What has brown done for you?

52 Comments


I’v bemoaned the hard-Left shift of Indian Americans in political organization and consulting (Bong-commies at every turn!). But there are still neolib centrists around! Tech Veteran’s Fundraising Team Rakes In Cash for Pete Buttigieg Campaign:

Three years ago, Swati Mylavarapu had never worked for a political campaign and attended just a single campaign fundraiser.

Now, the 36-year-old Silicon Valley investor is a financial force behind one of the best fundraisers in the Democratic presidential primary, serving as national investment chairwoman for Pete Buttigieg, a fellow Harvard graduate and Rhodes Scholar whom she has known for half her life.

Indian Americans are 1% of America’s population. And in the older generation of 1.5 and 2nd generation far less (“Generation X”). But they sure are punching above their weight!

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52 Replies to “What has brown done for you?”

  1. Off the top of my head:

    Ajit Pai
    Neil Patel, co founder of Daily Caller
    Naomi Rao
    Trumps new appellate attorney is an Indian guy, partner at Jones Day and former partner of the WH counsel.
    Seema Verma
    Forget his name by McConnels #1 aide

    I agree with you point that Indians in the US don’t come with much ideology or at least ideology in the American sense. A lot of nonsense from India (caste, religion, etc) but that is useless here.

    They tend to absorb the political norms of where they grew up.

    Here’s the issue — lots of Indians in small towns ALL over the US and they become Republicans.

  2. “Bong-commies at every turn”

    As i have said the homeland politics mimics the diaspora. Ethnicities which are commies in homeland are commies in diaspora.

    India can be divided into Hindu areas (cow belt+ west India), Not so Hindu areas (S-India+Bengal) , and Non Hindu area (Kashmir,Punjab+North East). The last 2 categories can fluctuate. Pretty much same political views what they hold in their Homeland.

    Same goes for verticals as well Hindu UCs prone to Right , rest all pretty much left.

    1. This nonsensical division into ‘ethnic’ areas coinciding with Hindu, NonH , etc is the old trolling by Saurav for a long time. Ethnicity in western sense has not been known traditionally in India.

      1. LOL, Come on VJ, we Indian born folks know what goes in India. I understand that S-Indians,bengalis feel that they practice a different (and in their view) a better version of Hinduism.

        If you want u can change the nomenclature. But it wont change much. The schism is already upon us. Practicing S-Indians, Bengalis etc will eventually have to either leave the religion (just like their N-Indian liberal counterparts) or subscribe to the dominant N-Indian Hinduism (like Karnataka has already showed signs)

        1. \N-Indian Hinduism (like Karnataka has already\
          You are conflating particular political passions due to localized histories for ethnic difference .

        2. Saurav, your assertions – like those of indthings – are short on anything approaching factual support.

          Take Punjabi’s in America: Bharara. Tanden, Haley, Jindal. See any pattern ?

          Take Ghatis: ajit pai, kshama sawant…

          Bongs: present company, Saikat, rehan salaam…

          Sometimes let facts intrude on your theories for a change.

        3. How much evidence that homeland ethnic political views or old country divisions persist strongly among the diaspora (past the generation that immigrated) and that the politics there is brought over rather than homegrown in the US (especially when desis often grow up in metropolitan milieus that are left-leaning)?

          There is evidence that diaspora politics and attachment to homeland views can persist a long time (e.g. Boston pro-Irish homeland (including pro-IRA) sentiment in Irish Americans lasted a really long time generations after peak Irish immigration. But it yet remains to be seen among Asian Americans (including South Asians). There was the Sikh Khalistan movement in Canada and Britain (and to a lesser extent stateside) but I don’t think it’s as strong now.

          As mentioned by Razib, many desi Americans take on a “brown” if not South Asian American identity after the generation that emigrates has kids who grow up in an American cultural milieu, rather than retain homeland divisions.

  3. Indians I’ve encountered come of as no nonsense conservative people with high work ethic. I don’t see how people brought up with those values could like American liberals.

    It really confuses me.

    1. Given that the current Republican Party is not a very friendly place for minorities of any kind, it makes sense for Indian Americans to align themselves with the only viable alternative in the two party system.

      This of course doesn’t take away from the personal conservatism of many South Asian Americans in the private sphere.

      1. Isn’t part of the answer often given to why desi Americans are very left-leaning similar to the answer of why Jewish and east Asian Americans are too — that despite being (on average) well-educated and high-earning minorities, they are put off by some of the “othering” rhetoric of the Republican party, and also being fairly urban and college educated on the whole statistically, that does tilt them left based on upbringing.

        The personal conservatism while voting Democratic thing is also already well-known among other minorities — for instance, black (and Hispanics) being more socially conservative than white liberals on average.

        1. The othering rhetoric is usually just the DNC and its media partners putting words into the GOP’s mouth.
          It’s a game they’ve played since the Irish diaspora and Tammany Hall, and the first one or two generations of immigrants always fall for it.

    2. Islamists in India ally with liberals too, in a marriage of necessity, as my right-wing friends keep reminding me. “Enemy of my enemy” and all that….

      1. Ah yes, “Islamists”. What would a BP thread be like without someone bringing up “Islamists”?

        This could almost be a drinking game at this point.

          1. Owaisi argues from the principles of the Indian Constitution. I say this as someone not very fond of religious politics.

            Still, it’s amazing how a post about Indian-Americans inspires comments about “Islamists” in India. You guys and your obsessions….

    3. GOP hates us. Or at the least, it pals around with people who hate us and think we worship demons.

      Increasingly, GOP is being associated with the boondocks too. It’s just not a good look.

  4. Indian Americans by default will be democrats irrespective of their social views. The only section which might swing a bit republican here and there are mostly UCs and N-Indians (Hindu area) . Thats how initially the right wing started in India too.

  5. In 1992 Asian Americans voted Republican by 24 percentage points. In 2014, 50% of Asian Americans voted Republican.

    Asian Americans turned against Trump in 2016.

    If Warren is the Democratic nominee the vast majority of Asian Americans will likely vote Trump. If Biden is the nominee and runs as a moderate (and openly pro Indian, pro Chinese, pro South Korean, pro Japanese, pro Indonesian, pro Israeli, pro Iraqi, pro Turkey etc.) “AND” if Biden has no dementia public breakdown (A VERY BIG IF) most Asian Americans will likely vote Biden.

    A majority of Indian Britons (perhaps a large majority although it is hard to say in absence of detailed polling) and many African Britons appeared to have voted against Labour in the recent UK election. The same could happen in the US.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Saurav, the center of 9 Sanathana Dharma Darshanas is in Tamil Nadu and the South–even the Jains, Ajivikas and Caarvaakas. {The centers of the Buddhist Darshanas are in Sarnath, Bodh Gaya, Dharamshala, Ladhak, Sikhim, Himalayas}

    I have no idea what you are writing about. What Dharmic Sampradayas, Panths, Paramparas do you think are not Tamil Nadu or South India centric?

    1. LOL, I get it man. No one goes away unscathed by calling S-Indians “less hindu” . Especially diaspora S-Indians. 😛

      1. Agree that south indian non-brahmins are less hindu. My rationale is that if you were to strip sanskritic/puranic derived practices from the culture, you still have something, albeit a threadbare something. Its hard to imagine gangetic culture this way. I’d say its akin to germanic peoples and christianity, definitely deeply interwoven, but still imaginable without.

        1. Totally agree. There is no N-Indian culture without Hinduism. It just permeates everything here.

          That way S-Indians, Bengali still have something going for them independent of religion. And again that’s a good thing (even though not sure for how long it will last)

          1. “North Indian culture” comes from the Muslim influence. Shalwar kameez, kathak, Hindustani classical music, Mughlai cuisine.

            What high culture are you left with once you get rid of all of that?

          2. Kabir, the turco-persian influence indeed is woven into the cultural fabric of hindustan, and as much of a folly as it might be to do so, we can imagine untwisting those fibers. Thats essentially what the highly sanskritized register of hindi is, or the arya samaj and other vedic revivalist movements do in some ways, to reimagine a pure heritage.
            The imprint of cultural interaction will always remain in some form or another. Its probably not possible to erase the marks of luso-indic cultural friction, let alone indo-british. But cultural imagination is strong enough to think of an india without either of these. Much more difficult, but still plausible, would be to create a film or work of fiction about the pre-Sangam era Tamils. It wouldn’t be accurate, but we could get a few broad strokes from what we could infer about the folkways, kinship traditions, material culture and linguistic reconstruction.

          3. I don’t think there is anything called “pure heritage”. If North Indian Hindus want to disavow Muslim culture, they pretty much have to stop wearing shalwar-kameez or even churidar pyjamas (like Hindu Hriday Samrat does). “Hindi” is basically Hindustani which is equivalent to Urdu–something else that wouldn’t have existed without the Muslim presence. I don’t think that any high culture can be said to exist that is completely free of Islamicate influence.

            Even the “Emperor of Hindu Hearts” continues the tradition of giving the independence day speech from the Lal Qila–a Muslim palace.

          4. @Saurav,
            Maybe you have some insight about South Indians that I am lacking because I don’t see what South Indians have in terms of culture without Hinduism.
            Kuchipudi is all about devotional dance drama. Carnatic music is full of Thyagaraja asking lord Rama to save him (even Jesudas sings Vatapi Ganapathim without irony). Makara Sankranthi is to decorate your cows and remember your ancestors. Andhra Pradesh is famous among Indians for Tirupathi Balaji (now that we can’t claim charminar or golkonda from telangana)
            Witty poetry of Srinadha is about comparing siva with Krishna.
            Our lepakshi nandi is a part of Siva temple. I don’t know what non-Hindu things south is known for, perhaps someone can educate me. Even the tollywood with Bahubali blockbuster borrows devotional songs freely (siva thadava sthrotram).
            I am seriously at a loss.

          5. “I don’t see what South Indians have in terms of culture without Hinduism.”

            LOL, i am not sure why do people take is an affront. Had i been in there place, I would take is a compliment that i have other stuff which defines my culture more than religion, while what N-Indians have is only religion.

            Anyway i would try to explain, and when i say less Hindu/more Hindu, i am not talking about the personal religiosity of individuals which vary. But how much religiosity plays a part in the public space. Both S-Indians and Bengali have aspects on language,traditions,cultural practices independent of .Hinduism.

            To give u an example, contrast the religious zeal shown during Ram temple vs Sabrimala episodes. Growing up in a religious home, i was still taken aback by religiosity shown not by UCs, but by OBCs and dalits , traditional subaltern groups who had no onus in joining this movement. On one hand the other group (Mandal) was offering them better life and opportunity and only mad men would spurn that and join a religious movement. And still they did. Which showed how deep seated Hinduism really is in the North.
            While Sabrimala remained a very narrow UC movement in Kerala.

            Hinduism is one part of S-Indian homes, in the North that;s the only part (sadly)

          6. “contrast the religious zeal shown during Ram temple vs Sabrimala episodes.”

            Except that a vast number of karsevaks came from, wait for it, AP and Karnataka.

            But let me not get in the way of your overfitting and confirmation bias

      2. @Saurav,

        I get it now. I was genuinely confused what you meant earlier but realize now that you were wondering about what drives the passion of the South.

        I agree that nothing is more passionate to Southies than our movies and their heroes! You can pull down a temple, we don’t care but dare to pull down a movie hero poster and you shall see our wrath!!

        There are a lot of South things that are not messed yet, so it is not quite in public sphere. Try jallikattu instead of sabarimala. Or try banning cousin marriage, you will have secession in your hands 😀. Have you seen how many turned up for Godavari pushkara? Try banning that and see the passion.

        As long as BJP stays sane and not ban any South hero movies, we would all look eminently cultured! 😀

        1. LOL, dont worry , the BJP has the same understanding of S-India , as a mallu would have of Punjabi culture. That’s y u see it foray into S-Indian stuff which it doesn’t understand , and then quickly backtracks (like the language imposition issue)

          1. @Saurav i agree with your observations on South Hinduism. Tbh a lot of Dravidian culture like Jalikettu and cousin marriage is not present among certain South castes like Brahmins.

            I’m a southie with a pro-Sanskrit-Hindi BJP family background which doesn’t seem to be common at all among the South diaspora outside Brahmins. Ive done some genetic sleuthing and it turns out castes like Karnataka Brahmins who would have quite a foreign/distinct culture to a Jalikettu Tamil seems to derive a good dose of Indo-Aryan ancestry likely from the Gangetic middle-Indo-Aryan kingdoms absent in the Jalikettu Tamil

            Kerala Brahmins are ultra orthodox Indo-Aryans minus the Dravidian language they adopted but heavily Sanskritised and generally also have a clear UP Brahmin or Gujarat Brahmin genetic signal.

            So its as simple as the later your ancestors migrated to South India (all Inpe farmer ancestry came South at some point as the peninsula was formerly populated by ashmound Andamanese related hunter gatherers typified by pops like the Paniya) and as Razib has theorised Dravidians were ‘inspired’ or took a lot of core South Asian Indo-Aryan culture such as Agastyas teachings suggesting they were in contact before moving south and also by the fact that R1a Sri Lankan Tamils with 0 steppe adna (diluted away likely) exist. The latest migrants such as Kerala Brahmins who likely came 700ADish by their own records have a very distinct culture to most South Indians simply because of less timepass before cultural memory decay so to speak. Telling a Karnataka Brahmin that hes free to eat beef for breakfast and can practice jalikettu without prosecution isnt going to win any political support

          2. ” i agree with your observations on South Hinduism. ”

            LOL where were u folks when i needed u,like on top of the thread . 😛

  6. North Indian culture” comes from the Muslim influence. Shalwar kameez, kathak, Hindustani classical music, Mughlai cuisine.

    What high culture are you left with once you get rid of all of that?

    – we will still have karnatic music, vedas, sarees, bharata natya, jolada rotti of north karnataka, ragi mudde , curd rice of south karnataka, the entire song and dance of tamils and malyalis, etc etc

  7. North Indian culture” comes from the Muslim influence. Shalwar kameez, kathak, Hindustani classical music, Mughlai cuisine.

    What high culture are you left with once you get rid of all of that?

    – we will still have karnatic music, vedas, sarees, bharata natya, jolada rotti of north karnataka, ragi mudde , curd rice of south karnataka, the entire song and dance of tamils and malyalis, etc etc

  8. ““North Indian culture” comes from the Muslim influence. Shalwar kameez, kathak, Hindustani classical music, Mughlai cuisine.

    What high culture are you left with once you get rid of all of that?”

    Societies change and cultures evolve. It’s very conservative of you to think that the high culture of yesterday shall persist unchanged when the elite that patronised it is gone.

    IMO development of genuine local high culture has been scuttled because of this focus on Urdu and shuddha Hindi.

    “Totally agree. There is no N-Indian culture without Hinduism. It just permeates everything here.”

    IMO this Hinduism influence is mostly reactionary due to centuries of Muslim rule. Maithili literature, Awadhi poetry, Bhojpuri cinema, Haryanvi music etc will in due course of time attain prestige. It’s a matter of economic development and formation of new elite that’s not Delhi or Varanasi centred.

  9. LOL, I dont even know what to say. I think this is where Bollywood is somewhat of a culprit which has for decades shown N-Indian culture as Hindustani music and mughlai cuisine. That’s just the high culture of elites which is celebrated in movies.

    I was talking more in the sense of base culture, the culture of the sub altern, the villages of N-India which has hardly any cultural imprint of this turko-mongol influence. Their cultural idioms etc are totally different from the elites, which you can see recently in many movies, series etc. It s tad difficult to explain it, but one has to experience it to understand it.

    I would wish what Kabir said would have true-er, that this turkic influences wouldn’t have been that skin-deep, but that’s not the case and past the elites there exists a harsh, more baser, more Hindu-ized cultural polity of the N-Indian masses.

  10. I feel like an underachiever. I am simply going to be “another Indian doctor with a big house and luxury car,” unless I do something bigger and bolder with my life moving forward. I graduate from medical school this year, and while I guess that would be a proud achievement for many, for me, it’s underwhelming for me. I can tell myself I am like Razib, and I don’t identify with my subcontinental heritage that much, in some ways the diametric opposite of someone like say HM. But, in reality, I am somewhere in between the two. I apologize in advance for any mischaracterization. The above statement is merely my perception of you guys based on the comments you have made on this blog. I do not profess to be in your brains and know exactly how you feel about your respective subcontinental affinities.

    Moving forward, I cannot help but contextualize my achievements within the paradigm of the ethnic, socioeconomic, and cultural situation I come from. When I do that, to me, I am not someone of accomplishment. I am merely average. I must work harder and smarter this new decade to grow beyond that. On the surface, I understand I am speaking from a position of privilege to decry my incredibly lucky position as average. However, I think the reality is much closer to the antithesis. I understand how lucky I am, which is why I feel guilt for not achieving even more. Only in my mid 20s, I still have time.

    I just don’t want to fall into the trap of conventionalism. Indian American conventionalism is still regarded as American Exceptionalism. But I want to go beyond that, for only then will I even think of the idea of true satisfaction with the effort I put in to become the strongest version of myself.

    Jai Shree Ameen

    1. “another Indian doctor with a big house and luxury car,”

      I would trade anything to have that life TBH.

    2. “I do not profess to be in your brains and know exactly how you feel about your respective subcontinental affinities.”

      It’s not that I have a great love for India, it’s that I have a generalized antipathy and disdain towards America. Once you have that view, India is all that’s left.

  11. The other observation was how submissive Bali Hinduism really is. Its been encroached by Indonesian Muslims and the locals really resent it, but somehow resigned to their fate.

    indonesia is 90%+ muslim. ~1% hindu. the analogy to n indian muslims is ridiculous.

  12. Perhaps i wasnt clear. Within Bali Hindus are majority, but they seem to have this feeling that Muslims from other islands are coming into their island. They seem resigned to their fate. Only that part was similar to my experience.

    Pre Hindutva, religious Hindus were resigned to the fate that Muslims and other caste groups form blocks and muslims necessarily have a veto over who rules the country. Whether real or imagined, this anxiety lead to the rise of Hindutva.

    1. I think the causality is reversed. Hindutva only became possible once caste became less salient. It’s part of the globe-spanning process of traditional ties breaking down and humans aligning themselves around national and civilizational identities.

  13. The Indians that live on the coasts are clueless, whether they are uncles or kids that grew up here. They think the whole middle part of the country is filled with redneck cowboys that make a living off chasing and beating minorities. One girl went on a car ride with her family between Southern California and somewhere in Texas on I-10 and told me she was deathly afraid the whole time, thinking that they would be the only brown people to have ever crossed this expanse of Jesus-Land territory before. Which is hilarious if you happen to know how overwhelmingly Mexican that whole corridor is. Minorities in California (including East Asians, Hispanics, etc.) ask me very strange questions about the Midwest. In Arizona (which is crawling with illegals) the state makes some attempt to cooperate with the federal government on immigration enforcement, which outrages California’s elites who believe anyone who rushes past the border should stay here indefinitely. In the media this is portrayed in a very distorted way. As such, the minorities here in California are all scared shitless if they ever have to through or to Arizona, even if it’s a layover at the Phoenix airport. They think some racist policeman is standing every 10 feet asking any non-white person they see to produce immigration papers or passport.

    I’m not saying the Republican party is perfect or anything. There’s some good and some bad in both of the major parties. But what I’m surprised by is the extent to which coastal minorities (and Indians in particular) have accepted the Democratic party as their white knights, the only ones who can protect them from the masses of KKK out there in the vast flyover lands out to lynch them.

    The Indians that you see in or associated with the Trump administration mostly grew up in the red states.

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