Namaste America

Last week Al Gore was a guest on Jon Stewart’s Daily Show. He was there of course to talk about the Climate Crisis and his new movie the Inconvenient Truth. Since the audience at the Daily Show is fairly liberal, Gore got a very warm welcome from them. But what was strange was that Gore greeted them with folded hands. Damned if it didn’t look exactly like a Namaste. It was very casually done, no theatrics around it. I suspect he had done the very same thing many times before.

I was of course very tickled about it. I have long held the view that Namaste is a superior greeting to the handshake in the age of the Avian Influenza. Handshakes transfer germs and are a surefire way of spreading the virus when there is an outbreak. The WHO realizes this and has come up with the ‘elbow bump‘ which is just too hokey to work. Asian greetings like Namaste and the Japanese bow are, in this respect, superior. Although in Japan the formal greeting in business is still a bow, while Indian business (though not politicians) has completely adopted the handshake. Pity.

The other thing going for Namaste in the US is that it is closely associated with India and India is hot right now. India is of course in the news because of the nuclear deal still winding its way through Congress. As an investment destination for business it has to be number one or pretty close. Bollywood dancing is all the rage. You can find Kurti inspired women’s fashions all over the place. And Indian food in the grocery stores.

The big news is that from next summer, Indian mangos will be available in the US. Being that they are much superior to the Mexican variety I think that will win us a few more fans state side. Some say that the mangos are a fair trade for nuclear technology. Some say that we’re giving away the mangos too cheap! The mango deal was done during President Bush’s visit to India along with the nuclear technology deal.

The affinity between the two countries is good for both countries and for democracy everywhere.


  1. Siddharth says:

    No doubt Indian mangoes are the best, plus India produces 58% of the total world output!! My love is more with the north indian varities like Langra, Chausa, Dusaeri. South indian varieties are not even close, not even alphonso (okay, that’s west)

    Unfortunately even best products can fail in the market without the right image. E.g. Alphonso will be voted No.1 mango even if its not.

    Coming back to affinity between these 2 nice countries, synonym of India in the US is still a cow. Neither our doctors, engineers, professors could change that image. Nor the the press TIME, WSJ, NYT etc have been very successful to change that mental image. Let us now hope that mangoes can change hearts and minds!


  2. Aaman Lamba says:

    Basab, excellent writing, and very inspiring blog – I am the publisher of and would like to invite you to write for Desicritics – a leading source of news plus opinion on all things South Asian. Please email me and see this link for more info on Desicritics:


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