As a kid growing up in Central Texas, I learned Hindi by watching Bollywood films. My all-time-favorite was a 1970s flick called Purab Aur Pachhim. In the film, Manoj Kumar plays a student named Bharat who leaves India to study in London. There, he falls in love with a westernized BBCD (British-Born Confused Desi) named Preeti, played by Saira Banu.
At the end of the film, Bharat tries to convince Preeti to settle with him back home in India. He shows her the sights and sounds of the homeland - from the majestic Taj Mahal to the quaint villages. However, in the end, the winning argument for her is the newfound understanding that in India, "maa baap ke liye bacche sabh kuchh hai, aur bacche ke liye maa baap" (for parents, children are everything and for children, parents are the same).
For all his merits on the issues, I'm supporting Barack Obama for president because he best reflects our values of family, responsibility and community.
Barack is the son of an immigrant father, who, like my parents, came to this country to get an education and better himself. He understands the challenges of growing up different in America, with a funny name and an atypical family. But he also understands that our challenges should never be a crutch; that hard work and determination are the key to accessing the opportunities America affords us.
In this election, millions of Indian Americans will have the chance to lead by our ballots. We recognize America is no longer the destination. It is our home. So where do we want to see our country go?
Barack Obama will return us to the fiscal sanity of the Clinton administration when America's financial stature in the world was unparalleled because the government did what we expect of families: lived within its means and balanced its budget.
Barack Obama champions the cause of universal health care, ensuring that no family is forced to depend on emergency rooms (and taxpayers) for medical services. His plan will help small businesses who are being crushed by the skyrocketing cost of providing health coverage for their employees.
Barack Obama will strengthen the U.S.-India friendship with his continued support for the nuclear deal, which will pave the way for energy security in the world's largest democracy.
And Barack Obama will be the president who commits himself to the ideal that every child in America should have access to excellent schools, great teachers and affordable college tuition. This is, after all, the key to the American dream. Barack knows because, like so many of us, he's lived it.
The past eight years have been dismal for all Americans and we simply cannot afford more of the same failed policies of the past. For all John McCain's rhetoric, a man who spent 26 years in Congress and voted with President Bush 90% of the time can hardly claim to be a maverick or a reformer. We cannot afford the right-wing leanings of a McCain-Palin ticket that turns its back on teaching real science, investing in life-saving research, guarding the privacy and civil liberties of our citizens and ending the war in Iraq responsibly.
When John McCain looks at the crisis in our financial markets and declares, "the fundamentals of the economy are strong," there is no doubt left that he is out of touch with the lives of ordinary Americans. That's not change. That's more of the same.
We need real change in America. We need leaders who see our diversity as our greatest strength and globalization as an opportunity. We need a president who reminds us that Social Security, Medicare and the Children's Health Insurance Program are not government bureaucracies to be vilified in the heat of a campaign, but part and parcel of our compact as an American family where we are all beholden to one another.
Over the course of this election, I've been proud to see so many young Indian Americans join our campaign for change. They come believing that one person can make a difference. As we celebrate Gandhi Jayanti this month, it's fitting to remember the community organizer from Porbander, Gujarat, who counseled each of us to "be the change you wish to see in the world."
So I can't help but wonder, "What would Gandhi do in this election?" Which candidate will stand with me as I aim to fulfill my responsibilities to my parents, my community and the next generation? Who represents the change we desire most for our country? For me, the matter is settled and Barack Obama is my candidate.
Parag Mehta is Director of
External Communications for the
Democratic National Committee.