The officials maintained that he had violated protocol and should have returned the remaining doses to the office or thrown them away, the doctor recalled. He also said that one of the officials startled him by questioning the lack of “equity” among those he had vaccinated.
“Are you suggesting that there were too many Indian names in that group?” Dr. Gokal said he asked.
Exactly, he said he was told.
On Jan. 21, about two weeks after the doctor’s termination, a friend called to say that a local reporter had just tweeted about him. At that very moment, one of his three children answered the door to bright lights and a thrust microphone. Shaken, the 16-year-old boy closed the door and said, “Dad, there are people out there with cameras.”
This was how Dr. Gokal learned that he had been charged with stealing vaccine doses.
Harris County’s district attorney, Kim Ogg, had just issued a news release that afternoon with the headline: “Fired Harris County Health Doctor Charged With Stealing Vial Of Covid-19 Vaccine.”
There is a lot of debate and argument on this weblog about Pakistan and India and the like. That’s because more than half the traffic on this site now comes from India. But this began as a Diasporic weblog, and in the Diaspora, especially in the USA, the gap between Pakistanis and Indians is much smaller. Dr. Gokal is viewed as “Indian.”
The second issue I think one might note is that these lawyers, with a passion for racial justice, ended up pinning something that was pretty invidious on this doctor driven by the moral panics of the era. As a conservative brown-skinned person I am on the receiving end of a lot of insults from woke white people. Many of my white friends, who observe the nature and the persistence of the insults, suspect that some of the attacks are probably driven by sublimated racial animus.
Where are we as “Asian Americans” in this country? The ruling elite of this country thinks we have “bad personalities“, all the better to exclude us from their institutions of power. There has long been a pattern of what are obviously “hate” crimes (mostly for fun and kicks, to be frank) against Asian Americans, in particular older ones, in urban areas. The perpetrators of these crimes are usually not white, and so the media and the cultural elite have not focused much energy on them. And now they are trying to blame COVID-19 and the Trump administration.
To brown Americans: we are not victims. Never forget. But, we are also outsiders. Never forget.
Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to e-attend (over Zoom) a lecture organised by London’s Royal School of Drawing on Indian artists during the Raj. Titled Reflections on Forgotten Masters, the talk by William Dalrymple (the famous Scottish historian) and Xavier Bray (the director of the Wallace Collection) followed the eponymous exhibition organised by the Wallace Collection and co-curated by William Dalrymple last year.
The Wallace Collection is not as well known as other London museums such as the British Museum or the Victoria & Albert Museum. Originally built around the private collections of the nineteenth century British aristocrat Sir Richard Wallace, they have a wide repertoire and organise a number of interesting exhibitions, including on themes related to the subcontinent. I had previously attended their exhibition on Indian medicine titled Ayurvedic Man, which was excellent. Unfortunately the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing lockdown last year meant that I couldn’t physically visit the Reflection on Forgotten Masters exhibition, and had to view it online.
Every few weeks or so I “get into it” with parts of Hindutva Twitter. Some parts of Hindutva Twitter I’m quite friendly with. Other parts, not so much. There is the weird incel-like “Trad Twitter” faction…that always ends up to be strange perverts. But I don’t want to focus on them.
Rather, I want to highlight what I feel is descriptively a fact that though Hindutva and “Woke” factions are opposed in a theoretical sense, the former draws on the style of “thinking” of the latter quite a bit. E.g., the emphasis on many Hindutva sectors on feeling, the lack of humor, and, identitarianism.
The identitarianism is straightforward. Despite the fact that I’m an atheist they regularly accuse me of being a Muslim. In some cases, this is an honest false positive. Look at my name! In other cases, they assume since I’m making fun of them, I must be a secret sulla with Muhammad or whoever. I’m against them, so I’m for their enemies, or with their enemies. Sometimes they revert to forms of racism (e.g., they are upper-caste Punjabis, so genetically superior, despite being J1 Dasyus!). The ultimate takeaway is the fixation on the group and historical identity, rather than updating to individual identity.
Remember when Ayanna Pressley said someone had to be “politically black” to be black? A sort of primitive identitarianism has taken root amongst Woke people where individual views are derived from group identity, and individual views can negate one’s group identity because the two are so closely tied.
Second, the lack of humor. On my Twitter posts, I engage in a lot of prodding and poking at Hindu shibboleths as well as synthesizing it with absurd genetic points. The whole performance is ludicrous…but some portions of Hindutva Twitter find it problematic. OK, they wouldn’t say “problematic,” but it’s the same reaction. Woke ideology is a form of secular sacredness. Similarly, Hindutva Twitter has sacred cows which I gore now and then. Sometimes people react back playfully…but other times, they don’t get the joke, and when others point out that it’s a joke, they refuse to believe it’s a joke and move to identitarianism. That is, the joke is fake, and I’m actually a Muslim.
A truncated and shriveled sense of humor is common on the modern Woke Left (google Social Justice Comedy; it’s like Communist opera). It is also a feature of very religious Muslims and Christians. A portion of Hindutva Twitter suffers from this.
The last to me is the most important, the emphasis on feeling. This is a personal bias, as I’m a bit “dead on the inside,” so have always been weak on the feels. I hurt the feelings of these people, making fun of them, mocking them, and making light of their culture. I’m a bit of an online barbarian, like the scorpion, I’m going to sting. A portion of Hindutva Twitter can’t understand that my behavior isn’t due to the fact that I hate Hindus, but because I’m an unfeeling asshole. I’m R1a1a-Z93 and U2b. Those who know what this means know that I was born to be a lord over you Dasyus!
There are more than 1 billion Hindus in the world. India is 80% Hindu. This emphasis on feeling, on hurt pride, is classic “wounded civilization” stuff. Hindutva cannot realize whatever its ambitions are until it looks forward, positively, and without concern for feeling, into the future. Woke ideology is deeply regressive, despite its adherence to the label of progressive. Its fixation on “white supremacy” and “colonialism” looks backward, not forward.
All this goes back to Audrey Truschke. My point is that Truschke point in the generality is correct. Indians should object to her scholarship, not to her person. Truschke herself is a hypocrite about this, getting into ideological food fights, and bringing her gender into the discussion. But Hindu nationalists who engage in “Woke Olympics” can only win by hamstringing their own attempts to fashion a positive identity. Woke Olympics is the to maximal oppression and lack of self-respect and dignity.
To end the Kali Yuga you can’t use the tools of the Kali Yuga.
One of my earliest memories of my childhood is watching the Mahābhārat with my dad. After we dropped my mom off for her night shift at the factory, we would return home, and a black rectangle filled with film would catapult me into a confusingly wondrous world. From the magical arrows whizzing through battlefields to the terrifying image of Time, the narrator of the epic, transposed across a cosmic abyss, I was glued to a story I couldn’t truly grasp but loved at the same time. I could barely understand what the characters were saying (I spoke Gujarati at home, not the hyper Sanskritized Hindi in the serial) and was too young to read the English subtitles fast enough. I would constantly interrupt my dad, many times to his annoyance, but he would still lovingly explain these stories that would make an imprint on me for the rest of my life.
As my life passed, I would see so many of the stories from the Mahābhārat play out in my life and in the world around me. The blind love of a long-gone Dhritarāshtra came alive with my parents, who showed me love, despite my bad behavior, my failures, and my unending ingratitude, one of my greatest flaws. Their love was uncompromisingly unequivocal, and I was an unworthy Duryodhan. I saw the struggles and rise of “low-born” Karna with my own family, as we grew from a family who couldn’t even afford to spare money to buy a popsicle from the ice cream truck that taunted me every day as it passed by my house to slavishly building a motel business in the middle of nowhere to selling it and owning a nice single-family “American Dream” home with many fewer worries than we grew up with. And perhaps most importantly, I saw the devotion or bhakti of Rādhā through my family’s Hindu faith and regular attendance to our local temple – a tradition that grounded us through tough times and brought a sense of community, fellow “gopis” perhaps to share our lives and love with.
Those evenings watching the words of Vyāsa transform into images will forever be special to me. For those nights would fuel the dreams of my days as I grew up connected to a timeless culture and values. And they would doubly serve me when I learned of the nightmarish state of my fellow Hindu diaspora with regards to their views on Hinduism and Hindus.
In The Battlefield
To find the answer to the titular question, I did a bit of “field reporting” one weekend with my fellow Hindu-American friends starting off with a simple question:
The most common responses were along the lines of:
“What injustices faced by Hindus are you talking about?”
“I honestly don’t know what type of issues we face, besides normal ‘brown’ discrimination here.”
“I’ve never seen any from the media I consume” A general theme of genuine innocent unawareness was what I saw.
So I prodded further and mentioned the atrocities Hindus face in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and even parts of India. Yet Still, the answer was “I literally never heard this before.”
Then came a visible sense of discomfort, and I know why. My question then silently morphed to “Why don’t you stand up for your own people” in their minds. I didn’t need to spell it out, but it turned into those very cutting words – why don’t you stand up for your own…
The rapes, the forcible conversions, the killings, the discrimination, the demographic collapse all signaling horrors that didn’t have any similar magnitude of rivals in India. The initial response was denial or wishing away the numbers I gave them: “Oh how do you know all that happened to them?!” “Maybe they converted willingly!”
I kept unpacking this. I ask them, “why do you think this way?” Note – I tried to avoid a confrontational tone as much as possible, just neutral questioning so as to not pry open any vitriolic reaction. They talked about their parents’ hysteria over Pakistan, their WhatsApp forward fueled hatred, etc… I tried to explain to them that the equivalence wasn’t there. That the magnitude of what happens to Hindu minorities in Pakistan and Bangladesh is much worse presently and historically than what happens to non-Hindu minorities in India.
But they just weren’t having it.
“I don’t believe you. India is just as bad”
Now, India is of course not perfect, now or historically. But it is a work in progress. It is diversity in action in a way very few countries (The United States and Brazil are the only ones that come to mind) can compete with. India is pluralism, both its virtues and flaws.
By this point, we linked up with a few other friends and the conversation dropped. But let’s continue this theme with a few other independent observations and anecdotes.
Modi equals Trump – this fantastically false idea is an atomic bomb on one’s perception of India. A very simple notion that has a number of externalities. Hindu-Americans are fairly “woke” from my personal experience, and Indian-Americans heavily lean Democrat. Standard diatribes against “45” are common when talking politics with my Hindu-American friends. I don’t really care as I don’t support him, but the Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS) gets tiring after a while.
Policy-wise (you know, the actual actionable impact that changes people’s lives and futures), Modi has done more socialism in one term than Bernie Sanders will ever do in his lifetime. The comparison fails at almost every metric:
Modi has enacted a litany of “socialist” measures and welfare schemes including:
Swacch Bharat – an initiative to rid India of open defecation by building toilets as well as raising menstrual health awareness for women.
Ayushman Bharat – Extending healthcare to India’s poorest 500 million people and continuously expanding.
Ujjwala Yojana – Providing 60+ million poor households with free liquid petroleum gas connections that are safer and more healthy than traditional wood-fired methods.
Jal Jeevan Mission – Along with a frenetic infrastructure push to integrate India’s rural and poor, an integral piece has been Jal Jeevan, where households are connected to give every Indian rural household a tap water connection by 2024; luckily something that is well on its way to being achieved.
A massive push for renewable energy as India integrates solar energy at an unseen scale amongst the world in order to meet international climate goals and combat local pollution.
Right Wing, Left Wing, “nationalism”, “conservative” and other meaningless labels are even more irrelevant when thrown into the ocean of Indian politics. They sink into nothingness. They’re pointless.
But to many Hindu-Americans, “Right-Wing”, “Nationalist”, “conservative” are terms that immediately make them see red, and “RACIST” pops into their mind in big white letters. I don’t care about your 14 syllable ideology. People see things through simple lenses. It doesn’t matter what Modi and Trump actually do to a lot of people; it matters how they are characterized.
I can’t judge others’ religiosity, but from what I’ve anecdotally seen. Hinduism is many times a more aesthetic/background thing than practice for Hindu-Americans. Sometimes it seems samosa and chicken tikka masala have more weight in their culture than pujas and scripture. Now token ritual involvement happens every time Diwali rolls around, but to me, Hindu-Americans really just aren’t “self-aware.” Funny as Hinduism places so much emphasis on self-discovery and reflection.
Another thing – explicit politics is pretty far removed at American Hindu temples versus other diaspora places of worship. Political rhetoric that’s common at other religious places isn’t a mainstay in mandirs; and honestly, I am glad this is the case. Religion to me is more about immediate community and individual practice rather than political machinations across the Atlantic. I’ve seen firsthand how the ugliness of politics warps American religious communities where identity realpolitik replaces spirituality for many of these “religious adherents.” Where insulting the “Other” is more important than praising the Omniscient.
Ideally, religion would be separate from politics. But we can’t deny a battlefield once we’re on it. Hopefully, temples stay out of the fray of such rhetoric, but Hindu-Americans outside of it strengthen.
So in conclusion, the answer to the question:
1. Genuine unawareness of Hindu injustices driven by media, community, and political organizational blackout. 2. Right-wing and left-wing notions don’t translate well across Indian and American politics. Many Hindu-Americans see red once “right-wing” is mentioned. 3. Religion and politics don’t mix at Hindu temples unlike other religions.
Now while we’ve answered our query, I want to add an addendum to a vile specimen I’ve seen recently amongst the diaspora. Aping their equally contemptible cousins back in the subcontinent, this emergence of Indian-Americans who speak in the poisonous tongues of India’s elites is now slowly seeping into mainstream American culture.
They seek to transplant American history and dynamics onto India just as blindly as India’s elites have over the decades. Equating Hinduism itself to white supremacy and fascism and defining it solely by casteism are standard affairs for this type. They have no ingenuity in their discourse. The blueprint of their commentary is amateur oppression Olympics. Their foundations are self-loathing. Their walls are an echo-chamber blocked off by the soulless skyscrapers of coastal elites on one side and the great blue filter of social media on the other. Their roofs are paid for by verbal prostitution. Their material is so common, yet they have a profound disdain for commoners. They are copy + paste. Many are essentially white progressives with a sprinkling of turmeric and cumin for empty color and scant flavor.
They are from South Asia, not the Indian Subcontinent. Their culture can be summed up into samosas, chicken tikka masala, a few “South Asian” outfits, and henna. Depth is an allergy to them so their roots are forever undiscovered but much-maligned. They will go out of their way to pin every misfortune and misery inflicted upon other minorities as purely due to economics or European imperialism, but will not hesitate to blame the downfalls of India solely on Hinduism and its indigenous culture. On the off chance that they navigate blame to the British, they will remain mum on the equally or even worse atrocities of the Mughals and their hate-filled predecessors. Their silence screams at the scars and ruins of their ancestors’ temples, all to preserve this mythic “solidarity” amongst fellow “South Asians.”
Essentially, they care about what India looks like, not what it is. They seek approval at any cost. But either way and in the end, why should they expose their necks in courage when they can swallow their pride, forever remaining craven?
The author is “Senior reporter with WNYC’s Race & Justice Unit,” which suggests to me they aren’t very smart because obsessive fixation with “social justice” indicates you are stupid. Also, they state that “I don’t recall hearing the name Dalip Singh Saund until I was in my 30s.” If you don’t know that name, and you are Indian American, you are probably not very smart or intellectually curious. I knew Singh’s name when I was sixteen as I was interested in political history.
What is the difference between introspection and self-hatred? Introspection brings reflection, intention, and evolution. Self-hatred brings rumination, doubt, and rot. One is essential, the other is extinction.
Engagement of either shift one’s fate. From the roots of mentality grow branches of thought, blooming into flowers of action and eventually the fruits of result. Nowhere is this more clear than the night and day of the Indian elite.
The ancient elites of India wrote eternal tomes of meditation that built the bedrock of a civilization that has seen the best and worst of humanity, outlasting every peer and power. Their art and literature emanated confidence, beauty, and advancement. While sure of themselves, they had no qualms integrating new ideas from abroad or from home. Diversity was strength, and challenge was opportunity.
Their descendants today are devolution incarnate – Kali Yuga realized. An unending anguish for the approval of outsiders, self-flagellating of even the most innocent of traditions, and an obsessive compulsion for mediocrity are the trickle-down that these elites have given Indians since independence.
While trivial bashing of them is enjoyable, I want to get to the meat of their minds as well as what these minds have yielded.
What causes the exceptional self-loathing of these elites? The mania of knee-bending and the need to constantly look outwards for validation? The ability to be stupendously arrogant towards their birthright to rule yet despise their roots? Continue reading “The Self-Hating Prophecy of Indian Elites”
The Bell Beakers are an interesting “culture.” A Bronze Age European people defined by their beakers, their origins seem to be amongst non-Indo-Europeans in Southwest Europe. But, at some point, the motifs spread to Indo-Europeans in Central Europe, an offshoot of the Corded Ware people who had admixed further with Neolithic farmers. These Indo-Europeans are the ones who brought the Bell Beaker Culture to the British Isles. We know this because of ancient DNA.
But what was the Beaker Culture right beside their material culture? Again, ancient DNA tells us, and Indians, in particular, may find the results interesting.
We present a high-resolution cross-disciplinary analysis of kinship structure and social institutions in two Late Copper Age Bell Beaker culture cemeteries of South Germany containing 24 and 18 burials, of which 34 provided genetic information. By combining archaeological, anthropological, genetic and isotopic evidence we are able to document the internal kinship and residency structure of the cemeteries and the socially organizing principles of these local communities. The buried individuals represent four to six generations of two family groups, one nuclear family at the Alburg cemetery, and one seemingly more extended at Irlbach. While likely monogamous, they practiced exogamy, as six out of eight non-locals are women. Maternal genetic diversity is high with 23 different mitochondrial haplotypes from 34 individuals, whereas all males belong to one single Y-chromosome haplogroup without any detectable contribution from Y-chromosomes typical of the farmers who had been the sole inhabitants of the region hundreds of years before. This provides evidence for the society being patrilocal, perhaps as a way of protecting property among the male line, while in-marriage from many different places secured social and political networks and prevented inbreeding. We also find evidence that the communities practiced selection for which of their children (aged 0–14 years) received a proper burial, as buried juveniles were in all but one case boys, suggesting the priority of young males in the cemeteries. This is plausibly linked to the exchange of foster children as part of an expansionist kinship system which is well attested from later Indo-European-speaking cultural groups.
Another BP Podcast is up. You can listen on Libsyn, Apple, Spotify, and Stitcher (and a variety of other platforms). Probably the easiest way to keep up the podcast since we don’t have a regular schedule is to subscribe to one of the links above!
You can also support the podcast as a patron. The primary benefit now is that you get the podcasts considerably earlier than everyone else. This website isn’t about shaking the cup, but I have noticed that the number of patrons plateaued a long time ago.
This episode features Mukunda and Akshar talking to Saagar Enjeti, co-host of Rising on The Hill and host of The Realignment Podcast. We talk about Saagar’s come up and his political journey as we delve into the US election results, right populism, and an Indian-American’s place in all this.
Politico has a silly piece up, How Hindu Nationalism Could Shape the Election. The silliness is in the title: Hindu nationalism will not shape the election. No one in the USA knows what it is. No one in the USA cares. But headlines need to justify the “deep-dives.”
The author clearly had a preconceived conclusion, and it’s pretty much a paint-by-numbers article in that light. There is zero chance that any Indian Amerian journalist will write a sympathetic portrait of Hindu nationalism, and develop a “strange new respect.” The conclusion is baked into the cake.
With that said, why do many Indian Americans get so angry at these sorts of pieces? I would appreciate comments (unhinged and somewhat concise please, I know many of you are going “bug-eye” over this piece, so calm down).
First, this quote jumps out: “Savarkar made clear that he saw Nazi Germany’s treatment of Jews as a model for dealing with India’s Muslims.” Any mention of Nazi Germany in a Western context as an analogy is poisonous. It’s like having an expensive multi-course meal at the French Laundry, and then they tell you there’s a touch of feces in one of the items. The totality of what you’re eating no longer matters, you are not going to eat even a little bit of shit. Any mention of Nazis is going to ruin and color the whole thing. You know what the audience will take away, and you know what the writer intends.
But that brings us to the point that from a liberal perspective there were many unpleasant things associated with early Hindu nationalist ideology, and Hindutva-identified people have been associated with atrocities for decades, from Godse down to leaders in the Gujarat riots. Isn’t this fair?
I think the problem here is that the same journalists who would reject the reduction of Islam to Sayyid Qutb or shrug off the relevance of the Nazi sympathies of the Mufti of Jerusalem have no problem engaging in reductionism in relation to Hindu nationalism and Hinduism. Basically, many Indians see that Islam and Muslims are treated with generosity, and not judged by their lowest moments, while the converse is true for Hindus and Hinduism. Muhammad, the notional founder of Islam, engaged in sex slavery. This is just a fact. But Muslims are not judged by Muhammad’s illiberality, while Hindus are judged by illiberal interpretations of Manusmriti. Why? (some scholars and politicians in the Gulf have used sex slavery as a justification for the tolerance of Russian sex workers, so it’s a live issue)
For reasons that are only partly clear over the last few decades, the global Left and the West’s intelligentsia has taken a default philo-Islamic stance. Modi’s India can be depicted in very negative terms, while there is benign neglect of persistent and massive human rights abuses in Pakistan. The differing standards obviously enrage many Hindus, but the deeper question is why. Is this a “bottom-up” process, or, are there larger institutions that have made particular decisions? Remember, most Westerners are very vague about Hinduism, and have never seen the word “Hindutva.” These journalists and publications are shaping first impressions. Where are their marching orders coming from?
The same people who would decry demands that Rashida Tlaib denounce her own kith and kin as guilt by association are demanding that Preston Kulkarni do exactly that. Where do these double-standards come from?
In the future, I expect we’ll see more “think pieces” and “investigations” of American Hindus and Hinduism which sheds light on dark developments in this subculture. Meanwhile, there will be benign neglect of the illiberalities among American Muslims and Islam. The media’s attention and energy are finite, and they are quite selective about what they devote their focus to. Focus is clarifying, because it tells you what they care about, and what their motives are.