All entries for April 2007

April 30, 2007

Derivative Lot

The Telegraph, 30.04.2007

Mukul Kesavan’s “Life at second hand” (April 26) delivers a message that needs to be heard throughout India. An extreme defensiveness is noticed among urban, middle-class Indians whenever the authenticity of the ‘new’ India is questioned. The English-speaking gentry, whether left-liberal, Marxist or neo-liberal, needs to realize that modernity, as it exists today, is essentially a product of the West. The modern (Western) academia, both in the humanities as well as in the sciences, through its innumerable tentacles, engulfs the Indian student within its discourse. Slavishness can be easily detected in the association of “cool” among the youth with speaking English, and preferring Western, rather than Indian, attire and music. Kesavan shows how even the Hindutva brand of right-wing nationalism is “crudely derived from authoritarian European nationalisms”.

However, it is not enough to take Western ideological hegemony as a given and submit to it. Efforts must be made to integrate more Indian thought in academic courses, for starters. Giving Kautilya’s political theories the same importance as John Rawls in a political science course could be an example. A large GDP and a nuclear arsenal cannot help in producing a vision for the future.


April 23, 2007

From the Annals of Civilisation

India Nest, 22.04.2007

Water and oil don’t mix. You put a few drops of oil in a bottle of water and you can shake it well – as well as you want – but in the end the oil will remain separate. Tony Blair is shaking this country and hoping that multiculturalism will work. It hasn’t. And it won’t.”

No I was not attending a British Nationalist Party rally. I heard this quip on a train between Birmingham and Leicester. I was impressed by the metaphor and gobsmacked by the expressed views.

“Don’t get me wrong – I am not a totalitarian bigot. I am a democrat. But has Tony Blair ever bothered to pop a letter in the post to us asking whether we actually want to live in a multicultural society? If a majority of the British public agree to it, then so be it. If not, we should just respect the majority opinion.”

And do what, I wondered. Chuck the rest of us non-whites out? Did Robert Clive ever conduct any referendum in India to find out whether Indians wanted to be enslaved by the East India Company? Or did His Majesty ever write to the Indians to find out whether they wanted to be part of the motley crew that dwelled in his empire?

Am I not comparing apples and oranges? Non-whites aren’t exactly ruling Britain, are they?

“English people should live in England. Asians should live in Asia. Africans should live in Africa. That’s how the world should be.”

OK, so why did hordes of Englishmen join the merchant navy bound for the exotic (and rich) Orient? And what on earth did Gordon Brown (a Scot) do to deserve being chucked out from 11 Downing Street in London?

“You can’t buy a cheap house these days because all of those are being gobbled up by the immigrants.”

This surely classifies as ‘economics for the insane’, suggesting that Britain’s house prices are linked to immigration.

“I have no issues with immigrants if they take our ways. I just don’t get the whole multicultural thing.”

Right, and what would those ways be? Fail at school? Getting pregnant by 15? Smoking cannabis by 16? Getting an ASBO (anti-social behavioral order) by 18? Divorcing our partners? Getting drunk every Saturday night down the pub and get involved in a brawl after that over a girl or a guy, or worse still, a cigarette?

Don’t get me wrong. I am not defending another sort of anti-social behavior – that which leads to virtual segregation, with communities not touching each others’ lives. But what needs to be appreciated and understood by a certain class within British society is that multiculturalism is not a choice- it is a fact of life. It is a fact that has been created by the Europeans, and that which must now be accepted by the Europeans in all its avatars.

For all the positives and negatives of immigration, it is a fact now that the UNICEF rates Britain the worst place to raise your child in the developed world. It is also a fact that ethnic minorities perform far better at school than their ‘native’ counterparts. It is also true that record number of jobs are being advertised in the country, and immigrants are not taking away opportunities from the locals.

Yes, there are negatives such as illegal immigration. But then again, when was rational discussion the point of the rambles of my co-passenger?

He is just part of an increasingly overlooked underbelly that Britain has that has remained rooted to the past.


April 2007

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