By Shrinivas Dharmadhikari
The Independent, a British newspaper will no longer call India’s commercial capital “Mumbai”. Instead, plans to revert to colonial Bombay. While explaining the rationale One Amol Rajan, India-born editor of the paper told BBC radio “If you call it what Hindu nationalists want you to call it, you essentially do their work for them.”
This is not the first time Indians staying abroad passing at times patronizing, often silly stereotypical and most irritating of all highly judgmental comments. Ever since the Neo Liberal Indian Governments have opened doors for the so-called diaspora dividends from this eminent community, what we have got is tons of tips and grams of gold.
The bulk of the investments flowing in from NRI/PIOs has been by way of bank deposits, portfolio investment or real estate what is called hot money, which moves globally in search for higher returns. Universal economic logic used by persons of all nationalities. Despites decades of attractive schemes, investment in productive sectors has not reached even double digits more striking when contrasted with China , where the investment by the Chinese diaspora is the major share of total foreign direct investment. This is not to say self seeking character is something special about Indians. Several studies of diaspora investment in homeland is first governed by risk return trade off and then comes home bias as poor second.
Hence, we do not grudge about Indian diaspora’s economic behaviour towards India. Indeed, we Indians have been successful in our nation building since late fifties , when most of PIOs today having got best of the training at highly subsidised rates in IITs and IIMs, abandoned motherland for better creature comforts. But we certainly object to their passing judgements over issues purely Indian which are not only much less nuanced (crude?) but many times frozen in the times when they left the country. Unless of course they abandon their London based imperial world view and do serious homework at the grass root level. I am not sure if my editor friend young as he is (born 1983) , knows what Mumbai means to every Maharashtrian of any political affiliation. It was during the Samyukta Maharashtra movement(1960) which was an all-party struggle with active participation by the left that 19 activist sacrificed their life.
And regional identity per se is nothing regressive or fundamentalists. It’s use can be teleological and ideology driven. There are adequate number of similar issues in Scotland and Northern Ireland where he can take appropriate stands wearing his ideological trapping on his sleeves
Further, it is a need of large section of Indian diaspora in UK to selectively forget India’s colonial past and the draconian exploitation done by Imperial England. We in India don’t have those compulsions. Rather, we would like each of our forthcoming generation to remember it as vividly as possible and learn to despise it and its residual vestiges. In fact, we wholeheartedly support the reparation demand made by Shashi Tharoor as compensation for India’s colonial exploitation during which India’s share of the world economy dropped from 23 to 4 per cent I urge our editor friend to support it and advocate it, the least he should do as his leftist commitment.
In fact this takes me to an even larger issue. The Times Square and Wembley Stadium events where an organized attempt of made to parade PM Modi as the rock star poster boy of new emergent India is also an organized attempt by Saffron Diaspora to influence Indian public opinion. In fact it is high time these “Chitthi Ayee re, Chitthi ayi”, permanently nostalgic super patriots restrict such acts of celebrations to their palatial drawing rooms in late evenings with few pegs of single malt down the throat. They can even hug and cry as much as they want. After all we have obliged them with a hug loving Prime Minister !
In the end just a small clarification. I am not diaspora phobic as many may have by now might have mistaken me for. I admire each of them for venturing out and exploring unknown lands. How I wish , we Indians had started doing it way back in the fifteenth and sixteenth century.
To all those brave hearts, all that I wish to say can best be summarized as;
I don’t miss you and you alone, I miss you and me together.
The writer lives in United Kingdom and is a researcher of Global and National Strategic issues. Twitter