06 December 2006

Diaspora

There is some resentment of the Indian diaspora (currently ~22 million) in their host countries. In Zambia this resentment was due to the higher standard of living of the ‘foreigners.’ The resentment was fanned by the ruling authorities so that the general population thinks that they are kept poor not due to the policies of the government but due to the shops that people of Indian origin owned. General Idi Amin of Uganda eventually kicked out all people of Indian origin, thereby collapsing the country’s economy overnight. They were all invited back after the General moved on.

Another cause of resentment is the refusal of Indian origin communities to assimilate, i.e., intermarry with the local population and eventually be absorbed. Some of this does go on, but it’s very rare. The countries playing host to the diaspora should not worry so much. For thousands of years refugees came to India and were allowed to keep their communities and their beliefs. So now we have Jews whose ancestors came to India after Roman persecution migrating to Israel… that’s about 2000 years of non-assimilation. We have Parsees (Zoroastrians) who escaped persecution in Iran 1000 years ago… yes, they still exist, although their numbers are going down due to their women choosing to have fewer children. There are also numerous tribal beliefs that still survive from years ago. Well the point is that in India, a tribe or community can not only survive but flourish without any calls from the majority to assimilate. Is this because of the caste system that allows this to happen? Different groups of people are just lumped into castes that do not intermarry and allowed to go about their business. OK so maybe there is something good about the caste system, n’est ce pas? Other than that aspect it’s pure evil.

So, my fellow people in host countries, don’t worry about the presence of non-assimilating Indians. You would not have to assimilate in our country. Well, other than the essentials of survival - whistling really loudly in the movie theatres, honking on the roads, ensuring that cows have the right of way, saying yaar instead of 'man' and voting for Amitabh Bachchan as the actor of the millenium on the BBC website.

2 comments:

video said...

Nice post. Yea, I know what you mean about the whole assimilation problem. About the caste thingy, in India itself the barriers of caste are starting to fall apart, although there is still a long way to go. I wonder how well we will assimilate after that. I was talking to a population geneticist once. She mentioned that Indians only seem to have a barrier of inter-marriages with certain populations. So it may just depends on where you are! In Singapore for instance, I have met several couples where Indians married the Chinese folk, but I've never met an Indian-Malay couple.

Mosilager said...

hey thanks! yeah that's right, not so many indian / zambian couples but lots of us/indian and uk/indian couples around. still not enough to completely assimilate indians into these societies.