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Howling hollow January 17, 2007

Posted by Sharath Rao in india, rant.

[ Correction appended ]

I dont know how to react to this.

Hindus in Europe are opposing a German call for an European Union ban on the display of swastikas, the 5,000-year-old Hindu religious symbol that became the insignia of the Nazi Party, saying it was ‘sacred’ to the community.

At the deepest level they may have a point, but more realistically, I only imagine whether this is consistent with we in India renaming cities, streets, bridges, towns and city circles because this reminded us of our colonial masters. I am sure that should offend the 1,300,000 strong Anglo-Indian population out of a total of 1,100,000,000 – rougly 0.00102727273 %. There are about 3 million Hindus in a continent of 751 million ( 0.00399467377 %).

I wont reiterate my position with respect to organized religion all over again but given that we have live with it in the forseeable future, if a country is trying to put its past behind and we form barely a trifle portion of their population, we can do without throwing our weight around in the name of symbolisms.


On a related issue, here is the Indian Express editorial on the Big Brother issue. Long back I wrote
that my position on issues are almost lock in step with that of the Express. I can’t disagree with the Express this time either when it says :

But if for a moment one set aside the prism of race, it would be clear that the TV programme in question is designed to bring out the worst in participants. It can be race, it can be class, it can be gender, it can be any marker, real or perceived, that excites the kind of human interaction that forms the basis of such television entertainment. That Ms Shetty happens to be Indian, that she happens to be a celebrity should not therefore automatically engender a pan-national narrative. Which is to say just as one doesn’t need to be an Indian to find the comments against Ms Shetty obnoxious, being an Indian doesn’t call for indulging in reflexive, overarching condemnation either.

If racism is a fact in many interactions in British society, prejudice is a quotidian reality of Indian social life. It is possible to argue, in fact, that Western societies have a better institutional mechanism to deal with prejudice, that the public space is more alert to bad behaviour and that one of the unfinished tasks of Indian institution building is to develop similar sensitivities. The Indian elite has to do some introspection about this every time it accuses — no matter how strong the provocation — the West of racist bias.

You may want to take a visit to your grand parents house. If you are a Brahmin, its likely that you will still see the maid servant/helper entering through the backdoor of the house, having lunch sitting on plantation leaves ( or plates/utensils meant only for him/her) on the floor and not allowed into the prayer room.

Further reinforces that hypocrisy is the rule, not the exception.

Update : Indian government, has on second thoughts, come up with a ‘cool’ response to it all.

Correction : Anand points out mistakes in my percentage calculation. They are off by an order of 2 !! I used Google calculator to divide and forgot to multiply by 100 to express it as percentage rather than per unit. The sentence should read “I am sure that should offend the 1,300,000 strong Anglo-Indian population out of a total of 1,100,000,000 – rougly 0.102727273 %. There are about 3 million Hindus in a continent of 751 million ( 0.399467377 %).” Ofcourse, even these relatively inflated figures dont change the meat of the argument. Thanks Anand.



1. gadiyar - January 20, 2007

Hey Rao,

I think you made an error in the percentage computation. 3/751 == 0.00399… That’s 0.399.. percent 🙂 Same thing with the other percentage figure.

2. Sharath Rao - January 20, 2007

Hey anand….thanks man …those ended up being per unit values ;P

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