US presidential polls: Obama shows some mettle

Like a boxer who is roughed up by the underdog in the first round and comes out swinging in the second and third round, President Obama hit back in both the second and third debates

Like a boxer who is roughed up by the underdog in the first round and comes out swinging in the second and third round, President Obama hit back in both the second and third debates. The second debate was moderated by Candy Crowley of CNN and the third debate was moderated by Bob Schieffer of CBC.


Luckily for President Obama he got on assist at the beginning of the second debate when Candy Crowley made a fact check in favour of President Obama on whether he had talked about the attack in Benghazi being caused by terrorists in his speech in the Rose Garden the day after the attack after consulting her computer. Candy Crowley said yes that President Obama had indeed said it when Governor Romney challenged the assertion. This was actually quite surprising as the initial reaction of the Obama administration was to blame the violence stemming from the anti-Mohammed film for the attack. Further Candy Crowley’s call was also surprising because as she said later she was present at the Rose Garden ceremony where the President made those comments. She later tried to defend herself by saying that Romney used the wrong word—Candy Crowley should have known better. 


This gave a wind to President Obama on which he sailed for the next two debates. Candy Crowley’s call was doubtful at best and was taken out of context. Had she corrected President Obama about his statement in the Rose Garden at that early stage, it is quite possible that the course of the debate could have changed. It is also quite possible that President Obama may have regained his footing .That is now histories call but I am sure that 50% of Americans think it was the wrong call.


But President Obama was thereafter quite comfortable in the town hall format and made an effort to court the women’s vote which was found to be slipping away after the first debate. He pointed out that he was instrumental in the equal pay act for the sexes and that is where the Governor is trying to burnish his credentials with women got caught in a verbal faux pas. He said that when he was the Governor of Massachusetts he had asked the women’s groups for names of women and had gotten binders full of women and that had helped him to choose candidates for positions in his administration .This comment immediately went viral to show somehow that Romney does not respect women but in this political season Romney just can’t get the words right. There was also plenty of aggression in display as President Obama seemed to over compensate for sleepwalking through the first debate. But the Governor held his own and the debate was widely perceived to be a narrow victory for Obama.


The third debate was on foreign policy and President Obama really came out swinging as he accused the Governor of changing his position all the time. He sought to teach a lesson to Mitt Romney when the latter complained that there were less ships than at any time after 1916. Obama said, “Yes and there are less horses and less bayonets and also Governor there are quite different type of ships, there are aircraft carriers and there are nuclear submarines.”That was really a put down.


Similarly he came back when the Governor accused the President of visiting several countries in the Middle East in his first trip but not Israel and the President said, “I went to Israel when I was a candidate but did not go there with a fundraiser”.


In an interesting reversal of roles the Governor talked almost passionately about nation building abroad (he does not want to do it in America) and drew a titter from the crowd when he said that his deficit-cutting plan was on the website. President Obama also provided that America’s military spending was more than the next ten nations combined. Both candidates tried to bring in domestic policy as often as possible. But the Governor tried to tone down the rhetoric. Even on Libya the Governor did not push this case too hard.


It seemed that both sides would be satisfied with a draw and that is what it turned out to be with 62% saying in a CNN poll that Obama would be a strong leader and 60% saying that about Mitt Romney. 


But the polls are getting closer by the day and in the swing states like Florida and Ohio the race is tightening and getting within the Governor’s reach.


Were the ninety minutes of the first Presidential debate ninety minutes that will change America?


(Harsh Desai has done his BA in Political Science from St Xavier's College & Elphinstone College, Bombay and has done his Master's in Law from Columbia University in the city of New York. He is a practicing advocate at the Bombay High Court.)


Fault Lines in the development models of China and India-Part 1

Globalisation today is limited to economic activity and multinational corporations, their top officials and stock market gamblers have gained the maximum from it. Current policies are tutored by economists, business school faculties and Western thinkers, a significant number amongst them non-resident Chinese and Indians!

In November 2001, I was invited by the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to present a paper at their conference on “Policies for economic and Social Transitions in the 21st Century”. My theme was very basic: “What is development of a society, and what is its yardstick?” 
Some of us have always wondered about the validity of the current yardsticks of measuring national development in terms of GDP (strength of a country) or GNP (strength of people of a country). When it comes to countries like China and India, we thought this to be certainly inappropriate. Traditionally, Indians and Chinese understand that life is indeed not just about money, but all about the well-being of the people, with money being just one of its dimensions. 
Our societies have never been money-centric as they are being moulded into today. Even then, most of us still believe that development of a human society in each of its aspects is related to the consequential change and development of the individual. In this sense, the development of a country needs to be measured on the basis of the percentage of people living with dignity and honour. Those who are learned and engage themselves in scholarly pursuits, have always enjoyed higher respect than the wealthy in both societies. Confucian philosophy hinges on showing the way to win this respect. 
A modern Chinese scholar has suggested that the core Confucian teaching is contained in these words: “When men wished their virtues to shine throughout the land, they first had to govern their states well. To govern their states well, they first had to establish harmony in their families. To establish harmony in their families, they first had to discipline themselves. To discipline themselves, they first had to set their minds in order. To set their minds in order, they first had to make their purpose sincere. To make their purpose sincere, they first had to extend their knowledge to the utmost. Such knowledge is acquired through a careful investigation of things. For, with things investigated, knowledge becomes complete. With knowledge complete, the purpose becomes sincere. With the purpose sincere, the mind is set in order. With the mind set in order, there is real self-discipline. With real self-discipline, the family achieves harmony. With harmony in the family, the state becomes well-governed. With the state well-governed, there is peace throughout the land”.
Traditional culture teaches Indians and Chinese to pursue knowledge and wisdom in order to live in harmony with one’s surroundings and to try to contribute something of their own till they leave this world. One thus conducts life trying to be fully human. In Asia, there is traditional appreciation of a ‘wise’ person; someone whose wisdom is reflected in his behaviour rather than his utterances. Such a person is a fully developed person. Being informed, being knowledgeable and being wise are the steps in that transformation. No wonder that India and China together have given birth to most of the life philosophies and religions of the world! It also gave the world sages and philosophers in the 20th century such as J Krishnamurthy who has made a profound impact human consciousness giving new meaning and content to our life, going beyond the organized religions. Even for an Indian or Chinese commoner, a wise man is the one who knows what life is all about. The manifestation of wisdom is reflected in his simple living, his enjoyment in giving and living with the minimum. Wisdom, therefore, makes you consume less, derive pleasure in sharing, enjoy harmony and understand the futility of conflict. Harmony with nature is reflected in our traditional healthcare that uses nature to cure, and focuses on living healthily rather than treating the sickness. Rural life in both countries is beautifully entwined with local flora and fauna. Today all this appears unreal when one finds thieves ruling.
Many a times, I have wondered why Indians and Chinese have such similarities in perceptions of life. Somewhere there is a common thread that has conditioned our psyche throughout our history. Respect for parents, teachers, mentors, peers and all others who shape our personal development, comes to us naturally. Like our habit of saving, there are many other similarities in our behaviour and the values we cherish, which are far removed from Western civilisations.
As someone told me, is it because, in India and China, religions and thoughts developed in a more peaceful forest environment with plenty of water and natural food, unlike Jewish, Christian and Muslim religions that took birth in deserts, where survival was the only basic concern. Since ancient times, there was only mutual appreciation by scholars of both countries, never any talk of war. As one can very well see, Buddhism, unlike the Muslim religion, spread in China purely through love and understanding. Not only was there was no violence, it did not even upset Confucius’ teachings.
When I look at the economic development in India and China, I realised that both are striving to achieve human development merely through economic development. A minor portion, one can see, is through social development. Both seem to believe that money will help their political and social objective to achieve inclusive (in the case of India) or harmonious (in the case of China) development of their society. These policies are driven by those who want to push trade and commerce. Globalisation today is, therefore, limited to economic activity. Multinational corporations, their top officials and stock market gamblers have gained the maximum from such development. Social globalisation, like global poverty elimination, is limited to seminars and political speeches!
Two hundred years ago, the world was socially more global as there were no boundaries, passports and visas. Such barriers have increased during the last two decades. The current policies are tutored by economists, business school faculties and Western thinkers. In fact, a significant number amongst them are non-resident Chinese and Indians!
The prescription for economic development consists of increasing per capita consumption and writing economic policies that promote consumption beyond necessity. Businesses, especially multinational ones, love this and they weave media magic to promote it. All of this is done to meet the socio-economic objectives of both governments. There is resultant confusion here, since the chase of money and limitless greed is thought to be the elixir of human happiness and well-being.
To sum it up, in spite of our long-surviving democracy, India has not been doing well even though one can see financial growth in terms of GDP and a growing number of billionaires. Recently, a news item spoke of India scoring high on the happiness index; below the story was a picture of a smiling old beggar! The failure lies in the fact that 80% of Indians share just 20% of the GDP, and the rest 20% enjoy the balance 80%! Even though momentarily doing great, China too has an almost identical situation. In fact, India has had the rich and poor divide since centuries, and society has accepted this divide so far without conflict. In China, however, society has moved from an “all poor and deprived” society during over three Mao decades of PRC, to the Deng Xiaoping era where there is unbridled capitalism in a communist bottle. A select few getting extremely wealthy in a short span of three decades is indeed a little difficult to swallow for many Chinese. The sharp contrast within the population in China is, therefore, alarming. 
(PS Deodhar is founder and former chairman of the Aplab Group of companies. He is also the former chairman of the Electronics Commission of the Government of India and was an advisor to late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on electronics. He also was the chairman of the Broadcast Council in 1992-93 that set in motion the privatisation of the electronic media with metro channels. He can be contacted at



kandakuru sreeni

5 years ago

we should also adapt the effective leadership and effective governance framework (i.e implmentation of law and continuity of government programmes) of the west.

regards sreeni

Round 2 goes to Obama; slams Romney's outsourcing plans

Obama, who drew flak from his own party for a lacklustre performance in round one two weeks ago, this time often dictated the terms of the debate questioning Romney's approaches towards China, immigration, taxes, unemployment, gun laws and other domestic and foreign

Hempstead (New York): A combative Barack Obama has hit back at Mitt Romney, retrieving lost ground in the second of the three high-stake presidential debates, saying his Republican rival's plans on outsourcing will only result in more jobs in China and India, reports PTI.


Obama, who drew flak from his own party for a lacklustre performance in round one two weeks ago, this time often dictated the terms of the debate questioning Romney's approaches towards China, immigration, taxes, unemployment, gun laws and other domestic and foreign issues.


During the 90-minute face-off at the Hofstra University in Hempstead for a town hall style debate, Romney retorted claiming US has been losing manufacturing jobs to China as enterprises feel it is "more attractive" to go offshore than to stay here.


A snap CNN/ORC International poll showed 46% of respondents thought 51-year-old Obama won, compared to 39% for 65-year-old Romney. The result was within the survey's margin of error.


Both Obama and Romney fielded questions also on topics like gas prices and Libya from members of the audience, a group of 82 undecided voters from New York's Nassau County.


The question on outsourcing of American jobs overseas came at the fag end of the debate, which saw an aggressive and assertive Obama take on Romney as he tried to improve on his performance at the first debate in Denver where the Republican leader came out as the surprise winner.


"One of his (Romney's) big ideas when it comes to corporate tax reform would be to say, if you invest overseas, you make profits overseas, you don't have to pay US taxes.


"But, of course, if you're a small business or a mom-and- pop business or a big business starting up here, you've got to pay even the reduced rate that Governor Romney's talking about. And it's estimated that that will create 800,000 new jobs. The problem is they'll be in China. Or India. Or Germany," Obama said.


"That's not the way we're going to create jobs here. The way we're going to create jobs here is not just to change our tax code, but also to double our exports," the president said.


Responding to the question on what plans they each had to keep jobs in the US, Obama said while Romney and he agreed that the corporate tax rate should be lowered, there is a difference on the way they both would approach the issue.


"I want to close loopholes that allow companies to deduct expenses when they move to China; that allow them to profit offshore and not have to get taxed, so they have tax advantages offshore. All those changes in our tax code would make a difference," Obama said, slamming Romney for wanting to expand the tax breaks.


Romney shot back that "if you elect President Obama, you know what you're going to get -- you're going to get a repeat of the last four years."


Responding to the question, Romney blamed Obama for not labelling China as a currency manipulator, promising to put the label on Beijing on day one of his presidency.


"We are going to have to make sure that as we trade with other nations that they play by the rules. And China hasn't. One of the reasons -- or one of the ways they don't play by the rules is artificially holding down the value of their currency. Because if they put their currency down low, that means their prices on their goods are low. And that makes them advantageous in the marketplace."


"We lose sales. And manufacturers here in the US making the same products can't compete. China has been a currency manipulator for years and years and years. And the president has a regular opportunity to label them as a currency manipulator, but refuses to do so," Romney said.


Romney repeatedly took on Obama, blaming his rival's policies for rising federal deficits and debts, leaving more than 20 million people jobless.


"We don't have to settle for what we're going through," Romney said at one point. "We don't have to settle for unemployment at a chronically high level. We don't have to settle for 47 million people on food stamps. We don't have to settle for 50% of kids coming out of college not able to get work. We don't have to settle for 23 million people struggling to find a good job."


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