Comrades at Odds: The United States and India, 1947-1964

By Andrew J. Rotter | Go to book overview

7
Class, Caste, and Status: The Gestures of
Diplomacy

Aristocracy had made a chain of all the members of the com-
munity: … democracy breaks that chain and severs every link
of it…. Thus, not only does democracy make every man forget
his ancestors, but it hides his descendants, and separates his
contemporaries from him; it throws him back for ever upon
himself alone, and threatens in the end to confine him entirely
within the solitude of his own heart.

—Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

You give us a great deal of aid. It makes us feel like beggars.
How does it make you feel?

—Nirmal Kumar Bose to Nathan Glazer

I begin this, the final substantive chapter of the book, by reprising the lead argument from the earlier chapter on strategy: how a nation defines its strategic interests is partly determined by its history and identity, by the way in which its people imagine themselves as members of a society of individuals and their nation as a member of a society of nations. American men look outward, to horizons that inspire their curiosity. Frontiers for them are not limits but opportunities, sites where dreams are realized and destinies transacted; space itself exists to be explored and taken up. Indians look inward from their borders. Horizons—beyond the Himalayas or the Bay of Bengal, or merely beyond the rice paddies or tree lines that adjoin rural villages—are threatening, not inviting. Most Indians feel nervous about crossing boundaries, and evidently few fantasize about traveling in space.

-250-

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