Indian immigrants today, are as common as they get. Not more so, in the United States with a population of over 45 million. In the early 2000s, it was a factor of pride and prestige if an Indian family had a relative who was either working or studying in the US. We as a group of children, were moulded by our parents and teachers into believing that settling as an immigrant in the US would benefit our lives greatly.
To a certain extent, they were right. In the following years, the Indian American community soon rose to become the highest-earning minority ethnic group in the US. Today, the median household income for Indian Americans is over 1 million dollars.
Most of the world back then envied the US. Not only in terms of wealth and military resources, but US pop culture was at its peak. Britney Spears’ “Toxic” was a song that had amassed a global audience. The popular American sitcom “F.R.I.E.N.D.S” was in its seventh season, already the most-watched show in the world.
Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep were household names in continents like Europe and Africa. And of course, sporting icons like Michael Jordan and a new Olympian by the name of Michael Phelps (who would later become the most successful Olympian of all time) were revered by the global crowd.
There was nothing greater than the American dream. A dream for all who aspired to be rich, famous, and glamorous. Those who achieved the dream were considered far greater than the common man. For students, names like “Harvard” and “Stanford” were showcased as a gateway for embarking on this quest to become rivals to their idols.
This, however, does not stand to be true today. Today, the reputation of the United States has been reduced to meme-worthy gags on the internet. Netizens have begun to label, many Americans as the front runner of what Time Magazine calls the “American Stupidity.” The land of the Silicon Valley and NASA has now begun to showcase citizens who believe that global warming is a hoax and that vaccines are linked to autism.
In addition to that, recent political events have convinced global onlookers that America is indeed not the New World as advertised. The new image of the US post-Donald Trump's presidential run is that of a bully with nukes. The US has a “holier than thou” opinion on detrimental global events but also has a major hand in influencing the same.
Be it the unrest in the Middle East, or unjust trade structures with already impoverished African Nations, the US is not viewed very fondly by the rest of the world. Very few Americans even seem to be aware of a world outside of the US, thereby lacking accountability. In truth, the US is tolerated, not celebrated.
The domestic situation in the US is not ideal either. Here are a few statistics from a global standpoint:
- The US has one of the highest levels of Income Inequality among developed countries with the top 10% of earners receiving 47% of the country’s income.
- The US ranks 37th out of 191 countries in healthcare accessibility, according to the World Health Organization.
- According to the Gun Violence Archive, there were 43,550 gun violence incidents in the US in 2021, resulting in 24,244 deaths and 19,306 injuries.
- According to a report by the Sentencing Project, Black Americans are incarcerated at more than five times the rate of white Americans. Additionally, data from the US Census Bureau shows that the median income for Black households is 33% lower than the median income for white households.
- According to a study by the Pew Research Center, political polarization in the US has increased significantly in recent years, with the share of Americans holding consistently liberal or conservative views more than doubling since the late 1990s.
- According to the 2022 Environmental Performance Index, the US ranks 43rd out of 180 countries in environmental performance, with challenges including air quality, water resources, and climate change mitigation.
Furthermore, the US ranks last among 11 high-income countries when it comes to affordable healthcare. In 2020 there were slightly over 80,000 abortions reported in the US according to Guttmacher Institute. According to the Institute, this represents a decline as compared to the previous years. Abortion is legal in the US under the landmark 1973 Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade, but access to abortion services is heavily restricted in some states.
As of 2022, there are 13 states with trigger laws that would immediately ban abortion if Roe v. Wade were overturned and several other states with restrictive abortion laws that are currently being challenged in court. To put things in perspective, countries like South Africa, Nepal, Uruguay and Tunisia allow abortion to up to 12 weeks of pregnancy.
For India, abortion is allowed in certain circumstances for up to 20 weeks of pregnancy as per the Medical termination of Pregnancy Act of 1971. To have developing countries protecting the rights of minors and victims of rape and abuse as compared to a developed nation such as the US showcases a decline in basic human rights for American citizens.
Now the question remains with all statistics and facts considered, can the US now be counted as a Global Superpower? The answer, in truth, is not that simple. In terms of conservation for human rights, education, lower crime rates, affordable healthcare and quality of life – Countries in the European Union are faring far better.
The Nordic countries of Norway and Finland, rank the highest regarding the aforementioned. However, countries in the EU do not showcase the range of diversity that the US does. Oftentimes, conflicts between diverse societies are overlooked when it comes to such domestic and international issues for a country. That being said, the romanticised myth of the United States is most certainly fading away with harsh realities being brought to the limelight.
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