Bharath Sethuraman is a professor of mathematics at California State University Northridge. He received his B. Tech in engineering from IIT Madras, but switched to pure mathematics soon after. He spends extended periods of time in India, teaching and engaging in research collaboration. His hobby is cycling. He has a cycling blog at vonfriday.wordpress.com; his professional homepage is at www.csun.edu/~asethura.
This has to be the most exciting time for watchers of American politics, and it also has to be the more fearful time. But this is not about politics; it is about the underlying society, of which politics is only a reflection. The America of the early 1980s was predominantly White. Census figures show that Whites were over 83% of the population then; today, they are closer to 70%. But here is the most telling statistic: <em>there are now more non-White children under five years of age than White children.</em>
Why do some of you fall prey to easy arguments of majoritarianism? Consider the large numbers of your sons and daughters who have emigrated to the West. What if the West turned on them, these Hindu minorities? What if the granddaughter you adore so much in Birmingham or Atlanta or Boise suffered the same fate at the hands of rampaging Christian mobs that hundreds of equally adorable girls suffered at the hands of rampaging Hindu mobs in Godhra and elsewhere? Would you be singing paeans to majoritarianism then?
Modi represents an inner battle for the Liberal. The Modi of the past is an easy figure to pin blame on for narrow-mindedness and hate-mongering. It is easy to be cynical, and dismiss the new Modi as merely a ploy; it is tempting, in the battlefield of ideas, to continue to pin blame on him. Yet, the true Liberal needs to be intellectually honest. The true Liberal, in her humanism, believes in changes of heart. In seeing the light. In starting afresh.