Mumbai, Bombay, Bollywood, Bimaru

The Pseudo-Elite Indians


TAMIL TRIBUNE, September 2008 (ID. 2008-09-01)
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IT - Information Technology

LTTE - Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam

NRI - Non-Resident Indians

UK - United Kingdom

Over the past few decades, a concept of Indian-ness has emerged that has place for only one kind of Indian-ness: North Indian-ness; anything North Indian or Hindi-speaking is the truly representative culture of Indians. This perception is prevalent among a community of pseudo-elite Indians. These pseudo-elite Indians come from various communities (North, South, East and West Indians), but are united by their complete alignment with the North Indian mindset which enshrines North Indian-ness as the better kind of Indian-ness. This pseudo-elite has been cultivated mainly in Mumbai (Bombay), that quintessential pseudo-cosmopolitan, pseudo-global city of the pseudo world power called India.

Instead of the humility and rooted-ness that make other Indians adaptable, the pseudo-elite Indians have an ivory-tower thinking that makes their cup full. They speak in a combination of English-accented Hindi and Hindi-accented English. They hardly ever speak regional languages, even if the language happens to be their mother tongue. Their concept of Indian-ness dictates that Bollywood is the lifeblood of every Indian, Hindi is the language that unites Indians, and anyone who promotes Marathi in Maharashtra, Kannada in Karnataka or Tamil in Tamil Nadu is unpatriotic. The great unifying force of this Indian pseudo-elite is their absolute conviction that they are the better kind of Indian. They look down on Indians who are different from them. [Bollywood - Hindi movie industry in Bombay].

Most English-language media of India, like certain television channels, embrace the mindset of these pseudo-elite Indians. Their coverage of regional issues are myopic, one-sided and from the viewpoint of a North Indian colonial master. They are critical of the non-Hindi peoples of India: their worst criticism is reserved for Tamilnadu, followed by the other three South Indian states, followed by the non-Hindi states of East and West India. If you watch some of these channels, you will take home the message that half of South India is Al Qaeda and the other half is LTTE. The South Indian individuals working for the national media are often the most critical of South India, presumably because they want to work harder to align themselves with the colonial master. The Bengali individuals in those channels are also fiercely pro North Indian. It is not very different from the behaviour of colonized people who offer themselves as stooges to the colonial masters.

This pseudo-elite retain their attitude even when they leave India. In Singapore, for instance, they are united by a common contempt for anything Singaporean. They look down on Singapore Chinese, Singapore Malays and Singapore Indians. Their ethnocentric attitude towards South Indians adds to their contempt, since most of the Singapore Indians are Tamils. Even in a country where the airport and port were designed by a Tamil, the national pledge was written by a Tamil, the national airline was made successful by a Tamil, the national bank was founded by a Tamil, several ministers are Tamils, and the president is a Tamil, the pseudo-elite Indians look down on the Tamils. They retain their ivory tower thinking, and surround themselves with people of similar viewpoints. But to be fair, not all the expatriate Indians belong to this pseudo-elite. There are other expatriate Indians who come without their cup full, and integrate well into Singapore society.

If the pseudo-elite thinks that North Indian culture is the representative Indian culture because of its superiority, they are totally mistaken. It is more a case of numerical strength, which is a result of poor population control. Bollywood is popular not because it is better, but because the main target audience of Bollywood (North Indians and Pakistanis) are notorious for their lack of population control. Hindi was made the official language because of the canvassing power of the Bimaru lobby - a large group of politicians from the Bimaru states who have always been in the driving seat of Indian politics. This Bimaru lobby is very different from the pseudo-elite, but the two groups see eye to eye in their tendency towards North Indian ethnocentrism. (Bimaru states - The north Indian, Hindi-belt states of Bihar, Madya Pradesh, Rajastan and Uttar Pradesh.)

It is time the pseudo-elite had a reality check. They are not the better kind of Indians. Their brothers from the four South Indian states have quietly gone about giving Indians a good name. In IT companies outside India, it is common to find that nearly every Indian is a South Indian. The South Indian talent in Silicon Valley has invoked a comment from Bill Gates that the Chinese and the South Indians are the most intelligent people in the world. The man behind the revitalization of the Indian economy was Narasimha Rao. The man who made India a nuclear power was Abdul Kalam. M.S. Swaminathan was the brain of the Green Revolution. There would have been no IT boom in India without South Indian Narayana Murthy and Nandan Nilekani.


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