NEW DELHI – Indian television channels and newspapers online, like never before, provided blanket coverage of every twist and turn in the US election.
Anchors on multiple television channels, including in English, Hindi and other Indian languages, spoke at length about the importance of swing states like North Carolina, Florida and Pennsylvania even though many Indian viewers are not necessarily familiar with all the US states.
Channels provided real time updates of the result with running commentary from Indian as well as US experts.
The poll also got massive coverage on Indian newspaper websites with The Indian Express probably best capturing the mood in the country with its headline “United States of Anxiety.”
India and the US have close ties, in part driven by strong people to people links. Many in India’s middle class aspire to work or study in the US and quite a number already have family members living or studying in the US.
The 2019 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange said that 202,014 Indians are studying in the US.
Many of those in the Indian American community in the US also retain close ties to India and follow developments in the South Asian country.
But what has been of particular note and a key reason behind the surge in interest in the US election in India is the close rapport shared between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Donald Trump.
“We (Indians) have always kept track of US elections. It’s just that interest has become much more in these elections. With television and the Internet and everything on social media, it has sucked everyone into the elections,” said Mr Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, a Delhi based writer and journalist.
“In the last few years, there have been parallels to the Modi and Trump political narratives. Of course it is in a totally different context. Also, the two of them have a personal equation. Trump speaks highly of Modi and so does Modi.”
The entry of Kamala Harris as the Democratic vice-presidential candidate has also generated some interest. Her mother is of Indian origin, having moved from Tamil Nadu to the US.
On Wednesday (Nov 4), Indian media coverage included the reaction in Ms Harris’ maternal grandfather P V Gopalan’s village of Thulasendrapuram in the southern state. Special prayers were held for her victory at the village temple.
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