Shilpa Shetty, British Raj, Indian Psyche and Nepali Case

shilpa shetty big brother

Big Double Standard: Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty in British TV program Big Brother. Many Indians and the actress feel she was a victim of racism in the program. But do they know that given the opportunity Indians show big brotherly attitude to their small neighbors. BTW, if anyone feels I am anti-Indian after reading this blog, here is a pre-emptive clarification: I love Bollywood, I love Sachin Tendulkar, I love Hindi songs. [Guardian on Shilpa case]

This is more about WHO said what to whom then actually WHAT was said. The fact is that Indians were under British imperialism until 60 years ago. They fought hard for the freedom and they feel proud to have defeated the British raj. Even after six decades, freedom (ajadi) is one of the most talked about topic in Indian cultural, political and social scenario. Indians are never tired of comparing themselves with the growing Chinese economic rise and, as they are also having impressive economic growth, they are dreaming of being another engrej, at least in the region. They want to be in parallel with the English. Why do they rally behind the takeover bid of Laxmi Mittal? Because they see their own aspiration to be global in his efforts.

When an Indian goes to an English television channel and receives insult from the formerly gora saheb, the Indian pride of being free from the imperialism gets injured deeply. Indians have this inferiority complex and that feeling gets infatuated even by remarks of a 20 something Engregi gori who was stripped of the beauty pageant crown she won. Coincidently, the crown was passed to her closest competitor in the Miss Great Britain pageant with an Indian name. The question is: Would the Indian reaction be same if the bullying had come from an Ethiopian or Nepali in the program [in Ethiopian or Nepali TV]? No. Why? Have you seen American public vandalizing properties in Washington D.C. or in New York just because someone in Nepal says he hates the USA? That is why I strongly feel it’s about WHO said rather than WHAT was said.

While creating hue and cry on alleged racist behavior faced by them (Shilpa is merely a representative of Indian psyche) from English, Indians easily forget that, given opportunity, they demonstrate their big brotherly attitude to citizens from small countries like Nepal. Nepal and Nepalis are presented in bad taste in Indian films and books which is not in any different than any racist remarks. Interestingly and unfortunately, the Nepali reaction to such Indian big brotherly attitude is just as same and immature as Indian reaction to English bullying. Oh… how seriously we take any statements, said or unsaid, of Indian actors or any Indians for that matter, about Nepal and don’t hesitate destroying our own national property and killing ourselves while protesting. Remember the unfortunate Hritik Roshan episode a few years ago in which we organized several days of bandas and crippled daily lives of Nepali urban area while protesting what the Bollywood actor allegedly said about Nepal? Later, after property worth billions of Rupees was destroyed and an innocent 9-year-old girl was killed, we discovered that the actor in question never made any such remarks (“I hate Nepal”). What the hell even if he says he hates us? But our inferiority complex infatuated and we went on rampage. Even the government reacted and banned Hritik Roshan movies in Nepal.

I want to end my remarks with these lines from today’s editorial in Times of India: “The racist remarks against actor Shilpa Shetty are repungant and a justifiable cause for outrage amongst the Indian community in Britain. However, there is absolutely no reason for the Indian government to be required to respond…The insults hurled at Shilpa may well reflect a larger problem of racism in British society but should be tackled at the level of public opinion. Social issues can be debated in media; essays can be written about the status of the Indian community in Britain; the film industry in India can express concern over the abuse of one of their won. The government, however, should have no role to play.”

The only thing, I feel, the paper forget to add is this: such remarks don’t even deserve attention from the Indian public and shouldn’t have been dignified by creating waves of protest.