feeding consumers, nurturing oligarchs, creating wealth and prosperity, are all increasingly blurred. Again, what are the social costs of being a superpower? What are the social safeguards? Is this desire, feeding off class driven consumerist desires, aspirations, mobility and politics, this ‘idea of India’ fetishistically overcontoured?

Guha, in the aforementioned Granta piece, argues that America is “at once deeply democratic and instinctively imperialist”.

In ‘being like America’ does India desire the former or the latter? As the state actively undermines democratic institutions and its profiteering friends/cronies become increasingly predatory, one wonders if posing such a question is moot?

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