Dogs, Frogs and Dalits: The Indian Model Minority Has A Dark Side

When Mahatma Gandhi was
asked what he thought of Western Civilization, he
famously answered,

"I think it would be a good idea."

His smug reply was more
than just an unsubtle insult to Europe and America. It
also indicated his assumption that India was

morally superior to the West
—despite copious

evidence to the contrary.

India has brought the world
an array of cruel social norms, from

bride burning
to the still-existing caste system, a

racial social stratification
in which those on the
bottom are sometimes called

"untouchables"
(“dalits
).
But Gandhi and many after him apparently believed that
India`s supposed spiritual heritage outweighs this
rather serious deficit on the side of social justice,
particularly regarding women`s rights.

Make no mistake, Gandhi was
convinced of Indian superiority:


"…Modern civilization
represents forces of evil and darkness, whereas the
ancient Indian civilization represents in its essence
the divine force. Modern civilization is chiefly
materialistic, as ours is chiefly spiritual. Modern
civilization occupies itself in the investigation of the
laws of matter and employs the human ingenuity in
inventing or discovering means of production and weapons
of destruction, ours is chiefly occupied in exploring
spiritual laws."
[GANDHI:
Biography, Ideology, Resources
]

Gandhi had a highly
selective view of a society which remains largely
unchanged despite the current image makeover in

techno-hubs
like

Bangalore
. The internet may be widely available for
the middle class, but

cows
and untouchables remain, along with the usual
assortment of Third World dysfunctions, from the
subjugation of women to the high incidence of

child labor
, continuing

religious violence
and

widespread poverty
.

Incidentally, since

"peace" activism
is in the news, we should
keep in mind that the pacifism which Gandhi espoused was

absolute
. He made no exceptions for self-defense. He
thought the Allies should have
surrendered to Hitler in WWII and that Jews should
have hopped willingly into the gas ovens. Needless to
say, none of this gets mentioned by today`s peaceniks
when they speak admiringly of Gandhian nonviolence. [The
Gandhi Nobody Knows,
By Richard Grenier,
Commentary
, March 1983]

Here in the United States,
Indian immigrants have a reputation as being a

model
minority who have above-average incomes and
education. We haven`t seen many Indian
gangs

as yet—although they have

become a problem
in Canada—and for that we are
grateful. Indians see themselves as hailing from the
"world`s largest democracy"
(over

one billion
served). Some among them say openly that
this will be the

Indian century
. And with greater wealth due to the
outsourcing of American technology has come the desire
to erase the tacky images of

bovine creatures
roaming city streets.

The Washington Post
reported an Indian immigrant mom who objected to U.S.
school materials: "American children will think India
is some Third World country with pagan beliefs and
backward thinking, not a forward-thinking country,"

Sandhya Kumar complained [Wiping
Stereotypes Of India off the Books
, By Maria
Glod, April 17, 2005].

Frankly, it`s hard to
regard a country as "forward thinking"—or
uniquely spiritual, in the Gandhian view—when it has
engaged in an ongoing

genocide of females
. Males are valued, and females
have been killed off through

sex-selection abortion
and infanticide. The number
of "missing" Indian women and girls is estimated
to be

50 million
.

Such attitudes are hardly
new in South Asia, where sons are frequently seen as
economic assets and daughters as liabilities, given the
need to marry them off with large dowries. Some parents
have resorted to murder, smothering or starving their
newborn daughters or even poisoning them with opium
balls. [The
Desperate Bachelors: India`s Growing Population
Imbalance Means Brides Are Becoming Scarce
,

By John Lancaster,
Washington Post,

December 2, 2002].

Modern technology has made
sex selection easy. Many

villages
have an ultrasound machine. So unwanted
female fetuses can be easily detected and discarded.
Prohibitions against using sex-selection technology are
widely ignored and never enforced.

India`s

gender disparity
has been rising as a result.

There is some understanding
in the public mind that if no one has any girl children
then many little boys will grow up to be bachelors. But
the old preferences persist, outweighing any rumblings
of individual responsibility, so many Indians want
someone else to bother with girls, who are seen as more
expensive and troublesome. Let Sanjit do it.

There`s evidence that a
large

gender disparity
undermines social stability in
fundamental ways. Some in government evidently agree,
because the state Andhra Pradesh began offering

cash rewards
for girl babies in 2005.

Because of today`s
permissive multiculturalism, Indian immigrants to the
U.S. see no need to leave their objectionable cultural
baggage behind. Indians have brought sex-selection
abortion with them to America, despite the fact that
they are free to have as many children here as they
want. According to a New York Times article,

"Clinics` Pitch to Indian Émigrés: It`s a Boy"
,
[By Susan Sachs, August 15, 2001] services to deliver
male heirs do a brisk business among Indian (and
Chinese) immigrants.

CASTE

Another noxious custom
which has been imported to America is the caste system,
a kind of Asian-flavored

apartheid
. Even the diversity-loving New York
Times
had to do a little tapdance to excuse Indian
immigrants` attachment to their ancient social
categories: "just as

descendants
of the

Pilgrims
use the

Mayflower Society
as a social outlet"
, the paper
opined about why Indian immigrants still retain caste [Family
Ties and the Entanglements of Caste
,
October 24, 2004].

Caste in America is
justified into more acceptable terms, like the computer
programmer quoted by the NYT as saying,
"That`s why I went into the Brahmin group, because I
wanted to give my children the same values."
But the
fact remains that Indians come to America, a society
with minimal class distinctions, and see no problem with
bringing their discriminatory caste system with them.
Social mobility is

certainly not an Indian value
, although they expect
to

benefit
from US egalitarianism when they immigrate
here. When it`s time to consider marriage, many parents
want to

choose a spouse
of the appropriate caste and may
want an

astrologer`s
consultation as well.

The caste system extends
back into India`s history and has a racial basis. The
Brahmin class of hereditary privilege is light-skinned
while the Untouchable dalits are darker. It has been
reported that newly affluent Indian women are spending
millions of dollars on beauty products to lighten up
unwanted dark skin, noting "It`s believed that caste
occupations were originally decided by skin color, with
dark-skinned people assigned to the latrines and
light-skinned people assigned to the Hindu clergy"
[Modern
India`s complex connection with complexion
, By
Mike McPhate,  Toronto Globe and Mail June 6,
2005].

The caste violence that
remains an accepted fact of life in mother India has
been brought to America too, although not as flagrantly
as the brutal

gang rapes
and

murders
of dalits who don`t know their place.

The case of

Lakireddy Bali Reddy
shocked

liberal Berkeley
a few years ago. Successful
immigrant Reddy procured two teenaged sisters from the
poor Pratipati family in his hometown, Velvadam India.
The two were brought to America through a fraudulent
H-1B visa scheme, and one of the girls later died from
carbon monoxide poisoning due to a malfunctioning heater
in one of Reddy`s rathole apartments. When the

Pratipati
sisters were not providing sexual services
for the

wealthy landlord
they were working on Reddy`s rental
properties. The autopsy of the dead girl, who was
believed to be 16 or 17, revealed she was

pregnant
.

At trial, a

cultural defense
was employed—that the virtual
slavery that the sisters endured at the hands of a
powerful man was a social norm of India. But the Alameda
County jury nonetheless found Reddy guilty of smuggling
illegal immigrants into the country for sexual purposes.
The judge

sentenced him
to eight years in prison, a longer
term than the one requested by the prosecutor.

But the caste aspect of the
Reddy case was little discussed. Reddy was born into a
respected landowner clan—in fact the family name

Reddy is a caste
—and Pratipati sisters were dalits.
So it was perfectly normal for the parents to hand over
the girls to him to do with as he pleased. In India,
members of the landlord class get to do what they want
with their social inferiors and no one complains.
"He`s god in my village"
, the mother said about
Reddy after the death of her daughter.

Another Reddy victim, a
20-year-old who shared the fateful apartment with the
Pratipati sisters, told federal investigators her father
had

sold her to Reddy
because of economic hardship when
she was 14. Some reports allege

the Pratipati sisters were purchased
by Reddy.

Other forms of slavery,
including indentured servitude of

children
and adults, are also accepted as normal in
India. The World Bank estimates

44 million children
, aged 5-14, work in India.

Such attitudes are part of
traditional Hindu culture that believes that you are
born into the appropriate social class because of your
karma, resulting in punishment or reward for actions in
previous lifetimes. Dalits are regarded as deserving
their sorry state. While dalits as a whole have bettered
their social standing in the last few decades—there was
even a dalit president,

KR Narayanan
, from 1997 to 2002—the old prejudices
are hard to eradicate, particularly in the countryside.
In tech-hip Bangalore, dalits do the jobs higher-caste
Indians don`t want to do, e.g. the

nightly cleaning
of toilet pits, until 2003 when

machinery
was introduced. Of course, a female dalit
is lower than low, so it`s not surprising that "Gang
rapes are mostly of Dalit women"
according to

Human Rights Watch
.

One might think that
India`s increasing modernization would improve the
status of women. But in one way at least economic
improvement has contributed to more murders. While some
retro customs are dying out in the cities, the new
consumerist urge reportedly fuels the increasing number
of “dowry murders” occurring in well-to-do
families as well as among lower classes. It is a speedy
way for a young man`s family to acquire cash and desired
consumer goods. Woe to the young woman whose family
doesn`t cough up. [India`s
dowry deaths,
BBC 7/16/03].

Ranjana Kumari, who runs
seven domestic violence refuge centers for women in
Delhi, believes up to 70 cases a month are linked to
rows over dowry. "Sometimes women are tortured to
squeeze more money out of their families and in extreme
cases they`re killed. Then the husband is free to
remarry and get another dowry"
, she told the BBC.

Many Americans learned
about India`s increasingly extortionist dowry customs
when

Sixty Minutes featured
the story of a young Indian
woman,

Nisha Sharma
, in 2003. After her family had put
itself into serious debt for the dowry prior to
marriage, Nisha stopped the wedding when her future
mother-in-law demanded an additional $25,000 as the
ceremony was about to begin. A shoving match between the
families ensued and Nisha called the police to prevent
more havoc.

But instead of being
condemned, Nisha has received kudos from women`s groups,
offers of marriage and an appearance on Oprah. Indians`
positive reaction to Nisha`s repudiation of dowry is one
small sign of genuine progress beyond the much
celebrated increase of information technology.

OTHER CULTURAL CURIOSITIES



  • No toilet, no seat
    . In the ongoing effort to
    improve the quality of candidates for public office,
    the rural development minister proposed that anyone
    running for village council must have indoor
    plumbing at home. The idea is to promote plumbing
    generally, since "more than 65% of India`s rural
    population defecated in the open, along roadsides,
    railway tracks and fields, generating huge amounts
    of excrement every day"
    which is a problem for
    the water supply.


  • Doggie Marriage.
    No analysis of the
    subcontinent`s colorful culture would be complete
    without mention of canine-human nuptials. In certain
    ethnic groups, a child whose first tooth appears
    inauspiciously located in the mouth is married off
    to a protective canine. For example, little
    Karnamoni Handsa, a member of the Santhal tribe, was
    wed to a rather ordinary stray pooch named Bacchan
    as reported by the BBC. The ceremony was no
    perfunctory affair: it was attended by over 100
    guests who celebrated to drumming and drank
    home-made liquor.

    Fortunately, the girl`s doggie marriage will not
    preclude a more normal pairing when she grows up.

The odd and objectionable
cultural practices of Indians may not seem important
when millions of

Mexicans
are turning the Southwest into a colony of
their homeland. But the 2005 Census count of

India-born immigrants was 2,319,222
—a not
insubstantial number.

Furthermore, the whole
foundation of diversity in immigration and the ideology
of multiculturalism is the idea that all cultures are
morally equivalent. But a closer examination of even
this "model minority" shows values that are not
agreeable to Americans. It`s another example that the
whole edifice of multiculturalism is false, worthless
and rotten.

India has gotten a free
ride from cultural critics. While Islamic societies are
rightly condemned for their brutality toward women,
India has been given a pass even though its misogyny is
in some ways even worse. Even the demonstration by
Nobel-prize-winning economist

Amartya Sen
that tens of millions of women and girls
are missing from India has found little attention among
those who claim to value human rights.

Instead of pursuing genuine

reforms
, India puts on a show of being an up and
comer. It has employed

public relations strategies
to convince American
business that its tech workers are not only inexpensive,
they are also

smarter
and

better educated
than their US counterparts. Just
being dirt cheap doesn`t have the same cachet.

This image makeover of a
rather backward Third World country is an instance of
monumental denial. This delusion is often

aided by immigrants
with a case of amnesia overlaid
with

arrogance
and is stoked by too many viewings of the
hagiographic film

Gandhi
.

And if mother India is
doing so well (as suggested by

immigrants
returning

home
), then Indians don`t need to immigrate here at
all. All parties involved would be better off with less
diversity in immigration.

And less immigration
period.

Brenda Walker (email
her) lives in northern California and publishes two
websites,


LimitsToGrowth.org
and


ImmigrationsHumanCost.org
.
She began practicing yoga at age 11 and in later years
was disappointed to learn that the culture of India is
not very spiritual at all.