Indignant over Assam, well-heeled Indians won’t see the bigger picture
By Prabhu Chawla
12th August 2012 12:09 AM
As Assam burns, some are busy scoring personal brownie points. When the Assamese are fighting a bloody battle to protect their unique Indian identity, our politicians, their fellow travelers and our globalised chatterati are mourning and lobbying for the rights of the illegal infiltrators. For nationalist Indians, the Assam violence is a pure fight between desis and videshis. It is not a confrontation between religious communities. For centuries, the Northeast, including Assam, was a living example of unity in diversity until armed migrants from across the border cleaved them apart. They have not only divided the Assamese along caste and communal lines, they now define and dictate the contours and colours of the state government.
Last week, our leaders didn’t discuss ways to tame the well-armed illegal infiltrators and deport them. Guided and goaded by the advantages of votebank politics, they are discussing how to polarise votes or find ways to legitimise the illegitimate occupants of Indian land. The fight for the rights of Indians vis-à-vis foreigners has spread to almost every aspect of Indian life, from the social sector to the business world. A coalition of suave wealthy westernised classes is determined to fight for the entry of foreign entities in every walk of Indian life. Why do we adore and promote everything and every entity with a foreign tag? Be it a mall, a residential complex, an automobile brand or even kitchenware, Indians support foreign brands and push out national names and symbols. Is it something to do with the young, new age Indians born with a silver spoon, educated abroad and who have privileged access to both the job market and politics? Defending Vodafone and Bangladeshis are part of their conviction. For them Ram, Rahim or Guru Nanak are mere symbols of faith while the Western economic and social model is their real religion.
The discourse on the Assam tragedy reflects the growing tendency to defend the foreign invasion of Indian land, business, and the cultural and educational system. Except from some vote-chasing politicians, we hardly hear voices or chest-beating on behalf of the Indian poor for whom two meals a day is still a mirage. No elitist, glamorous NGO is seen squatting on dharna or on fast demanding food, shelter and healthcare for the deprived and the underprivileged. But they are hyper-active when there is a strong movement against illegal immigration in India. They condone the defiance of even judicial verdicts. It is fashionable, desirable and rewardable to be politically correct in India than speaking for what is right for India. Some trot out ridiculous arguments to justify the existence of the foreign hand in Indian society and economy—“Aren’t illegal Indian immigrants settled in various parts of the world? Shouldn’t they also be thrown out the way ‘nationalists’ are demanding Bangladeshis and Pakistanis be deported?” They conveniently forget that Indian immigrants are productive assets for any country they live in. They aren’t liabilities. They follow local customs and local laws. They don’t defy them even if they did back home in India. Indians create wealth and jobs for locals and do not displace them. Indians don’t carry arms and manufacture bombs like illegal immigrants are suspected of doing in India. Indians don’t demand separate laws. It is because of Indian companies that over 2,50,000 additional jobs have been created in the US alone.
But foreigners who come to India, legally or illegally, demand preferential treatment in all walks of life. MNCs want tax concessions, immunity from Indian laws and stay without proper documents. For the past few weeks, policy-makers are only talking about reviewing and reversing the Indian tax regime only to attract more foreign direct investment. They are burning the midnight oil to find ways and means to ensure that Vodafone and others aren’t seen as victims of Indian laws. Megaphones of the corporate world are making noises about the environment being negative for growth. None of them are concerned about the rising number of suicides by farmers or the plummeting purchasing power of the marginalised classes. Sadly, it doesn’t bother any well-spoken Indian that of 10,000 Pakistanis who have entered Nagpur with proper visas in the past decade, over 7,000 have vanished without a trace. The local police forgot to track them and pack them home. It doesn’t bother them if the demographic complexion of nearly half a district changes, not because of indigenous biological reasons but because of illegal immigration from Bangladesh. Unfortunately, it hardly matters to them that MNCs spend millions to influence and manipulate the stock markets to make instant piles of dosh even if the poor investor loses his hard-earned money. They want the journey from home to office on a hassle-free expressway, an ATM next to their apartment, a super mall only a few steps away, and a car and a home loan at concessional rates of interest. If home-grown companies can provide these facilities, they are welcome. If they can’t, let the modern East India Companies walk in and take over our life and system once again. The discourse on Assam carnage, therefore, is part of a sinister attempt to de-Indianise the Indian mindset.
Follow him on Twitter @PrabhuChawla
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