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SOURCE : The Statesman



Statesman News Service NEW DELHI, June 17: The 'macaca' moment in the race to be the Democrat's candidate for the
post of the U.S. President may have occurred, with the campaign of Sen Barack Obama attacking Sen Hillary Clinton for her close ties with India and Indian-Americans. The latest flap is a memorandum prepared by the Obama camp, but which was actually distributed by the Clinton staff to prove that the former are not above mud-raking. The title of the memo was
"Hillary Clinton (D-Punjab)'s Personal Financial and Political ties to India". The reference to Punjab was apparently based on a joke made by Mrs Clinton at a dinner hosted by Indian-Americans that she would get elected in Punjab. "Workers who have been laid off in upstate New York might not think that her recent joke that she could be elected to the Senate seat in Punjab is that funny," it added. The three-page memo then goes on to mention that former President Bill Clinton had invested some money in Easy Bill India limited and had received money for giving lectures at the American company, Cisco systems. It then uses new reports to state that Cisco will be hiring thousands of workers in India. The memo went on to mention that Indian-Americans had made large contributions to the Clinton campaign fund. The memo made a special reference to hotelier Mr Sant Chatwal's fund-raising commitment of five million dollars to the Clinton kitty and cited cases of financial misdoings that had been registered against him. There was also a special section talking about "Clinton and the Senate India Caucus", referring to the fact that Clinton "co-founded" the Caucus, which it described as "a project
of the U.S. India Political Action Committee". It then quotes Mrs Clinton as saying that the Caucus "is dedicated to expanding areas of agreement with India and engaging in a candid dialogue of differences". The rest of the memo lists quotes of Mrs Clinton from news reports in 2004, where she defended her support for outsourcing, saying that it worked "both ways". The reports mainly related to Tata Consulting's training centre in Buffalo which was apparently taking away American jobs. The story was first reported by The New York Times on Friday and the entire memo has been put online. The comments have been mixed, from readers stating that Sen Obama had lost their vote to others saying that they couldn't find anything offensive in the tone of the memo. On a prominent blog operated mainly by Indian-Americans, Sepia
Mutiny, the memo was reported under the title "Obama Just Got Less 'Brown' Friendly", with most of the comments
decrying the memo as highly offensive and even racist. There were also a few dissenters who pointed out that the subject of outsourcing raised by the paper was a legitimate issue for Americans. Within a few hours of the memo being highlighted in the press, USINPAC wrote a letter to Sen Obama expressing their concern "about media reports indicating your staff may be engaging in the worst kind of anti-Indian American stereotyping". "We request that you respond directly to these media reports and let us know if indeed your staff is promoting these hurtful stereotypes," said the letter written by USINPAC chairman, Mr Sanjay Puri. Here in Delhi, the co-founder of USINPAC, Mr Robinder Sachdeva, told The Statesman that the tone of the memo was offensive, which failed to explain as to why the creation of an India caucus in the Senate was hurtful for American interests. "The memo may be the work of a lower-level staff, but why was there no
filter to prevent such material from going out in the Obama campaign," he asked. Obama campaign manager Mr David Plouffe yesterday issued a statement about the document, calling Sen Obama "a longtime friend of the Indian-American community" who has many supporters in the group. "The intent of the document was to discuss the issue of outsourcing, but we regret the tone that parts of the document took," said Mr Plouffe. Despite this statement, USINPAC still plans to write to all the members of the India Caucus to publicly denounce the remarks in Obama memo. About a month ago, Indian government sources had also expressed apprehension that efforts should be made to ensure India did not become
the 'bogey' over the issue of outsourcing, which is expected to feature more and more in the election campaigns. The concern had been raised over the letter written to ten Indian companies by two Senators to give accounts for the usage of H1B visas. However, Indian-American activists said that it would be better if the Indian government did not react publicly to the remarks made by a candidate in a domestic election face-off in the US.

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