One designer’s brave decision to feature darker skinned modelst

Indian Designer Challenges Fair Skin Obsession

This fashion designer is challenging India's obsession with fair skin by featuring these stunning, darker-skinned models.

Posted by AJ+ on Thursday, September 28, 2017

Representation is so important and Mr Kejirwal should be applauded for his bold & unorthodox decision.

South Asia is probably the most diverse society when it comes to skin tones since every range is pretty much featured. However the systematic colour bias will only come undone when we reflect the society at large.

I’m reminded of my cousin who wanted to buy some cream in South East Asia. Every cream there had skin lightening formulas so it proved impossible in the end.

Clear and tanned complexion is the optimal type for any race; that look emerges in LA a fair bit since there is so much sun and it’s a prosperous society with lots of focus on aesthetics.

Of course Miss India this year is noticeably dustier than the previous ones so the aesthetic is definitely changing.



Is Erdogan the Turkish Modi?

Erdogan has consolidated his power in yesterday’s election. This post was sparked by a Facebook friend’s (Indian Muslim) comment “why do Muslims in India hate Modi but love Erdogan.” Shashi provides some context here:

Comparisons are generally invidious, especially when they involve political leaders from different countries. But, while Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan rose to power 11 years before Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, there is much about their personal and professional trajectories that makes comparison irresistible.

Both Erdogan and Modi come from humble, small-town backgrounds: Erdogan sold lemonade and pastries in the streets of Rize; Modi helped his father and brother run a tea stall on a railway platform in Vadnagar. They are self-made men, energetic and physically fit – Erdogan was a professional soccer player before becoming a politician; Modi has bragged about his 56-inch (142-centimeter) chest – not to mention effective orators.

Both Erdogan and Modi were raised with religious convictions that ultimately shaped their political careers. Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) and Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have both promoted a religiously infused, nationalist creed that they argue is more authentic than the Western-inspired secular ideologies that previously guided their countries’ development.

History has definitely not come to an end; Turkey and India (Israel/Hungary) seem to be on the vanguage of nationalistic revivals. Thankfully none of these countries border each other.

Related: Modi believed Vajpayee’s wooing of Muslims in 2004 was a fruitless exercise

Ps: All comments welcome except abusive or overwrought ones. Tone and tenor of any conversation (on my posts at least) must be calm and measured.


Africa’s only Hindu island

Who are the MAURITIANS?

Did you know that Mauritius is the only country in Africa with Hindiusm as the main religion (52%)? Moreover, did you know that nearly everyone here can speak a minumim of 3 languages FLUENTLY?The humble people of Mauritius, all 1.2 million of them, are as diverse as I've seen in any single country. And that's because there is no indigenous population here — every Mauritian today is a descendant from immigrants who came here centuries ago, mostly from India, France, Great Britain, East Africa (Madagascar) and China. As a result, Mauritius is a melting pot of cultures, foods, religions, languages and ideas — which is extra special for me because I love to dig deep into the local life! In today's video, see what I have discovered about the beautiful people of Mauritius.I can't wait to explore more about this island!Follow Drew Binsky for daily travel videos, and come say hi on Insta @drewbinsky 🙂 Special Thanks to Mauritius Tourism for inviting us, and to Solana Beach Mauritius for hosting us.Music: Epidemic Sound

Posted by Drew Binsky on Monday, June 25, 2018

I’m pretty sure that Mauritius is a secular democracy but it is 52% Hindu.

As an aside it would be interesting to study the evolution of Hindu island diaspora culture around the world (Suriname, Guiana, Fiji, Mauritius etc).

There doesn’t seem to have been much Brahmin migration and it was mainly done by farmers/labourers. The early 20th century into East Africa seems to have had much Gujarati merchant castes but if memory serves me right they also served as labourers for the railways so it’s all a bit complicated and understudied.

Disregarding the Out of India migration theory (but there must have been a pulse with the Mitanni in the Levant); India has periodically pushed out waves of migrants to spread its culture, script and religion. To my mind though the only Hindu society, outside of core South Asia, to have a strong Brahmin presence is Bali.

It’s brings a further observation is that can Vedic and Hindu be separated. The reason I suggest this is that the Hinduicisation of South India seems to have primarily mediated by Brahmin migrants from the north. They seem to have found local hierarchies and adapted it to the caste system (the Reddys seem to be indigenous Dravidians).

I’m still unclear what the original nucleus of Hindu society would have been. After the collapse of the IVC culture it seems that Indian/Hindu civilisation (I’m treating them as equivalent since we are talking about BC) was continually shifting towards Haryana than Western UP and then Bihar. It’s only the Islamic incursions in first millennia AD that shifted it back towards Delhi and plugged India back into the Turkic network.

Of course the Buddhist interruption can’t be ignored but the role of Brahmins in the coherence of Hindu civilisation simply can’t be ignored. What is interest is that all the Hindu islands sans Brahmins seem to become very relaxed creole island cultures that resemble Sri Lanka. All of sudden the pulsating sensuality and tropical sexuality that is so repressed in North India/Pakistan emerges and the hidden matriarchy also peaks through.

Much as the Muslim invaders were very obviously symbols of patriarchy and a stern nomadic culture; its not unreasonable to supposed that the Aryans represented much of the same stream and applied that to a relatively relaxed pagan Dravidian/AASI South Asia. It would make sense that Indra, a masculine thunder god, is Aryan but Lingala worship is an indigenous feature.

The model we would be looking at is Mother Goddess worshipping AASI with naturistic pagan beliefs being coopted by Dravidian farmers. It would be a classic case of farmers and hunter gatherers coexisting in the same spaces; most of the farmer culture and genes winning out over the generations. Then come the Aryans with their migration/invasion but progressively Sanskritise the rest of South Asia with a much more masculine pantheon.

A question comes to mind that if Malaysia/Indonesia had a strong and resilient Brahmin network, would they have become Muslim? Had the spread of Buddhism undermined Brahminism as it seems to have done in the northern Punjab/Bengal peripheries of the Subcontinent.

Ps: Smart comments welcome (as in the Climate Change thread) – I’m simply speculating. I’ll delete anything overwrought; everyone featured in this post (except the Mauritians) are long gone.


Why Climate Change is a cult-

I really enjoy the tweets from the Aerogram since they provide well-curated content. However this third-party article on Monsoon dispersion of pollution is simply rife with generalities and polemicism, high by even BP’s well-worn standards.

The article starts off on a fascinating note:

As South Asia burns fossil fuels, researchers from Germany say the clockwise-spinning storm pulls the emissions high into the troposphere. There, lightning-fueled chemical reactions transform the pollutants into more stable forms, which fall to earth as harmless rain.

A paen to Mother India cleaning up after her messy spawn. However before we could take any consolation in the good news:

By combining these measurements with computer models of air circulation, the researchers tracked the path of the contaminants and how they changed as they reached higher altitudes.

As expected, at lower altitudes, the South Asian monsoon did disperse pollutants over a wide region, including distant areas like Tibet. However, the scientists also found that the monsoon pulled the polluted air from the atmosphere into the much higher troposphere, where with the assistance of the storm’s lightning, it reacted with other gases, and could be washed out by the rain.

Note they use simulated models to track the pollutants so in a way this isn’t verified or empirical based science. It would have been good to actually validate pollution levels in places like Tibet etc. And then for the final piece de resistance:

Unfortunately, Lelieveld told VOA, “the monsoon is weakening, which can reduce the cleaning mechanism. We also believe that the air pollution contributes to a weakening of the monsoon.” He added, “Intuitively, if the monsoon weakens, the pollution will stay more near the ground rather than being transported upward.”

This is a comment that wouldn’t have even passed muster in our own threads. How do we know the Monsoon is weakening and how do know that air pollution is weakening the Monsoon.

I do think it’s fairly straightforward and uncontroversial to state that we should pollute less but it’s increasingly evident that anthropogenic pollution isn’t as clear-cut a topic as we think it is. The Earth does seem to have some feedback mechanisms and it’s also worth reflect if the human scale of pollution can match natural events (like a volcano eruption etc).

We live in a liberal-defined shibboleth and these new orthodoxies are sometimes even more pernicious than the ones of yore since these are draped in the values and ideals of the enlightenment. Please note I’m not necessarily espousing one view over the other but we as learnt in BP; argument from authority (experts) is a logical fallacy and the article above reeks of it.


Why I don’t eat Pork


It's the age old question….Why don't people eat pork even when they are not religious?!!!!I never quite understood why, but here is my best attempt at a guess. Many will disagree on the basis of religion and animal cruelty. I welcome these comments too. But it does fall out of scope for this video 🙂 My best guess is that ever since I was 5 years old, I kept hearing: no pork, no pork, no pork. And now, even when I'm not religious, I still don't touch pork.Join me on Nas Daily Global – a new group I'm starting where people discuss these topics and it's awesome. I'm also on Instagram @nasdaily!

Posted by Nas Daily on Thursday, June 21, 2018

This is a really interesting video because Nas asks the question that why don’t secular Muslims eat pork.

It taps into the old Jesuit saying “give me a child till 7 and I will show you the man.” In fact it’s supposedly Aristotle who said it but the idea that initial childhood impressions form our adult views.

Back to the questions of Muslims & pork; it’s the ultimate shibboleth. Allegedly Quaid-e-Azam ate pork; I don’t really know if there is a good quality pork in the Subcontinent but perhaps it was different in the Raj.

In all religions there is that red line of apostasy. In Islam it is pork, in the Baha’i Faith it’s alcohol, for Hindus it’s beef and for Sikhs I guess it would be not wearing the turban?

To requote the late & great Anthony Bourdain in his first seminal article all the way back in 1999:

Like most other chefs I know, I’m amused when I hear people object to pork on nonreligious grounds. “Swine are filthy animals,” they say. These people have obviously never visited a poultry farm. Chicken—America’s favorite food—goes bad quickly; handled carelessly, it infects other foods with salmonella; and it bores the hell out of chefs. It occupies its ubiquitous place on menus as an option for customers who can’t decide what they want to eat. Most chefs believe that supermarket chickens in this country are slimy and tasteless compared with European varieties. Pork, on the other hand, is cool. Farmers stopped feeding garbage to pigs decades ago, and even if you eat pork rare you’re more likely to win the Lotto than to contract trichinosis. Pork tastes different, depending on what you do with it, but chicken always tastes like chicken.

Continue reading “Why I don’t eat Pork”


Sheryl Sandberg desi lookalike speaks out against Trump

I was stirred by Rep. Jayapal’s evocative speech on the ongoing child separation crisis on the US border:

However what struck me as well is that her unique facial structure essentially makes her the coloured doppelgänger of a rather well-known liberal billionairess and advocate.

Image result for sheryl sandberg



The government in Kashmir has fallen. What’s next for this troubled province?

As an aside my own preference is the LOC is a soft border between India and Pakistan. I don’t want any redrawing of the map whatsoever. I would rather Fawad Khan and Mahira Khan be able to act in Bollywood and Pakistani players play in the IPL. I can understand that for some Kashmir is a hot topic but I’m far too invested in Rising India as it is.

However if I see this post degenerate into low quality jingoism on either side; I’ll arbitrarily delete comments.

Comments are free but facts are sacred. If I see unnecessary emotionalism I’ll just remove it- the BP threads have turned into an Indo-PAK flame war and I have stayed my hand but in my own threads I’m going to be much more pro-active.


Wild natives and the white Man’s burden

I was hearing a few stories about the ivory towers of academia and some of the micro-aggressions on display was just shocking. Two that immediately come to mind are:

(1.) there was a particularly famous Desi academic who was holding court in one of the colleges. Many desis came to pay homage to him prompting one (white) academic to sniff to another, “it feels like a Delhi saloon bar here.” This was in full hearing of the coloured academics.

(2.) a particularly (in)famous colonial administrator had visited a college in the 50’s and noting the wild behaviour of the undergraduates, joked “I thought the natives came only in shades of brown.” The implication being that the undergraduates were acting like careless natives in the sun. This is an oft-repeated and humorous joke in certain rarefied circles.

I was livid when I heard this but it prompts me to reflect that regardless of the stress on equality and fairness; the elite churn only enough to preserve their power structure.

What makes micro-aggression so powerful of course is that it is the aggressed who feels trapped. How does one respond since the Model Minority Asian is far too busy assimilation/integrating/succeeding and doesn’t want to cause a fuss. It’s all well and good having a rant on Twitter or a blog but it’s not very likely that a #metoo movement is going to emerge vis a vis micro aggression.

Another interesting observation is that Asians are particularly vulnerable to micro-aggressions because we are a longer-term delayed gratification sort of population; we are looking at that promotion, salary raise to ever truly want to make a commotion.

The art of pushing back banterously without escalating the matter too much should be taught in all citizenship classes..

After the jump my own short thoughts on the staying power of elites.

Continue reading “Wild natives and the white Man’s burden”


The Grand Punditess of Them All

Sharing LV’s recent talk at CogX. Of the 300-400 speakers she was, I believe, the only women (correction – handful of women) speaking on a technical subject so a huge stride forward for #WomenInStem and #IndiansInAcademia (academia in Britain especially in the higher and more complex echelons is astonishingly white). It might be shirk to say so but I suspect Vidhi might be Lakshmi in human form..

Judging from what our beloved commentariat constantly snark about me in the threads it’s astonishing she married a lightweight like me 😉


Caste in Pakistan

I disagree with this notion completely. Caste matters a lot in Pakistan, especially when you need to get something done at a government office. A lot of ‘untouchables’ who converted to Islam still are known as ‘chuhras’ which literally means untouchable. For more information, you can read ‘The Unconquered People: The Liberation of an Oppressed Caste’ by John O Brien. If you go beyond the PakNationalist view of history, Sir Syed was a caste chauvinist, Ali Garh School and later college were reserved for Higher caste Muslims. Religious leaders like Ahmad Raza Khan Barelvi, Qasim Nonotwi (founder of Deoband), Mufti Shafi Osmani, Hussain Ahmad Madni were also against teaching ‘lower-caste’ muslims.

Yes, caste seems invisible in Pakistan’s bigger cities (Lahore and Karachi) and one can say that caste doesn’t play a role in daily life BUT it matters during elections, during matrimonial activities and during dealings with the state bureaucracy. If you ever go to a government office (Police, Judiciary, Income Tax), try looking at the leaderboard of that office’s previous incumbents there and notice how most people on that list have their caste listed after their name. Also, go to the district courts in Lahore or any city and see how many lawyers have mentioned their caste after their names.

Abdul Majeed

As an aside I was googling John O’Brien and came up with a few interesting snippets about the Pak Christian community:

c) Great honour is given to the Bible and compared with many older and more developed Churches in other countries, there is real familiarity with its text and message. There is a richness here which cannot be overlooked. In fact it cries out to be contextualised and deepened. The singing of the Psalms in Punjabi is a very distinctive and enriching feature of church life here. Yet this esteem for Sacred Scripture could be undermining of a real sense of Church inasmuch as it is conceived in rather Islamic terms: there is an unspoken assumption (a false one) that the Bible functions in Church life and theology as the Quran sherif does in Islam. This leads to and is further exacerbated by the prevalence of a literalist and fundamentalist reading and preaching of the text. As a result, all sorts of self-appointed preachers abound, each offering a more exotic explanation and application of the text. Rivalries increase and with them, factionalism. There seems little sustained effort to promote a communitarian reading of Scripture, contextualised on the one hand, by the living tradition of the People of God and on the other, by the concrete struggle for justice and dignity which is the daily bread of our people.

A) Strengths:

The Church which under God’s grace, has come into being here in Pakistan has many fine qualities and strengths:

i. It continues to exist and grow in a non-Christian and non-supportive environment:

ii. It is very much a Church of the poor, God’s chosen ones:

iii. It is engaged in an on-going and far-reaching practical ecumenism:

iv. It is a Church with a profound religious sensibility:

v. There is a growth in local vocations to ministry:

vi. At all levels it is socially involved; both “religiously” and “developmentally”:

vii. It has a highly developed organisational infrastructure:

viii. Among the People of God there is a tangible love for “The Word”:

xi. The Church membership has retained a strong cultural identity: the Church in Pakistan is very much a Pakistani Church.

x. The communities have a very strong identity as “Christians”

xi. Among Pakistani Christians there is a very solid sense of family and kinship.

xii. There is a strong devotional life with many indigenous resources; songs, pilgrimages, Marian meals etc.

This is the light; if there is light there is also shadow!

B) Shortcomings:

i. At nearly all levels, the Christian community can be easily divided by the factionalism (partibazi) which characterises social relations and by the consequences of other internalised oppression:

ii. It is a Church massively reliant on foreign money:

iii. It is constantly under threat externally and internally from fundamentalism and sectarianism:

iv. The Liturgy has been translated but not inculturated:

v. There is an impoverished Eucharistic sense:

vi. A dependency mentality is still very stong:

vii. Politically, psychologically and even physically it tends to be ghettoised:

viii. The culture is consolidated but seldom critiqued by ecclesial praxis and therefore not sufficiently enriched by faith:

ix. In general terms, the leadership remains authoritarian or patenalistic, reinforcing the dominant socio-political pattern rather than offering an evangelical alternative to it:

x. The dignity and role of women are scarcely recognised:

xi. There is little or no missionary outreach:

xii. It mirrors the society in that personal freedom and responsibility are not really valued above conformity.