Nov 1, 2015

@ Rini Sampath - You Indian Piece of Shit

Rini Sampath University of Southern California
Rini Sampath, University of Southern California (Source: Facebook)

Last night, as I was walking back from my friend’s apartment, a student screamed out at me through the window of his fraternity house, “You Indian piece of shit!” before hurling his drink at my friends and me. Once his fraternity brothers realized it was me, they began to apologize. This stung even more. Today, as I try to unpack these events, I couldn’t quite figure out why their after-the-fact apologies deepened the wound. But one of my friends explained it to me the best this morning: "Because now you know, the first thing they see you as is subhuman.” And that’s the first thing some students on our campus see when they look at anyone who looks like me. 
This was the same fraternity that kicked out a peer of mine from their tailgate after calling him a “fag.” That’s sickening.

I’m still in a state of shock. There’s an indescribable hollowness in me, but I’m going public with this because this can’t continue. Some people don’t believe racism like this can happen on our campus. Some people continue to doubt the need for safe spaces and the need for expanded cultural resource centers or the need for gender neutral bathrooms or the need for diversity in our curriculum or the need for diversity in our professors or the need for diversity in dialogue. And to those who continue to believe we’re just playing the “race” card, I ask you this — what’s there to win here? A sense of respect? A sense of humanity? A sense of love and compassion for others regardless of how they look like?

This isn’t an isolated incident. It happens everywhere. Last week, individuals in a pick-up truck yelled racial slurs at Mizzou’s Student Body President, Payton Head. Who knows what will happen to someone who looks like me today?

“You Indian piece of shit” is the type of language attackers have used before brutally murdering someone. Just look at Inderjit Singh Mukker. “You Indian piece of shit” are words used to humiliate someone for who they are. “You Indian piece of shit” continues to ring so loudly in my ears I still can’t shake it from me.

Whether racism or sexism or homophobia or transphobia happens on the internet, or behind closed doors, or in a small group setting, or as "just a joke," it’s not okay. It’s never okay.

I was surrounded by nearly ten of my friends when this happened last night. I’m glad I was, because I don't know what I would have done if I was alone. They consoled me by telling me, “Whatever you do the next morning will be the right thing.”

Well, I really don’t know what to do. For now, this is my public plea. I don't know if what I have written here is enough, because there aren't enough words in the world to summarize the experiences of people who look like me and what they go through every, single day.

We lost a football game last night, SC. But I think there’s something bigger, much bigger that we’re losing here. And we have to get it back.


Jul 2, 2015

Asian Indians Marrying White Americans-Yea or Nay

Quotes: Asian Indian Men and Women marrying American Men and Women

"American women are like American cars, they are comfortable but not reliable" - An Asian Indian man with a doctoral degree.
"Never, ever marry an American woman. That’s the advice I give my friends." – Davide Serra, Italian hedge fund manager
"My wife is American but she has been very good to me". - An Asian Indian man
"American women are good for ^ucking not marrying" - One Asian Indian opinion

Asian Indian guy marrying white gal in India
During a visit to UCLA campus area, I saw a desi gal, likely from Southern India, canoodling at a Chipotle Mexican Grill with an caucasian dude.  As I stood in the long line for ordering food, I wondered if this could result in a long term dating, marriage, marriage that would end in a divorce, a one night stand (this desi gal can't be that dumb, right?) etc. 

Recently, its observed that young Asian Indian men and women and children of Asian Indian immigrants have been marrying caucasians.  I knew an Asian Indian feller who married a black woman and it was a little awkward experience socializing with them, for everyone.

For us Asian Indians, white skin color, blonde hair and blue eyes has a special allure.  This is why one sees caucasian background dancers in Bollywood movies and caucasian cheerleaders in IPL cricket matches.  They make better eye candy (Jalebi) than Indian women for Indian men, is this the sentiment in the sewer of Bollywood/cricket entertainment?  For some, the eye candies may appear better than the main female character in Bollywood songs!      

Indian and American cultures are different.  Their histories are different.  This makes things complicated for the purpose of marriage.  Indians are collectivistic/pseudo collectivistic and Americans are individualistic.  This means, in general, Asian Indians and Americans value different things in life and does not mean that one way is better than the other.  From the standpoint of Asian Indian parents, one point of concern would be that their white daughter in law in all likelihood won't be a virgin.  In some cases, the marriage ceremony is conducted twice, once in a church and once in a hindu temple.  In some cases, the ceremony occurs in India.  The important seems to be what happens when the honeymoon stage is over and love has plateaued?

Bobby Jindal changed his name and religion but did not marry a white woman.  This governor aint stupid, I tell you.  The sweet Governor Nikki Haley changed her religion and married a caucasian man.  I seen well heeled Asian Indian physicians marrying white women or is it white women marrying well heeled Asian Indian doctors?


May 24, 2015

Beachwood Arts Council's to hold Indian DiversityFEST

The Beachwood Arts Council's India Diversity Festival will held on Sunday, June 14th, from 2-5pm, at the Beachwood Community Center, 25225 Fairmount Blvd., at Richmond Road.
Beachwood Arts Council's event on June 14
Showcased will be Cleveland's local Asian Indian community with musical and dance performances by Sugata Chatterjee, Antara Datta of Anga Kala Kathak Academy, Dr. Pinaki Chaudhuri and Anindita Tapaswi.  After the performances, offerings include Indian appetizers for a $5/per person charge, from the Saffron Patch, Choolaah BBQ and CafĂ© Tandoor.

Amee Patel will be selling costume Indian jewelry and a henna artist, Kristina Habarek of HennaMe Body Art will decorate attendees hands for free!

A photography exhibit in the gallery will feature scenes from India.  For further information contact, Leah Gilbert, Executive Director of Beachwood Arts Council.  The Beachwood Art Council is an volunteer, nonprofit organization that has supported the arts in Northeast Ohio since 1964.  

Mar 28, 2015

To Jehovah's Witness of Cleveland, Ohio

To the Jehovah's Witness of Cleveland, Ohio:

You guys (a gal and a guy) visit my home every three months. You politely ring the doorbell. I look through the front door peephole and wonder if I should open the door or not. From your last visits, I know that you guys are polite and trying to spread your message about Christianity or trying to convert non-Christians like myself to Christianity. You even speak an Indian language.

Out of respect to you and for the purpose of not being impolite, I open the door. You hand me a booklet about Christianity and show me a video. I politely accept the booklet and watch your video. Then you guys leave with a plan to revisit after about 3 months. I am kinda okay with hearing you out but..............Okay, I will hear you out again.

I am never going to convert to Christianity. I was born a Hindu and I will die a Hindu. As a Hindu, I like my religion with its good and flaws. If I was born a Christian, I would remain a Christian. I know about Christianity and I respect the good aspects of the philosophy.  I like the teachings of Jesus Christ.  You may not know this but a few Hindus I know pray at churches with their Christian friends.  Its not rare for Hindus to put up a Christmas tree in their homes.  I respect you both. However, the booklet does go into trash rather promptly because you bring a glass of water to Lake Erie.  Try again and better, my friends.  

We Hindus do not proselytize.  We respect the right of other people to follow their faith.  We like to learn from other religions.  Do not take my politeness as agreement with your message. I am not getting influenced by the marketing through booklet or the video, at all, at all.

Some Hindus convert to other religions.

1. During the Muslim rule in India, poor Hindus may have converted to Islam because of poverty and oppression.
2. Poor Hindus may have converted to Christianity because of poverty and to obtain the help offered by Christian missionaries.
3. Rich Hindus convert to Christianity in our country for political reasons. Example: Governor of Louisiana.


Mar 23, 2015

Dr. Ram Puniyani: Politics and Holy Cow

Dr. Ram Puniyani is a writer.  He is a biomedical engineer from IIT, Mumbai.  He is a well spoken and intelligent man.  Yes, he is right about some thugs and nincompoops in BJP and Company and myths. No, Ram Puniyani does not understand or pretends not to understand politics.  He seems to be wearing eyeglasses, one lens of which is colored rose and the other is colored green. With his rose colored lens, he sees the world as it should be and with the green colored lens, he expresses concerns about alienating minorities in India.   

When did Indian Muslims become synonymous with minorities in India?  Aren't Sikhs, Jains, Christians etc. etc. minorities in India?  Don't these minorities live peacefully with the majority Hindus?

Gadimai is the Hindu goddess Parvati and
the festival/slaughter/money making scam is based on the dream
of a temple priest. Ram Puniyani could consider writing about this instead?

So, what if Hindus ate beef long back (I know a couple of Hindu families here who eat beef)?  The fact is that now most do not eat beef and pork products.  So what if Hindu scriptures and Swami Vivekananda refer to Hindu beef consumption?  Are Hindus supposed to shut their minds and blindly follow Hindu scriptures and Swami Vivekananda?  Doesn't Maharashtra Animal Preservation Bill save/extend lives of at least a few animals?  Would Mahatma Gandhi oppose such legislation?  This legislation should have been enacted by Congress, of which Mahatma Gandhi was a leader, long back, but they were too busy maskafying their Muslim vote bank, innit?   Just like our country rightly has legislation relating to horse meat, Maharashtra is prudent in enacting such legislation relating to bulls and bullocks.  Puniyani ji, chill. 

Can the dietary practices, the animal which is worshipped as a mother by section of population, be brought in on the political arena? While all this sounds surreal, its true as far as the role of cow is there in Indian political firmament. Recently Maharashtra Government got the Presidents assent to the bill “Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Bill 1995 which will now ban the slaughter of bulls and bullocks as well. The defaulters will face a prison term of five years and a fine of Rs. 10,000. When I first read ‘Animal Preservation’ part of the title of the bill, I thought this is some bill related to all the animals which are used for human consumption or deals with the use of animals for different purposes by the society. Contrary to that it turned out that this applies only to Cow and its progeny. 
Would Mahatma Gandhi oppose this legislation?

A decade ago I was shocked to read that one of the outstanding scholars of ancient Indian History Professor Dwijendra Nath Jha received regular threats on phone telling him not to publish his book, ‘Holy Cow Beef in Indian Dietary tradition’. This scholarly work traces the place of beef in Indian diet from centuries.

The idea is to target the minorities for beef eating, and cow slaughter. One recalls that one of the slogans which rent the air in the run up the 2014 General elections was "Modi ko matdan, gai ko jeevadan [Vote for Modi, give life to the cow], BJP ka sandesh, bachegi gai, bachega desh [BJP’s message, the cow will be saved, the country will be saved]". This slogan was propped up ‘Cow Development Cell’ of BJP.

As such emotive-identity issues are the hall mark of the politics in the name of religion. BJP built itself up on another identity issue, that of Ram Temple. The cow has always been accompanying and a parallel issue for political mobilization by RSS-BJP. It has also been the point of triggering violence in many cases all through. With the formation of VHP by RSS in 1964, cow issue has been systematically propped up time and over again. Many a misconceptions about cow, beef eating have been constructed. Building of misconceptions has also been extended to the dietary habits of the ‘Muslim’ community in particular. The profession of section of Muslims, Kasai (butcher), those in the trade of beef selling has been brought in to the ‘Hate other’, ‘social common sense’ in particular. The result being that it is perceived at broad layers of society as if beef eating is compulsory for Muslims. The notion which has been popularized is that Cow is Holy for Hindus: Muslims kill her! The perception is that the Muslim invaders brought beef eating into India. These misconceptions are by now the part of ‘social common sense’ of the large number of people in the society.

All the components of this are myths and stereotypes have been constructed over a period of time. Time and over again one hears about some small communal violence, killing of dalits and traders of cows leading to communal polarization. Many a dalits dealing with cow hide have been killed in places like Gohana in Hariyana and the VHP leaders had justified such acts.

Contrary to this the beef eating and sacrifice of cows was prevalent here from Vedic period. The sacrifice of cows in the Yagnas (ritual around fire) is extensively mentioned in the scriptures. There is mention about beef eating in various books. There is a phrase in Taitreya Upanishad which states ‘Atho Annam Via Gau’ (Cow is in veritably food) Different gods are mentioned to be having their choices for particular type of cow flesh. Prof D. N. Jha quotes innumerable examples of this in his masterpiece.

The preaching of non violence in India came with the rise of agricultural society. Jainism called for total non violence, while Buddhism talked non-violence; preventing of wasteful animal sacrifice in particular. It was much later that Brahmanism picked up cow as a symbol for Brahmanism in response and as a reaction to non-violence of these religions. Since Brahmanism has asserted itself to be the Hinduism it projects as if Cow is holy for Hindus overall. The matter of fact is that many sections of society, more particularly Dalits and Tribal have been eating beef all through. It is another matter that lately with the rising assertion of Hindutva, many a communities which are dependent on beef as a rich and cheap source of protein are gradually being forced to either give it up or do a rethink on that.

In contrast to what is being asserted by BJP and company, Swami Vivekanand had a different take on the issue. He points out speaking to a large gathering in USA said: “You will be astonished if I tell you that, according to old ceremonials, he is not a good Hindu who does not eat beef. On certain occasions he must sacrifice a bull and eat it.”

[Vivekananda speaking at the Shakespeare Club, Pasadena, California, USA (2 February 1900) on the theme of ‘Buddhistic India’, cited in Swami Vivekananda, The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Vol 3 (Calcutta: Advaita Ashram, 1997), p. 536.]

This is corroborated by other research works sponsored by the Ramakrishna Mission established by Swami Vivekananda himself. One of these reads: “The Vedic Aryans, including the Brahmanas, ate fish, meat and even beef. A distinguished guest was honoured with beef served at a meal. Although the Vedic Aryans ate beef, milch cows were not killed. One of the words that designated cow was aghnya (what shall not be killed). But a guest was a goghna (one for whom a cow is killed). It is only bulls, barren cows and calves that were killed.”[C. Kunhan Raja, ‘Vedic Culture’, cited in the series, Suniti Kumar Chatterji and others (eds.), The Cultural Heritage of India, Vol 1 (Calcutta: The Ramakrishna Mission, 1993), 217.]
In response to this bill thousands of workers of Devnar abattoir (Mumbai), who will be losing their jobs came on the streets to protest against this move of the government (March 11). Many traders, from different religion also came to Azad Maidan in Mumbai to protest this communal act of the Maharashtra Government. In a PIL filed in the Bombay High Court the petitioner argues that this ban on beef infringes on the fundamental right of citizens to choose meat of their choice is fundamental. The hope is that the society overcomes such abuse of ‘identity issues’ for political goals and lets the people have their own choices in matters of food habits, and let those who are making their living from this trade do so peacefully.