Supratim Chakravarty went to the US in the late 1960s with a degree from a top engineering college in India and little else. Today, he has a formula about America’s elections: “Newcomers initially vote Democrat because of their egalitarian politics. As their incomes rise, they shift to Republican, who promise lower taxes.”
This presidential contest, between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, could turn this on its head. Trump’s call for increased protection for American industry, higher tariffs on imports from Mexico (35 per cent) and China (45 per cent) and posturing against American minorities might win him votes from angry white men, but he is not winning Indian hearts and minds.
Immigration curbs and higher tariffs strike at the core of New Delhi’s rising global aspirations. Trump’s negativism about immigrants, overseas investment in the US and privileging white, blue-collar workers upsets Indians.
“A US president should provide thought leadership to the world. Clinton is competent. Trump has dash, but appeals to a lower common denominator. Between the two I would settle for Clinton, from an American and an Indian perspective,” said Sanjeev Aga, former CEO of telecom company Idea Cellular, now on the board of corporate giants like L&T.
Saurav Mishra, 29, in his first job as a producer for a broadcast company, said: “If I were American and unemployed, I might have voted Trump. But I’d vote Hillary if I were in a queue for a work permit at the US embassy.”
Chakravarty, who has seen every US election since Richard Nixon’s landslide in 1972, said, “Trump might win white heartland votes, but minorities will go with Clinton.”