Friday, September 20, 2013

The Other Side

Miss America is of Indian origin; and this has kicked up a row where some Americans have expressed shock, displaying deep racist attitude. And others have condemned them.

Amidst all this, there was a report that said America leads the way in celebrating Indian beauty.

I feel deeply offended. I know the fetish with fair skin exists in our country. I know girls, and these days boys, also seek remedies to turn their dark skin to fair. But I think it is totally uncalled for to judge the general Indian psyche as being colour obsessed. We have had dusky skin Ms. Indias. We have heroines and people in the public sphere who are not fair. And Rahul Gandhi is not very popular despite his fair skin and half-foreign parentage. If he has any standing, it is because of his Indian ancestry. Okay, that just slipped in.

Why do we forget that foreigners have a fetish for the tanned skin too? For that matter, what about anti-aging!

This is not just about the skin tone. We believe that the recent sex-related crimes have happened because Indian society is repressive and so men give vent to their fantasies by attacking the nearest available, vulnerable women. And if a white skin is within reach, then why not. The implication being, in liberal societies, such crimes are not committed because there is no repression.

Read the Millennium Series, based entirely in Sweden, considered one of the more liberal societies. It is all about sex crimes. I read one very disturbing article about a 16-year-old American girl who had committed suicide because her friends had done graffiti all over her body when she was drunk, taken photographs and spread it on the Internet. Then, of course, there is the case of the girl raped by a football team. And, surprise surprise, these societies too blame the victims!

It happening there does not cancel out what happens here. What I am upset about is the way we think more liberal and open societies do not have such crimes and that somehow India is a potboiler for every evil happening in the world. We oversimplify the issue and so lose perspective. No corrective action works because we are barking up the wrong tree. The intelligentsia is self-critical to the point where only the bad is highlighted.

Everything is not right, I agree, but where did we lose the way? How did the externals become more important than developing the mind and the soul? Why have we lost respect for our work, our education, our elders?

Introspection, connecting with the self - simple practices that will keep us rooted... Can we bring these back in to our lives? Will that be the way forward?

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