Someone actually said that we should be grateful to the almighty american Selena Gomez because she’s “accepting of our culture”. Why should we be grateful? We don’t owe you gratitude or anything else. We don’t need you to approve of our culture and traditions. Indian culture is used at the advantage of American media only when its advantageous to them - and otherwise left to be belittled when it serves them.
And now we should be grateful? Why is it that when Indian women wear the bindi - and not the pretty, dainty, sparkly thing, but the “big red dot” that is so commonly mocked by people in the West - it’s an absurd thing, but the moment an American popstar rocks something that doesn’t belong to her - it’s suddenly okay, cool, exotic, ethnic, tribal, sexy. They want some parts of India - the parts that are deemed acceptable by Western society, but they want to leave the other parts out that are too ‘ethnic’ for them, such as turbans, or the Sikh khanda. You want the pretty little tidbits of India yet you don’t want Sikhs to have a khanda with them at school?
They want that Middle Eastern feel so their songs can sell, while at the same time there on the news is ongoing racism towards people of ‘brown’ ethnicity, South Asians, Middle Easterners, North Africans. ‘Brown’ culture is being applauded on one side while at the exact same time being highly frowned upon (past the point of verbal racism) for being terroristic and violent. They want that third world country feel when it serves them advantageously while at the same time they mock and hate it.
In 1837, Persian was replaced by English as the language of governance in India. To secure a high-paying job, Indians had to know English. And to study English, an Indian had to be from those “classes of the people who have the means of pursuing higher studies.” In the nineteenth century, Indians began to debate among themselves whether they wanted such an education for themselves or for their children, but that is another story.
Being the “culturally sensitive” rulers that they were, the British decided that they should be able speak to their Indian subordinates in their own language. So they came up with grammar books and dictionaries to teach themselves how to say “Get me my shoes” and “Hurry up!” to their Indian servants. These books made it possible for the British to standardize and index terminology for official use. Persian was also replaced at the lower levels of judicial and revenue administration, but here, it was replaced by Indian vernacular languages like Urdu.
Since the British saw Indians as groups of “Hindus” and “Muslims,” they also began to describe religion as a marker of linguistic difference, which is part of the reason why a shared north Indian language ended up getting divided into Hindi (for Hindus) and Urdu (for Muslims). Sometimes, when the British were in a bit of a Victorian mood, they tried to get Urdu poets to stop composing “obscene” poems about wine and women and write about sledding at Christmas instead.
A class divide quickly emerged between vernacular-educated Indians and the English-speaking elites. An English-speaking Indian elite was desirable for officials like Macaulay, who needed “a class of persons Indian in blood and color, but English in taste and manners” as a buffer between themselves and the masses. A hundred years or so later, this stratagem backfired when new generations of this class of Indians began clamoring for their rights, and talking back to the English, in English. South Asians eventually won their independence from British rule — but only after paying a hefty price in the partition of India along religious lines for the first time in history, a division that cost millions of lives and would scar the region forever. Pakistan inherited the messy frontiers of the old imperial order.
Imagine if we were’t colonized by the British Empire. We’ve been robbed.