my take on an old spat
Anybody who is a regular follower of Sepia Mutiny may have noticed how a couple of months ago, a(nother) great rift opened up between FOBs and ABCDs.
I forget the exact article, but it had to do with the London terrorist attacks, and how the Sepia team criticised (Indian)people who were disassociating themselves from the South Asian tag and the Muslim tag . The Mutineers (and many others) argued that this behaviour was despicable, and that “in this difficult time, all of us browns should stand together” – why? Because the aftermath of the attacks meant that being brown meant being a terrorist so an Indian/Sri Lankan/Pakistani/Muslim/Hindu/Sikh all had an equal chance of being subject to backlash.
So the argument started off with “Since we’re all being discriminated against, we should stick together”
The next argument made was that South Asians had a common culture (cuisine, parental issues, marriage e.t.c), and that’s why the Term South Asian made sense.
Now, in this day and age, I understand that the concepts of Identity, Nationalism and Patriotism are considered old-fashioned, evil even!
But not to me. I do consider myself a “Citizen Of The World”. Somebody who is happy bouncing around London, New York, Philadelphia, Seattle, San Francisco, Houston, Singapore, Hong Kong as much as Delhi, Bombay and Chandigarh. But I know my roots, and my grounding. I am Indian.
So pardon me, if I take offense at being associated with a bunch of suicide bombers, and fundamentalist pricks. Of course, one argues that the “average” Pakistani and Bangladeshi is not responsible for these characters either. Which may or or may not be true, but the fact is, that we Indians have worked hard to carve out a name for our country – it stands for something. The Idea of India is not a new concept. It’s been around for a good 2000 years or so. Replacing the Idea of India with one of South Asia devalues everything that India has achieved to group it right back with a surrounding basket cases.
Anybody who has read my previous post on The United States of South Asia may think that I’m contradicting myself. Well yes-and-no. I floated that idea as a means to end current political problems (mostly), not because I feel we share something in common with our Paki “brothers”.
I don’t particularly blindly hate Pakistanis as the government would have me do. But neither do I particularly like them, nor share any fraternal bond with them. This is because, in my mind, the Pakistani/Bangladeshi identity is precarious at best. Yes this is based on the fact that these particular identities are only 50-some years old, but also on the reasons behind their creation. What was the reason behind the creation of Pakistan? It was to be an anti-India. That is what defines Pakistan.
How am I expected to believe I share something in common with a bunch of people who’re trying their hardest to show they’re NOT Indian. When brown people are called “Cow-Worshippers, “South Asian” Muslims/Christians will quickly jump to point out they’re not idolatrous Hindus. Sri Lankans hate being confused for Indians (and rightly so!).
All of this “stand together” stuff is bullshit. The people we’re trying to stand together wouldn’t do it for us, so why should we do it for them? The day Pakistani jihadis start fighting for the World’s mistreatment of India and Indians, you can call me “South Asian”. I see no harm in trying to educate White Rednecks in the differences between Indians and Pakistanis. Hell I want to do it! But NOT because I want them to go beat up Pakistanis and leave us Indians alone – simply because it’s frikking insulting for me, as an Indian to be associated with that crap. While India has never been particularly nice to its own citizens(1984, 1993, 2002 e.t.c., e.t.c.) it has never perpetrated any acts of agression against other nations. It has not given its land over to Freedung/Freedumb Fighters to practise blowing innocent people up. So it would nice if that particular distinction was not lost on the Western world when they decide to hop on top of a man and fire 5 bullets into his head. Why should I, a nerdy software engineer with an ivy-league degree have to be fingerprinted like a common criminal because of the stupid acts of people from Arabia/Pakistan? And I’m sorry, it doesn’t seem like the average Pakistani is against those terrorist acts. I could be wrong about this, but it doesn’t seem like they are. As Indians, we should loudly advertise the fact that we’re Indian, NOT South Asian
One final note – about the common cuisine and culture…..yes, we do have a common cuisine and culture – it’s INDIAN culture and Cuisine. I dare somebody to show me a drastic difference between “Pakistani Cuisine” and what Indian Muslims eat. Guess what – 50-some years ago, there wasn’t anything called Pakistani “Culture” – that’s because it was INDIAN!!!!
After posting my reply to Arzan in my comments section I just realized something – this standing together nonsense devalues all that INDIAN Muslims have struggled and fought for as well. Many of them have taken advantage of India’s freedom to pull themselves out of the ghetto and to challenge dogma (Yes cynics, I know about a woman called Imrana, and Shah Bano). Why should they also now be painted with a Jihadi brush? Let me stress, as I did in my comments, to me Indian Muslims are Indians first – and I’ve met many of them who think of themselves in the same way, and could not think in any other. Sure we’ll keep our distances from each other (especially when I state my craving for a nice Hot Dog..)