Sunday, May 25, 2014

Feelings (fears) of a (expat) Coconut

If this is the best of times for Gujarati expats, it is also the worst of times for non-Gujaratis like Saptarshi Ray.

These non-Gujju expats - (mostly) upper-caste folks, brought up in the non-UKIP, non-Tea Party traditions of the West, which celebrates minorities (and some minorities more than others) - are also known as Coconuts (his expression).  
Right now, the Coconuts are suffering from a complex set of emotions:
(1) burning shame (our motherland is now run by RSS fascists who even make Nazi like salutes),
(2) bright-white anger and bewilderment (how could they vote for a shudra chaiwallah, we thought BJP is a manuvadi, Brahmin dominated party, controlled by Brahmin bosses from Nagpur) and,
(3) a tiny, little, nanoscopic bit of envy (these Gujarati baniyas, we will never give them our hard-earned money even if they promise better returns).

The following excerpts (expanded below) summarize the fears and feelings of a Coconut as he views India under Hindutva rule:
....
The money train of the Indian diaspora is especially pronounced among Gujaratis, and so many of them seem to love Modi, as rupees, pounds and dollars from around the world fund everything from schools to political campaigns. As chief minister of their home state, he is held up as a man who can do business, and do politics. He’ll make India great, goes the argument, and a great India certainly doesn’t kowtow to any NRIs. Especially ones who disagree.

Modi and his goons—both within and without the mother country—want a mythical India that celebrates Hinduism at the cost of other religions, rides rough over its neighbours and looks purely inward. This is not the India I know and love. A more confident India is to be welcomed, but a global India is even better. 

.......
There is currently a full-fledged Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions regime targeting Israel that has been put in place by a coalition of the West-Left and Islam. It reached its pinnacle when in 2013 several US academic bodies endorsed the boycotts. As we understand, the BDS program accelerated due to the provocations (settlements) unleashed by PM Binyamin Netanyahu and there was also a deadly raid of  the Turkish flotilla carrying humanitarian cargo for Gaza (May, 2010) which attracted severe international condemnation.


....
Members of the American Studies Association have voted in favor of endorsing the academic boycott of Israel by a 2–1 margin, making it the second major U.S. scholarly association, after the Association for Asian American Studies, to do so.

The resolution approved by a plurality of ASA members cites as a rationale the lack of “effective or substantive academic freedom for Palestinian students and scholars under conditions of Israeli occupation” and calls for the association to boycott Israeli higher education institutions, which are described as being “a party to Israeli state policies that violate human rights and negatively impact the working conditions of Palestinian scholars and students.”

“I think what the vote indicates is that people recognize the illegal occupation of Palestine as one of the major civil rights issues of our time globally,” said Bill Mullen, a professor of English and American studies at Purdue University and a member of the ASA’s Caucus on Academic and Community Activism, which first put forward the boycott resolution.  

“American scholars now understand the physical violence that’s part of the Israeli occupation; they understand the massive restrictions on academic freedom for Palestinian scholars that is part of living under an illegal occupation. These facts are now irrefutable to so many people that the vote indicates a kind of coming to consensus around the illegitimacy of Israel’s occupation of Palestine.”
.....................

Now we know that India will be ruled by a man who prevailed in an election remote controlled by Mossad (aided by the Jewish controlled global media), and a direct nexus has been established between Hindutva and Israeli groups. Is it not high time that the American Studies Association and other groups take up the case of India as a regime ripe for BDS style sanctions? TBH, how are things fundamentally different between Palestine and Kashmir? (Pankaj Mishra has written a book exploring this very issue. Arundhati Roy is of the opinion that the cleansing of the Pandits was a stunt allowed by India in an attempt to gain high(er) moral ground)

And if India is on the radar, can the People's Republic of China be far behind (btw please dont even think about sending a humanitarian army to Xinjiang, the activists will be all thrown into boiling water...or something). Also we have Russia which recently annexed Crimea and placed the minority muslim population (Tatars) in open air prisons...the term normally used to describe Gaza. Burma, Thailand, Philipines...the list goes on and on.

Then we have the most curious set of culprits... the Islamic nations themselves (many of which have been formed to explicitly protect muslims). How many (muslim) folks are dead or dying in Libya, Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Nigeria, Iran, Saudia and elsewhere at the hands of goons who receive protection from the State? Prof Bill Mullen should also find the time to comment on all these "Palestines" such as Balochistan (for example). If not, why not?

To be clear, human rights is not a competition game, and all victims (muslims, non-muslims) are equally deserving. Inhumane actions (by humans) must be condemned (by other humans) and we should attempt to restore humanity as quickly as possible (India, for example, has the largest number of slaves in the world, Pakistan follows closely). But.....we still wonder, how will the Coconuts adjust to this new (harsh) reality of India, and how will they shape global attitudes and policies towards their beloved motherland as sublime love turns into bitter hate?
.......

My friend Ramesh and I have a running joke that we will one day write a travel book called The Coconut’s Guide to India (©)—an instructive, descriptive work for our brothers and sisters born throughout the diaspora making their first trip to the motherland, and all the dastardly pitfalls it might entail. To be taken with a pinch of salt, and a dash of garam masala, naturally.
The title may need some tweaking, coconut is after all a rather offensive term: brown on the outside, white on the inside, and as frequent visitors to our homeland who speak the lingo and know the customs, we thankfully don’t qualify; but we’ve always felt our fellow British Asians who cannot or will not make a trip to their ancestral country are missing out. Not just due to its beauty, history or notions of connecting with one’s identity, but also because of the welcome extended to those that hold the status of NRI. 

...
The generation that emigrated in the post-empire rush in the 1950s and 60s were predominately born in India, so had the natural affinity that comes from being an expat rather than an outsider—but for their children born in the UK or US, Germany or Australia, the relationship with the des (homeland) has always been more complex.
..

At first we were novelties, familiar looks yet bemusing accents, unseasonable clothing and odd music. As an infant I remember the children in my grandad’s village used to come and stare at me when word got round we were visiting, as they wanted to see the boy who was born in England—and I could see the disappointment in their eyes that I looked just like them. We were both foreign and domestic, it was an exciting and confusing time. It led to some books and films and stuff.
...

But now I fear that Modi’s crude mix of jingoism and capitalism will damage relations with India’s satellite communities, or certainly create schisms within it. Outside his rather sycophantic, predominantly Gujarati fan club, the rest of us might wonder what use he has for us if we do not give him our cash.
...

Will this now lead to the Indian diaspora becoming a Modi diaspora? One where rightwing Hindu ideology is extolled and secular tolerance becomes a shibboleth for us NRIs? Entry allowed only if you believe Indian Muslims shouldn’t get the vote? Or there should be a new temple at Ayodhya? Even if you don’t say it, perhaps you should think it—otherwise, on your rickshaw pal; if you’re not with us, well then … you’re not really Indian. Resident or not.
...
After all, two-score and more years of the NRIs—which has come to mean us born abroad as well as those who emigrated—turning up has already meant familiarity, adaptability and, in more recent times, a little bit of hostility. NRIs pay tourist rates at the Taj Mahal, prices will jump at restaurants, people end up in arguments that usually begin with: “You NRIs, you think you own the place.”  In effect, we are losing our insider status; we are becoming just any old tourists. But now will we have to pledge allegiance to a divisive carpetbagger?

I am happy to pay more to see beautiful buildings and enjoy nice meals—I am after all a guest, albeit a regular one—but there is a discernible change in dynamics. The Indian middle class are becoming wealthier, and when I say wealthy, I mean dollar wealthy, and more robust. Indian business, well some of it, is booming. As are its sports.

And it is this nexus of tradition and commerce that Modi knows only too well.

The money train of the Indian diaspora is especially pronounced among Gujaratis, and so many of them seem to love Modi, as rupees, pounds and dollars from around the world fund everything from schools to political campaigns. As chief minister of their home state, he is held up as a man who can do business, and do politics. He’ll make India great, goes the argument, and a great India certainly doesn’t kowtow to any NRIs. Especially ones who disagree.

Modi and his goons—both within and without the mother country—want a mythical India that celebrates Hinduism at the cost of other religions, rides rough over its neighbours and looks purely inward. This is not the India I know and love. A more confident India is to be welcomed, but a global India is even better.

......

Link (1): http://www.outlookindia.com/printarticle.aspx?290765

Link (2):  http://www.slate.com/articles/life/inside_higher_ed/2013/12/israel_academic_boycott_american_studies_association_joins_the_fight.html

......

regards