The industry, the victims and the ex (or me).


A couple of weeks ago, at a programme organised by a government department, a Pakeha woman explained the importance of retaining and maintaining one’s native tongue in New Zealand. ‘Your language is very valuable. It is your culture. You must not lose it in New Zealand. You must speak your own language’, she implored to a mostly, inherently (I would like to think) multicultural audience. She was earnest and meant well. Us three South Asians huddled after and had a bit of a laugh. That woman was telling us what we already knew and were doing. Somewhere in the hallowed corridors of PCdom it was time to tick the multicultural box and this was the bureaucratic exercise. We should to tell the migrants that they need to maintain their language, culture, etc, whatever. Tick. Job done. When’s the next festival πŸ™‚

A posterchild for us ethnics here in Aotearoa once warned me about the state of (mental) ‘purity’ and stirring up s**t. ‘No one will take you seriously.’ So I call myself the ex-victim. I mean I continue to be a victim. Try being single and a brown woman. Or just a single woman in Indian society. Anyway. Weird, eccentric, irreverent, ex-victim, victim. PCdom says, you are either with us or with them. We are fighting for justice, for you! And you tell us we are wrong? We stand up, for you! This world order needs to be corrected. This is for you! We protest for you!

I don’t oppose the motive. Thanks for fighting for me. The world order does need to be corrected. Thanks for fighting. But should I not also decide how to fight this battle? What if I say I want justice but also to move on? You say justice first and foremost, forgiveness after. It is the method with which I disagree. The method and the power structure.

That standing up for your rights, demanding justice, moving on/reconciliation/forgiveness and introspection go together, hand in hand has been amply demonstrated by Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. That is also stimulates dissent rather than silence it is well documented in history. (Bastion Point commemorations this week are about reconciliation. Not like all tangata whenua, Maori, the people of the land, have got all the justice they seek yet. Bastion Point photo; Bastion Point)

I don’t want to be a victim, sure. And it is not my fault, of course. Don’t blame the victim! But I stand up and say that if you, my friend, my benefactor who fights for me keep calling me a victim, poor thing; keep telling me how I can survive in the big capitalist world, make me dependent; keep telling me that I am a sweet innocent thing, incapable…then it just makes me that.

The colonisers told me I was useless, a savage, less civilised than them. My colour, my language, culture, customs all inferior. You beckon me once a year during my festival to prove how wonderfully multicultural Aotearoa is. My colour, my language, culture, customs all lovely, coo-worthy and…exotic. Still stereotyping; reducing my complexity to singular-easy-to-consume-multicultural-byte. Giving me space (thanks); not letting me create and own it because you want to decide how ethnics/migrants should be, poor things.

Equity within the power structure?

And then the blind eye to the cultural baggage within the ethnics. Oh of course we are not supposed to have capitalists, fundamentalists, racists etc amongst us. That does not fit into the the scheme of victim things. Gee and if there is then the ethnics/migrants can sort it out themselves. It is too complex…we just save their souls. Actually ours.

I am going to hell, got my ticket, it’s laminated, on my wall. I’d rather not be a victim all my life, even when I face injustices.

The ‘vicitim’ industry.


Last week I put up a notice for ‘unpaid’ Indian extras on our local Aotearoa Ethnic Network (www.aen.org.nz) . This is a network of ‘ethnic’ types and those not-not coloured or refugees or migrants…basically politically correct gora government and academic types (lovely people some of them, really). It is a useful forum. Quiet for days with only notices for events, research and ethnic activities and then a burst of drama, arguments, controversies and opinions. I have ranted often on AEN and usually got away with it although it has pissed off a few mostly government babus. (Oh and the Hindutva forces in New Zealand-but that’s another post.) The reality of work and putting my energies into other stimulating activities (such as this blog yeah) means that I don’t say much on AEN these days. But without meaning to be immodest πŸ˜‰ controversy is like my shadow.
So I put up this notice calling for ‘unpaid’ Indian extras for an episode of our local soap Shortland Street yeah. I am associated with Shorty for some time now. I did not think anyone would take this seriously. I mean this is telly, the movies, glamour and what not right? 15 seconds of fame etc? This is not a perfect world and I made a mistake.
I did not reckon with the ‘victim’ mentality. Or the victim industry.

New Zealand is a beautiful, fascinating country. For a former British colony it has different attitudes towards many issues, unlike Australia. It is stubbornly non-nuclear (so far), did not directly participate in the invasion of Iraq and it has the Treaty Of Waitangi (www.treatyofwaitangi.govt.nz) . An amazing document that sets out an equitable relationship between the Crown (government/colonisers) and the Maori, the indigenous people of Aotearoa. That the Brits did not stay true to it is another story. Te Tiriti O Waitangi lays the framework for a bicultural nation. And now New Zealand is a multicultural nation with a bicultural basis. Not complicated at all. Because the rulers/government/goras are still superior to the rest of us (Maori, ethnic, coloured, whatever).

Politically correct liberal types always amuse me. These are the people who feel guilty about colonialism, colonisation, greenhouse gas emissions…just about everything that ‘bad’ Western nations indulge in where African, Asian, indigenous and all other types of non-whites suffer. It is a worthy occupation. Of course reparations for past injustices must be made, apologies must be given for wrongdoings, there must be awareness of human rights, gender equality, religions freedom, democracy and all people must be sensitised towards another’s culture etc etc. That is why New Zealand is multicultural-because all immigrants (coloured/non-English speaking) are given space and sometimes funding towards celebrating and maintaining their culture-because we would otherwise feel intimidated and left out and would not assimilate. Not a bad idea and indeed an appropriate one. So it happens all the time, this celebration. All the festivals, the clothes, the food, culture…exoticism. Because we are the victims of colonialism, racism and all the other bad things that Western (or sometimes our own) imperialists did. And we have to be grateful for this constant celebration, for the political correctness that allows us this space, for liberals and government agencies that feel sorry for us. Because we are the victims and these others our saviours. Because we apparently do not have the ability to stand up for ourselves, to ask questions, to fight for our rights, to work in the thick of the mainstream without selling the soul…and we believe it. There is an entire industry built around perpetually endorsing this mentality. The victim industry.

It is interesting, this victim industry. It’s heart is in the right place but for all the PC attitude it projects, it still preserves the colonialism it purports to correct. The power equation is of the victim and the saviour, the definer and the defined, the ruler and the ruled, benefactor and beneficiary. It is still lopsided, still about the government agencies deciding who we should be-best in our safe ghettos so that it all looks bright and wonderful and exotic and everyone feels good.

So the victim mentality came to the fore when I put up this notice. It was the usual drama, arguments and opinions but it was the lack of trust that stung me and the victim mentality, rather that it existed, so embedded in the brain it hovered over every interaction with the mainstream. So smug in itself that shouting victim would make the producers pay. They were going to anyway. It was my mistake I took it lightly, that the cheap thrill to be on telly would be more appealing than an analysis of the economics of the television industry and how it uses ‘victims’.

So colonialism lives on. In our colonised minds. Thanks to the victim industry.

Oh, I’ll need to update the readers about the next free Bollywood dance performance that Indian kids give to enthralled audience that need reassurance about multicultural New Zealand. :-*

HINDI-CHINI, BROTHER BROTHER


In 1962 China invaded India from two sides. On the north-west through Ladakh and the north-east through Arunachal Pradesh. It was a horrific war between two countries that were pretending to be friends. India lost the war, her sons and some territory. As a consequence of this loss the Chinese in Calcutta were interned/incarcerated by the then Government of India. A very shameful act. The Chinese have been in India, mainly Calcutta, since the 1700s. I have never been to Calcutta but the Chinese there are famous for their food, beauty parlours, shoes and furniture and expert dentists.

( Check these links for really interesting stories especially the letter from an Indian-Chinese. Or Chinese-Indian? Or Chindian? πŸ™‚ http://southasia.oneworld.net/article/view/90590/1/ ; http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/rssarticleshow/msid-2830153,prtpage-1.cms)

When I was little my mother would take my sister and I to Eve’s Beauty Parlour in Sukhsagor to cut our hair. It was run by a Chinese lady and her Chinese staff. Then one day the parlour shut down. Now I think back maybe they followed their Calcutta relatives, who might have been incarcerated, to America/Canada/Australia? I recall getting my hair cut at the Hong Kong Beauty Parlour in Colaba by another Chinese lady. She spoke impeccable Bombay Hindi. Wonder if the place is still open? Then there is Dr Chang, the dentist in Chira Bazaar who has been there for as long I remember and whose son apparently runs the clinic. Last time I went through Chira Bazaar, in March 2008, the clinic looked shiny and prosperous with Dr Chang’s board very much in place.

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In 1959 the Dalai Lama crossed over from Tibet into India through Arunachal Pradesh (if I got the route right). Jawaharlal Nehru offered him and his people a home. The Tibetans settled in Dharamshala and then in Karnataka. Every winter they came (come?) to Bombay to sell warm clothes to hot, harried Bombayites whose winter is experienced at 25 degrees. πŸ™‚ They were a curiosity, these Tibetans. With their smiling faces, wiry bodies and sad eyes. Not all monks but still surrounded by an aura of peace. Even cynical Bombayites could not resist the woollens. It was like we knew what they were suffering and helping them meant serving Gautam Buddha himself. For years after encountering them I wanted to visit and live in Dharamshala. Far away from Bombay, in the Himalayas. I was actively discouraged by the family. Which good Indian girl just wanders off to the Himalayas to live like a ‘monk’?

I visited Sikkim in 2000. Just me and my backpack. The good Indian girl. πŸ™‚ I was ‘allowed’ to go only after promising my mother that I would call her every day. Sikkim brought me closer to Tibet than Dharamshala. A trip towards Nathu-La, above Chhangu Lake, nauseous with mountain sickness, eating sheera in the army camp and listening to stories about how the soldiers defend the country I imagined Tibet. A hop, skip and jump across the border, far above the clouds, literally the roof of the world. The Sikkimese are not fond of the Chinese. They revere the Dalai Lama. Sikkim, in independent Himalayan kingdom, was annexed by Indira Gandhi in 1975 but was once claimed by China too.

www.sikkim-adventure.com/sikkim_map.html

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The weekend before last young Chinese students were protesting against the bias of the Western media towards the China-Tibet issue at Aotea Square in Queen Street, Auckland. While there is no doubt that media is biased-anywhere and in any country (I mean Rupert Murdoch rules right? Or whoever has more might and money?) the students seemed to believe what the Chinese government was telling them. Would they know about Tiananmen Square?

I have a lot of Chinese friends in New Zealand, many generations removed from China or fresh from the mainland. We have always worked together for better representation of Asians but never discussed democracy, Tiananmen Square, Tibet, Falun Gong, human rights, Sudan, Burma…or Kashmir, the Red corridor, Nagaland…or just relations between India and China. I wonder why. Because it is uncomfortable? Because these things don’t matter when the white man and colonialism are the ‘common enemy’? Because we rely on government agencies to bring us together and tell us what we should do? Will there be space to talk ever?

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It has taken me some time to figure out an ‘unbiased’ view. Reams have been written by experts and those not. Frankly, I sympathise with the Tibetans. Not so much because I am a bleeding heart or because I understand the teachings of Gautam Buddha (but I am not a Buddhist-for those who would want to label me straight away). No. It is because I have seen the Tibetans as refugees in my motherland. (I have also seen the Kashmiri Pandits as refugees in their own country, in India.) I have felt the warmth of the Dalai Lama permeate a section of Eden Park. Yet I also reminisce about the Chinese women who cut my hair. And stories my grandmother told me about Chinese tradesmen selling their bundles of silk. If I feel sick about the way the Indian Government treated the Chinese of Calcutta after losing the war, if I feel that as an Asian and an Indian in New Zealand I should take charge of my own representation and negotiate my culture and complex identity in this space, then it is natural for me to empathise with the cultural genocide of the Tibetans.

The Beijing Olympics, like any massive sporting event are an exercise in nationalistic jingoism and so called sportsmanship, a money-making occasion, a tourism opportunity. Just like the Commonwealth Games will be in 2010 in Delhi. That is no excuse to crush ‘undesirables’. The Dalai Lama has always asked for dialogue with the Chinese Government. It is the latter who keeps putting in condition after condition.

I am a sucker for sweet endings. Perhaps it is naive of me to think that the Chinese Government will talk to the Dalai Lama or the Tibetans. China is not a democracy. Those protesting Chinese students were using a tool of democracy to talk against Western media but were probably unaware of other tools and requirements that are attached to democracy. I can sit here and type this because I come from a country that has chugged along on a democratic path. Never perfect, never quite understanding how to deal with many issues yet having the space for discourse and argument. I live in a country that is a democracy. Imagine not being able to ask for your rights and representation, not being able to tell a bureaucrat who actually pays her salary! πŸ˜€ Chetan Anand made HAQEEQAT, a film on the Indo-China war of 1962 and how India lost the war. I am not aware of any literature that has openly come out of China that speaks about Tiananmen Square or Tibet.

A democratic China would be make an immense difference to Asia and the world. I think then India and China would be real friends rather than be cautious of each other like two sparring partners. It would also keep meddling Western powers at bay. Otherwise, imagine if Western/vested interests infiltrated the region and turn it into another Israel-Palestine or Iraq. It would be easy to arm Tibetans after the Dalai Lama dies. Then the Tibetans might not want to be non-violent. But if there was dialogue and if India lead the way and if we should recognise our cultures within rather than just fighting against Westerners, then it would be hard to beat Asian ‘power’.

Or is it just a stupid, unattainable dream?

LOVING INDIA-8 Me, Just Marathi?


Some nights ago, on our way home after dinner, my friend was stopped by the Mumbai Police at a check naka. The Mumbai Police has become very strict with drink driving and metes out the treatment on weekend nights to Bombayites. Anyway, my friend had had a couple. He was not drunk but did not want to lose his licence. A constable asked him to get out of the car and show his licence. Have you had any alcohol, he asked. My friend got out of the car, fished out the driver’s licence and spoke to the policeman. In Marathi. How are you today, he smiled. The constable was pleasantly shocked. A Marathi man! I am fine, he said. And examined the little piece of cardpaper that is the driver’s licence in Maharashtra. Come watch my play, requested my friend. Conversationally. The policeman scrutinised him. Oh, you produced that Marathi play, he said. An acquaintance saw it and liked it. I would love to see it. Of course, said my friend. And the conversation ended with my friend noting down the policeman’s name and phone number. We were stopped twice that Friday night. Both times my friend ensured he had new audience and the driving licence was intact. Only because he was a ‘local’ talking to a ‘local’.

Years ago when a patient was stalking me I made a police complaint. A ‘local’ talking to them in their language.

So far so good. Being a local has its advantages. Like the system is skewed towards the Pakeha (Europeans) in New Zealand. It is an ‘inherent advantage’ for some people. Then what? Keep out the migrants and let society, the economy and local culture rot?

Raj Thakeray, the man-who-almost-became-kingmaker-before-he-was-ousted-by-his-cousin, Uddhav, son of Bal Thakeray, wants the bhaiyyas and the Biharis out of Bombay. They are the problem, he proclaimed. Just like the ‘Asians’ are a problem in New Zealand. (Before that it was the Pacific Islanders.)

So is it only locals that make a society? Is it only the Marathi person that has made Bombay/Mumbai a cosmopolitan city? Is it only the Europeans that made New Zealand?

Politicians harp on about migration issues, pressure on resources and anything that is a problem. If there were no bhaiyyas who would deliver milk early in the morning to all the households in Bombay? Who would make the furniture? If there were no businessmen from Gujarat/Rajasthan where ever would the Bombay Stock Exchange even exist? What about the film industry here? If the Punjabis had not come, broke and emotionally torn by Partition, who would have made the films? (Never mind that Dadasaheb Phalke, the father of Indian cinema was a Maharashtrian man.) If the Chinese had not mined gold in Otago would the local economy and hence that of New Zealand have flourished? Or if the Croatians had not dug gum/the Indians had not cut scrub etc etc. Know what I mean?

My friend, who avoided being ‘caught’ is close to the upper hierarchy in the Shiv Sena and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena. Our local, right-wing, belligerent, parochial political parties in Bombay. But he too gets uncomfortable when talk of ‘Mumbai for the Marathis’ comes up. Because he knows. It is an obsolete, regressive concept. If Mumbai had been built only by the locals/Maharashtrians it would not be the city it is today. One only has to visit the top floor of the Bhau Daji Lad Museum in Byculla to see how this city was built.

Auckland may have been named after Lord Auckland who was Governer-General of India (and lead a disastrous foray into Afghanistan in the 1850s) so what? It projects itself as a global city but has proposed budget cuts in the area of migrants and refugees. The irony is that the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance wants to hear from ‘ethnic’ communities. Some questions to start discussion, according to an email sent out by The Office of Ethnic Affairs, are:

Do councils respond to the needs of ethnic communities?

Are ethnic communities able to access council services?

πŸ˜€
The Indian constitution deems that India is for all Indians. They can live anywhere they like in this country. So Maharashtrians can go anywhere they like. Why haven’t they? Afraid of hard work and sweat? Or discrimination? Or to fight for what is right but in a proper, civil way?

What is the meaning of being a New Zealander/an Aucklander? Just hyphenated words? Yeah, I am a female-Hindu-Brahmin-Maharashtrian-Bombayite-Indian-Aucklander-New Zealander….or a transnational, transcultural citizen of the world who would like to contribute positively to whichever country I work/live in?

Yesterday was the beginning of a long weekend in India. Eid-e-Milad, Navroze, Holi and Easter. Four festivals in four days. Three of which could be ‘Marathi’, irrespective of religion. Yet the Parsis also built Bombay no?

As I count my days to return to New Zealand I have reaffirmed one thing. I know where I come from so I can go anywhere I want. And that is more than being Just Marathi.

LOVING INDIA-7 Cricket, the media and stuff


Word on the street is that Harbhajan said Maa ki (Your Mother’s @@##) to Andrew Symonds. The Australians, poor things, being monocultural and monolingual thought he said Monkey! This controversy is not going to end. The ‘white’ cricket boards are now worried about Indian dominance and the Indians are loving it. It is not so much about cricket as much about about occupying space on the world stage as a power to reckon with. India won the CB Cup, as Sachin Tendulkar had predicted, in the first two matches. There were the usual firecrackers and the welcomes. There was also money for the cricketers. Rs 59 lacs (?) each. And Bhajji making statements like ‘I am confident, not arrogant’. This is a new era in cricket for India. Young boys want to be the soldiers for the nation in this war. Parents are saying to their kids, ‘Beta, forget your maths tables, go for net practice. Nahi to you will not get rich’.

Star News/Star Cricket of the Star stable owned by Rupert Murdoch takes the lead in stoking these subconscious fires of ambition. ‘And you thought we were wusses?’ said one reporter in Hindi. ‘Look at us now, we have shown you Andrew Symonds/Ricky Ponting etc. Watch out how you treat us coz we can give as good as we get. We are Indians…’ And so on it went; on and on, intercut with visuals of the team popping champagne, arguing players, Symonds and Bhajji standoff, a grim Ricky Ponting, batsmen making classic strokes, cricketers doing duty free shopping and the felicitation by the cricket board. Be combative, aggressive and arrogant in victory, said the subtext. Oh and the Chak De India song ( the title song from the movie Chak De India) playing in the background. These days most ‘news’ channels play Hindi film songs in the background while ‘reporting’ news. Star’s Marathi channel Star Mazhaa contrasted this with a story about a failed cricketer who is now a labourer on a building construction site. So win or lose it still makes a great story on Star.

India also won the under-19 world cup and a lot of money was paid out to players in the second round of auctions for the Indian Premier League cricket. Team anthems, team music videos and what not are the mantra now. If the Australians and the Indians play together in the same team then there might be place for understanding each other, so say the cricketers. Ishant Sharma still thinks highly of Ricky Ponting. Dravid personally called Martin Crowe and asked him to coach his Bangalore team (owned by Vijay Mallya).

I don’t know about better understanding between the Australians and Indians but I sure hope the New Zealand cricketers playing IPL can create more awareness about India in Aotearoa. At least Martin Crowe will not complain about bad Chinese food and the lack of fush-n-chups in Bangalore. Cricketers might do a better job than journalists or government officials? We have to wait and see.

LOVING INDIA-4 In the heart of democracy.


Back to Bombay from Delhi. What a whirlwind trip! I stayed in Varanasi for a night. It is an addictive place. I will go again and again and take some friends. More about that in my next blog though. I know some of you are eager for me to share my experience about Kashi but this blog is about an absolutely rivetting experience in the heart of democracy.

It is not easy to govern a country like India. So complex so layered and so crazy. Historian Ramchandra Guha compares it to the European Union except that there are more languages and more people than EU. And it is a young democracy that is daily negotiating its identity and place in ‘glocally’. So how do elected representatives look after the people and make sense of it all?

One night in Delhi I was a fly on the wall during an interesting meeting of elected members of Parliament (Lok Sabha members), nominated members of Parliament (Rajya Sabha members), journalists, social workers, government officials and celebrities. They all wanted to bring to the attention of modern India the burning issue of malnutrition. One in in every two children in India is malnourished. It is a complex issue (as is everything in India) but what fascinated me was the camaraderie between opposing parties and the fact that this was a voluntary group cutting across political ideologies. They all knew the issue needed attention, they all knew that sixty years after independence malnutrition should have been eradicated from the country. Yet…

And then 29 February 2008 was one of the most memorable days of my life. I was in Parliament House, in the public gallery as the Finance Minister of India PC Chidambaram read the budget for 2008-09. I was there in the heart of the Indian Republic and democracy.

Parliament House is a huge circular building; an impressive colonial structure in which happen all things that affect India. http://www.indiasite.com/delhi/places/parliamenthouse.html

http://parliamentofindia.nic.in/

After passing through very tight security (they really do grope every body part) I was seated in the public gallery with a view worth a million dollars. Right in front of me was the Speaker Somnath Chatterjee. To my right were the Opposition benches and to my left was the Government. PM Manmohan Singh, Pranab Mukherjee, Sonia Gandhi, Sharad Pawar, PC Chidamabaram…they all came in one by one. The Baba Log (young MPs) sauntered in. Sachin Pilot, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Naveen Jindal…the senior members Kapil Sibal, Sushil Kumar Shinde…leader of the Opposition LK Advani…all dressed to the gills and very swishy swadeshi. (Of course the film star MPs did not turn up.) Then walked in the entertainer Laloo Prasad Yadav. I know the man has history but I really wanted to see him read the Railway Budget. Unfortunately I did not get a pass.

It was interesting to see the difference between the Opposition and the ruling party MPs. The latter were confident and a trifle arrogant and full of veteren parliamentarians. Most of the young MPs in the Opposition were badly dressed and seemed totally down market. I know one cannot judge a book by its cover but one would have thought that being in Parliament since 2004 might have instilled a sense of occassion in them.

So PC read the budget. Money to education, relief to women, some crores for this and some for that…and then came his googly. A total waiver of debt for farmers across India. Everyone knows about farmer suicides in India. It is a sad story. India is an agrarian society at heart and farmers the lifeblood. PC first spoke about small farmers. Before he could carry on pandemomium broke loose. ‘A pharmer iz a pharmer’, someone from the Opposition yelled. Then more of them got up and started shouting. So the governing benches got up shouted back. The Speaker kept requesting the Opposition to sit down and listen to the rest of the Budget. So on and so forth. Laloo got up. Arre baitha baitha, (sit down) he gestured to his colleagues. PN Sangma (NCP MP from Meghalaya, part of the UPA Government) came across from his sit and asked his colleagues to sit. The PM and LK Advani were silent. They must have seen this a zillion times before. I had not.

India can have a maximum 552 MPs including the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha. From across the length and breadth of the country. Such a huge, diverse country with so many people. Some things work, some don’t. There are those who try their best and there are those enamoured of power. Then there are the cynical types and those who think they have not done anything worth speaking of. Rajya Sabha member and world renowned Indian film director Shyam Benegal said at a dinner table conversation that as a member of Parliament he has not yet done anything worthwhile for the country and that he still has the capacity to be shocked. Isn’t that a good thing , I asked him. Then you don’t get apathetic about anything. The level of cynicism is high he said.

Still the work has to go on. Policies are made but implementation is a problem. There is energy but it does not trickle down. Or if it is at the grassroots level it takes time to flow upwards.

That day in Parliament and the meeting before reiterated that noble intentions abound. Never mind that the Budget was populist and indicates early general elections and never mind as civilians most of us don’t realise that a good country is not about good government only. It requires participation from people.

LOVING INDIA-2 Parochialisms etc


So I spoke Marathi on the plane and was relieved not to be surrounded by only the Gujaratis and Punjabis of the world Yes we Maharashtrians are not adventerous. That is why Raj Thakeray rants against North Indians and how they are usurping all the jobs that the sons of this soil are supposed to do. We are so proud of our land πŸ™‚ During a conversation with a friend very closely associated with MNS (Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, Raj Thakeray’s breakaway party from uncle Bal Thakeray’s Shiv Sena), I ‘accused’ him of engineering riots to kick out Biharis from Mumbai. He turned around and said that I am an ‘outsider’ too. If I act too smart I will be packed off to New Zealand πŸ˜€ Yes this is the state of displaced daughters of the soil. Jay Maharashtra!

Parochialism is a great way to create a sense of singular identity. Parochialism is a great way to push for recognition. Such as South Asia (and India). I watched the IPL (Indian Premier League cricket) auction live on television. MS Dhoni was ‘bought’ for 6 crore rupees. And so many New Zealand cricketers for so many millions. Has anyone in New Zealand seen that kind of money? Or are they so fixed on China that they don’t see how India (and South Asia) is a geopolitically, economically and culturally important region for the future?

Perhaps the politically correct liberal intellectuals are happy just creating space for migrants and patting themselves on the back for it? Multiculturalism is good. Not understanding it is harmful. Let’s have more Diwalis and Lantern Festivals it is easy, simple and government driven. Surely diasporic identities are more complex than that?

Sometimes even I am unable to comprehend the complexities of my life as an Indian and and an Indian New Zealander. I see the muliple levels of existence here and try to make sense of it all…maybe that is why it is easy to slot migrants and decide what they should be. And here in India it is easy to be a middle class consumer detached from government and governance yet complain about democracy.