#Coldplay and What The Fuss!

In today’s world anything and everything can become news and some topics tend to catch random rapid fire. Well, this time the British rock band Coldplay is the chosen one.

So, what’s the noise about? I ask myself. To find the answer, I did a quick internet search, followed the ongoing twitterati wraths and spent time playing the “Hymn for the Weekend” over and over again.

Here’s what I found…
Well, the video has been accused of the following it seems:

  • Clichés shown in the video of how the west perceives India
  • Chris Martin “feeling drunk and high”
  • Beyonce in flashy clothes, loads of jewellery, awkward headgear and hands decorated in henna.
  • Holi and Diwali festivals together
  • Slumdog part 2 comparisons

To sum up the points, the video song has been accused of a term called ‘Cultural appropriation or misappropriation’. Cultural appropriation is when elements of one culture is adopted or used by members of a different culture for gainful purposes.

And what I feel….
Now the first thing I must tell you is that India is my country and I am its citizen. If something defines me then it’s the bright colours and illuminating diyas, religious diversity and festivals, native languages and regional dance forms, relationships and bonding, agriculture, spices and saffron clad sadhus. And I am a consumer of Patanjali’s Aloe Vera juice too. That’s my incredible India and I am proud of it.

So, considering the various clichés in the video as someone pointed out on the internet, I think all of these things translate into my incredible India which always leaves the west in its awe. It’s the richness of our culture that attracts international tourists to India. I also do know that as a country we have developed into a more modern nation with more urbanised cities having stunningly high degree of sophisticated infrastructure and night clubs. But aren’t these things borrowed from the western world? Well, I hope not that you were expecting the video to contain ‘Firangi Paani’, Café Coffee Days and Nariman Point.  Why are we getting worked up on how the west sees us and that too when our own people portray us in a much similar way or may be more as shown in this video. And we all love this video, don’t we?

Cultural Appropriation?
As for Beyonce, she looks delightful as a Bollywood Queen both in her fancy attire and dusky skin. And that is a change we must bring around in a nation so obsessed with fair skin.

Still the video didn’t put as offensive stuff as compared to what we do in our Bollywood films using the white girls in bare minimum outfits and making villain out of the dark skin people as rightly pointed out by this site. Now what would you call this; Cultural appropriation or racism?

Hate Slumdog but Love ‘Jai Ho’
I do not wish to delve too deep into the Slumdog Millionaire topic because to me it was the biggest hypocrisy on our part. We criticized the film vociferously for its visuals showing our slums and poverty until it received numerous international awards and accolades. But what was wrong about Slumdog anyway? ‘Dharavi’ is the biggest slum area and is very much in existence now and even when the film was shot. The people who delve in those slums are also humans and have every right to be in a western film as much as Anil Kapoor. If we should be ashamed of anything then it should be the lack of efforts on our part to create a better living for the people living in those slums. Come on, our Prime Minister is talking openly about the lack of sanitation and hygiene in India and taking the Swachh Bharat campaign on international platforms and we are fretting over a poverty showcasing video. And carry on singing ‘Jai Ho’!

Melting Pot of Cultures
Well, I don’t mean to say that ‘an eye for an eye’ is a good thing. What I am saying is that we have gone global.
Holi_Ms.SinghPostsHoli, the Indian festival of colours celebrated in the spring around Feb or March in India, is played in the summer of June and July across Europe. Diwali lunches and dinner take place weeks or months even before the actual festival. And by the by, the festival attracts not just Indian diaspora but other cultures too as the organizing committee consists both Indians and Europeans. So, if Indian Holi, Spiritual Gurus and Yoga have spread across to the west then we also have borrowed their accents, pubs, outfits and Halloween parties. So how can Chris Martin not be drenched in Holi colours in his video?

Namaste_Ms.SinghPostsAnyway, I am thankful to the Coldplay team for putting the beautifully shot visuals of my exotic India at the Super Bowl, America’s biggest sporting event.  Well, whatever the world thinks about this video, I have to admit that this song is now spinning in my head and I am really “FEELING DRUNK AND HIGH”.

Tell me in the comments how are you feeling about it.

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Culturally Different

6a0128763842f6970c014e8ba4d3c9970dThe row over Devyani Khobragade case has reached its peak in India. The handcuffing and strip-search of Ms. Khobragade, India’s deputy consul general in New York, is the key trigger point for the outrage.

The Indian side of the story is that a simple wage dispute was elevated to a human trafficking case.  In the US, it’s criminal to pay less than the minimum wage. As a result, Ms. Khobragade was arrested. Now, the case in point is the “Diplomatic Immunity” provided to the lady. But then even the diplomatic immunity has a clause which says that as diplomats are representatives of nations, they are expected to obey the local regulations and authorities. Disobeying or flouting of local laws may lead to serious action against the diplomat. Again the defence here is that Ms. Khobragade is no criminal nor running away that she had to be handcuffed to which the US have argued that they were not aware of the lady’s diplomatic immunity and the latest reasoning is that she is covered by consular immunity.

Well, both India and the US would continue to give each other their side of argument and this would take them nowhere. If the US has done wrong then India has also done some mistakes. Both are equally to be blamed and not just one country. It is a case of difference in the cultures plus the difference of law of the land followed in the respective countries.

In India, a domestic worker’s job is given no regard and that is the reason why in this incident the issue of wages has not even come about. The argument of Ms. Khobragade’s own salary constraints that she couldn’t spend more on the domestic is rubbish. If you cannot afford then why do you opt for a domestic help in the first place. I am sure Ms. Khobragade would be aware of the popular idiom that says, ‘Cut your coat according to the cloth’.

We are very much aware of the grim reality of the plight of our domestic help. It was only a few months ago that the newspapers were filled with the news of the death of domestic help at an MP’s house in India. Indians should know that their cultural attitude towards domestic help will not cause a spark in their own country but that does not mean it will not cause a stink outside the borders. In fact, it’s ironic that nobody in India is talking about the ill treatment of the domestic help but the diplomat’s treatment by the US.

This new has certainly put a spotlight on the inhumane treatment given to domestic workers in India. This is a fact and the case is a proof. Hence by all accounts, the diplomat is guilty of a crime.

On the other hand, the US should also have taken into consideration of the fact that if they want higher diplomatic immunity for their embassies then the same has to be ensured from their end too. Even if Ms. Khobragade was guilty, the entire procedure could have been handled in a much better way. The US authorities could have pre-informed the New York consulate and Ms. Khobragade could have gone down to the station herself.

In the past too, Indian envoys and many top officials have been subject to humiliating and disrespectful treatment during their US visits, mostly at the airports. While in India, US consulates are equipped with special ID cards that allow them to move easily when travelling to and from India. Other amenities like access to duty-free alcohol, tax benefits are the add-ons from India to the US diplomats.

In 2010, when the U.S. President Barack Obama described the alliance with India as “one of the defining and indispensable partnerships of the 21st century”, he did not stick to his words in 2013. Why?

The point here is that instead of looking at one another’s fault, one must take it as a learning lesson. Throwing stones on one another will not do any good. A key learning from this incident for everyone is that – Don’t abuse your position just because you can. Sooner or later it catches up. 

But the questions that need to be answered are: Can Mr. Obama guarantee that in future there will be no trespassing of the diplomatic immunity? Or can Indians promise a change in their old age cultural attitude of ill-treating their domestics?