Anand Giridharadas

  • Aired:  01/24/11
  •  | Views: 69,768

As a child of parents who immigrated to America, Anand Giridharadas explains why he decided to move to India after college. (6:25)

>> Jon: MY GUEST TONIGHT

WRITES THE CURRENT COLUMN FOR

THE INTERNATIONAL HERALD

TRIBUNE.

HIS NEW BOOK IS CALLED INDIA

CALLING, THE INTIMATE PORTRAIT

OF A NATION'S REMAKING.

PLEASE WELCOME HIM TO THE

PROGRAM.

HELLO, SIR.

NICE TO SEE YOU.

>> GREAT TO BE HERE.

>> Reporter: THANK YOU FOR

JOINING US.

THE BOOK IS CALLED INDIA

CALLING.

IT'S AMAZING.

YOU WERE BORN IN.

>> CLEVELAND, OHIO.

>> Reporter: I THOUGHT IT WAS

SHAKER HEIGHTS.

>> A SUBURB OF CLEVELAND.

>> Reporter: SHAKER HEIGHTS.

YOUR PARENTS FIRST GENERATION.

YOU DECIDE AT 21 TO GO BACK TO

INDIA.

TO DO WHAT?

>> I THOUGHT, YOU KNOW, AS A

CHILD I HAD GROWN UP HATING

INDIA BECAUSE IT WAS THIS KIND

OF STAGNANT, DEAD, STIFLING

COUNTRY.

SOMETIME WHEN I WAS IN COLLEGE

I REALIZED THAT SOMETHING HAD

CHANGED AND I HADN'T KEPT UP

TO DATE WITH IT.

THE COUNTRY THEY LEFT WAS

MAYBE SOMETHING THAT I NEEDED

TO GO AND UNDERSTAND.

SO I MOVED BACK RIGHT AFTER I

FINISHED COLLEGE.

>> Reporter: NOW DO YOU FEEL

LIKE INDIA HAD CHANGED

DRAMATICALLY OR ALSO YOUR

PERCEPTION OF IT OR IS IT

SOMEWHERE IN THE MIDDLE.

>> THE OVERLAP OF THE TWO.

I THINK WHEN YOU'RE A CHILD

THE ONLY THING YOU DON'T WANT

IS TO BE DIFFERENT FROM

PEOPLE.

A LOT OF IMMIGRANTS FEEL WITH

FIRST GENERATION FAMILIES AND

KIDS PUSH THAT AWAY.

I PUSHED IT AWAY.

IT WAS PARTLY THAT AND WHERE

INDIA WAS IN THE WORLD AT THAT

STAGE.

NO ONE WAS PUTTING IT ON THE

COVER OF THE MAGAZINES OR

TALKING ABOUT IT AS A GREAT

SUPER POWER, NO ONE WAS GOING

TO STATE DINNERS IN

WASHINGTON.

IT WAS A PLACE THAT FELT TO ME

BETTER NOT TO BE FROM.

BY THE TIME I WAS IN COLLEGE

YOU BECOME MORE SECURE.

INDIA HAD CHANGED.

IT HAD ACTUALLY CHANGED ON THE

GROUND.

>> Jon: YOUR PARENTS.

I'M JUST IMAGINING, OKAY, THIS

SON, MY GRANDPARENTS CAME TO

THIS COUNTRY.

IF I HAD TOLD THEM I WAS GOING

BACK TO THE PLACE THAT THEY

HAD WORKED SO DAMNED HARD TO

GET OUT OF IT, PASSIVE

AGGRESSION WOULD HAVE BEEN ON

THE MENU.

IT WOULD HAVE BEEN, SURE, GO

BACK.

WHY NOT?

I'M FINE.

I'M FINE.

JUST PUT IT A DAGGER THROUGH

MY SKULL.

DID YOU RECEIVE ANY PUSH-BACK

FROM YOUR PARENTS?

>> NOT MUCH UNTIL THE DAY MY

SISTER WAS WORKING AT GOOGLE

AT THE TIME IN CALIFORNIA.

AND I WAS ALREADY OUT IN

INDIA.

SHE GOT AN OPPORTUNITY TO

POTENTIALLY DO THE SAME THING.

AND I THINK THAT THE PROSPECT

OF A DOUBLE WHAMMIE WAS TOO

MUCH.

KIND OF REVERSE IMMIGRATION

DOUBLE WHAMMIE.

YOU I.M.ED ME ONE DAY AND SAID

WHAT AM I DOING HERE?

IT NEVER REALLY CAME UP AGAIN.

SHE WONDERED WITH A ARE WE

DOING HERE IF WE HAVE DONE

EVERYTHING....

>> Jon: THEY CAME TO LIVE THE

AMERICAN DREAM.

YOU WERE THE EMBODIMENT OF

THEIR AMERICAN DREAM.

YOU WERE NOW GOING BACK

BECAUSE THE AMERICAN DREAM WAS

STILL ALIVE.

IT WAS JUST ALIVE IN INDIA.

>> THAT'S THE CONFUSION.

>> Jon: WHAT DID YOU FIND, YOU

KNOW, INDIA'S CASTE SYSTEM

SEEMINGLY HAS BEEN THE BULWARK

AGAINST THE TYPE OF UPWARD

MOBILITY THAT YOU'RE TALKING

ABOUT.

IS THAT GONE NOW?

>> CASTE WAS THE ONLY THING

THAT EVERYBODY SAID ABOUT

THEM.

IT WAS LIKE RACE IN THIS

COUNTRY.

IT WAS THE MOST PROFOUND FACT

ABOUT THE PLACE.

IN A WAY IF YOU THINK ABOUT

THE IDEA BEHIND CASTES.

IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT YOU DO,

HOW SMART YOU ARE OR WHO YOU

ARE, YOUR FATHER AND

GRANDFATHER AND YOU WILL OF

THE POSITIONS ALL THE WAY

CONTROL THAT.

IF ANYTHING IS CHANGING IN

TODAY'S INDIA, IT IS THE LACK

OF BELIEF IN THIS IDEA.

PEOPLE ARE REJECTING THIS

BELIEF.

PEOPLE ARE BELIEVING THAT YOU

SHOULD GET WHERE YOU ARE BASED

ON WHAT YOU DO NOT WHO YOU ARE.

THAT IS A PROFOUND REVOLUTION

THAT IS HAPPENING ONE INDIAN

AT A TIME.

>> Jon: YOU TALK ABOUT THIS

KIND OF REVINDRA.

HE IS A CHARACTER SO MOTIVATED,

SO INDUSTRIOUS HE'S THE TYPE

OF GUY THAT YOU WOULD IMAGINE

WOULD HAVE BEEN ON THE FIRST

PLANE OUT TO AMERICA 20 YEARS

AGO.

BUT HE'S CHOOSING TO STAY NOW

IN INDIA AND USE HIS INDUSTRY

THERE.

DOES THAT SURPRISE YOU?

>> HE IS THE CLASSIC SELF-MADE

MAN.

AS YOU SAY HE WOULD HAVE

PROBABLY DONE THAT SELF-MAKING

IN NEW JERSEY OR CALIFORNIA A

GENERATION AGO.

HE WAS BORN IN A VILLAGE IN

INDIA.

BUMPED UP AGAINST THE

LIMITATIONS OF BEING FROM THAT

VILLAGE.

AND THROUGH AN EXTRAORDINARY

RUN OF EFFORT, OF

SELF-EDUCATION THROUGH ALL

THESE HOLE IN THE WALL CLASSES

PULLED HIMSELF OUT.

AT THE END OF THAT JOURNEY NOT

ONLY DID HE NOT WANT TO GO TO

AMERICA, WHICH HE DIDN'T.

HE DIDN'T EVEN WANT TO GO THE

BIGGEST CITIES IN INDIA.

I SAID WHY?

HE SAID WHEN COME FROM WHERE I

COME FROM THE LOWEST OF THE

LOW.

IT'S NOT JUST MONEY YOU WANT.

YOU WANT DIGNITY AND PEOPLE TO

RESPECT YOU AND KNOW YOU AND

SAY SIR TO YOU.

HE WANTED TO GO FROM THAT

VILLAGE TO THE NEAREST TOWN

WHERE HE HAD MORE OPPORTUNITY

BUT WHERE HE WAS STILL BIG BY

THE STANDARDS OF THE TOWN.

HE DIDN'T WANT TO GET LOST IN

AMERICA OR EVEN IN THE BIGGER

CITIESS OF INDIA.

>> Jon: AS YOU WATCH THE

CHANGE TAKING PLACE IN YOUR

MIND COMING FROM SHAKER

HEIGHTS OHIO AND GOING TO

INDIA, DO YOU THINK AMERICA

CAN STILL KICK THEIR ASS?

WHERE WERE YOU AT NOW?

ARE WE STILL IN AN ASS-KICK KG

>> I HAD A DIFFERENT ANSWER

FOR COLBERT BUT FOR YOU....

>> Jon: (LAUGHING).

>> YOU GET THE REAL DEAL.

>> Jon: BREAK IT DOWN.

LET ME HEAR IT.

>> WHEN WE TALK ABOUT THIS AND

WE TALK ABOUT INDIA AND CHINA

IN THIS COUNTRY, WE TALK ABOUT

AN ECONOMIC THREAT.

WE'RE ALL OBSESSED WITH

EMERGING MARKETS, RIGHT?

THE SAME THING WITH CHINA.

I THINK THE REAL THING

AMERICANS SHOULD THINK ABOUT

IS THESE COUNTRIES POSE A

CHALLENGE OF CULTURE AND

SPIRIT BECAUSE IF YOU JUST

LOOK AT THE SEGMENT YOU DID ON

THE CULTURE AND DISCOURSE IN

THIS COUNTRY, WE ARE ALL

PULLING EACH OTHER DOWN.

WE'RE CREATING A CULTURE OF

DESTRUCTION AND PULLING EACH

OTHER DOWN.

INDIA AND CHINA, FOR ALL OF

THE WORK THAT LIES AHEAD FOR

THEM, ARE STARTING TO CREATE

CULTURES OF HOPE AND CULTURES

OF CREATION WHERE THERE'S A

CONSENSUS ON THINGS.

HOW DO WE CREATE SOMETHING

EXTRAORDINARY?

WE NEED TO BE WORRIED NOT

ABOUT AN ECONOMIC THREAT BUT

THE THREAT OF THAT SPIRIT.

IN ABOUT 2.5 BILLION PEOPLE.

>> Jon: MAY I SUM UP THE

INTERVIEW?

>> PLEASE.

>> Jon: UNITED WE STAND,

DIVIDED WE FALL.

AND IF I...

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