Subramanian Swamy Tells it Like it Ain’t

On July 16, Swamy, the leader of the Janata Party in India, contributed a shining example of vitriolic filth to DNA India:

Fanatic Muslims consider Hindu-dominated India “an unfinished chapter of Islamic conquests”. All other countries conquered by Islam 100% converted to Islam within two decades of the Islamic invasion. Undivided India in 1947 was 75% Hindu even after 800 years of brutal Islamic rule. That is jarring for the fanatics…

The first lesson to be learnt from the recent history of Islamic terrorism against India and for tackling terrorism in India is that the Hindu is the target and that Muslims of India are being programmed by a slow reactive process to become radical and thus slide into suicide against Hindus…

We need a collective mindset as Hindus to stand against the Islamic terrorist. The Muslims of India can join us if they genuinely feel for the Hindu. That they do I will not believe unless they acknowledge with pride that though they may be Muslims, their ancestors were Hindus. If any Muslim acknowledges his or her Hindu legacy, then we Hindus can accept him or her as a part of the Brihad Hindu Samaj (greater Hindu society) which is Hindustan (DNA India).

So to recap, despite the overwhelming diversity that defines Hinduism, and despite the glaring social inequities that find their roots in the religion, Hindus in India need to privilege their religious identity above everything else because the Muslims around them are being infected by the suicide bomb bug. Did I miss anything?

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The decade of the brown

Via the newstab a data heavy piece in Little India:

Census 2010 data shows that the Asian Indian population ballooned 69 percent from 2000, to 2,843,391. Thus far, the Census Bureau has released Asian Indian data only for those who reported a single race. When multiracial Indians (those who reported multiple racial identities) are factored in the Asian Indian population will top 3.2 million, according to Little India analysis.

Nearly 12 percent of the Asian Indian population in the 2000 Census was multiracial. Little India projects that the final count for the Asian Indian population, including multiracial Indians, will fall between 3.2 million to 3.3 million. The Indian population may well have touched 3.5 million, but an estimated 150,000 to 200,000 Indians returned to India in recent years after the U.S. economy was jolted by the global financial meltdown.

The multiracial issue touches upon a debate that I had with two of this weblog’s co-founders ~2003: the demographic assimilation or involution of the Indian American “community.” I use quotation marks because I think that though there are commonalities and similarities it’s clearly a rather heterogeneous collection of communities, in the plural. Continue reading

Seeing Lal

prerna Lal.jpgThis weekend, Desi youth will be convening in Oakland, CA and Washington DC for the primary purpose of getting activated and politicized. DCDesi Summer will be holding it down for the East Coast, and I personally have been involved in getting Bay Area Solidarity Summer (BASS) off the ground here on the West Coast. Not only am I excited about the FUNraiser we have scheduled, I am particularly excited about the opening keynote speakers for the weekend – author of Desis in the House Sunaina Maira and dream activist Prerna Lal.

I met Prerna Lal last summer at Netroots Nation in Las Vegas. I quickly learned that she was a quite the firecracker. Desi via Fiji, Prerna is a founder of DreamActivist, a current law student, a writer, a SAALT Changemaker, queer, an activist and… is undocumented. Her journey as a struggling youth trying to navigate the broken immigration system is one she is very vocal about sharing, whether on blogs or on twitter. Her tenacity is one to be admired and bravery is one to be inspired by.

Just a few months ago, Prerna was served deportation papers – but being who she is, she’s not leaving without a fight. Here’s what she had to say.

Taz: What made you tweet this?

Prerna: It’s how I feel on most days. We are always asked to prove our worth to our countries. But I have yet to have America prove its worth to me.

T: What is your legal status?

P: Out of status, allegedly accruing unlawful presence that could lead to a 10 year bar from the United States if deported.

T: Where are you from? How did you end up in the US?

P: Fiji Islands. Father brought me here when I was 14, kicking and screaming.

T: Your grandmother is a citizen, your parents are greencard holders and your sister is a citizen. How is it possible that you are considered undocumented?

P: That’s simple. I aged out at 21. You see, when a visa petition is approved, a family has to wait many years to actually get a “priority date” in order to immigrate legally. I was 24 by the time my parents received their priority date. Regardless of the fact that my name was on the original visa petition filed for my family, I was automatically castigated and separated from my family. My parents were no longer considered my “immediate relatives.” I find it morally repugnant, but I’m sure there are many young adults who have experienced the same horror of family separation due to an arbitrary age out of our control. Continue reading

Amongst the natives

Andrew Marantz has written a fascinating piece rich with writerly detail in Mother Jones, My Summer at an Indian Call Center. It tells the tale of the hyper-kinetic and atomizing lives of call center workers, and the transformation that globalization has wrought upon the fabric of Indian society. Marantz’s narrative is filled with vivid characters, some of them almost stock figures. He doesn’t truly lay out an explicit polemic, but I found the subtext to be a touch too romanticizing of the old India with its tight-knit families. In part I suspect he’s simply relaying the sentiments of his sources and the people amongst whom he worked as an expat. But there is a difference between avowed ideals and revealed preferences. Young Indians go into the meat-grinder that is the call center career track of their own free will.

I particularly find the subtext irritating because of the writer’s own background: Continue reading

The Haley bubble

meetnh.jpgUpdate: Nikki Haley’s rise raises tensions back home.

Nimrata Nikki Randhawa Haley pushes some peoples’ buttons on this weblog. In this way she’s similar to Piyush “Bobby” Jindal. But it seems that the shine has worn off a little on the man with the golden oeuvre. It began with an optically disastrous and widely mocked Republican response to Barack Hussein Obama’s State of the Union speech a few years back. But over the years his wunderkid reputation has moved to the background inevitably as he’s gotten caught up in the same muck which afflicts most politicians who’ve been in the public eye for long enough.

Of course one can’t say that Nikki Haley has avoided muck in her short time in the national spotlight. But she’s new yet, and the media needs a human interest political story, and she certainly presents well.

In the wake of the announcement of her memoir The New York Times gives her the full treatment, South Carolina’s Young Governor Has a High Profile and Higher Hopes: Continue reading

Nikki Haley writing a book

Coming soon: Nikki Haley’s memoir:

Just shy of her 40th birthday, Nikki Haley will have a memoir under her belt.

The South Carolina governor’s book, “Can’t is Not an Option”, is expected to hit shelves in January 2012 and will be published by Sentinel, a conservative imprint within Penguin Group.

Elected last fall, Haley, 39, is the nation’s youngest governor.

Haley told The Associated Press in March that in her memoir “she would cover everything from growing up in rural South Carolina to her contentious 2010 campaign, when she faced — and denied — allegations of infidelity.”

Out of curiosity, does anyone read books like this? That is, books written by sitting (or aspirant) politicians obviously meant to burnish their images. Continue reading

She Got the Look: Khan v. Abercrombie & Fitch

On Monday, the EEOC supported Hani Khan by filing a federal lawsuit against Abercrombie & Fitch for violating her civil rights by discriminating against her on the basis of her religion. As a hijab-wearing teenager, Khan applied for a job with a Hollister Co. shop (owned by parent company A& F) in the San Mateo, California, Hillsdale Mall. The manager told her about the store’s “look policy”–which Khan describes as clothes that convey a fun, beachy vibe–and said at work she’d have to wear a head scarf in the company colors of white, navy or gray. Continue reading

California’s DREAM ACT too late for some?

Here in California, there has been a lot of news and commentary around the possible passage of the The California Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. It was featured on a recent NPR story:

Illegal immigrant students in that state’s colleges may soon be eligible for state-funded financial aid. A bill called the California Dream Act is working its way through the state legislature. It would allow students who attended at least three years at a California high school to apply for financial aid.

NPR’s Carrie Kahn has our report.

CARRIE KAHN: Sofia Campos came to California when she was six. Her parents brought her and her two younger siblings from Peru. Campos said she had no idea her family had overstayed their visas. She didn’t find out she was here illegally until she was ready to go to college.

Ms. SOFIA CAMPOS: When I was 17, I tried to apply for federal financial aid. So I asked my parents for the Social Security number, and that’s when they had to tell me that I didn’t have one. [link]

President Obama is on the record as supporting the DREAM act nationally and it was introduced (yet again) in the US Senate in May of this year.

This bill would provide conditional permanent residency to certain illegal and deportable alien students who graduate from US high schools, who are of good moral character, arrived in the U.S. legally or illegally as minors, and have been in the country continuously for at least five years prior to the bill’s enactment. If they were to complete two years in the military or two years at a four year institution of higher learning, the students would obtain temporary residency for a six year period. Within the six year period, a qualified student must have “acquired a degree from an institution of higher education in the United States or [have] completed at least 2 years, in good standing, in a program for a bachelor’s degree or higher degree in the United States,” or have “served in the armed services for at least 2 years and, if discharged, [have] received an honorable discharge.”[3] Military enlistment contracts require an eight year commitment, with active duty commitments typically between four and six years, but as low as two years.[4][5] “Any alien whose permanent resident status is terminated [according to the terms of the Act] shall return to the immigration status the alien had immediately prior to receiving conditional permanent resident status under this Act.”[6] [Wikipedia].

But this might all be too late for Mandeep Chahal. Deportation day could be Tuesday. You might want to write a letter against this if you have a minute today:

Mandeep, a DREAM Act eligible student, and her mother face imminent deportation on Tuesday, June 21, 2011. Mandeep grew up in Mountain View, California and attended Santa Rita Elementary School and Egan Junior High School. She graduated from Los Altos High School in 2009 and is now an honors pre-med student at UC Davis.

Mandeep came to the United States in 1997 when she was six years old, and only discovered she was undocumented when she was 15.

If Mandeep and her mother are forced to leave, their family will be torn apart and Mandeep’s two U.S. Citizen siblings will be left without their mother. [link]

Kids shouldn’t pay for the “sins” of their parents. Especially if they work hard and have the potential of making our society better. Enough with the out of control “enforcement only” way of dealing with immigration.

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Channel 4 Film: “Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields”

I’m going to keep this post brief and my own comments to a minimum, because I’m still processing a lot of this myself, but because of some time sensitivities I wanted to bring this to Sepia Mutiny readers’ attention now.

The U.K.’s Channel 4 has produced a much-discussed film called “Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields,” which is about the way the Sri Lankan civil war ended in 2009. “The programme features devastating new video evidence of war crimes – some of the most horrific footage Channel 4 has ever broadcast,” Channel 4 says. I’d recommend watching it; all signs are that it’s going to be a part of the conversation for awhile, and the official link is only up for four more days (there are a few unofficial links in other spots, but who knows how or if that will continue).

Link to the film (please be forewarned that it contains a considerable amount of extremely graphic material–to quote Channel 4, “With disturbing and distressing descriptions and film of executions, atrocities and the shelling of civilians”):

Link to related interviews on PBS NewsHour, which includes the Sri Lankan Ambassador to the U.S., as well as someone from the International Crisis Group–

A link to a recent report from an advisory panel to the U.N. Secretary General

You can find analysis of these items, particularly the first and the third, in various spots on the Interwebs… but lots is still coming out, and it’s too early to know which pieces I find particularly strong. Sri Lanka citizen journalism site Groundviews, of course, will be one option. My purpose here is mostly to say that if you’re interested in forming your own opinion, you have a limited time to check out the movie itself. (That URL works all over the world.) Continue reading

Stacking up demographically

There’s always a lot of discussion in the national context about statistics such as per capita income, % with bachelor’s degree attainment, etc. On the one hand these sorts of concrete quantities are really essential to move forward any discussion which presumes a possible policy prescription. But on the other hand statistics without the proper frame can be misused. I recall back in college discussions among my friends who were Asian American activists. Their common complaint was that all Asian Americans were bracketed into a “Model Minority,” when in fact there were large communities of Southeast Asian refugees which as a whole totally did not fit mainstream expectations (usually they were really talking about the Hmong). But the reality is that on the balance demographically Asian America is, and was, dominated by a few large prominent groups, such as the Chinese, Koreans, Japanese, and Indians. The Hmong are real, but they’re not representative (a South Asian analog may be the fact that “Pakistani” and “Bangladeshi” in the U.K. really represent the subcultures of the Mirpuri and Sylhetti, with those outside of these communities often being marginalized in the broader discourse because they’re not demographically representative).

This came to mind when discussing Indian American income and education. I decided to look at a few statistics from the Census 2000 and arrange them in scatter plot form so you could compare how two variables manifest in a particular demographic group. I included Indian Americans, Chinese Americans, Mexican Americans, and the general American population. Continue reading