Google+

Sharma on Obama

 

Dinesh Sharma

“The Global Obama” Interview

with Kam Williams

 

Dr. Dinesh Sharma is a cultural psychologist, marketing consultant and an acclaimed author with a doctorate from Harvard University. He is an Associate Research Professor (Honorary) at the Institute for Global Cultural 51lqe8i9xiLStudies, SUNY-Binghamton; a senior fellow at Institute for International and Cross-Cultural Research, NYC; and a columnist for Asia Times Online, Al Jazeera English and The Global Intelligence, among other syndicated publications.

 

His recent articles and opinions have appeared in the Wall Street Journal Online, Wonkette.com, Free Lance-Star, Far Eastern Economic Review, Middle East Times, Middle East Online, Epoch Times, Biotech Law Review, Health Affairs, Media Monitors, DC Chronicles, Fredricksburg.com, MyCentralJersey.com, International Psychology Bulletin, and other journals. Dr. Sharma has been profiled domestically and internationally including in L’Echo, DeStandaard, Luxembourg Wort, 352 Lux Magazine, The Eastern Eye, Asian Affairs, Cincinnati Herald and The Skanner, to name a few.
On TV, Dinesh’s work has been favorably reviewed on Politics Tonight (WGN News), Urban Update (WHDH Boston), City Line WABC Boston, KITV Hawaii, Bay Sunday San Francisco, and many other shows. On Radio, he has been featured on Conversations on the Coast in San Francisco, Reality Check FM-4 Vienna, South African Broadcast Corporation (SABC) and numerous other talk shows.

 

Furthermore, he has been a consultant in the healthcare industry for major pharmaceutical, biotech and medical device clients for about a decade. He is the author of “Barack Obama in Hawaii and Indonesia: The Making of a Global President,” which was rated as among the Top 10 Books of Black History for 2012 by the American Library Association, Book List Online. Here, he talks about the follow-up book, “The Global Obama.”

Kam Williams: Hi Dinesh, thanks for the interview.

Dinesh Sharma: Any time. It’s very nice of you to conduct this interview. You reviewed my earlier book and the new book, “The Global Obama.” So, I really appreciate it. 

KW: What interested you in writing another book about Obama?

DS: Well, first, Barack H. Obama is a landmark presidential figure as the first black, multiracial, multicultural president from Hawaii and the Pacific. In the first book, Barack Obama in Hawaii and Indonesia, as you know, I documented, with ethnographic interviews, the childhood and adolescence of this history-making president. The idea was to show that the childhood of a historical leader speaks to the historical times and, in turn, shapes the future in some important ways. When I lectured around the world for the first book, I realized that he was more popular abroad than at home. I had known that from some of the early surveys by the Pew Research Center and The Economist. But when I toured throughout Europe, Asia and Africa, this was really brought home to me. So I wanted to do a book on that trend and try to explore some of the reasons for this finding. Given that no author has an expertise in all areas of the world, I decided to make this an edited book, with help from friends who span the globe. In the new book, we have covered five continents and more than twenty countries.   

KW: Was it a harder sell, since the President’s bloom has fallen off the rose, at least domestically?

DS: It wasn’t a hard sell with the publishers or the reviewers. Most reviewers got the purpose of the project right away and supported it. In fact, the book is part of a series that is headed by James MacGregor Burns, who wrote the classic book on leadership and coined the term “transformational leadership,” Georgia Sorensen, who worked in the Carter administration, and Ron Riggio, a professor of leadership at Claremont McKenna College. Given that Obama is a relevant historical figure despite the negative polling trends domestically, he has many more admirers than detractors at home and abroad. In fact, the publisher wanted us to focus on his leadership style within a cross-cultural context, which is the theme of the new book.

KW: How do you explain his enduring popularity overseas?

DS: I think it has partly to do with his international biography and global moorings in almost all continents–Africa, Asia, Europe and the US, of course.  Professor Ali A. Mazrui calls him “the child of three continents.” But if you include his Irish or European ancestry from his mother’s side of the family, he may be called “the man of four continents” or the global president, a symbol of the changing times.

KW: What were you most surprised to learn about him in the course of your preparing this book?

DS: When I prepared the manuscript, the sheer enormity of the challenges the U.S. faces abroad were mind-boggling. It became clear to me that the job of managing all of these conflicts simultaneously is, indeed, very difficult, especially, if the U.S. wants to remain the global leader in the 21st Century. That’s why China does not necessarily want to be in the position of a global superpower. The other BRIC countries, Russia, India and Brazil, are not anywhere near being global superpowers. Countries around the world expect the U.S. to deliver, be engaged, and respond to their needs.  Presidential leadership is a really tough job, does come not easily. “To those much is given, much is expected,” to paraphrase President Kennedy.  

KW: What has been your most special moment in your visits to the White House?

DS: Hard to say, but I think watching the President in the East Room when he hosts some of the sports teams, stars from the NBA, WNBA, and NFL, after they have won a championship. Obama is a sports aficionado! You can really observe that when he’s around athletes. He gets a kick out of it.  His inner-jock self comes out and his language becomes very jocular.        

KW: What’s it like to be a member of the press corps accompanying President Obama on a trip?

DS: Very interesting. As an immigrant from India who lived in Chicago for many years, or even as a graduate student at Harvard in psychology and human development, I didn’t think or imagine that one day I would be covering the first black president at the White House.

KW: You traveled to various places where Obama grew up while researching your first book about Obama. Where did you think the seed of his presidential destiny was planted?

DS: Hawaii. His parents met there and he attended one of the elite preparatory schools on the island, Punahou Academy. Hawaii was the last state to join the Union in 1959 after the attack on Pearl Harbor and World War II. Obama’s father arrived there as an exchange student in 1959 and Barack was born two years after Hawaii became part of the U.S. It shaped not only his inner-most self, his destiny, but also his vision of America as reflected in his saying, “There is no Red America or Blue America, only the United States of America.” As the first majority-minority state, you could say that Hawaii shaped Obama’s identity indelibly. They both grew up together, in parallel, and are now leading America towards being a blended nation, demographically. 

KW: What will be the focus of your next book about Obama?

DS: Not clear yet, but something to do with American identity, politics and culture in the era of globalization, similar to what I have been writing about lately.

KW: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?

DS: No one has asked ever said to me, “You’re not African-American, so why are you so obsessed with Obama? Why is Obama your muse?” Or, “Aren’t you tired of Obama yet? You know his polling numbers are falling.”

KW: Would you mind saying something controversial that would get this interview tweeted?

DS: President Obama will be an even bigger statesman in his post-presidency, while working for Africa’s development.

KW: What is your secret wish?

DS: To smoke a cigar with the President on the roof of the White House But, alas, he does not smoke anymore.

KW: The bookworm Troy Johnson question: What was the last book you read?

DS: “The Future” by Al Gore, “A Singular Woman” by Jenny Scott, “Legal Orientalism” by Teemu Ruskola, and I just started reading “The Great Soul” by Joseph Lelyveld.  

KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?

DS: Fish Curry.

KW: The Mike Pittman question: What was your best career decision?

DS: To attend Harvard, and recently the decision to write two books on President Obama, in that order. Hopefully, more to come!

KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?

DS: There is no limit to what one can do!

KW: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?

DS: That both my children will be well-educated, well-read and well-travelled.

KW: The Judyth Piazza question: What key quality do you believe all successful people share?

DS: Dogged determination – consistency and persistence in performance.  It’s not just enough to have good ideas, one has to deliver.

KW: The Michael Ealy question: If you could meet any historical figure, who would it be?

DS: There are so many – I would like to have met Freud, Jung, Gandhi, Nehru, Lincoln, Churchill, Martin Luther King, Mandela, Claude Levi-Strauss, Dali, Margret Mead, Camus, Foucault, Sri Aurobindo, Krishnamurti, other Indian Philosophers. And the list goes on. As you can see, I think intellectuals are historical figures, too, because they can change the world with the power of their ideas.   

KW: What advice do you have for anyone who wants to write about a president?

DS: Always follow your path, or the road less travelled.

KW: Thanks again for the time, Dinesh, and best of luck with the book.

DS:  Thanks very much, Kam.

 

To order a copy of The Global Obama, visit: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1848726260/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

 

To order a copy of Barack Obama in Hawai’i and Indonesia, visit:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0313385335/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

 

,

Entertainment

Love Gurus Date Despite Philosophical Differences in Delightful Romantic Romp

  The Bounce Back Film Review by Kam Williams Love Gurus Date Despite Philosophical Differences in Delightful Romantic Romp   Love guru Matthew Taylor (Shemar Moore) is the author of the new best seller, "The Bounce Back." Accompanied by his enterprising business manager, Terry (Bill Bellamy), he's been hawking the self-help book on plenty of TV and radio programs. Since Terry believes that "Image is everything," he's concerned that … [Read More its Good for You.....]

Books

Volume 2 of Yes Sir, Yes Sir, 3 Bags Full! – You Do NOT Want to Miss This

  Volume 2 of Yes Sir, Yes Sir, 3 Bags Full! – You Do NOT Want to Miss This Book Review by Amy Lignor What began in an unforgettable Volume 1—living Jerry Hall’s story and dealing with the heart-wrenching issues of the Viet Nam* War—continues here. The action of battle, fraught with the unending horrors that the “unwanted veterans” dealt with, grows even more painful. And as war comes closer to an end, what should have been peaceful … [Read More its Good for You...]

Art

The Day After the Day Of

  The Day After the Day Of by Paul Ilechko   The sky sheds its tears. This morning is the morning of the day after. The day of mourning, the day after the day of.  I beseech the sky to shed tears in order to wash away the tears on my face.   This is the first day of the time after. This is the beginning of a new time, the days of pain, the days of sorrow. We are in mourning. The sky looks down and sheds its tears for … [Read More its Good For You...]

Real Estate

New Home Sales Jump in April

  New Home Sales Jump in April By Burt Carey Sales of new homes hit their highest rate since 2008 in April, according to the Commerce Department’s U.S. Census Bureau. April sales increased 16.6 percent over March figures, which correlates to a seasonally adjusted rate of 619,000 home sales projected for the year. The median price of those new homes was $321,000, the highest median price ever recorded. That’s up 9.7 percent … [Read More its Good for You.....]

Lifestyle

Gain all Access Mobility with Roundabout Woodsman

Gain all Access Mobility with Roundabout Woodsman By Craig Lamb You are a waterfowler hunting solo with your prized retriever. Getting to the blind takes a four-wheel drive to pull through mud holes and keep on the two-track. Behind your truck is that aluminum jon boat. Launching that beast alone is a real hassle. Get it launched and you spend more time loading all the gear, a dog and yourself. All of the above is part of the fun, maybe, of … [Read More its Good for You...]

Outdoors

Gain all Access Mobility with Roundabout Woodsman

Gain all Access Mobility with Roundabout Woodsman By Craig Lamb You are a waterfowler hunting solo with your prized retriever. Getting to the blind takes a four-wheel drive to pull through mud holes and keep on the two-track. Behind your truck is that aluminum jon boat. Launching that beast alone is a real hassle. Get it launched and you spend more time loading all the gear, a dog and yourself. All of the above is part of the fun, maybe, of … [Read More its Good for You...]

Sports

The Best & Worst (So Far) of the 2016 NFL Season

  The Best & Worst (So Far) of the 2016 NFL Season by Amy Lignor     Okay…we’re almost dead center, folks, so it’s time to sum up the best and silliest actions and reactions that the 2016 NFL season has provided fans thus far.   Analysts are always yapping, and most likely nothing they say will actually come true. However, right now almost everyone is agreeing to the fact that Tom Brady has a score to settle. Yes, … [Read More its Good for You...]

Business

Charity Begins at Home

  Charity Begins at Home by Amy Lignor   Turning a blind eye is easy for some; preferred by others. But the fact is that the bad doesn’t become good – in any area – unless eyes are open wide to not only see what’s occurring, but also to gain the knowledge needed to stop the bad from getting even worse. Remarks are made about “other countries” and what they do wrong when it comes to the harming of animals for profit. However, in … [Read More its Good for You...]

Travel

Exploring the Holidays Around the Globe

  Exploring the Holidays Around the Globe by Amy Lignor   Thanksgiving has been had. Games have been watched and the golden turkey has caused a great many belts to be loosened. So…here it comes!   From hanging the stockings on the chimney with care to the red-nosed reindeer who had to be there; from Santa heading down that chimney just right to lovely sleigh bells ringing softly in the night, the holiday season is a truly … [Read More its Good for You...]

Green Living

Forecasting Climate Change

  Forecasting Climate Change by Amy Lignor As with anything in this world, it depends on whose opinion or observations you trust as to just how bad climate change is becoming. As 2016 begins to wrap up, climate scientists, atmospheric physicists, chemists, oceanographers – you name it – no one can come up with any other explanation for climate change and the warming of our planet other than human activity. How fast is it happening? … [Read More its Good for You...]