The author was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. His parents are from Palakkad in Kerala. He was born in 1985. So by the time he was 6-7 years old, it was already 1991 or 1992.
Yet, about his village there, he writes as if it was the 1960s when people defecated into holes in the ground. That seems highly unlikely in the early 1990s. His American audience may well believe it but Indians will be irritated even as they follow his political career with keen interest: could he be the American Sunak?
Mr Ramaswamy is only 38 and wants to be the President of the US. He has studied at Harvard and Yale and is a very successful start-up entrepreneur. In politics his nikatam pratidvadhi is Donald Trump who needs no introduction.
As someone who is socially conservative — no wokeness, please, I am a Republican — but economically close to Marxist NGO types suspicious of large corporations, especially the pharma ones, he is bowling and batting at the same time. Posturing is another way of describing it.
The burden of his song in this book is “I am fed up with corporate America’s game of pretending to care about justice in order to make money.” He explains in great detail how this is done.
The magician’s trick, as he calls it, is to go “woke”. This phenomenon of woke or wokeness has been around in India for several decades now. But we call it social justice.
The biggest American corporations, says Mr Ramaswamy, have started using morality as an instrument. That is, according to him, they are all a bunch of Marxists who like to make lots of money.
He says this with complete moral conviction, seemingly oblivious to the fact he is himself using morality as a vote garnering instrument. Rahul Gandhi immediately comes to mind.
He then quickly turns on wokeness whose touchstone is diversity. That’s the new code for “all are equal no matter how different you are”.
Divisions over diversity
But says Mr Ramaswamy, that’s not an embrace of diversity. “It’s diversity of thought that’s supposed to matter, not a kind of diversity crudely measured by appearance or accent.” He skips lightly over sexual orientation and gender.
The chapter on diversity is titled “Wokeness is Like a Religion” and tells a story about how someone said 500 years ago that the “Church had outgrown Christ”.
He has coined a new phrase, “the Church of Diversity”. This thing is so all encompassing that it makes life miserable because it has its own definitions of apostasy.
It seems a truck driver was sacked because he had made the Ok sign with his hand and that was a sign of “white power”. Ironically the driver was a Mexican who was not white in the sense the term is understood.
The pluralism within
The real thing he says in his refutation of wokeness is to recognise that “we are each more than just one thing. And that’s what true pluralism is all about: the pluralism of identities within each of us.” Amartya Sen had said that in 2007 in his book on identities, both individual and group.
I found his distinction between pluralism and the diversity of identities somewhat self-serving. He could just as well have said “Look, guys, I am going to run for president and although I don’t look like you, you should realise that I am just like you because like you I have diverse identities, too”.
Educationally challenged Americans aren’t going to buy that. Indians simply haven’t been around for as long as the Blacks have.
Anyway, if you are not an American should you read this book? Only if someone gives it to you for free and you have absolutely nothing else to do.
Check it out on Amazon