Only in America

We have much to be thankful for as we have jointly worked hard for the greater good of humanity through our discontentments and debates.

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After a cozy pre-Thanksgiving dinner cooked and hosted by our hi-tech luminary friends in Silicon Valley,  we converged on visiting what is good about America — before discussions could drift towards frustrations with the political affairs.

We naturally gravitated towards technology, and how the internet was originated in America by DARPA — a government agency — and how only the United States would give away the internet to the rest of the world, without demanding anything in return. 

The internet has since created multi-billion dollar companies like Amazon, Alibaba in China and Flipkart in India, changing the trajectory of innovation.  More importantly, it has provided markets for goods from villages in China, India and Africa, lifting billions of people out of poverty.

It is here that Uber and Lyft, and Airbnb became recent economic game changers by utilizing the spare capacity of people, homes, and vehicles — new means to generate extra income for millions.

A recent popular movie Crazy Rich Asians — a love story between a rich Asian man from Singapore and his Chinese American girlfriend —  is a display of the opulent lifestyle of his family. Thankfully Americans moved away from the shallowness of old wealth.

Only here that the super-rich — like Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and Mark Zuckerberg— give away a major share of their wealth for eradicating malaria and polio around the world, or to reshape education or for the advancement of medical research — desiring a continuum for a meaningful existence.

As the holidays approach we have much to be thankful for.

Our institutions of democracy and capital markets — however imperfect — attract people, rich and poor, from all over the world who want to make their lives here and nowhere else.

It is only in America that Oprah Winfrey, through sheer authenticity — raised in a dysfunctional home and sexually abused as a child — touches the hearts of millions to achieve fame, stardom and wealth.

Pursuing ridiculous dreams can be a craze here.

It is here that Indian immigrants like me get welcomed and given an opportunity to succeed and make millions. Some of my customers had never met a woman in technology, and Wall Street hardly had any investors or analysts who were people of color.

It is only here that I meet people like Nikki, a Lyft driver who arrived in her white Prius.  She is a fashion blogger and a social media influencer.  She has an MBA but is trying to make a go of her passion for fashion.  She has over a million followers on social media, and after the ride, she gave me a 10-minute tutorial on social media marketing — to boot!

It is only here that my assistant Veronica, an immigrant from Mexico, runs Casa Circulo, a nonprofit for the after-school program for the children of Mexican gardeners and office and home cleaners — in Redwood City, which is home to Facebook, Google, and other hi-tech companies.  Veronica and her family have no savings yet they dedicate what little money and free time they have to their nonprofit.

Here, our school education invokes critical thinking even though we do not compare well on test scores.  My daughters refused to attend Kumon classes to ace math tests but developed a far better conceptual understanding of Math than I did back in India — where I managed to rank on top of the class.

It is here that my kids got introduced to community service — a graduation requirement in their high school.   As a result, my daughter Serena took a gap year, teaching underprivileged kids in Nepal and Ladakh and continues to spend most of her Saturdays teaching coding to girls of inner city schools in Berkeley — while working full time in a startup.

It is here that my kids learned to give credit to writers whose work we quote in our own writings.  I was not introduced to this concept until I heard it from them.  Thankfully I had not started writing then.

It is here that people come to seek cutting-edge medical treatments, even though our routine care is overly expensive. 

It is here that we invent technology but also new social norms supporting LGBT to #Metoo# to try and normalize gender biases — admittedly still a ways to go.

It is in America that we are willing to defend human rights violation in other countries and our young men and women in uniform proudly risk their lives to save those not so fortunate.

Above all, despite Brett Kavanaugh’s controversial hearings, our justice system is independent and law enforcement effective above all other countries.

It is also here that we elected first black president Obama and continue to be inspired by him and revere his wife Michelle, whose great-great-great grandmother was enslaved. 

Our discussions over the holidays could easily be uplifting and value what we have managed to do for the greater good of humanity as we strive to pave a successful path in the future, through our discontentments and debates.

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21 comments

  1. Naren Gupta

    What an uplifting article!

    We are all so fortunate and each of us can do much to make the world a better place. We have tremendous potential. Let us join hands to make the world better for everyone.

  2. Vinay Khanna

    All immigrants to this great nation; both recent and past have to be thankful what America gave them and in return the country has been handsomely rewarded by the contribution of the immigrants

    1. vinitagupta

      Totally!

  3. Anita Manwani-Bhagat

    Very seldom do we stop to think of all the good that is happening around us. We seemed to be conditioned towards “negative bias” . Vinita, thanks for highlighting some of the positives over the past two decades and reminding us that positive thoughts do result in collective positive action.

  4. Ramesh Yadava

    It is here where we get to meet Vinita and Naren Gupta reading and admiring the true facts written. Thank you Vinita

  5. Amalia

    Thank you VInita for the uplifting article.
    I am sharing it with family and friends here and abroad.
    Hope to see you soon and keep the conversation.
    Happy Holidays,
    Amalia

  6. Lizz Vilardo

    What an absolutely wonderful bit of writing, and a wonderful perspective

  7. Venktesh Shukla

    So true. We do indeed take a lot of things for granted as we get used to them but an occasional foray in any other country brings the differences in stark relief. Thanks.

  8. Karen Druker

    I was very moved by your delightful revelations and insights.
    I am avoiding all political discussions these days!
    What I am most grateful for this Thanksgiving is the clean air I am now breathing after the blessing of rain!

  9. Jeff

    A very optimistic look at our country indeed. Thanks for such an uplifting commentary. Nowadays one can barely hope that our institutions can withstand the current administration and have the ability to compel a leader to allow an independent prosecutor to investigate the serious claims that his campaign colluded with our historically greatest enemy to get elected. Calling our press fake, stating after a dozen of his own government agencies excellent detailed analysis of climatic change that he “doesn’t believe it”, we need to face the true facts that our country is under very very serious threat. Sadly from within. Keep up the great writing. We all do have much to be thankful for and we must speak up to preserve it.

  10. Pankaj Jain

    Wonderful.

    May be, we should do its repeat for an Indian version.

    Pankaj

  11. Lav Nigam

    A very informative article for those residing in US as well as those in India too. India has gained a lot due to the technological boom in US as well as due to efforts of several U S entrepreneurs working through their NGO’s in eradicating malaria and in other health and environment related issues.
    Thanks, Vinita for the article.

  12. Dinesh Bajaj

    I almost gave the speech to ICC Seniors yesterday in Cupertno. Your article focuses on greatness of America st higher level while my thoughts were at the greatness at the nitty gritty level. You should come and present your thoughts to our seniors and they would love it. Thanks

  13. Chandra Prakash

    Great to hear from my illustrious colleague. Chandra Prakash

  14. Sanjiv Sahay

    Thanks, Vinita.
    Very well put. Often we fail to appreciate the good part of our everyday lives here and focus on the bad. This country is truly great and the Bay Area is one of it’s best parts. We are really fortunate to be living here.
    I will share this with my friends here and in India.

  15. Bala Joshi

    Dear Vinita-ji, Thank you for that wonderful perspective and thank you for including me in your blog distribution. Grateful. Bala

  16. Jeannette McNeil

    Thank you for your thoughts. I am the first generation daughter of immigrants from Greece. The first in my family to attend college and then post graduate studies. My family sponsored so many other family and friends from Greece. My mother inspired them to read & write English whike still keeping all the fun thi gs about being Greek. Our country needs us to speak up. Education is important and a stepping stone to enrichment and the fulfillment of a happy life

  17. Gita Vaish

    Well written Vinita pointing to so many positives that we seldom stop to focus on!!!

  18. Arun Jain

    Vinita, in a word, Brilliant.
    I went to the US in 1973 with the proverbial Eight dollars (seriously) and not a single friend. Within a couple of years, the American “system” had catapulted me to soaring heights. As it has done for tens of thousands of people from all over the world.
    It is fashionable these days to knock everything American but – sitting thousands of miles away – I can unequivocally say there is no finer country than America, and no better people than Americans.
    Thank you for so clearly bringing this simple message home to all of us us.
    Compliments of the Season!

  19. Deepka Lalwani

    Yes, Vinita, very well written. I too am grateful to this country to open the doors of opportunity. I also remembered similar remark from my teenager son about creative thinking. He too didn’t want to join any kumon school.
    In this country I learned not to be afraid of anyone except fear itself. Yes, I’m paraphrasing President Roosevelt.
    Finally I’m so happy to be part of #MeToo movement. Bringing sexual harassment out of closet.

  20. R K Agarwal

    Dear Vinita,
    It is so nice to have received your thoughts in, I understand, the first such communication to your batchmates after you left Indian shores soon after your passing out from University of Roorkee, exactly 45 years ago.
    The article is so appealing particularly for our young generation, who are in the process of making a successful career.
    Thanks once again for the very rejuvinating thoughts about the US.
    Regards
    R K Agarwal
    Electrical’1973 UOR
    New Delhi

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