Radio Bigotry (but not in America this time)

I saw the headline yesterday on Drudge and I couldn’t believe it: “60 Injured in ‘INDIAN IDOL’ Protests…” At first I rolled my eyes thinking that maybe a fan favorite got booted off and the viewers decided to riot in their displeasure. “Only in India” I thought. Opening the link however, I discovered there was more to this story:

More than 60 people were injured and dozens of vehicles set ablaze in eastern India when an angry mob demonstrated after a radio host made derogatory comments about the winner of the popular television show “Indian Idol,” officials said Saturday.

The violence broke out Friday when supporters of Prashant Tamang, the recent winner of the TV singing competition, took to the streets of Siliguri, a town in the eastern state of West Bengal, to protest what they perceived as a radio show host’s ethnic slur against Tamang, said state police official R.J.S. Nalwa. Tamang is an Indian citizen of Nepalese origin.

The protesters apparently blocked a road and refused to let an ambulance carrying a patient pass, which led to clashes between Tamang’s supporters and a group accompanying the ambulance, said Nalwa. [Link]

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p>Naturally, I wanted to know the contents and context of the ethnic slur uttered by the DJ. Last night I checked about a half dozen news stories and not one of them bothered to report on this crucial fact. Is the Indian media really that inept or do they think that reporting the text of the actual slur would cause more violence? I had to go to a blog entry linked to our News Tab to get to the bottom of this mystery [via BPO Tiger]:

Verbatim from Red FM Radio Jockey (RJ) [named Nitin] on Indian Idol Prashant Tamang Radio-Jockey-Nitin-Prashant-Tamang

“Aaaj Prashant Tamang ‘Nepali ladka from Darjeeling’ [Today Prashant Tamang, Nepali boy from Darjeeling] has become Indian Idol [laughs sarcastically] and we have a [cricket] match tonight so we need to guard our house / malls / restaurants by ourselves as there will be no Nepali people to guard these place and whole night we need to say Jagtay Raho [stay awake].” The RJ also added that all the Footpath Momo shops will remain closed as Nepali guy has become Indian Idol. [Link]

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p>I’m not going to even pretend I have a clue about all the ethnic stereotypes in India. I know us gujus are supposed to be cheap and my mom always tells me South Indians are smart because they eat fish :) That is basically where my knowledge of Indian stereotypes ends. Now that I have a Nepali sister-in-law though, this particular stereotype is something I wanted to understand better.

The blogger “Krissy B” at BPO Tiger continues:

My question is how dares Nitin insulting Gorkha/Nepali community like this. This is not a question of whether someone is having sense of humor or not. Will he dare to poke joke on a Sikh’s mile of fabric as a nappy? Or Mahatma Gandhi as gas station attendant or gay? Or asking the Jat community in Delhi why they are so abusive to their women, why they kill girl child, why for marriage they have to bring girls from different states like North East? Will he dare to poke fun on Islam?

I received many a calls from my Nepali friends who work in Delhi BPOs. Nepalis residing in Delhi and working in call centers are planning to take the issue further and they will walk a peaceful protest on either Saturday or Sunday wearing black badge. [Link]

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p>Prashant’s backstory is interesting in itself:

When he decided to try his luck at the Indian Idol reality show, winner Prashant Tamang probably did not dream that he would make it to the top.

Even if he did imagine that, the 24-year-old from Tungsung village in Darjeeling district could have never thought, even in his wildest dreams, that for many in Nepal his win would become a symbol of political victory over their southern neighbour India, frequently regarded as an arm-twisting bully.

For nearly two months, Nepal agonised over Indian Idol while its own contest Nepali Tara went ignored. Indeed, the Nepalese contest had to change its timing since no one watched it while it clashed with Idol.

Why would a nation ignore its own talents and devote its energies to promoting a singer whose ancestors originated from Nepal?

The answer is because, for many Nepalese, Darjeeling is still part of Nepal. [Link]

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p>Maybe RJ Nitin also feels that Prashant isn’t really Indian, or maybe he was just doing what idiot shock jocks the world over do: spew garbage for advertising dollars. Interestingly enough, the leaders of India have been fawning over American astronaut Sunita Williams for a couple weeks now, appropriating her as they see fit, even though she isn’t an Indian citizen.

That 60 people would be injured over a bigoted comment by a mere DJ however, is troubling. There seems to be a bit of “we’re not going to take it anymore” boiling up to the surface in the response of Prashant’s fans.

103 thoughts on “Radio Bigotry (but not in America this time)

  1. If you were TV surfing channel in India, in 1980, 1988, 1995, 1998, 2002, 2007 – what you would see a change as dramatic as day and night

    The sea change happened in the early 90s, when cable TV made inroads into India, as a result of liberalization, as well as the glamor of international channels as demonstrated by the five-star hotels etc. showing CNN and its catchy videos of green missile trajectories filmed in night vision during the first gulf war. That was when the choice available to Indian viewers expanded significantly, and that had an effect on the earlier staid programming.

    Abhi, this is something I have always wondered abt Indian media and Indian psyche ..as to why “famous” & “succesful” people of Indian origin are eulogized so much… sometimes with more emphasis on their “Indian-ness” than the achievements.

    Many places, including towns in the US, have this behavior. A canonical example is the nightly news which always covers even remote events with a lens on people who might have a tenuous connection to the area (suppose there’s an aircrash, the story will be about one guy who grew up in the town, who might have since moved elsewhere). I thought Anchorman, in all its zaniness, had some witty excoriation of this behavior of the news coverage on local channels.

    At least, in India, it is often more about Indianness than local loyalties (as it is the US), at least to the extent that I’ve seen.

  2. Christ, Chopin. Here I am, a lazy Bengali starving artist. I thought I was a nonconformist, but in fact I’m conforming to a vicious racist stereotype.

    I should’ve become a doctor.

  3. Here I am, a lazy Bengali starving artist. I thought I was a nonconformist, but in fact I’m conforming to a vicious racist stereotype.

    maybe you could break out of the mold by stopping eating fish.

  4. I don’t eat fish. I do swim like a fish. Maybe I can subvert the stereotype by demonstrating that Bengalis exhibit great swimming prowess.

    Is there anything wrong with eating a lot of fish? Is it supposed to be weird, or something? I mean, it’s not goat’s blood. Saw some of that dried up and ready to munch in a market once.

  5. dravidian lurker, you are quite articulate too, for a lurker.

    nah, just talkative :) mebbe i should go by kint.

  6. More Indian stereotypes;

    Sikhs are stupid. Punjabi men have big di*ks. Bengalis are lazy starving artist/poet types. Punjabis are like westerners in that they are undisciplined and eat meat and drink alcohol and possibly even date. Biharis are ruffians. U.P.ites are rough and uncultured in their speech. Indian mothers are the best in the world because women outside of India do not have as much motherly instinct as Indian mothers. Indian women are the chastest women in the world and are actually world reknowned for their chastity. : : : : Marwaris are stingy Sindis men are the hairiest of all Indians Maharashtrians are Khadoos Biharis are unscrupulous Goans are easy Gujjus are Kanjoos

    Some Mumbai sterotypes of foreigners Uzbek women (Natashas) in Mumbai high end CSW, Nepali women the cheap CSW Nigerians are drug dealers Arabs go crazy when it rains.

  7. amelie, yeah, some other people have said bengalis idealize the aquiline sharp features and stuff. not much of an issue in my family, they fun of me for my big nose, and it ain’t that big (at least compared to my gf’s german american fam).

    are u not a mughal muslim? (copyright dalitstan.com :)
    dp many west asians have pug noses? perhaps u r but didn’t inherit some of the features.

  8. Some guy said that Amit Paul is Khasi. Let me clarify that he is a Bengali, although the support for Amit from the predominantly Khasi population in Shillong was unprecedented. Bengalis and Khasis have a history of communal mistrust resulting in occasional violence in Shillong for decades now. But this event really drew the whole of Shillong together. Fortunately the result did not result in a backlash against the sizeable Nepali community in Shillong as feared.

    Also razib, the Assamese are not a single ethnic group in truth (I really don’t know about Bengalis). There are some who are similar to mongoloids because they are mongoloids (Tai Ahoms, and the Assamese tribes, Bodos etc). The Assamese caste people (Brahmins, Kalitas etc) are caucasian with occasional mongoloid influence. Similar with the Nepali population (hill tribes being Mongoloid, and plain caste people not). Of course the mongolian influence on these two caste groups considerable due to possible historical inter marriage/inter copulation.

    Just to get that out of the way. With regards to the riot, really this is the first time I am aware of a real protest against racial slurs by the Nepali community. Its about time too, because it is becoming all too frequent. But the subsequent rioting was uncalled for. But to be frank the Bengalis have been the subject of racial taunts and violence in areas around Darjeeling and Shillong for too long and maybe this was payback time.

    I have done schooling in both Shillong and Darjeeling, and for me this is really an interesting development of race/ethnic relations in and around these places, which otherwise are fantastic to vegetate in.

  9. Thansk for the clarification, Spidy. I was going to poitn out that Amit was from Shillong. When I was up in Siliguri a few weeks earlier, young women were stopping cars on some of teh roads with a rope. They asked for donations so they could buy airtime on cell phones to call in and vote for Prashant Tamang.

    There are many who think that Darjeeling will someday soon become it’s own autonomous region or state apart from W. Bengal. Certainly, if you look at the grip the current mayor has on running the city, you see that he’s not so beholden to the ruling party in Kolkata, partly becasue of the distance adn the tea/tourism industry.

  10. fsowalla To be fair, the original construct of states were predominantly around linguistic grounds, so the Nepalis of Darjeeling do have a fair shout at their own state, or at least autonomy. If not for tea and tourism, that area might well have been economically deprived compared to the rest of WB. But I don’t think it will happen, its too small a place to exist independently, and as far as i know the struggle for autonomy is dormant if not dead.

    I was in Shillong just before and during the results, and the support for Amit was overwhelming. Almost everybody I know was somehow involved in the campaign, either raising funds for smses or putting up banners and posters. Unfortunately it was not enough:(

  11. Back 1998, David Dhawan’s movie Gharwali Baharwali provoked similar protests by Gurkhas. I don’t recall the details, & Google isn’t helping, but one of the heroines in the movie was supposed to be Nepali (she was played by an Andhra actress called Rambha) & there was some joke about her baby identifying khaki colors because he was Nepali/ Gurkha & hence destined to be a bahadur (guard). So much for Johnny Gurkha.

    And as some of you wrote, the violence was also because of anti-Nepali protests by Bengalis & Khasis of Shillong who were upset that their local boy didn’t win:

    “Tamang’s surprise win sparked unrest in India’s troubled north-east region where supporters of Paul attacked Nepalese in Shillong town, the capital of Meghalaya. The violence was later exacerbated by a Delhi radio DJ who made allegedly “insulting” comments about Tamang and the Gurkha population from which he is descended.” from Times of London

    The Khasis vs Bengalis vs ‘outsiders’ politics gets rather murky at this point.

  12. Tipu, the “Times of London” must have done some shoddy reporting in this case. I was in Shillong, and the only signs of trouble was moderate deployment of security personel in Nepali dominated areas as a preventive measure. As I said earlier, there was a real fear of backlash but which never really materialized. Also the violence in Siliguri had nothing to do with Amit’s popularity in Shillong, given the fact that W.B had their own Bengali contender in Emon Chatterjee who was a top three contender. I thought it was triggered by the incident between the Nepali protestors and a patient’s family, and escalated because of underlying tensions between Nepalis and Bengalis in and around Siliguri. Again nothing to do with Khasis and/or Amit. There is a propensity to include all available reports and compile them into a cause and effect article in these sort of national and international newspapers, when the available print space for small, insignificant locations is limited.

  13. Darjeeling is not part of Nepal. Darjeeling is part of Sikkim. First return Darjeeling to Sikkim. Then restore Sikkimese independence. Then restore the Kathmandu Valley to the Newars and sent the Nepalis back where they came from.

  14. are u not a mughal muslim?

    Obviously you have not seen his pictures. He looks habshi not mughal.

  15. Amit may be considered a bengali as his mother tongue is bengali but he sure looks more assamese than bengali. His best friends on the show were the gurkha Prashant and the chinese Chang.

  16. Uzbek women (Natashas) in Mumbai high end CSW, Nepali women the cheap

    Nepalese girls in turn command a premium over native indian girls in the brothels of Mumbai:

    http://www.freeachild.org/article2.html

    Underage Nepalese girls are a valuable commodity in India: they are sent to work in cramped, squalid brothels where disease and death are rife. Now the battle to rescue them is hotting up. Mumbai (Bombay) looks like the end of the world. Warrens of blackened, decaying slum dwellings offer some shelter, but half the population, it is said, live on the streets. Falkland Road – once the red-light district for the British Army and known locally as White Lane because white men used to go there – and Kamathipura are at the heart of this rank city. Flies swarm around mountains of rotting food, dead rats and infested rubbish litter the streets, and you find yourself stepping across pungent streams of raw sewage. From mid-afternoon, women in brilliantly coloured saris lounge in doorways, while other female faces peer from the barred windows and locked grilles of the area’s notorious “cages.” A restless mob of undernourished men – rickshaw pullers, taxi drivers, itinerant workers – prowls up and down, assessing the goods. At a glance, at least half these women are Nepalese. Kanchi Tamang is sitting on a doorstep, touting for custom. She has the face of an angel, a perfect oval with the pale skin and Mongolian eyes that Indian men prefer. In better circumstances she could have been a movie star in Mumbai’s glitzy Bollywood. But as she says, with a sullen lift of the shoulders, “What’s the use of being beautiful when you work in a place like this?”
  17. How many of us have heard them being called chinkis? Indians (particularly North Indians) will never accept north-easterners as their own. Time to give independence to the seven sisters or better, let them accede to CHINA, after all, we think them all chinese, dont we

  18. Making ‘derogatory,sarcastic & ethnic/regional’ statements is not new & is widely accepted as part of ‘jocular conversation’ between friends

    Calling an Indian with mongoloid features Chinese, and associating him with momos and chawkidari is not the same thing. I don’t expect a north indian to understand. Just dont cuss about Shilpa Shetty next time, and spare us all the hypocrisy

  19. Maybe I have been infected by ‘PC going mad’. But looking at some of the attitudes or comments that people come out with in India, its difficult not to cringe. I think saying that it happens all the time and its a part of life in India doesn’t quite justify the fact that a lot of these remarks are quite offensive. I have had friends visit India with me previously and some of the questions and comments that were thrown our way in all innocence were shocking.. and embarrassing. I can’t help but feel that Indians (both diaspora and back in the motherland) can be quite xenophobic. You could argue that people don’t know better, but that still doesn’t make it less offensive. Here is an excellent article on the issue: http://www.shivamvij.com/2007/02/the-stain-that-just-wont-wash.html

  20. 00rush, white people have similar experiences in India also. Especially the persistant gazing, name calling (monkey as well), and rental discrimination. It’s xenophobia which knows no color, so I don’t accept the premise of the piece that people in India respect whites and don’t respect blacks, based on skin color.

    That persistent gaze on the street that Ojwando faced, people assured him, came from curiosity. After all, many he met didn’t even know where Kenya was. The name-calling followed: strangers and even people known to him would call him a monkey. “When even English-speaking people behave like this, I don’t see how you could say it comes from any kind of curiosity,” Ojwando says. He learned soon enough to call ‘curiosity’ by its proper name: there were landlords who wouldn’t rent out rooms to Africans and there were parents who wouldn’t approve of their daughters going out with Black men. “It surely is racism when people refuse to sit next to you in a bus, when people you don’t know sneer at you, and when you’re pointed out to kids and called a ‘negro’.”
  21. In re Chopin at #48:

    Indian mothers are the best in the world because women outside of India do not have as much motherly instinct as Indian mothers.

    and Kush Tandon‘s retort at #49

    heard about [the] Jewish mother. . .

    I’ve gotta say, Kush, that the two aren’t equivalent!! The urban Jewish stereotype, since the late 1890′s, of the “Jewish mother” is rather more complex (and hilarious) than the brave-nurturing-and-long-suffering Indian stereotype.

  22. 00rush, white people have similar experiences in India also. Especially the persistant gazing, name calling (monkey as well), and rental discrimination. It’s xenophobia which knows no color, so I don’t accept the premise of the piece that people in India respect whites and don’t respect blacks, based on skin color.

    really? when iw as travelling in india with a bunch of europeans, people were kissing their a$$es constantly. not sure if africans get the same red carpet treatment.

  23. Yeah, most service industry people will kiss whites’ asses. But there are a lot of nasty comments from people who have no money to gain. Examples heard by this foreign correspondent while travelling with whitey: ‘this one is not ugly. most of them are ugly.’ (on a train)’this one is okay, but you should have seen the ones I had to travel with last week…’ ‘everyone knows they are dirty-dirty (nongra-nongra) over there’, ‘so -do all American women sleep with men before they marry?’, (right after 9/11) ‘so now you know bad things happen to everyone, no matter where they come from’, ‘why do they smell like that? is it because they eat so much meat?’ n.b. whitey was not smelly, dirty and/or American.

  24. Darjeeling is not part of Nepal. Darjeeling is part of Sikkim. First return Darjeeling to Sikkim. Then restore Sikkimese independence. Then restore the Kathmandu Valley to the Newars and sent the Nepalis back where they came from.

    “Don’t mind your nationality you have got the identity of an African

    ‘Cause if you come from Clarendon and if you come from Portland and if you come from Westmoreland, you’re an African”

    ~ African-Peter Tosh.

    How bout we all move to Africa?????

  25. .. white people have similar experiences in India also. Especially the persistant gazing, name calling (monkey as well), and rental discrimination.

    I completely agree! My girlfriend is working in India and as a white American girl, she had fair share of people staring, calling names, etc. The funniest (in hindsight) conversation I have had regarding this is with an all-knowing auntyji who sat me down one day to give me advice on relationships. It went something like:

    ‘Beta, I don’t care who you marry. Just remember the simple rule, no BMW.’

    I asked her if she had some issues with German cars.

    ‘No, no.. No Blacks, Muslims or Whites.’

    Pretty much sums it up really..

  26. Yeah, most service industry people will kiss whites’ asses. But there are a lot of nasty comments from people who have no money to gain. Examples heard by this foreign correspondent while travelling with whitey: ‘this one is not ugly. most of them are ugly.’ (on a train)’this one is okay, but you should have seen the ones I had to travel with last week…’ ‘everyone knows they are dirty-dirty (nongra-nongra) over there’, ‘so -do all American women sleep with men before they marry?’, (right after 9/11) ‘so now you know bad things happen to everyone, no matter where they come from’, ‘why do they smell like that? is it because they eat so much meat?’ n.b. whitey was not smelly, dirty and/or American.

    Service industry people kiss almost any customer’s ass whom they think have alot of $$$, no matter the color of skin or where they are from. However, if you are living in India for extended periods of time and thus no longer qualify as “tourist”, and start to move with the locals, that’s when the cruelty, racism, xenophobia starts. For tourists with money, a few weeks in Indian resorts may seem like paradise.

    ‘everyone knows they are dirty-dirty (nongra-nongra) over there’,

    Are you sure it wasn’t “nanga-nanga”, which means “naked-naked”? Coz that’s another stereotype of foreigners.

  27. Tara, it was in Bengali – nangra or nongra means ‘dirty’. They wouldn’t call foreigners ‘naked’, they’d find a polite way of calling them whores. As for the bit about the service industry people kowtowing to anyone with money, it’s only true to a certain extent. I looked like a typical Westerner, albeit with brown skin, backpack, tall, jeans/tank tops etc, but when I travelled with a white person, the ass-kissing they got was something I did not experience. On the other hand, I got a lot more genuine help and attention from the locals, especially when they figured out I was ‘really’ a local. I got cheated less, and they could be quite protective at times, which I didn’t really see in them vis a vis foreign females.

    I sympathize about the xenophobia if you’ve experienced it. My ex once walked right into a spot buzzing with angry wasps, watched by a couple of dozen locals, who promptly started to laugh as soon as he got stung. They’d warned all of their own about the place, but decided they’d have a little fun at his expense. Mind you, they might have done the same to some rich Mumbai guy.

  28. I sympathize about the xenophobia if you’ve experienced it.

    I was always on the giving, rather than receiving end of xenophobia in India. Not until I shifted and became an ex-pat did I change my ways. It took finally being on the receiving end to put an end to my cruelty. White, black or yellow, when it came to xenophobia, I was an equal oppurtunity employer.

    I looked like a typical Westerner, albeit with brown skin, backpack, tall, jeans/tank tops etc, but when I travelled with a white person, the ass-kissing they got was something I did not experience.

    Do you think if you dressed in a more sophisticated, conservative style you may have gotten more respect? We used to dish out alot of respect to Memsahibs, Madams and other what we deemed “properly attired” females. Jeans and tank tops were not acceptable attire to me back then, no matter who wore them.

  29. Jeans

    are jeans considered “sl*tty” clothes in india? they seem to cover up pretty good. come to think of it, a sari seems to reveal as much as jeans and a tank top.

  30. are jeans considered “sl*tty” clothes in india? they seem to cover up pretty good. come to think of it, a sari seems to reveal as much as jeans and a tank top.

    Not neccessarily slutty, but not “appropriate” in many circumstances. Jeans with a long kurti seem to be becoming more and more acceptable. Tank tops are considered slutty.

  31. My ex once walked right into a spot buzzing with angry wasps, watched by a couple of dozen locals

    I read this as a spot buzzing with angry w.a.s.p.s (white anglo saxon protestants). LOL.

  32. Tank tops are considered slutty

    so..if i was a grl (and wanted to catch a lot of eyes) i would wear saris in a provocative fassion. reveal just as much and be conservative all at the same time. i love arb.

  33. Tara,

    Can you please refrain from making these unsubstantiated statements or atleast qualify them as your own opinion, tank tops are not considered slutty in big cities and it will be great to know where your experiences were.

  34. so..if i was a grl (and wanted to catch a lot of eyes) i would wear saris in a provocative fassion. reveal just as much and be conservative all at the same time. i love arb.

    Some women do that too, but the sari is not really seen as sexy attire in India unless you wear Bollywood fashion like with a backless choli or a bikini style top as the choli, which normally does not happen in every day life.

  35. Some women do that too, but the sari is not really seen as sexy attire in India

    a grl who does a lot of crunches and has the body for it in a sari looks plenty sexy to me. takes the right body type to pull it off though. not the easiest look in the world to make fly.

  36. Saris are beautiful but the way they are commonly worn cannot be called “sexy”, regardless of body type.

  37. Saris are like dhotis or lungis, not traditionally sexy, but can be, depending on how they are worn. Bollywood films make them all look sexy. Ordinary day to day wear in India does not.

  38. are jeans considered “sl*tty” clothes in india? they seem to cover up pretty good. come to think of it, a sari seems to reveal as much as jeans and a tank top.

    Jeans aren’t “slutty”. They are “modern”. A girl in jeans indicates that she doesn’t think that tradition applies to her. It means that she doesn’t think that the girl should respect her parents, or stay with them until marraige. It means that she wants to be seen on an equal footing with men, and she wants the same rights as men, including the right to go out alone in public, live by herself, and yes, have sex with whomever she pleases.

    It’s not about covering or not covering up. It’s about a woman leaving a woman’s place and taking a man’s place in this world.

    Nowdays, people don;t look down on girls wearing jeans, atleast not in major cities. It was much worse in my parent’s time (I’m in my 30′s, they are in their 60′s) But, the people who do look down on girls wearing jeans do so because they assume that the girl has parted with tradition, crossed the Lakshman-Rekha, so to speak, and is undeserving of the respect and protection reserved for women. And as you know, women are respected more than men in traditional India

  39. Jeans aren’t “slutty”. They are “modern”.

    jeans are banned in many colleges in India…they say it distracts the teachers.

  40. Tara – funny how the net mixes up identities. I assumed you were a Japanese who’d lived in India. My ex was white and laughed at by small town locals, though buzzing WASPs would make for a better story. As for me, though ABD, I own property in India and have had to spend substantial time there. I lived in a small town in India for a year, wore saris the whole time. I would visit my Dad in Kolkata and wear the saris there. Oddly, the street vendors were respectful when I was in a sari. But in the large hotels, or expensive shops, my bf at the time was fawned all over, and I was treated just so-so. He’d keep insisting they serve me first or ask me what I wanted.

    I have some bad stories. I was in a large middle-class gathering, dressed in a sari, when an Indian girl elbowed me roughly to get me out of the way, then elbowed my (white) bf (who was in kurta-pyjama). Suddenly she stopped, turned around, looked at him and smiled apologetically. ‘I’m so sorry,’ she said in impeccable English, then wafted away. It was like brown skin could be shoved with impunity. Another story: a cybercafe run by an older Indian woman. Me in a sari, with a Canadian guy and an American guy. I ask a question about one of the badly-running computers. She simply dismisses me and says ‘my system is fine, ask him or him how to do it.’ When I again point out that there’s something not right, she imperiously demands again that I ‘ask him or him.’

    I agree with Brown. You make a lot of unsubstantiated generalizations. I saw a girl walking down the street in Kolkata in a miniskirt, and no one was calling her a slut. Many girls wear sleeveless tops now, and many older women wear sleeveless blouses. As for tank tops being ‘unsophisticated’, it seems to me that the assumption that wearing a tank top means you are a slut is a lot more unsophisticated than the garment. I have run into your argument in India before, though generally it is made by fusty old men. Why should I have to pander to such medieval idiocy in order to be treated with respect?

  41. Before I get taxed with inconsistency, I should clarify that I’ve been to India many times and travelled in many incarnations – including Slutty Foreigner (SF) and Desi Devi (DD)…

  42. “Saris are like dhotis or lungis, not traditionally sexy, but can be, depending on how they are worn. Bollywood films make them all look sexy. Ordinary day to day wear in India does not.”

    not true. what is “traditionally” sexy? by whose standards? east or west? bollywood or non-bollywood? everyone has their own idea of what sexy is. depends how you define sexy. i’ve seen indian women who wear the sari in the “traditional” fashion get loads of compliments from westerners on how sexy – and that’s exactly the word they use — and alluring it is. sexy doesn’t have to mean exposing more flesh or less or tying it in what is considered a more “sexy” manner. it’s all how you present it and how you look in it.

    “A girl in jeans indicates that she doesn’t think that tradition applies to her. It means that she doesn’t think that the girl should respect her parents, or stay with them until marraige. It means that she wants to be seen on an equal footing with men, and she wants the same rights as men, including the right to go out alone in public, live by herself, and yes, have sex with whomever she pleases.”

    i think those are rather sweeping generalizations:) i have relatives who wear jeans who think their parents should be respected, who do stay with their parents until marriage and wouldn’t dream of doing otherwise, don’t really want to live alone etc. and there are women who wear the sari only who want to be on equal footing with men, who want the same rights as men, who want to go out alone in public etc. one doesn’t indicate anything more than the other except in the minds of people being forced to make these false distinctions.

    i think it’s really sad when people start equating indian traditional clothing with everything that is “backwards” – even if it isn’t backwards – and western clothing with everything that is good or liberated or progressive or whatever. sometimes it’s about something as shallow as fashion. you don’t have to wear western clothing to either be “progressive” or be seen as “progressive” (swapan dasgupta made a good point about this disturbing falsehood perpetuated by a woman ceo in a fashion magazine in india in a recent column). And certainly not everyone who wears western, so-called “modern” clothing is that “liberal” or “progressive” or knowledgeable about these things.

  43. Darjeeling is not part of Nepal. Darjeeling is part of Sikkim. First return Darjeeling to Sikkim.

    Darjeeling is part of West Bengal today

  44. I was in a large middle-class gathering, dressed in a sari, when an Indian girl elbowed me roughly to get me out of the way, then elbowed my (white) bf (who was in kurta-pyjama). Suddenly she stopped, turned around, looked at him and smiled apologetically. ‘I’m so sorry,’ she said in impeccable English, then wafted away. It was like brown skin could be shoved with impunity

    Well, it’s common for us to shove each other, it’s in the culture so no need to be formal and say “sorry” in most circumstances. However, we know that non-Indians find such behaviour rude so then we say sorry. Other Indians in general do not find the behaviour rude. We are used to it.

  45. DizzyDesi / Ankur: “Does the particular comment touch a raw nerve ?” Oh-yes-it-blooming-does!!!!!! This contest was not “just” a singing contest for the people in Darjeeling and Nepalis of Indian origin. It marked their entry and footprint into mainland India. The RJ’s insensitive comments only brought home the fact that no matter how many brave Gorkha soldiers fight on the borders defending India, no matter how many Nepalis live and work in Corporate India, they will always be considered as “watchmen” and “bahadur” in India. I noticed how one commentor above ended his comment with “Gee Shabgee”. Q.E.D.

    I am not a Nepali but I fully support the Nepali community’s reaction to RJ Nitin/Johnathan Brady’s comments on air. Isn’t this the same Sepia Mutiny where “Apu’s character in the Simpsons was discussed with much debate and outrage. In America, when the Simpsons had an Indian character/caricature named “Apu”, the desi community roared in protest against this blatant stereotyping of Indians in America. The producers of “the simpsons” claimed that apu was funny and not meant to degrade the indian community. I don’t think many Indians found it “funny” then.

    The same thing has been done to Prashant and Nepalis in India. they have every right to be outraged IMO.

    An RJ’s job is a very responsible one because of its reach. Radio has the power to reach millions of people. Hence should a voice that smacks of racial stereotyping and intolerance against other cultures pervade the airwaves, it will only seed, awaken and fuel such feelings of intolerance and ignorance among the unfortunate listeners of RJ Nitin.

    As educated and secular citizens of India, I expect everyone to feel similar outrage at RJ Nitin’s comments.

  46. now this is very clear they can not see the success of any minority!!!

    how can Indians forget the blood of Neplease……they fought for Indian in 1948, 1962, 1965, 1971, and 1999 (Kargil).

    I have seen lots of dead bodyies coming to Nepal from kargil

    Indians are mean very mean

  47. Indians are mean very mean

    this is a stupid generalization (as stupid as the generalization/stereotype implied about the singer); stupidity and childishness galore(with stupidity and ignorance begetting more of the same) , what else is new?