The yearning for recognition by the White is very common among all classes of Indians. An obscure plumber or electrician from Australia or Ireland gets married to a very well educated urban upper class Indian girl in our tradition in a temple and that is important news. As if that white man’s decision in a way gives more credence to our age old marriage system. Booker prize is more known among youngsters than the major Indian literary recognitions like Jnanapeeth awards. Even a semi-literate from an obscure tall mountain or deep water university is given more importance than our own experts. We find every year hundreds of thousands of our students joining mediocre institutions in Australia or USA paying exorbitant fees.
Whether it is beauty or academic excellence or body-mass ratio or stock market movements or parliamentary practices or simple eating habits –we find the standards or norms set by the White is considered sacrosanct.
This is reflected in the nature of openness expressed with the White Ambassadors or leaders by our own Neta’s as revealed by Wiki Leaks. Our corporate honchos are prompt in giving data or interview to White experts and eagerly look forward to favorable writings by white experts. Even our Mumbai Dabbawalas are recognized as very efficient only after certification given by White. The same was told from the seventies by various Indian institutions is not a matter to be considered. The news by White Channels from UK or USA is considered as truth. As it is mentioned often “BBC itself has told”.
Whether it is for Rabindranath Tagore or for Satyajit Ray the local recognition followed that of White certification. I wonder what would have been the fate of Swami Vivekananda if he had not attended the Chicago meet and got White recognition.
This is not pertaining to any particular group or political persuation.The disease is across spectrum. The left intellectual would like stamp from Noam Chomsky or any one from the erstwhile Soviet empire. It is interesting to note that after the 2004 election, L K Advani quoted a Deutsche Bank report to suggest that the life of the UPA government would be short-lived. It was indeed tragic that the former deputy Prime minister should rely on a report simply because it had a White Stamp.
The more recent example is that of a US Congressional Research Report praising Gujarat’s sustained economic progress. Modi was happy about it to show case his achievements. Interestingly Advani, too, cited it as a testimonial of good governance and robust leadership in Gujarat. Not only in the fields of art, economics, public policy but also in other fields where our traditional systems have been used and tested successfully. That turmeric is useful or neem has lots of healthy properties is known for hundreds of years by most Indians. Suddenly media and our medical world go ecstatic by the prospects of recognition by the Whites about these natural remedies.
The reasons for this can be multifold. One could be the colonial genes which have been mutated to such an extent that we would recognize excellence or merit only after certification by the White. The second is the umbilical cord attached to large number of middle and upper class Indians with USA or UK. Look at our leadership. PM, Home Minster, Chief of Planning commission ,Chief Economic advisor etc are all trained in UK or USA. Most of the bureaucrats and corporate bosses have their children studying or working abroad in US or Europe. Our Bollywood draws inspirations from Hollywood and so also our sports world. Oscar is the most cherished award and so is the Booker. The smell of Euro or US trash is considered very superior to our own incense sticks. It is not for all foreign recognition; it is only for the White recognition. For instance a Nigerian expert’s opinion or that of a Chinese may not get such importance.
This craze distorts our decision making processes and denies the evolution of home grown initiatives. It saps the energy of local innovators and entrepreneurs since unless “certified’ by the white machine the outcomes are uncertain and unappreciated.
All standards are White standards and all recognition will come only after it has been accepted in the West. We only hope that post Greece crisis and the collapse of the west; we also do not insist that our economy should also meet the same nemesis since White man’s decline is also a great thing to follow!
Thanks Prof. for this much needed article. This disease begins first at home with the fascination for “Speaking English like Durai”, dressing like Durai…While Durai is a respectful harmless salutation, the deeper meaning has 24 carat reference to white colonial master. After English, it is the fascination with fair skin which is all pervasive in all papers , movies (from the land of rationality and self respect , TN als), then this goes to the education system with people yearning for white recognition , MS and MBA outside India is just a typical example. One one side people leave because of lack of recognition of talent and merit and at the same time out people want this recognition from US or UK. All our IAS IFS babus are brown sahibs so no wonder the discourse in our embassy is all about self-loathing and self-hatred. Now this new form of recognition is the WB, IMF, Moody’s, S&P, NYT, WaPo etc. Our entire media discourse is based on what gorawalas think..No CNN has an article “what does foreign media think about Obamacare” but all our media esp. the English media, carries 2 per day rate of article that wants us to know what some randome dude in some random part of the western hemisphere thinks about demonetization. Same thing with merits and impacts of Yoga, meditation, vegan, eco-worship etc. While some are aware of the problem, not many are able to come up with robust solutions because the problem starts very early and most often it is in the home, schools and colleges. Unless and until, people take efforts to unlearn and decolonize their minds, this trend of gorawala angrezi sahib certificate of authenticity will never cease. Also FYI, on a slightly insensitive note, many people think NRIs are driving dharma in the US,, highly successful etc, they want only the good stuff from India/Hinduism and they blame the bad stuff on Indians/Hindus.
Excellent write up! Sad reality though.