Ethnicity.

I do not know if this ad ran or not during the Super Bowl. It was sent to me by an American of Indian origin who knows my own angst about being called a Hindu.

Like the American Indian, or more aptly the Native American, there is no word Hindu in our scriptures and there is no one size fits all for the so called Hindus.

I have written about it earlier and you may find it quite amusing to re-read it. This post is to talk about the other aspects of being Indian in India.

Like the Navajo would not like to be called a Redskin, I would not like to be called a Madrasi though genetically I am from the South of India, but was born in Western India. And South India itself is divided linguistically into Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, with Malayalam, Tamil, Kannada and Telugu being the local languages respectively.  Since during the British times all these states were part of the Madras province, North Indians insist on calling the whole jing bang lot as Madrasis.  This kind of profiling repeats itself in the rest of the country and it leads to the following problem.

When I am overseas, I introduce myself as an Indian. If I meet an Indian overseas, the first thing he will want to know is which part of India I come from so that he can slot me into the stereotype that he has about people from that part. So, for him I become a Tamilian from Maharashtra and that stumps him as he does not have a ready stereotype to typecast me, and my English stumps him further as the accent is not something that he can identify as being from any one part of the country.

What I would like to impress about India or for that matter, Hindus,  is that you simply cannot stereotype it or its people. I am sure we can’t for all countries with varied cultures within either.

For those who are interested in knowing something about India viewed from an Englishman’s point of view, and who has written extensively about us, here is a video that is worth spending about half an hour on.

Throughout the world there is strife of some kind or the other based on either ethnicity of sectarianism or religion.

In our neighbourhood, in Pakistan, you will find Sindhis, Punjabis, Mohajirs, Baluchis and the Pashtuns defending each individual turf when it comes to ethnic identity but when they now go overseas, claim that they are Muslims from India!  Bangladesh is up in arms between fundamentalists and the so called secularists.

In another neighbouring country, ethnic identity is about to erupt and cause more trouble to an already very troubled country.

So, where does it leave us?  Is Lennon relevant any more?

A New Problem Created By Fanatics.

This news item from the BBC shows the latest problem faced by one section of people from India’s North East.

Mumbai and Pune also had problems with people from the North East of India being targeted by trouble makers.

These assaults are on people who like Bodo tribals of our North East who are battling immigrant Bangladeshis. Some Muslims in India have decided that their co-religionists, despite being illegal immigrants into India, are being assaulted and have gone berserk.

My friend and frequent commentator Nandu has this to say about it.

Shameful & dangerous ! The earlier this rot is stemmed the better before it snowballs into a more ugly situation which could easily spiral out of control . The people from the NE States have felt neglected/excluded/discriminated against for years now and a process of integration had just begun . When I was in Gauhati in 1977/78 and used to visit the other NE States ( Mizoram , Meghalaya , Manipur , Nagaland , Arunachal Pradesh , Tripura – “The Seven Sisters ” ) some of the local people there used to ask ” Have you come from India ? ” . They are simple law abiding folk in search of gainful employment in other parts of India and this ugly development is tragic . They were earlier exploited by traders from the other states in India and secretly resented them . This unrest has spread from the Bodo-Muslim ( illegal immigrant ) clashes in Assam to Mumbai , Pune and Karnataka !

It is all very well to celebrate Mary Kom’s success ( some solace in an otherwise drought of medals – very creditable considering the fraction these folk represent of our huge population ) but the “aam NE admi” needs to be at least protected if not actively encouraged !

The massive illegal immigrant influx ( pre & post 1971 war with Pakistan , which saw the creation of Bangladesh ) into the NE states is a huge problem which has been allowed to fester for far too long and unfortunately the Govt has been dragging its heels ( in some cases deliberately for political mileage ) and political will and co-ordination is woefully lacking ( as usual you might say ! ) ; the usual blame games have started . The favourite bogey of “foreign hand” has been raised ; even if that were true what prevents us from dealing with it : terrorism is also due to “foreign hand” who are now working hand-in-hand with local hands !

Why does India have to make headlines for all the wrong reasons with monotonous regularity ? The so called “India story” is taking a huge bashing of late !

My Nightmare.

I have written about this before and my readers are sure to be aware of the problems that face India’s so far hostile neighbour Pakistan, without my having to elaborate.

The latest in a series of written material about Pakistan, is this book which has been reviewed in The Telegraph. I do not have to read the book to understand what the author has to say, but do have something to say about a scenario that no one has so far covered.

Pakistan has a substantial population spread all over but predominantly concentrated around Karachi, which speaks Urdu. These are called the Mohajirs, or the people who relocated from India at the time of India’s partition and/or their descendants. These are people with relatives still living in India and have many interconnections with India through marriage. These are people who are already facing problems with Sindhi and Punjabi domination and Karachi epitomises that problem with very high incidences of murders and sectarian strife.

If Pakistan collapses, as predicted by many “experts”, I do not have the slightest doubt that India will be faced with a refugee problem comparable to what it faced prior to the formation of Bangladesh.

The scene in India now however is vastly different now, with a very militant Hindu right wing which is unlikely to be accommodating of a new influx of Pakistani Muslims into India and both the refugees and Indian Muslims will face the brunt of such antagonism, the magnitude of which will be difficult to handle.

It is in India’s interest that Pakistan survives successfully as a state and I hope that our leadership, so obsessed with minority appeasement will take this possible scenario in their reckoning before it becomes too late.