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

By Andrew J. Rotter | Go to book overview

3
Governance: The Family, the State, and Foreign
Relations

There is one ubiquitous theory which may be detected in polit-
ical thought from Confucius to Rousseau, from Aristotle to
Freud. It Is the idea that family relations—those between par-
ents and children, between husband and wife—provide a
model for political systems and serve to define the relationship
between the individual and authority.

—Emmanuel Todd, The Explanation of Ideology

The strain of looking after a family is great!

—Jawaharlal Nehru, 1927

An American who arrives in India for the first time, without the benefit of an Indian family or good local contacts, is inevitably bewildered and sometimes overwhelmed. She has jet lag for one thing, and to compound her disorientation international flights ordinarily arrive in India in the middle of the night. The sights and sounds and smells of the place slide with distressing ease into the categorical stereotypes that Westerners bring with them: the paradox of a rigid bureaucracy and hopeless mass confusion, the crush of people (among whom only the Americans seem willing to wait in line), the heat, the insects, the argument over taxi fare into the city, and then, on the roads from the Delhi, Madras, or Bombay airports, the appalling poverty of thousands of men and women asleep in the open air, children running naked in the rubble, the odor of cooking fires fueled with dried cow dung. More confusion awaits at the hotel: “Reservation, madam? Sorry, we are full up”—though in the end, a room somehow appears. After several hours of sleep, an

-117-

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