Shashi Tharoor’s Classifications of American Indian Migrants

Last Sunday, in his column in ‘Sunday Times of India’, Shashi Tharoor questioned, “Should we be proud of Bobby Jindal?” followed with “Is our pride misplaced? Who is Bobby Jindal and what does he really stand for?”

I myself took pride reading Bobby’s successful endevour to become the youngest Governor ever and also the first non-white candidate to win the post in highly conservative white-dominated Louisiana State. Articles in the latest ‘Outlook’ and ‘India Today’ proved salability of the story.

However, I like Shashi because of his writings and his achievements in UN and his own endevour to fight for the post of general secretary of UN after Kofi Anan retired. I was morose when he failed to get elected.

Shashi has categorized the Indian migrants in two-the atavists and the assimilationists: “The atavists hold on to their original identities as much as possible, especially outside the workplace; in speech, dress, food habits, cultural preferences, they are still much more Indian than American. The assimilationists, on the other hand, seek assiduously to merge into the American mainstream; they acquire a new accent along with their visa, and adopt the ways, clothes, diet and recreational preferences of the Americans they see around them.”

To sum up it appears, Shashi doesn’t agree with the Indians taking pride in Bobby Jindal, and concludes ‘let us not make the mistakes of thinking that we should be proud of what he stands for’.
Shashi may be right in his arguments. But I feel with not many things to be proud of here in the country with the media, particularly the English ones, hardly writing rather blacking out the success stories of domestic intellectuals, let the aspiring Indian youth be satisfied with Bobbys of US. Shashi has mentioned some names I didn’t know and I feel proud of each of them and so must be many Indians.
” Vinita Gupta, in Oklahoma, another largely white state, won her reputation as a crusading lawyer by taking up the case of illegal immigrants exploited by a factory owner (her story will shortly be depicted by Hollywood, with Halle Berry playing the Indian heroine). Bhairavi Desai leads a taxi drivers’ union; Preeta Bansal, who grew up as the only non-white child in her school in Nebraska, became New York’s Solicitor General and now serves on the Commission for Religious Freedom.”

Through another story by Chidanand Rajghatta on the same page of the newspaper, I came to know of some more of the American Indians who have been making a mark in the American legal sphere: “Sanjay Tailor, Anil Singh, and Jaya Madhavan serve as judges in various courts; one of the most cited constitutional experts in the US is Akhil Amar; Preeta Bansal was solicitor general for the State of New York; and Sarita Kedia was an attorney for the mobster John A Gotti.” The story mainly deals with Amrit Singh, who is the youngest daughter of PM Manmohan Singh. And we in India celebrate all successes of persons with Indian connection, be it Kalpana Chawla, Sunita Williams, Hargobind Khorana, Jagdish Bhagwati, Amartya Sen, CK Prahlad or Jhumpa Lahiri or Anita Desai. Why should Indians bother to find all the details that are personal, if those are not anti-Indian that Shashi Tharoor has tried to provide about Bobby Jindal? Why should we here in India bother how bloggers in US posting uncomplimentary comments about Bobby Jindal as reported in the story of ‘India Today’? How does it matter if these achievers ‘change their names, religion and do not wear their Indianness on their sleeve’? I shall be the happiest man and so must be many if Bobby Jindal is ranked as the best Governor of US some day. I loved to read that, ‘he is first foremost a Louisianan’.

With five of my India-born family members out of the total of ten in US, can I differentiate and go by Shashi’s definitions before taking pride in their achievements during my lifetime, even if they turn into ‘assimilationist’ class? Naturally my answer will be an emphatic “NO”.

In India, the reason for taking pride of a person varies based on many factors. I like Amitabh Bacchan, as he is son of Haribans Rai ‘Bachhan’. Some one else likes him as he is the son-in-law of Bengal, and some may like him, as he is kayastha by caste. I don’t find anything wrong with that unless the person is a rogue.

I wish Shashi had not written this story of Bobby Jindal. It makes him pygmy which I hate him to be branded as by any one. I am sure Shashi wouldn’t like if someone writes similar story about him, as the writer didn’t not like the name of Christa Giles associated with Shashi.

Let Shashi allow me and other Indians too to take pride for Bobby Jindal. And let me keep on being under impression that Piyush became Bobby because of his parents liking for the Raj Kapoor famous film ‘Bobby’.

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