letter to the editor
letter to the editor

Subjective Prejudices
Vamsee Juluri on the subjective prejudices of California academics finding an outlet in textbooks makes perfect sense. However we have to admit our own in-ability to present our views in a convincing manner. The names India and Indus have come down to us from the times of the Greek occupation of the Punjab. It was essentially a geographical description of the river and lands beyond it. It extended sometimes even beyond the subcontinent to the islands further east. The name took on a political hue when at the time of the British engineered partition of India, Jawaharlal Nehru decided to retain it for his part of the country in preference to Muhammad Jinnah’s view that the two nations be called Pakistan and Hindustan in which case both the states could have pre-served their common heritage. The name “South Asia” now serves to perpetuate the divisions of historical India.  Further if the term Hinduism refers to the collection of beliefs and practices of the Hindus, the people of Hind or India, why would it not be applicable to ancient Hindus as well?

Srinivas Chari, Camarillo, CA

Communal Voting
Roshn Marwah, in his article (“The Ethnic Equation,” India Currents, May 2016), seems to advocate block voting by the Indian American community so that Indian American candidates win elections.

It is pure communalism to suggest that I should exclusively vote for a candidate with a name like Bhatia, Nageswaran, Go-swami, or Singh just because I hail from the same part of the world as the candidate. Block voting based on one’s ethnic background is an insult to the democratic process in which one is expected to vote for a candidate solely based on the candidate’s credentials, experience, and promise.

Hem Chaudhuri, email

Poverty and India
Atanu Dey’s analysis was thought provoking (“A Misplaced Sense of Pride,” India Currents, May 2016). Often, people take pride over the performance of NRIs particularly in the United States and other western countries. It is good that the author has reminded us that there are

NRIs in the Gulf countries  who are not as comfortable as their counterparts in the western world. Many of them have come to work here in inhospitable conditions, after borrowing money or selling their pa-rental properties or their agriculture lands. But this has been the story over the years.

Human beings move from less developed areas to more developed areas and that is the picture emerging when we look at the floating population in Delhi, Mum-bai, Kolkata, Benguluru or even Ludhiana. The end result is that some areas remain undeveloped or underdeveloped and this is the reason why India’s villages and smaller towns are looking deserted and some of them even forgotten. The author has appropriately ended the analysis by observing that it is time for Mr. Modi to stop congratulating NRIs abroad and work hard to bring rural India out of poverty. Let India become a land of opporunities so that we stop chest thumping over the NRI syndrome.

Suresh Mandan, CA

Atanu Dey’s article (“A Misplaced Sense of Pride,” India Currents, May 2016) rightly places the blame on the successive governments in India.

However, let us examine the economic status of India in 1947, which came into being as an amalgamation of over five hundred princely states and territories directly ruled by the  British. As the current Member of Parliament Shashi Tharoor pointed out in his last year’s Oxford debate, India’s share of the world economy which was 23% at the time of the arrival of the Brit-ish was reduced to 3% when they left. As a result India was left with a large base of the population that was poor. It is also important to note that India choosing to be a democracy could not let the government order a redistribution of wealth, unlike countries like China.

Regarding the misplaced sense of pride that Atanu Dey refers to, pride in the extraordinary achievements of thousands of Indian professionals and entrepreneurs cannot be denied whether it was in India or overseas. Even as Prime Minister Modi congratulated the Indian diaspora in his speeches, there must have been a tug in his heart for the conditions of the poor in India just as Dr. Dey felt. Still, the government administrations in India cannot escape the responsibility of not having done more to alleviate the utter poverty in the country.

Nagaraja Rao, Fremont, CA

The die-hard nature of the Indian (or is it South Asian) psyche underlies two articles of different perspectives and tenor in the May 2016 issue of India Currents. In a lighter vein, Gauri Sirur (“Are You Really Saving Those Seats?”) describes the experience of finding a seat in a cinema hall screening a Hindi movie. At Indian music concerts held in the Bay Area, the writer has observed a flaring of tempers and high pitched arguments over “towel” reserved seats. The reservation is involuntary in some cases to provide for the eventuality of late coming friends and relatives!

Atanu Dey in his article (“A Misplaced Sense of Pride”) is angry at India’s failure in providing opportunities and encouraging entrepreneurs. The underlying Indian trait seems to be “finding fault” with others and the system, and a troubling sub-conscious guilt.

The following points are missed by Dey: i) The government is an elected body and if people “voted with their feet,” who is to be blamed? ii) The remittances of the hard-working labor force in the Middle East far exceeds the money sent home by NRIs from the United States or other industrialized nations. iii) The highly successful India-educated elites ride on a well-established system, which was already in place and for which they carry no credit. iv) Many NRIs in the United States are U.S. citizens, and possess an  OCI or PIO card, and have no qualms in using their old Indian ration cards on their visits to India!

Arun Sekar, Retired Professor, Morgan Hill