Lovers burnt alive (in Delhi)


by Sunny
19th September, 2008 at 10:43 am    

These kinds of stories continue to take my breath away:

Falling in love continues to be fatal in western Uttar Pradesh. In what appears to be an incident of honour killing, two teenage lovers were brutally murdered and then set on fire in Bair village, barely 50 km from New Delhi. Some villagers said the assailants even chopped off the boy’s private parts.

Class disparity, rather than caste difference, appears to have caused the savagery. Both teenagers were Dalits. But Rekha, an 18-year-old Class X student, belonged to a more affluent family than her lover Sonu, a 17-year-old Class XI student. The girl’s father, Gulab Singh, is a rich farmer who also owns a ration shop. The boy’s father, Raju, ekes out a modest living singing jagrans in the area.

The grisly incident took place in a field next to a forested area in Bair village under Kakor police station in Gautam Buddha Nagar district, when the two were allegedly found together in a “compromising” position by the girl’s family around 10am on Thursday. Enraged family members strangled her with her own chunni. The boy was beaten to death.

Point of note: lower caste Hindu family. Stupid, stupid people. And this kind of behaviour always comes from a village mentality.


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  1. Leon — on 19th September, 2008 at 12:13 pm  

    Sickening but not surprising.

  2. Ravi Naik — on 19th September, 2008 at 4:01 pm  

    two teenage lovers were brutally murdered and then set on fire

    So, they weren’t burnt alive?

  3. Don — on 19th September, 2008 at 6:06 pm  

    Ravi,

    Kind of a fine distinction, under the circumstances. I doubt anyone checked for brain death.

  4. Desi Italiana — on 19th September, 2008 at 9:00 pm  

    Sunny:

    “And this kind of behaviour always comes from a village mentality.”

    This is NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT true!

  5. Ravi Naik — on 19th September, 2008 at 10:14 pm  

    Kind of a fine distinction, under the circumstances. I doubt anyone checked for brain death.

    I am not trying to minimise the barbarie and savagery of these people by any means. But there is definitely a disconnect between the title and the facts reported.

  6. Ravi Naik — on 19th September, 2008 at 10:17 pm  

    This is NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT true!

    How does that work? 2 NOTs = 1 BIG NOT, or a YES? Just in case I need to count the number of NOTs. :)

  7. Ashik — on 19th September, 2008 at 11:22 pm  

    I agree with Desi. Well to-do middle class urban South Asian family’s are just as likely to behave in a similar manner if their daughter bought home an unsuitable boy.

    Remember, Indian female abortion rates (a holocaust really) are made up disproportionately of family’s from educated middle class Indian families, including Doctors, who don’t want to pay dowry for a girl child.

  8. Desi Italiana — on 20th September, 2008 at 1:51 am  

    Ravi:

    “How does that work? 2 NOTs = 1 BIG NOT, or a YES? Just in case I need to count the number of NOTs.”

    I emphasize NO 19 times over.

    Long live Flies on the Windscreen, for Friday, I’m in Love.

  9. digitalcntrl — on 20th September, 2008 at 3:00 am  

    “I agree with Desi. Well to-do middle class urban South Asian family’s are just as likely to behave in a similar manner if their daughter bought home an unsuitable boy.”

    I find that a bit incredulous.

    “Remember, Indian female abortion rates (a holocaust really) are made up disproportionately of family’s from educated middle class Indian families, including Doctors, who don’t want to pay dowry for a girl child.”

    That is because people from the villages don’t have access to abortion services like the urbanized population.

  10. Ashik — on 20th September, 2008 at 11:07 am  

    ‘Professionals, technocrats, housewives, students…anyone could be a murderer’

    http://www.tehelka.com/story_main39.asp?filename=Ne140608anyonecouldbemurdered.asp

    Love marriage…family objections…professional urban couples eg. Doctors and software engineers…not a hint of a village…

    I think the most revealing sentence is ‘such men don’t think of women as individuals but as objects they own,” This is the underlying mentality, to see ppl as objects without individual character.

  11. Ravi Naik — on 20th September, 2008 at 11:52 am  

    My definition of “village mentality” is not someone who lives in rural areas or villages. Village mentality, in my view, is a mindset that is narrow, insular and tribal.

  12. Ravi Naik — on 20th September, 2008 at 11:53 am  

    Remember, Indian female abortion rates (a holocaust really) are made up disproportionately of family’s from educated middle class Indian families, including Doctors, who don’t want to pay dowry for a girl child.

    You are talking about abortion or infanticide? Do you consider abortion in Europe as holocaust?

  13. Ashik — on 20th September, 2008 at 12:12 pm  

    Abortion is the method while infantacide is the reasoning. Culturally in South Asia (or at least India) abortion is synonimous with aborting female foetus. ie. forstall the future payment of dowries amounting to many lakh rupees by paying for a $50 abortion before birth. I am not aware of gender-specific abortion in Europe. Personally i’m all for abortion rights, as a last resort rsather than abortion as contraceptive.

    My earlier post just goes to show that anti-female social conceptions cut across nation, race, class, caste etc.

  14. Jai — on 20th September, 2008 at 12:43 pm  

    My definition of “village mentality” is not someone who lives in rural areas or villages. Village mentality, in my view, is a mindset that is narrow, insular and tribal.

    Agreed completely. When Asians (of all generations) use the term “village mentality” or “like a villager” etc etc, this is generally what they mean. It’s obviously not very flattering towards people who really are from/in villages, and in many cases the assumptions underlying it may not necessarily be accurate either, but — bearing in mind the original terms and contexts in our various Asian languages — I think most Asians will understand what is meant.

    I agree with Desi. Well to-do middle class urban South Asian family’s are just as likely to behave in a similar manner if their daughter bought home an unsuitable boy.”

    I find that a bit incredulous.

    I wouldn’t say they’re “just as likely to behave in a similar manner” (in many cases they may not have the opportunity or the will to act on their prejudices, at least in terms of homicidal actions), but the attitudes concerned are definitely more common in urban settings than one would expect — albeit not necessarily to the same extreme degree prevalent in some really backward village environments. I think that it’s frequently a matter of nutters in the former believing they wouldn’t be able to get away with acting on their psychotic tendencies as much as the latter.

    Big fishes, small ponds, smaller close-knit communities etc. Depends on whether the environment and the types of people within it are geared to promote or support a Lord of The Flies situation without sufficient fear of condemnation or punishment.

    But there are plenty of demented types in the cities and large towns, and as has already been mentioned by others on this thread, a high level of education doesn’t necessarily prevent such mindsets, even though (very broadly speaking) it may to some extent dilute the will to really act on their bigotry.

  15. Jai — on 20th September, 2008 at 12:46 pm  

    Look at it this way. Male, fortysomething, ostensibly working class, non-university graduate Richard Redneck the Romford Racist may absolutely hate the idea of his daughter (or white women in general) dating Asian guys, and if he has the opportunity he may do everything he can to destroy such a situation, but this doesn’t mean that such attitudes will be unknown amongst people like male, fortysomething Mr Richard Henderson-Smythe, the investment banker with the MBA who leaves in leafy Surrey with his family. It just means that the frequency and viciousness of the bigotry will be comparatively less common amongst the latter (or at least less overtly expressed), along with the will to actually “do something about it” regardless of the extremes one has to go to in order to succeed.

    I think that there is something really dark, nasty, and disturbing in human nature (and it’s not confined to Asians) where some people — who may otherwise appear to be fairly benign and “normal” — get the uncontrollable urge to destroy a relationship between two other individuals if there is some difference in their background — whether’s it’s class, caste, race, religion, or whatever, particularly if one of the parties involved is regarded as an “outsider” by the malevolent individual.

    I don’t know if it’s due to jealousy, possessiveness, or the corrosive effect of power, but something really animalistic and tribal kicks in within the brains of people like that, especially if a pack mentality is triggered.

  16. douglas clark — on 20th September, 2008 at 2:33 pm  

    Jai @ 15.

    I’d agree with that 100%. I have kids of the marrying age, and I completely fail to understand the mentality you outline. If their happy, so what?

  17. Amrit — on 20th September, 2008 at 5:18 pm  

    Considering how much importance Indians place on their children to lift them to another social and/or economic level much of the time, I find it really hard to understand behaviour like this.

    Actually, reading back my sentence… maybe I do… Part of the village mentality (and I agree with everyone who says it’s not a geographically-specific mindset) is thinking you own your children completely, rather than acknowledging that they are individual lives you have created.

    I hope the murderers are plagued with guilt for the rest of their lives, and never have any more children again, because they clearly don’t appreciate them.

  18. MixTogether — on 20th September, 2008 at 5:29 pm  

    Some British asians (and not just what you would call village people) inflict a spectrum of hurt and harm on their children, from the silent treatment to disownment to kidnap and murder, all to prevent mixed relationships.

    It is not confined to lower caste hindus in India. It needs action to tackle it here.

  19. Amrit — on 20th September, 2008 at 5:32 pm  

    @ MT:

    Amen, brother. ;-)

  20. halima — on 20th September, 2008 at 5:43 pm  

    What explains the large number of girls missing from schools in South Asia – most of them in India?

    Some of it is explained by the fact that parents can’t afford to send kids to schools, and when opportunity costs kick and they prioritise boy children.

    Some of it’s explained by the fact there aren’t enough schools.

    Most of it’s explained because most of the girls were killed at birth. That’s the sad, sad, reality.

    Goes back to lots of things, but surely, back to a lack and violation of children’s rights – and the worse abusers of children’s rights are often parents, because they think they morally ‘own’ their children. Agree with Amrit on this one completely.

    I’m not sure it’s village mentality that explains this, though I am not sure what this means, some of the worst crimes in the world come from urban quarters, and we never explain the crimes away by saying ‘it’s a urban mentality’?? It assumes traditional ways are responsible for this type of brutality, and I am not sure if it’s that straightforward.

    So called witches in medieval Europe were killed because they were ‘different’. Much of this was sanctioned across all European society – with the blessing of the churchs.

    Young women are burnt with acid by in South Asian cities and parts of the Caribbean because someone has it in for a pretty sorta girl.

    I don’t really understand what people mean by village mentality – it just feels like a lazy broad brush approach.

  21. Desi Italiana — on 20th September, 2008 at 6:23 pm  

    Ravi (12) Jai (14),

    I understand your definition of village mentality (“pindu mentality”), but you seem to be basically apologetic of classism. There are lots of other terms we wouldn’t use, even if they “mean” this thing and are not “flattering” for those who are used as an example of backwards thinking. So why is it ok to continue to say “village mentality”?

    From my personal experience, some from the urban middle class and upper middle class snobbily hold up their noses and say, “They follow a pindu mentality, all backwards and ignorant,” and “It’s because in the village, they don’t have x,y,z”, or “They come from nothing, that is why they think like that” and then these very same people turn around in engage in the most appalling practices, not to say the least about how they view marriage, women (as property), division of labor (again, burden on women and their ‘servants’), and so on. So without sounding rude, please spare me the explanation of what South Asian folks and people of South Asian descent mean when they say ‘village mentality.’ What they mean is that they are viewing impoverished areas and hotbeds of fanaticism, misogyny, infanticide, etc, and that poor people are more likely to do these things than urban, ‘educated’ people when it is absolutely not true, and your explanations do not give any reason as to why we should think it’s an appropriate way to describe things.

  22. Desi Italiana — on 20th September, 2008 at 6:27 pm  

    “I wouldn’t say they’re “just as likely to behave in a similar manner” (in many cases they may not have the opportunity or the will to act on their prejudices, at least in terms of homicidal actions), but the attitudes concerned are definitely more common in urban settings than one would expect — albeit not necessarily to the same extreme degree prevalent in some really backward village environments.

    Seriously. Come on.

    And BTW, very enlightened, moneyed, urban, Delhi households have been using top notch doctors to run tests to find out if the wife is pregnant with a female. If it is so, they get abortions in nice, clean clinics.

  23. Desi Italiana — on 20th September, 2008 at 6:28 pm  

    Talk about eliticism.

  24. Desi Italiana — on 20th September, 2008 at 6:47 pm  

    Ravi, if by ‘village mentality’, you mean:

    “My definition of “village mentality” is not someone who lives in rural areas or villages. Village mentality, in my view, is a mindset that is narrow, insular and tribal.”

    Why not just say, ‘insular, narrow, and backwards’ thinking, rather than adding a class modifier, esp. when you aren’t alluding to it?

    “Village mentality” has been born from an ideology that speaks to elitism, middle classism, and urbanism (I know the latter two are not real terms, but whatever, I just made them up). I don’t think it’s right to uphold such a doctrine…

  25. Desi Italiana — on 20th September, 2008 at 6:49 pm  

    Jai #15:

    “It just means that the frequency and viciousness of the bigotry will be comparatively less common amongst the latter (or at least less overtly expressed), along with the will to actually “do something about it” regardless of the extremes one has to go to in order to succeed.”

    Written with such authority, really.

  26. douglas clark — on 20th September, 2008 at 7:16 pm  

    Desi,

    As I agreed with what Jai wrote there, I’d like to know what your “authority” is for denying it.

    It seems to me to be self evident that class – which is what you are on about here, I think, correct me if I am wrong – does tend to be inversely related to geography. So, the lower your class, the more tied you are to the immediate society you live in.

    Which is not to fail to acknowledge that rather stupid middle class urban folk can’t make foolish decisions. Jai said:

    I don’t know if it’s due to jealousy, possessiveness, or the corrosive effect of power, but something really animalistic and tribal kicks in within the brains of people like that, especially if a pack mentality is triggered.

    Couldn’t we just all agree that these are just incredibly horrible human beings?

    There are, it seems to me, to be certain things that folk shoudn’t have a choice over. Male / female embryos for instance. When my kids were born I was more concerned that they had five fingers and five toes than I was about their reproductive organs.

  27. Desi Italiana — on 20th September, 2008 at 7:25 pm  

    Douglas:

    “As I agreed with what Jai wrote there, I’d like to know what your “authority” is for denying it.”

    Denying what? That villages and villagers are more backwards than urban dwellers?

    If so, my authority for having refusing to agree with this is:

    1. personal experiences both with ‘villagers’ and ‘urbanites’
    2. studies and articles I’ve tracked over time
    3. not a class-based elitist way of assessing things, because class only gets you so far in terms of mentality, killing children, throwing acid on women, gender inequalities, etc.

  28. Desi Italiana — on 20th September, 2008 at 7:29 pm  

    Douglas:

    “It seems to me to be self evident that class – which is what you are on about here, I think, correct me if I am wrong – does tend to be inversely related to geography. So, the lower your class, the more tied you are to the immediate society you live in.”

    Yeah, I completely disagree with you here. In urban spaces, especially in South Asia, living in big cities doesn’t necessarily mean that you are not ‘tied into a more immediate society’. We don’t need to imagine every city and its inhabitants are like London and New York.

  29. Desi Italiana — on 20th September, 2008 at 7:31 pm  

    Douglas:

    “It seems to me to be self evident that class – which is what you are on about here, I think, correct me if I am wrong – does tend to be inversely related to geography.”

    I don’t get this. Class inversely related to geography??????????

    “Couldn’t we just all agree that these are just incredibly horrible human beings?”

    Yes. Which is why I don’t understand why there needs to be a distinction drawn between backwards ‘village’ types and idiotic urbanites, if they have one thing in common: ridiculous beliefs and practices. Why not focus on the common denominator?

  30. Jai — on 20th September, 2008 at 7:33 pm  

    Douglas,

    I’d agree with that 100%. I have kids of the marrying age, and I completely fail to understand the mentality you outline. If their happy, so what?

    Unfortunately not everyone is so enlightened. I think it basically comes down to what a couple of other people here have mentioned — presumed “ownership” of the women concerned, whether it’s in the familial sense (for relatives) or in the social/cultural sense (for everyone else).

    No idea whether it’s environmental, cultural, or something “hard-wired” into the nastier aspects of the human psyche relating to tribal identities etc. We all know that some people (from all backgrounds, not just Asians) can get particularly neurotic about an outsider “taking away” women from one’s own particular group, especially if they’re really prized for some reason (eg. for beauty), and especially if the jerk perceives some kind of social sanction for his attitudes and actions from his peers or immediate environment.

    It’s a fundamental, universal human problem, even if it’s not always manifested to such a murderous degree.

    Nasty, nasty stuff.

  31. halima — on 20th September, 2008 at 7:35 pm  

    “Yes. Which is why I don’t understand why there needs to be a distinction drawn between backwards ‘village’ types and idiotic urbanites, if they have one thing in common: ridiculous beliefs and practices. Why not focus on the common denominator”

    Is it because most people writing on this blog might be from the cities and probably not spent much time in villages in South Asia – and believe it’s all the dark ages ….

    I haven’t spent much time in the villages but won’t like to judge…. and make broad brush statements that reeeeeek of narrow minded attidudes…

  32. Jai — on 20th September, 2008 at 7:46 pm  

    Couldn’t we just all agree that these are just incredibly horrible human beings?

    Exactly. It’s basically due to the tendency of some people on the bell curve of human psychology & behaviour to be complete bastards under certain circumstances. Including situations concerning sexual/romantic relationships with “outsiders” which “their” women may be involved in.

    Regardless of whether the bastard concerned is Mr Garewal the respected lawyer from Delhi, Raj Patel the farmer from [insert Indian village here], Richard Henderson-Smythe the investment banker from Surrey, or indeed Richard Redneck the working-class Racist from Romford.

  33. sonia — on 20th September, 2008 at 7:59 pm  

    disgusting.

    i suppose it might be said that many people still have a ‘village’ mentality – as ashik and desi have pointed out, this sort of mentality is found across the board. arguing where it originated from is moot. village or urban, fact of the matter is that whilst many people wouldn’t necessarily go as far as murder, there is similarity in the kind of thinking that resulted in this extreme action. traditionalist, tribal, honour of the family sort of thinking.

    and the ‘higher’ or more amount of honour you think your family has, the more they have to lose.

    don’t see what you mean Douglas, that class is inversely tied to geography?

    there are plenty of people in the cities of the indian subcontinent. now take dhaka which is more extreme perhaps, but you have all classes of people living cheek by jowl. poor people move to the city and stay poor, usually much poorer than they were in their rural villages. similarly you have plenty of poor people in rural areas, with land-owning types still living in ways that can only be described as ‘feudal’.

    i agree with what desi is saying. so many so called ‘high-class’ people hold exactly the same mentality and in fact the higher class you go, the more fine-tuned snobbishness you will see. because they want to keep their precious clan blood ‘precious’. kind of like how in victorian england, if you were a member of the nobility, who you married was of paramount interest (which is why everyone had paramours). the more important the people think their ‘tribe/caste/~family lineage’ the more they seemed to want to protect it.

    take what i have learned over the years about my parents families in bangladesh, and seeing what’s happened with my cousins. they all live in jessore where they are from, because they are descended from the zamindars, and the people who owned the neighbouring estate was not from the same particular grading in this ‘top-bottom being better than the other’ strata, but were ‘nouveau riche’ people who had only recently acquired land through merchant activities and not inherited it, they wouldn’t consider any of the proposals for my female cousins. and when any romances had been found out about, why there was so much scandal and the girl would not then be able to show her face for a goodish while because she’d brought the family’s ‘high’ honour down and she couldn’t go outside of the boundary of the family’s land etc. etc. of course there’s sexism bound up with this because my male cousins got away with all sorts but of course they had to marry the right kind of girls.

    of course the irony is – as always is with these families who inherit wealth and become used to their specialness and throw their weight around, don’t understand the concept of work, in the end, the world changes, and then the people who worked hard make more money, so the ‘old’ families feel they have “breeding and class” and their name to hang on to, and boy do they get precious about it.

    frankly, the idea of class and caste can be called ‘village mentality’ but as we can all see, its spread around everywhere, perhaps because so many people don’t live in the villages anymore!

    anyway we have centuries of proof of the kinds of discrimination the “upper” classes have wrought on their ‘lower class’ counterparts for breaching the ‘divides’. its imperialism, and for some reason, we tend to forget about it maybe because we are obsessed with focusing on ‘foreign’ different race imperialist activity.

    of course people seem to be forgetting that the whole idea of class is imperialist and elitist. and very ‘backward’ if you want to say see things as ‘progressive’ and backward.

    why my dear mother has no concept of equality of human beings and the rights of others who are not of the same class as her, (e.g. servants) because she came from this feudal background where you lorded it out over those people. even her religious beliefs (so called being equal in the eyes of Allah) have not changed those ideas.

    and unless people are going to start saying that in cities in the indian subcontinent class divisions (in mindset, not geography,) are not applying to people’s interactions anymore, well then..

  34. sonia — on 20th September, 2008 at 8:08 pm  

    the way i see it, the whole ‘honour’ killing thing shows up WHOLE societies. some people are violent and act on their anger, but the underlying attitudes are common to that society.

  35. sonia — on 20th September, 2008 at 8:10 pm  

    its like the KKK acting violently, but the racist attitudes were widespread, others weren’t acting violently, but sharing even a crumb of the kind of mindset that thinks one person is better than another, is definitely a big part of the problem.

    so some people don’t act murderously in their belief they are better than someone else, but that belief in the first place, is a big part of the problem.

  36. sonia — on 20th September, 2008 at 8:11 pm  

    this is of course seen in all arranged marriages even in today’s british asian city dwellers.

    whose family arranged a marriage with someone who was not considered of the ‘same class’?

  37. douglas clark — on 20th September, 2008 at 8:24 pm  

    Desi,

    No, that was not my point. I have zero experience of villages, especially not SE Asian ones, so I am not competent to talk about that. Having lived all my life in cities, I am pretty familiar with the attitudinal stuff that surrounds society. It is not that long ago that a Catholic marrying a Protestant would have caused absolute ructions in my home town. It seems to me that placing that behind us is a small step in the right direction.

    Class is inversely related to geography, at least I think it is. At least, economic class. Many moons ago I was taught that, dependent on education, you were less likely to move for work if you were uneducated than if you were educated. Which, sort of, makes sense. If you are a labourer, say, the outcome of moving is not as obviously financially beneficial as it is for, say, a doctor.

    Anyways, I don’t think movement from a rural to an urban environment has much to do with it. Personally I’d not give up either a son or a daughter to rampant idiocy. And neither would I want to impose my opinions on them. It is the latter point that seems to be missing in some folk, whether they are urban or rural or bloody well suburban. I’d actually hoped that they would be a bit more different from me than they turned out. Nurture, nature stuff.

  38. sonia — on 20th September, 2008 at 8:49 pm  

    Yes why is it journalists must have titles which don’t then actually match the facts of the story. if the girl was strangled with her scarf, actually that’s no less sensational – why not just say that?

  39. douglas clark — on 20th September, 2008 at 8:56 pm  

    Sonia @ 33, 34, 35, and 36,

    What I am trying to say, however badly, is that men and women need each other.

    And that it is fundamentally wrong to choose a sex based on ones idiocy, whatever cultural base the parents happen to have.

    And, pauses for breath, it is also completely wrong to see sons and daughters as seperate agents of a continuing narrative of some sort of arsed up idea of primogeniture. Which is, I’d have thought, an idea that no male who has a daughter would have any truck with. But, there you go.

    Women, good. Men, good. Any other idea, daft.

    Well, that’s what I think, at least until someone explains to me why I am wrong.

  40. Ravi Naik — on 20th September, 2008 at 10:48 pm  

    Why not just say, ‘insular, narrow, and backwards’ thinking, rather than adding a class modifier, esp. when you aren’t alluding to it?

    “Village mentality” has been born from an ideology that speaks to elitism, middle classism, and urbanism (I know the latter two are not real terms, but whatever, I just made them up). I don’t think it’s right to uphold such a doctrine…

    Oh please, spare me the lecture, desi. I gave the definition of what most people believe to be “village mentality” to make the point that Sunny was not saying that these occurrences happen in villages, or for that matter people of “low-class”.

    I also do not see how “low-class” and “high-class” enters the equation of “rural areas” and “urban centres” – it is pretty much orthogonal to me.

    Why the term “village mentality”? Is castecism in India prevalent in urban areas or rural areas? Is racism in the US prevalent in rural areas or urban areas? I understand it is unfair and unflattering though, but let’s not pretend that there isn’t a reason.

  41. Desi Italiana — on 21st September, 2008 at 12:30 am  

    Ravi:

    “Oh please, spare me the lecture, desi. I gave the definition of what most people believe to be “village mentality” to make the point that Sunny was not saying that these occurrences happen in villages, or for that matter people of “low-class”.”

    Ok, Ravi. Whatever you say. Of course no one thinks about the ‘village’ and ‘pindus’ when they say ‘village mentality,’ and that’s because everyone has your enlightened definition of ‘village mentality.’

  42. Desi Italiana — on 21st September, 2008 at 12:35 am  

    Douglas:

    “Class is inversely related to geography, at least I think it is. At least, economic class. Many moons ago I was taught that, dependent on education, you were less likely to move for work if you were uneducated than if you were educated.”

    Well, we ain’t talking about many moons ago, we are talking about 2008, where in the near future, the population will be more concentrated in cities than in rural areas. Why? Because poor people are flocking to cities for economic opportunities, and while there are some really, really rich people who are able to be a part of the jet-setting class to fly all around the world, there are also penniless people ending up in cities. You don’t need majors pesos for that, just go to any huge urban center anywhere in the world, particularly in ‘underdeveloped’ countries where there is a huge wealth disparity, to see what I mean. Even some cities in the US have these qualities.

    And it is not true that everyone living in the villages are poor, either. The landowners, moneylenders, and panchyats have lots of capital on them.

  43. Desi Italiana — on 21st September, 2008 at 12:39 am  

    ““It seems to me to be self evident that class – which is what you are on about here, I think, correct me if I am wrong – does tend to be inversely related to geography. So, the lower your class, the more tied you are to the immediate society you live in.””

    I really don’t understand what the hell ‘class tends to be inversely related to geography” means, but you’re totally off about lower class=more tied to the immediate society you live in. Rich families have their own social circle– which is their ‘society’– where certain attitudes reign, and they are no less bound and tied to them then poorer folks.

  44. sonia — on 21st September, 2008 at 12:41 am  

    42 = as you say Desi.

  45. justforfun — on 21st September, 2008 at 9:12 am  

    Point of note: lower caste Hindu family. Stupid, stupid people. And this kind of behaviour always comes from a village mentality.

    Desi – I was reading the first few comments after just reading this piece and getting a bit depressed. Glad you raised the issue.

    Sunny – I don’t believe you have written this as a serious refletion of your stance on the issue. If it is – it really runs counter to everything I thought you believed in, but that may be my error. I can only presume it’s to stir up a debate, which Desi is doing well.

    However – it does feel like an inappropriate use of these two unfortunate people’s deaths. But that is families! They are the biggest mortality risk for anyone – perhaps greater than smoking.

    justforfun

  46. justforfun — on 21st September, 2008 at 9:14 am  

    However – it does feel like an inappropriate use of these two unfortunate people’s deaths how do I write this so it sounds less sanctimonious? my apologies – but I hope people get my sentiment.

    justforfun

  47. Ravi Naik — on 21st September, 2008 at 10:27 am  

    Ok, Ravi. Whatever you say. Of course no one thinks about the ‘village’ and ‘pindus’ when they say ‘village mentality,’ and that’s because everyone has your enlightened definition of ‘village mentality.’

    Your “elitist” charge has one flaw. There is no real definition of what “high-class” and “low class” is. For some, it’s their caste, for others its their money… and others their education, others how pious they are with their religious/traditional beliefs. There is no real consensus, and high-caste hindus in villages will certainly think they are above and of higher-class than most people in urban centres.

    Which is to say, there are high-class and low-class people everywhere no matter what definition you use. And that is completely irrelevant to this discussion, IMHO.

    It is undeniable that urban centres have more diversity, are more cosmopolitan than rural areas, which are far more insular, more intolerant to strangers, and more likely to take law in their hands because they can. There have been several cases last year and this year of lynching dalit families, burning Christians, and other atrocities, and they usually happen in rural settings. This is akin to the deep South in the 50s, where blacks were tortured, hanged and burnt because they looked at a white woman, or refused to be humiliated by the good old boys. Even today, in 2008, Obama does badly in rural areas – reason? He is a negro. Castecism is not a big deal in urban centres, and “mixed” weddings are normal. But in villages, that’s a huge deal.

    And then you write this:

    And BTW, very enlightened, moneyed, urban, Delhi households have been using top notch doctors to run tests to find out if the wife is pregnant with a female. If it is so, they get abortions in nice, clean clinics

    Let me guess, you are pro-choice when it comes to Western women. But when it comes to Indian women, it is holocaust and murder? And why are we conflating pro-choice with murdering a teenage daughter and burning her/honour killing? Doesn’t seem right to me.

  48. Ashik — on 21st September, 2008 at 1:33 pm  

    I disagree with Ravi’s comments about urban areas being associated with ‘diversity’, and ‘cosmopolitan’ and ‘tolerant’ ideas more than rural areas. This is just the usual view held by some urbanites originating from South Asia with grandiose delusions of self. Hence the alternative connotations attached to the term ‘ village mentality’ as explained by Desi and others. My link at |}10 clearly shows urbanites and middleclass professionals have similar issues regarding concepts of ‘honour’ (Izoth) in South Asia. Besides urban areas have their own unique divisions and class distinctions. For example people living in Dhaka often congregate according to their districts of origin and will only intermarry with such people. New Delhi and Mumbai no doubt have similar congregations.

    In rural areas there are sometimes layers of protection and methods of reconciliation unavailable in the cities in izoth related incidents eg. Local ‘courts’ like Salish and Panchayt systems which can hear complaints and decide on punishments and compensations. While urban areas may have courts and police stations, ‘official’ state institutions usually are less effective and hold less confidence than unofficial ones in South Asia.

  49. Ravi Naik — on 21st September, 2008 at 2:31 pm  

    I disagree with Ravi’s comments about urban areas being associated with ‘diversity’, and ‘cosmopolitan’ and ‘tolerant’ ideas more than rural areas.

    I was not aware that you could disagree with this, as to me it is a fact that villages in India are more traditional and far less liberal when it comes to marrying outside the tribe – than urban centres where marrying outside caste, and even inter-religious marriages are becoming more acceptable, as well as the role of dalits.

    Now, this particular story of lovers being lynched and then burnt happened in a village near Delhi. Countless stories that I have read over the last two years, where dalits and other minorities were tortured and killed, happened in villages as well – basically, it comes with a group of people in a village who decided to take the law (their law) in their hands, and the rest of village just didn’t do much and did not cooperate with the state police. So, I understand where the term “village mentality” comes from.

    This is just the usual view held by some urbanites originating from South Asia with grandiose delusions of self.

    Oh, you are naughty. :)

  50. Jai — on 21st September, 2008 at 3:54 pm  

    I gave the definition of what most people believe to be “village mentality” to make the point that Sunny was not saying that these occurrences happen in villages, or for that matter people of “low-class”.

    Same here.

    Rich families have their own social circle– which is their ’society’– where certain attitudes reign, and they are no less bound and tied to them then poorer folks.

    Absolutely correct (as I alluded to in the last two paragraphs of #14). And again, this ain’t exclusively an Asian thing or something specific to the subcontinent.

    kind of like how in victorian england, if you were a member of the nobility, who you married was of paramount interest (which is why everyone had paramours).

    As a brief off-topic aside, I’ve seen this sort of thing a lot in my working environment in the I-Banking sector. Wealthy/successful/”high status” white guys with trophy WAGs who are expected to look and behave a certain way within the former’s social circle, and neither party is necessarily in the arrangement for genuine love. Some of the criteria involved and the dynamics I’ve observed have really reminded me of traditional desi arranged marriages. In some ways there are similar negative consequences due to the dysfunctional nature of the relationships (beneath the glamorous veneer).

    It is undeniable that urban centres have more diversity, are more cosmopolitan than rural areas, which are far more insular, more intolerant to strangers, and more likely to take law in their hands because they can.

    Broadly true but it varies significantly according to the specific village, some of which are obviously more enlightened than others.

    Castecism is not a big deal in urban centres,

    Apologies Ravi, I’ve got to disagree with you mate. Casteism is a big deal in both urban centres and villages (but usually a bigger deal in the latter).

    and “mixed” weddings are normal.

    More frequent, yes (and increasingly so these days), but not “normal”, buddy.

    Although….

    as to me it is a fact that villages in India are more traditional and far less liberal when it comes to marrying outside the tribe – than urban centres where marrying outside caste, and even inter-religious marriages are becoming more acceptable,

    Broadly-speaking I agree with the above, Ravi. Regarding urban groups, it does vary wildly according to the specific family, though.

    Is it because most people writing on this blog might be from the cities and probably not spent much time in villages in South Asia

    Not necessarily — most Asians on this blog are British-born or have at least grown up in the UK. And huge numbers of British Asians (especially from the older generations), including yours truly, have extensive ancestral and present-day familial links to Indian rural areas as well as more urban desi locations.

  51. Jai — on 21st September, 2008 at 3:58 pm  

    Which is why I don’t understand why there needs to be a distinction drawn between backwards ‘village’ types and idiotic urbanites, if they have one thing in common: ridiculous beliefs and practices. Why not focus on the common denominator?

    Totally agree and this is basically what I’ve been saying all along. Ideally it should also be what this thread should really be focusing on, rather than protracted urban vs. village tangents. And, following on from this…..

    And neither would I want to impose my opinions on them. It is the latter point that seems to be missing in some folk, whether they are urban or rural or bloody well suburban.

    Unfortunately there are arrogant, domineering, bullying, interfering types everywhere, whether they’re urban, rural, suburban, or indeed Asian or European.

    Never underestimate the human capacity for mofokery, Douglas.

    Which is the fundamental problem, as I keep saying.

  52. persephone — on 21st September, 2008 at 4:40 pm  

    As many have said on this blog its not about class/village/urban backgrounds but the commonality being those who seek to control their children, and when thwarted, take vicious or passive aggresive action.

  53. persephone — on 21st September, 2008 at 4:49 pm  

    Such control still happens in the UK with parents using emotional blackmail to get their son/daughter to marry someone who would fit the parents needs.

    Just last week, an asian boy in his mid twenties (graduate working urban professional)told me he is under pressure from his widowed father to marry a woman from India. When he was talking another asian female (arrived to the UK from india some 15 years ago) agreed with his dad as she thought women from India would have ‘family values’ !!!. The subtext being that brit asian women do not have family values…

  54. Desi Italiana — on 21st September, 2008 at 9:33 pm  

    Ravi:

    “Let me guess, you are pro-choice when it comes to Western women. But when it comes to Indian women, it is holocaust and murder? And why are we conflating pro-choice with murdering a teenage daughter and burning her/honour killing?”

    I was not, by any means, taking a position on abortion, nor was I conflating honour killings with the right to abortion, so your charge is ridiculously spurious and totally unrelated to what I am drawing attention to. I was pointing out how abortion is used in rich circles in urban centers to do away with female embryos because they are following their prejudices, and this proves that attitudes of prejudice, inequality, and sexism exist in monied circles. Where did I say this was the equivalent to honour killings or that Indian women should not have the right to abortion????? Please.

  55. Desi Italiana — on 21st September, 2008 at 9:38 pm  

    ravi:

    ““Let me guess, you are pro-choice when it comes to Western women. But when it comes to Indian women, it is holocaust and murder? And why are we conflating pro-choice with murdering a teenage daughter and burning her/honour killing?”

    Yeah, I think you confused me with what Ashik had written about aborting female fetuses and ‘a holocaust, really’. I didn’t say that, he/she did in #7:

    “Remember, Indian female abortion rates (a holocaust really) are made up disproportionately of family’s from educated middle class Indian families, including Doctors, who don’t want to pay dowry for a girl child.”

  56. Ravi Naik — on 21st September, 2008 at 9:54 pm  

    I was pointing out how abortion is used in rich circles in urban centers to do away with female embryos because they are following their prejudices, and this proves that attitudes of prejudice, inequality, and sexism exist in monied circles.

    Following their prejudices? I am really ignorant on this then. I thought the main and only reason women aborted female embryos was because they were a financial burden (dowry). I was unaware there was prejudice against females on the grounds of gender alone.

  57. Desi Italiana — on 21st September, 2008 at 9:58 pm  

    Ravi:

    “It is undeniable that urban centres have more diversity, are more cosmopolitan than rural areas, which are far more insular, more intolerant to strangers, and more likely to take law in their hands because they can.”

    I don’t get what ‘diversity’ has to do with your claim. If anything– and this is coming from a person who loves metropolitan areas and has spent a vast amount of her adult life in big cities– the more diversity, the more impelled SOME urban, rich folks (not all) are to impose strict homogeniety, which includes choosing the ‘suitable partner’ for their adult children, breaking relationships that are not ‘appropriate’ because they are not good for ‘good marriages’.

    And let me not get started on the new money diasporans who live amongst immense diversity who can be ridiculously narrow minded and cannot stomach any ‘outside’ influence ‘contaminating’ their home and bloodline. The Gujarati and Punjabi American communities (which I am the most familiar with), most of whom (not all) come from big cities or considerably large towns in India where there is ‘diversity’, live in American urban centers where they come across all sorts of people. Does this open their mind? Nope. They will be damned if their daughter or son marries a black American, a Mexican, a Pakistani American, a Muslim if said families are of Sikh or Hindu affiliation, or the wrong “Jat” or Bengali/insert non Gujarati/Punjabi background because “back home, they are like this and this!” Exceptions are made for white partners, I must add.

  58. Desi Italiana — on 21st September, 2008 at 9:59 pm  

    ravi:

    “Following their prejudices? I am really ignorant on this then. I thought the main and only reason women aborted female embryos was because they were a financial burden (dowry). I was unaware there was prejudice against females on the grounds of gender alone.”

    Then you can read up on it, my friend.

  59. Desi Italiana — on 21st September, 2008 at 10:07 pm  

    And this ‘suitable marriage’ thing and obsession with marriage is so oppressive. It really, really is. I cannot believe the amount of interference and invasion of respect and privacy. Not only do they push the institution of marriage on people (which is, from what I’ve witnessed, having a woman in the house to cater, serve, pick up after everyone else, and completely renounce her own independence for the ‘sake of the family’), but it’s such a disrespectful thing to do to their GROWN, ADULT children who have the right to make their own decisions about their own lives. It’s also incredibly disrespectful and condescending to everyone else who does not fit the “suitable” bill, like when parents force their kids to marry someone ‘from our background”. What, someone whose labels are different from yours are inferior? Such superiority, not to mention the lack of personal goals to keep them occupied and distracted from butting into everyone else’s business. Worst offenders of this are the housewives, esp. the ones whose husbands make lots of money, who, when not watching Indian soap operas (which focus on marriage) or recording Sa Re Gama, Indian Idol, think their only purpose in life is to ‘raise her children well,’ even if the ‘children’ are like 35 years old, have their own lives, are independent, make their own money, etc but are still babied and infantalized.

  60. Desi Italiana — on 21st September, 2008 at 10:16 pm  

    ^^

    To add to

    “Worst offenders of this are the housewives, esp. the ones whose husbands make lots of money, who, when not watching Indian soap operas (which focus on marriage) or recording Sa Re Gama, Indian Idol, think their only purpose in life is to ‘raise her children well,’ even if the ‘children’ are like 35 years old, have their own lives, are independent, make their own money, etc but are still babied and infantalized.”

    I’m amazed by how much I hear women who have been indoctrinated or forced into a type of marriage where they are relegated to the home say, “My only duty in life is to make sure my children are settled well,” which almost always translates as “Marry them off to ‘suitable’ partners.” It is a type of fundamentalism that is worrisome. If you don’t want your kids exposed to diversity, buy yourself an island, populate it with people who are only of ‘your kind’, and raise your kids there. If not, shut up and accept that grown children will make their own decisions and if choose to get married at all, they might marry people ‘different’ from you.

  61. Ravi Naik — on 21st September, 2008 at 10:19 pm  

    I don’t get what ‘diversity’ has to do with your claim.

    And let me not get started on the new money diasporans who live amongst immense diversity who can be ridiculously narrow minded and cannot stomach any ‘outside’ influence ‘contaminating’ their home and bloodline.

    Precisely – these are first gen immigrants. But 2nd-3rd gen like ourselves are less likely to have this insular mentality, because we are born into diversity, and therefore are able to call out on our parents and grandparents’ prejudices.

    more diversity, the more impelled SOME urban, rich folks (not all) are to impose strict homogeniety

    Actually, diversity doesn’t mean there isn’t socio-economic cliques. In fact, we get along with people that have the same interests, education, and culture – and it is natural that our friends belong to the same socio-economic background as we are.

    Then you can read up on it, my friend.

    I shall. And apologies for having mixed up what you were saying on this issue of abortion.

  62. Desi Italiana — on 21st September, 2008 at 10:24 pm  

    Ravi:

    “Precisely – these are first gen immigrants. But 2nd-3rd gen like ourselves are less likely to have this insular mentality, because we are born into diversity, and therefore are able to call out on our parents and grandparents’ prejudices.”

    Maybe British Desis are different (and they might really be), but I have not had that experience in the US, where the Indian American population is evenly spread out in the US (which means they are around a majority that is not similar to them, most likely white), and wherever there is an Indian American concentration, it is in big cities where there is immense diversity (SF, NY). I’ve seen people born and raised in the US just like me who are just as insular as their 1-gen parents, who hold the idea of marrying ‘their own kind’ very dear to them, who willingly look forward to marrying said person because we are ‘Indian’ (!), looked down on ‘mixed’ relationships and call these open minded people ‘sell-outs’, hold similar prejudices as their parents (especially against subcontinental Muslims), and get irritated when they aren’t around a majority desi. There was a young woman in my college (from a very rich family) who turned down an internship with a well-known and prestiguous firm because, in her words, ‘There weren’t enough Indian people there.”

  63. Desi Italiana — on 21st September, 2008 at 10:31 pm  

    I am going to a launch a global movement and encourage everyone to have sex with people who are ‘different’ from them, and if heterosexual, hopefully pro-create with these folks. Once ‘mixed’ people are the majority (and actually, everyone around the world is ‘mixed’ to some degree but some people don’t like to think they are), the others who disagree with this will either shut up or put up with it. Eventually they will be weeded out through natural selection. And don’t accuse me of eugenics!

  64. sonia — on 21st September, 2008 at 10:51 pm  

    59 desi absolutely.

    ravi – whilst no doubt there is a certain element of

    “but 2nd-3rd gen like ourselves are less likely to have this insular mentality, because we are born into diversity, and therefore are able to call out on our parents and grandparents’ prejudices.”

    going on, its surprising how many 2nd and 3rd gen british asians still hold the insular mentality – look at the desi arranged market and rishta aunties, they’re not hooking people up regardless of class/tribe/caste/religion affiliations. of course more and more people are ‘marrying out’ but given the opportunities, it’s suprising how many people are going for the “suitable” matches. perhaps not so surprising because people still are generally very much in the clutches of their families and extended families, and there’s less hassle if spouse is ‘suitable’. and given how many asian boys still seem to expect their wives to move in with mama,(which i find incredible) and if mama doesn’t approve of wifey, there’s going to be lots of trouble.

  65. Desi Italiana — on 22nd September, 2008 at 1:34 am  

    Ravi:

    “In fact, we get along with people that have the same interests, education, and culture – and it is natural that our friends belong to the same socio-economic background as we are.”

    Not always. My ass has been broke for many, many years, and yet I have friends who are really well-off.

  66. sonia — on 22nd September, 2008 at 2:17 am  

    so true desi. especially when those of us who could have been doctors lawyers investment bankers management consultants instead went and worked for non-profits/travelled/worked for non-profits and all our peers and uni friends who did go and become doctors lawyers “professionals” straight out of uni and never took that career break…

  67. sonia — on 22nd September, 2008 at 2:20 am  

    63 – heh desi i think your global movement is here already. for example, taking a look around any london bar/ and you can see it happening.. (the likes of ashik must be very disapproving_) of course you wont see too many mixed asian something couples wandering around brick lane, unless they’re definitely not from the area.

  68. sonia — on 22nd September, 2008 at 2:39 am  

    India Parenting:

    “”Iyer boy Srivatsam Revathi Brahacharanam seeks fair, homely, cultured bride of same caste…” reads a classified in the matrimonial section of a newspaper. But why the same caste? Should it matter? One look at the way the matrimonial section is classified – separate sections for Gujaratis, Bengalis, and Maharashtrians – and it is clear that it does matter”

    ..Marriage of religions, not people
    Couples adjust, families don’t

    People say they are not that rigid, but when it comes to religion, take it with a pinch of salt. Take Mrs. Khanna for instance. Her son married a Muslim girl. She says, “Like all parents I would have preferred my son to marry a girl from our community. But once I met Saira, I had no objection to the marriage because my daughter-in-law is a wonderful person. My only condition is that my grandchildren be brought up in the Hindu faith.”

    These objections on religious grounds seem to have no rationale behind them. If Mrs. Khanna’s daughter-in-law is a wonderful person in spite of being a Muslim, then as long as Mrs. Khanna’s grandchildren also grow up to be wonderful people, does it really matter if they are Hindu or not? But then, religion and rationality rarely go hand in hand.

  69. Ravi Naik — on 22nd September, 2008 at 10:15 am  

    Not always. My ass has been broke for many, many years, and yet I have friends who are really well-off.

    I am not suggesting that we choose our friends according to our salaries, and we leave our friends when we earn less or more than them. But as a rule (and lots of exceptions, obviously) we do tend to stick with people that share our interests, and this obviously is linked to our socio-economic-cultural-education background. So, “rich people” sticking with their own is just a corollary of all this.

    its surprising how many 2nd and 3rd gen british asians still hold the insular mentality – look at the desi arranged market and rishta aunties, they’re not hooking people up regardless of class/tribe/caste/religion affiliations.

    My experience (and I will not pretend like I know what I am talking about) is that a lot of 2nd gen and 3rd gen British Asians share two identities: a more traditional one when they interact with their family and community, and a westernised one when they interact with mainstream (for those that have the chance). This leads to what we call identity crisis, but I don’t believe this mentality is insular at all – even though they might cave into pressure to marry with their own, and follow their traditions.

    I am very dubious – for the majority of cases – that you can actually keep every generation completely in tune with tradition and completely alienated from mainstream.

  70. Desi Italiana — on 22nd September, 2008 at 6:57 pm  

    Ravi:

    “I am very dubious – for the majority of cases – that you can actually keep every generation completely in tune with tradition and completely alienated from mainstream.”

    I don’t think the 2-ger and onwards folks with narrow-minded mentalities are ‘in tune with tradition’ and ‘completely alienated from the mainstream.’ For a lot of these kids/adults, their mainstream IS Indian Americanism, which means:

    Have lots of money because mummy and daddy are doctors, we are “Punjabi/Gujarati” (never mind the fact that they were born and raised here in America), and we will do x/y/z because that’s what “Indians do.” I am of course not pointing to the 2-gers who ARE open-minded, including the 1-gers who are very open minded as well. I’m just saying that I don’t think it’s always true that when you are born and raised amidst ‘diversity,’ you are therefore open-minded.

    “My experience (and I will not pretend like I know what I am talking about) is that a lot of 2nd gen and 3rd gen British Asians share two identities: a more traditional one when they interact with their family and community, and a westernised one when they interact with mainstream (for those that have the chance).”

    I disagree with dual a “traditional’ identity and ‘westernized’ identity. More specifically, I disagree with calling something ‘traditional’ and something ‘western’.

  71. Ravi Naik — on 22nd September, 2008 at 7:15 pm  

    I’m just saying that I don’t think it’s always true that when you are born and raised amidst ‘diversity,’ you are therefore open-minded..

    You are not adding much, then. Everyone can agree that “always true” can be easily dismissed because you can always find one single counter-example that makes the whole statement untrue.

    The real question is whether someone who is born in a diverse setting and goes to school with people of different backgrounds is less likely to be insular than someone who is born in a homogeneous environment. There is – in my view – a world of difference between 1st gen immigrants and 2nd, 3rd and 4th gen in that sense.

    I disagree with calling something ‘traditional’ and something ‘western’.

    I am sure you do.

  72. Desi Italiana — on 22nd September, 2008 at 7:45 pm  

    Ravi:

    “The real question is whether someone who is born in a diverse setting and goes to school with people of different backgrounds is less likely to be insular than someone who is born in a homogeneous environment.”

    Ravi, I don’t think they are ‘less likely’, that is what I have been saying this whole time (or at least I feel like I’ve been saying this)!

  73. Desi Italiana — on 22nd September, 2008 at 7:46 pm  

    Is everyone here having sex with someone ‘different’ from them right now? If not, you better get on it!

  74. Desi Italiana — on 22nd September, 2008 at 7:51 pm  

    Ravi:

    “I am very dubious – for the majority of cases – that you can actually keep every generation completely in tune with tradition and completely alienated from mainstream.”

    “Traditional” is very, very relative and it tends to take on the characteristics of whatever place you are living in… there are ‘traditional’ things that Indian Americans do here (both 1-ger and 2-ger) because they argue that ‘that is how it is done in India’ when it is not true. I wish I could create a collage of all the Indians from India who do not go to mandhir on a regular basis, do not do puja, and yes, have NEVER EVER danced in a garba. But in the Indian American sense, this means picking up a man/woman from India, getting them married, giving a big ass dowry of a house and car, settling down into a yuppy lifestyle in some American suburb, going to mandhir on Sundays, dancing garba doing Navrati, but milking the US economy for their own financial benefits and not giving two shits about what is going on in the country they are now living in. This is what I mean by ‘tradition’ being relative, in that I don’t think ‘tradition’ can be pinned to one place and then transferred over in its entirety…

  75. Desi Italiana — on 22nd September, 2008 at 7:54 pm  

    So to now actually make my point, I think the ‘traditional’ often IS much of the mainstream of whatever place people are living at.

  76. Desi Italiana — on 22nd September, 2008 at 7:55 pm  

    Anyway, regardless of where one lives, what generation they are, what village or city they hail from, honour killings, murder, casteism, etc are bad.

  77. ramiie — on 22nd September, 2008 at 8:59 pm  

    phonies…half of the male commentators on this subject are phonies. How would any of you feel if your daughter/sister/neice was caught in a compromisng position with a Black man who is not, but look the spitting image of Winston Silcott?
    It always make me laugh whenever I hear Indians/Pakistanis/Bangladeshis whatever fulminate against racist intolerance in romantic matters. Come on gentlemen..my sides!!!

  78. Jai — on 22nd September, 2008 at 11:36 pm  

    Ravi,

    A small point, since I decided to quickly check my email at this ungodly hour and ended up taking a momentary drive-through detour on PP.

    You and Desi Italiana are actually both correct — within the context of immigrant experiences and behaviour in the UK and the US respectively. Remember that in some ways the two countries are quite different regarding race relations, attitudes to racial matters etc (although there is obviously an overlap to some extent).

    This includes attitudes amongst members of the younger generations in their respective South Asian populations. Yes, there is definitely a lot of common ground, but in other aspects the history and cultural development of the two populations have followed different paths (so far). I’m not going to expand on this because, well, frankly I can’t be arsed, especially as I remember the subject repeatedly being beaten to death, resuscitated by a skilled surgeon, and then beaten to death all over again by myself and some online friends on my old stomping ground of Sepia Mutiny a few years ago.

    So, in my view, neither you nor Desi Italiana is wrong in what you are both saying. It’s just that your respective reference points and experiences are different.

  79. sonia — on 22nd September, 2008 at 11:53 pm  

    well said Jai

  80. Desi Italiana — on 23rd September, 2008 at 12:29 am  

    Jai, I agree with you that I am correct ;)

  81. Desi Italiana — on 23rd September, 2008 at 12:40 am  

    ^^ Just kidding.

  82. kELvi — on 23rd September, 2008 at 4:49 pm  

    As usual Desi Italiana is hyperventilating about how Hindus in the West try to keep their children married within the fold – never mind that this is exactly what Christians, Muslims, Jains, and Sikhs also outside India practice. Of course Jains, Sikhs, and Hindus do find a way to intermarry without much fuss when the couple in question are from families in the same region. So a Sikh-Hindu alliance is not that much of a problem when the Hindu family is Punjabi – even Sindhi at a stretch. Similarly a Jain Gujarati and a Hindu Gujarati or a Marwari Jain and a Marwari Hindu usually don’t have a problem after the initial hiccups. Beyond that, for Hindus, some common ground is usually worked out. For Tamil and Telugu families it is more difficult especially for the former. There is a reluctance of sorts on both sides and if there has been no history of intermarriage within the families it becomes a tricky problem. Here again the influence from India plays strong. Chettiar-Iyer marriages are not rare any longer after India Cements’ N.Srinivasan’s daughter Rupa married an AV Meyappan great grandson Gurunath recently. Rather than dump invective on these families let us appreciate the ones who air their fears i nthe open and try to work out a compromise. Beyond that it is perfectly understandable for a Hindu family in the West to be in fear of their children marrying outside the fold as Muslim-Indian-American and Christian-Indian-American families too exhibit the same reluctance which is if anything stronger.

    As regards abortion, which I endorse as a woman’s right to choice, it is no one’s case that it should be the first resort for birth control. But I also oppose, condemn, and demand the strictest penalties for families, and doctors who abort girl babies. The freedom to choose and sex-selective-abortion are not one and the same.

  83. Desi Italiana — on 23rd September, 2008 at 7:49 pm  

    Kelvi:

    “As usual Desi Italiana is hyperventilating about how Hindus in the West try to keep their children married within the fold – never mind that this is exactly what Christians, Muslims, Jains, and Sikhs also outside India practice.”

    If you read my comments, you wouldn’t be saying that, but there you go.

  84. Desi Italiana — on 23rd September, 2008 at 7:51 pm  

    “Beyond that it is perfectly understandable for a Hindu family in the West to be in fear of their children marrying outside the fold as Muslim-Indian-American and Christian-Indian-American families too exhibit the same reluctance which is if anything stronger.”

    What’s your point? Are honour killings or offing people because they decided to get with people ‘outside’ of ‘their community’ ok?

  85. Don — on 23rd September, 2008 at 8:04 pm  

    The freedom to choose and sex-selective-abortion are not one and the same.

    I tend to agree with that, but I’m not sure why. Maybe if you talked us through your reasoning? Both are often economic decisions, is social pressure the dividing factor? Something else?

    As for the bulk of your comment, obviously I have no knowledge whatever about whether Gujurati sikhs and Punjabi hindus (or variations thereof) find inter-marriage acceptable. In such matters I just tend to assume that Desi and Sonia are right and anyone who disagrees with them is wrong.

    Simplistic and of no value to the debate, but it works for me.

  86. kELvi — on 23rd September, 2008 at 10:19 pm  

    Desi Italiana says, “What’s your point? Are honour killings or offing people because they decided to get with people ‘outside’ of ‘their community’ ok?” If you had read what I have written you wouldn’t say that…But there you go…Inter-community alliances happen all the time in India, in fact way beyond the number of (dis)honour(able) murders. If you have watched a talk show like Visu’s “Arattai Arangam” in Tamizh – these usually feature about 500-1000 people, you will see what I mean. And that is just in Tamizh Nadu. There is a history of inter-community marriage in Sindh/Punjab, Gujarat and Rajasthan. It has been a long standing custom among some Punjabi (and some Sindhi) Hindu families to bring up the first son as a Sikh. And although the politically perverse (aka correct) deracinated bunch calls this all sorts of names [(it has no sancion in Sikhism; it is a brahminical import from Hindu castocracy, it is an othering of others and other such bilge)] this has led to greater acceptance of inter-marriage. Punjabi Hindus and Sindhi Hindus observe Gurparb, keep the Guru Granth Sahib at home (read LKA’s bio about it) and eatr the same food. Similarly among Rajasthanis and Gujaratis, Hindus and Jains have lived and worked closely, they eat the same food, and exchange aartis and pujas. The custom has now carried over into the US, where we have quite a few mandirs with a murti of Mahavirji. At the mandir in my town, we recently celbrated the pratishthan of Mahavirji and Mahavir Jayanti with the pandits performing the puja. There are other historical links between Hindus/Sikhs and Muslims in Sindh and Punjab. Jhulelal the patron muni of Sindh is still held in reverence by Sindhis Muslim and Hindu alike. And haven’t we heard Nusrat saab sing in praise of Jhulelal?

    Desi Italiana, let me be clear about this. Anyone killing their children because they don’t want them marrying against the family’s wishes is a criminal. There is no honour in killing family or otherwise. It is at times like this I have a hard time arguing the death penalty. Or maybe a parent who bumps off his daughter should be locked up for life and made to repent his vile deed.

    And so now for anecdotes.

    Family#1 Dawoodi Bohra brother and sister. Brother (my friend is married to a vegetarian Sindhi and turned away from meat entirely. His sister married a Guarati Hindu and changed her name from Razia to Rajini and became a Hindu. It helped that both the couples speak fluent Gujarati. My friend and his wife visit Siddhi Vinayaka at least once a month.

    Family#2 – Kutchi Memon man married to a Bengali Hindu for 35 years. He has two sons – both of whom have a Hindu 1st name and a Muslim middle name.

    Family#3 – Muslim Pathan family – three boys and two girls. The 2nd son married a Malayali Christian-Hindu. The 1st sister married a Hindu. The family adopted a girl baby about 15 years ago and brought her up as a Hindu and this year they celebrated Ganesh Puja at home, with hejab clad ladies and capped gentlemen before Ramzan lining up for the aarti. Salman Khan anyone?

    Five years back the CM of Pakistan Punjab decided that Basant and Holi should be an official festival. He invited the pandit to the CM’s residence, who applied a tilak on his forehead. Recently the legislators in Baluchistan have banded together to renivate Hinglaj Mata mandir in Gwadar and are threatening to physically evict land grabbers.

    Three years back when the Minnesota Hindu Mandir was vandalised, a group of Bangladeshi-Muslim-Americans organised a benefit concert to fund the repairs!

    I am always hopeful. As much hate as we see, we will see even more love and understanding.

  87. Desi Italiana — on 23rd September, 2008 at 10:58 pm  

    But Kelvi, you said that I’m “hyperventilating about Hindus” when I clearly said in my comment that I am talking about the Gujarati and Punjabi families that I know in the US, most of whom are overwhelmingly either Hindu or Sikh. I spoke about what I am most familiar with. I never said anything about Hindus en masse doing stuff, nor did I say anywhere in my comments that it’s only Hindus or people of a Hindu background who have criteria for whom to marry, etc.

    By all means, add whatever anecdotes that you wish, whether they involve Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, or not. Just, you know, read my comments before commenting on them…

  88. Ravi Naik — on 23rd September, 2008 at 11:47 pm  

    So, in my view, neither you nor Desi Italiana is wrong in what you are both saying. It’s just that your respective reference points and experiences are different.

    Well, I think one of us is wrong. It is completely counter-intuitive that 2nd/3rd/4th gen living in a new country can be completely alienated from the mainstream culture, and keep up with the same traditional culture as 1st gen. I define mainstream as the culture shared by the majority of the population, and “traditional” the ancestral culture from 1st gen immigrants.

    It is also counter-intuitive to me that 2nd, 3rd, 4th gen living in liberal countries in a diverse setting keep the same prejudices as 1st gen immigrant, specially if they go to school with others. Desi’s description of Indo-Americans seems to me like a crude caricature.

  89. Ravi Naik — on 23rd September, 2008 at 11:48 pm  

    I am in Italy right now – in a place called Ancona. My Italian is improving a lot. :)

  90. Desi Italiana — on 24th September, 2008 at 12:13 am  

    “It is completely counter-intuitive that 2nd/3rd/4th gen living in a new country can be completely alienated from the mainstream culture, and keep up with the same traditional culture as 1st gen.”

    Wait a minute— just because people follow “traditional culture’ (as defined by you) does NOT mean they are always alienated from mainstream culture.

    “Desi’s description of Indo-Americans seems to me like a crude caricature.”

    You really think I am talking about Indo-Americans en masse, or just the ones that hold a castist like mentality?

  91. Desi Italiana — on 24th September, 2008 at 12:16 am  

    Ravi:

    “I am in Italy right now – in a place called Ancona. My Italian is improving a lot. :)

    What in god’s name are you doing by reading a blog and posting comments while you are in Italy? ;)

    Try the ‘frutta alla mostarda’ when you wolf down a steak or something red meat.

    Also, if you have time, head down to the south.

  92. Desi Italiana — on 24th September, 2008 at 12:17 am  

    Ravi:

    “Well, I think one of us is wrong.”

    YOU!

  93. digitalcntrl — on 24th September, 2008 at 2:28 am  

    @Desi
    “but milking the US economy for their own financial benefits and not giving two shits about what is going on in the country they are now living in”

    Isn’t that what everyone does around here?

  94. Jai — on 24th September, 2008 at 11:08 am  

    It is completely counter-intuitive that 2nd/3rd/4th gen living in a new country can be completely alienated from the mainstream culture, and keep up with the same traditional culture as 1st gen. I define mainstream as the culture shared by the majority of the population, and “traditional” the ancestral culture from 1st gen immigrants…..It is also counter-intuitive to me that 2nd, 3rd, 4th gen living in liberal countries in a diverse setting keep the same prejudices as 1st gen immigrant, specially if they go to school with others.

    In theory, Ravi. In theory. The problem is, human beings are strange creatures, and don’t always behave or react in ways one would expect or predict ;)

    Although your reasoning is correct hypothetically, and there are plenty of people (let’s focus on Asians, for obvious reasons) who do think and act in the manner you’ve described, you and I both know that there are also plenty of 2nd/3rd generation people within some Asian populations right here in Blighty who do indeed perpetuate a lot of their older generation’s prejudices and “traditional” cultural norms.

    It all depends on the specific individual, how much they’re influenced by their older relatives/social circles, how many people from the same background are present in any particular setting, and whether their experiences with people from different backgrounds in more diverse environments have been (and continue to be) positive or negative.

    Again, I’m not saying you’re necessarily wrong, by any means — just saying that these observations and comments don’t always apply to everyone, especially if one is comparing the Asian community in the UK to our counterparts in the US. Also, just to be clear, my comments apply equally to Desi Italiana’s statements, although I think she’s realised that. There is a considerable element of truth in what you’ve both been saying.

    Interestingly, the percentage of marriage to non-desis by Asians in the US is much higher than the rate amongst British Asians.

  95. Ravi Naik — on 24th September, 2008 at 1:28 pm  

    Wait a minute— just because people follow “traditional culture’ (as defined by you) does NOT mean they are always alienated from mainstream culture.

    I am definitely not implying that, as can be seen in #69.

    YOU!

    At least we agree that one of us is wrong. :)

    You really think I am talking about Indo-Americans en masse, or just the ones that hold a castist like mentality?

    We are talking about immigrants en masse, and the culture dynamic of 2nd/3rd/4th gen vis-a-vis the ancestral culture of 1st gen immigrant. I am defending two things (#69):

    1) That in 2nd-gen onwards, we play around with two identities – the ancestral one and the mainstream (dominant culture of the host country) one.
    2) That as you move through generations, you start losing the ancestral link and start adopting the cultural aspects of the host country. The corollary of this is that descendants of immigrants that live in a liberal diverse setting will be more likely (notice not saying there are no exceptions) adopt liberal values, and reject some of the cultural prejudices of the ancestral culture.

    What in god’s name are you doing by reading a blog and posting comments while you are in Italy? Try the ‘frutta alla mostarda’ when you wolf down a steak or something red meat.

    Certo che mi ricordo di te perché sono in italia, grazie mille per il suggerimento!

  96. sonia — on 24th September, 2008 at 10:50 pm  

    also always useful to keep in mind the diaspora effect: many people who would otherwise probably ‘back home’ be less traditional, or the family would have been more relaxed as time went by, can become are much more hung up about ‘tradition’ because of the distance+nostalgia+ romanticisation factor. not so surprising that..

  97. kELvi — on 26th September, 2008 at 4:10 am  

    Sonia,

    The diaspora effect can also work the other way.

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