Let’s Talk About India

Rimi, one of the favorite commenters of everybody who reads my blog, has agreed to engage in a cross-posting exercise where I list all the myths about India that I have accumulated based on my own culture’s current fascination with India and on an equally strong and just as limiting  vision of India here in North America. Rimi will be so kind as to address these beliefs one by one on her own blog.

Then, if she is so kind, she will make a similar list of Bengali stereotypes about Russian speakers, and I will get a chance to address them here.

As Rimi says:

 We know so little about countries east of England and west of Pakistan, and Bengalis in particular have such a rosy vision of Soviet Russia, that we could all do with a little first-hand education .

So it feels like a little mutual education is in order.

Here are, then, the stereotypes I have recently heard about India:

  • It’s a country where many people live in the streets but only because they choose to. The government offers them apartments of their own but they refuse because they enjoy living in the streets.
  • Every homeless person in India receives coupons for foods that are enough to cover everybody’s minimal needs.
  •  Before marriage, an Indian woman can wear anything she likes. After she gets married, she can do it, too, but all Indian women choose to wear saris instead.
  • Sexual enjoyment is a value promoted by Hinduism.
  • The Indian government does all it can to break down caste barriers but the dalits resist these efforts.
  • People in India have no use for Western medicine because they have Ayurveda medicine.
  • People in India are always happy and content with everything because that’s in the nature of Hinduism.
  • Of course, not everybody in India practices Hinduism. There are also Sikhs who are very feminist. And also Muslims who keep causing trouble and organizing terrorist attacks. There might be a Christian here and there but they are not a significant community.
  • All Indians are very patriotic and proud of their country. Here is Rimi’s response to this idea.
  • When people in India decide to get married, it is often more important to consult their astrological horoscopes than to meet the future spouse.
  • From early childhood, Indian women are taught the kind of dancing that makes their chest look bigger and helps them find sexual fulfillment.
  • Drivers in India are really reckless and never even stop to think about safety.

18 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About India”

  1. wait, are these just some random responses you got when you asked students in your southern Illinois classroom to write down whatever came to their mind about India?
    I must admit I was alarmed for a minute before I realized that these are stereotypes you had “heard” about, and not some that you held yourself.

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    1. I got these mostly from Russian-language websites. And they really annoy me, which is the reason for this entire exercise. So let’s not dump on Illinoisians for a change. 🙂

      As I said, I could provide links to these discussions but there are all in Russian, so what’s the point?

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  2. I think the last one about “reckless drivers” is the most accurate (and objectively verifiable) and the one before that (about chests looking bigger) is the funniest. 😀

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            1. Finally, I have managed to create a memorable blog. And it isn’t my own idea I exploited to achieve this noble goal. 🙂

              Off-topic: How come all your smiley faces look different? Is there some trick I need to know about?

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              1. It’s a standard trick in the book of internet chatterboxes. Try the colon with ‘D’ for the toothy grin, and colon with “P” for the tongue stuck out. There are others too. 😉 :/

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      1. Think the variant of Parvati we know, Priyanka. Not all Bharatnatyam dancers are well-endowed, ahem. Maybe the well-endowed ones join dancing for chest exercise? 😉

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  3. Clarissa, most of these posts would need a short post in response. I do hope you don’t lose patience midway 🙂

    I’ll be absolutely delighted to respond, beginning, hopefully, tomorrow. I’ll send you links as I’m done, in case you miss them.

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    1. I think it’s a great idea to have short posts addressing these points. This will give us ample time to maintain a fun discussion. 🙂

      And I’m sure people will need some time to digest the initial statements anyways, so take your time. 🙂

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  4. I am sure, not many Indian readers would be happy to read this, but here goes the clarifications.
    1.Yes, many poor people live on streets and government do provide them apartments but a major chunk of that is acquired by corrupt politicians and bureaucrats.
    2.No, not many, almost nil.
    3.Yes, it was true a decade back but a gradual change is observed in open-minded families.
    4.Yes, that explains Kamasutra.
    5.Actually, it is the reverse. Some Government parties does all to divide the people based on caste and religion for the sake of their vote-banks.
    6.Yes, Ayurveda is very effective but modern medical studies beat it in some aspects.
    7.Partially true.
    8.Christianity is India’s third-largest religion, with approximately 24 million followers, constituting 2.3% of India’s population. Generalizing Sikhs as feminists is not true. Also, generalizing Muslims as trouble causing and organizing terrorist attacks community is not true. As every Pakistani does not think like Osama-bin-Laden or every Iraqi does not have the same ideology as Saddam Hussain’s, similarly, every Indian Muslim is not necessarily a trouble causer.
    9.Priyanka has told almost everything.
    10.Again, there is a gradual change in mindset.
    11.Totally disagree.
    12.Totally agree.

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