India’s Rape Crisis: Don’t Simply Blame the Men

by Sharell शारेल on January 2, 2013

in Culture Shock in India

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The recent gangrape and beating of a 23 year old Indian woman in Delhi (and her subsequent tragic death) has shaken not only India but the world. It dominated the news in Australia, where I was visiting my family last month, along with the shocking statistic that a rape happens every 22 minutes in India. It’s a grave matter because India’s international reputation is now at stake and the situation has left the world waiting for answers and action to be taken.

I didn’t want to write anything about the rape for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it’s left me with a lot of negative feelings and I don’t want to dwell on them as it will make living in India disturbing for me. Secondly, as I’ve previously mentioned, I’ve reached a stage where I feel less inclined to want to write about contentious issues in India. I’ve gone through a phase of “locking horns” with India and questioning how the country functions. Now, I’ve reached a stage of resignation. It is what it is, and as I’m not a citizen of India, it’s not really my place to judge and criticise.

However, I’ve been asked to write something about the rape situation here in the hopes of igniting a constructive discussion, so I’ll briefly share my views about it.

The simple thing to do is to just blame the men for raping — after all they’re committing the act. Where’s their self control? It goes deeper than that though. The core of the matter is why men think that they can keep behaving in such a way. And, the reason is because Indian society and the legal system supports such behaviour.

Take an example such as Hitler. He was the perpetrator of many horrific acts. Yet, he would never have been able to carry them out if so many people didn’t support him.

In India, the rape of women is directly or indirectly supported by a range of factors including:

  • the lesser status of women in society and the manner in which they are shunned if rape does happen to them.
  • an ineffective legal system where women are discouraged from reporting rapes, and the rapists can get free through such means as offering bribes. India’s legal system is also notoriously inefficient and long winded, and conviction rates for rapes low.
  • politicians who have cases of rape and sexual harassment against them being commonplace. Political parties support them and allow them to enter politics.

It’s the attitude of Indian society towards women and rape victims that’s particularly disturbing. A friend of mine wrote an excellent, well researched, blog post about it.

She states:

“I was sad to discover the “11% Truth” about rape in India – or what happens to a child or woman after being a victim of a rape or incest. I surveyed and asked If a girl or woman is raped in India, will she have the same chances in life as anyone else? (for example, to find a good husband, live a normal family life, etc…). A resounding 89% of Indians believe that she never will. That means that only 11% of victims will end up leading a happy ‘normal’ life if anyone were to find out that she’d been raped. In part, that explains very vividly the low number of reports filed following a rape. Keeping it a secret seems like the only chance some girls have to find a good husband later.”

She also reveals:

“When I asked If a girl is raped, does this bring shame – or embarrassment – onto the family of the victim? 50% of respondents answered YES. A large number of respondents left follow-up comments to that question like, “my personal answer is no, but the real answer in many Indian families would be yes.” I read countless stories of village girls and women thrown out and banned from their homes after being raped. This is done to minimise damage to the family’s status within the community and reduce the level of shame brought down upon them as much as possible.”

From this, it is clear that the fundamentals of Indian society need to change. I dearly want to believe that the girl’s death will be a catalyst for this much needed change. It’s a hope that I’m clinging to because I don’t want to accept the alternative — that her death will be in vain and forgotten about in years to come, and that the attitudes that support rapes and mistreatment of women will prevail.

Your thoughts on the matter?

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© Copyright 2013 Sharell शारेल, Diary of a White Indian Housewife 2008-2014. All Rights Reserved. Do not copy and reproduce text or images without permission.

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{ 273 comments… read them below or add one }

abu_rizvi January 6, 2013 at 2:56 am

Sharell – I don’t understand how you have lived in India for so many years. I live in Saudi and its much better place than India. In fact its the best place in the world. I request both you and your husband to move to Saudi. the King is soon going to start a royal Disco!

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Sandra April 6, 2013 at 1:41 pm

Haha what a nice invitation :). I must say that I Saudi is definitely safer than India for women but I wouldnt call it the best place in the world :D. I lived there for some time and got seriously bored. You need more than one disco Abu_Rizvi :D. but I guess that what Bahrain is for.

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Sourav Roy January 6, 2013 at 9:29 am

Sharell, I love your posts. They are real, unpretentious and easy to connect with. I am married to a German lady and trust me, going back to India is not on the cards for us soon, for reasons galore. Many of which have been so candidly explained by you in some of your posts. However, if this is any consolation to you then our kid is perhaps the cutest mixed kid on earth and that’s a major reason enough rekindling the love and happiness over and over again.

Anyway, I like your post on the recent gang-rape in India. It lacks the jingoism of the trigger-happy Indian media and is so much more real and identifiable. Here’s sharing my thoughts on this matter as well:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sourav-roy/why-women-get-so-easily-r_b_2335078.html

Best Wishes,
Sourav Roy
Singapore

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MomWithaDot January 7, 2013 at 9:17 am

Sourav,

‘Decayed’ is the word I used recently while discussing this with my husband. It’s apt, IMO. “Vruksho rakshatih rakshitah …… Dharmo Rakshatih rakshitah” India has protected neither its trees nor its Dharma. As soon as one part gets infected (fruit or tree or body or values…) it is best to isolate it and remove the infected part. India has allowed infections to spread beyond repair and hence the decay.

That being said, I am surprised you bring in the Yogis and Hindu Dharma angle as being responsible for the social temperature. Since when does Indian society perform per Hindu Dharma anyway? When Shankaracharya and his Holy Ashram both were rudely attacked? When politicians and celebrities land in helicopters on the Holy Shrines on Tirupati? When politicians convert to Christianity but still retain their Hindu names so they can play vote bank politics? When mosques and temples are played with; like keys on an instrument to Politicians tunes? If society were to learn from Hindu scripture, why would they not learn from Mahabharata or Chandi Path instead? The finger inserting technique you mention, is an equipment of this defected Administration, not an inference from Hinduism. Come to think of it, it reminds me of the “groping the Pope” ritual of ancient Roman Catholics. If you need a placeholder for blame it is solely the administration. It is because of lack of political will that rape, corruption and crime in general is a day-day matter in India. Why were peaceful protesters against this incident lathi-charged and tear gassed? Why was the poor girl moved to Singapore when it was almost certain that she would die? Refer to Wiki on this –

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2012_Delhi_gang_rape_case.

There are way too many fingers pointing towards the Govt. and its Admn. I have no hope for the Indian Administration. But I do hope progressive writers refrain from blaming millenia old religious philosophies instead of lashing out on self serving politicians. And finally, why Shame? Why not rage or retaliation ? Why not support or Pride for the common people that at least had the guts to get out on the streets and do something about it instead of merely hanging their heads in shame.

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Manny January 7, 2013 at 10:36 am

MomwithaDot

Very well put..these buggers have been putting down Dharma and Hinduism for the last 65 years…well 700 of Islamic tyranny and then 300 years of Anglican tyranny and then 65 years Nehruvian commie socialism and Anti Hinduism in India..

And now these buggers are trying to blame Dharma? What cheeky buggers eh?

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Dee January 6, 2013 at 11:03 am

Sharell, I share the same hope. This story of the young girl as well as the rape statistics have gone international. Especially here in the US. Petitions are being signed in hopes that our government will do something. Although it may not be something India would be happy about the US butting in. But the point is this young girl’s story is being heardpand I hope that this will light a fire under the corrupt politicians and law enforcement to get their act together. Lord knows I have had my own experience in dealing with the law out there when my husband and I got married. It’s heart breaking to know these women are subjected to this nightmare. Life is to be valued and a woman is as precious cause she is someones daughter, sister, wife and mother.

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Gaurav January 6, 2013 at 10:45 pm

India is so fucked up in so many different ways, that it is not even funny. Right from mothers and fathers who throw away female fetuses, to politicians who think chowmein causes hormonal imbalances (WTF!?) to those who watch porn in parliament. I am truly amazed at your resilience to stick it out here.

On a more positive note, inspired by your 7th year anniversary post, I have decided that from now on, I am going to complain a lot less about Mumbai and India in general. It doesn’t help. Wastes too much of my time. I will take it for what it is, create a little bubble around me and live in that as much as I can.

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Nik January 7, 2013 at 7:57 am

Hi Sharell,
While I can certainly understand your hesitation to write about the subject, I do appreciate you doing so. You have a powerful voice not only in India, but throughout the world. What we need now is for those voices to be heard and I thank you for using your voice constructively.
Thanks!!

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Sharell शारेल January 7, 2013 at 10:08 am

Thanks for the encouragement, Nik. I appreciate it. :-)

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MomWithaDot January 7, 2013 at 10:01 am

Sharell, I can imagine how it must be for you and many other women out there, when sitting here oceans away, I’m in tears and rage and disgust, alternately. I’ve signed the petition Dee mentions in her comment and am campaigning for more signatures –

http://www.change.org/petitions/president-cji-stop-rape-now

Lets do our bit and hope for the best.

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Padparadscha January 7, 2013 at 9:21 pm

“Firstly, it’s left me with a lot of negative feelings and I don’t want to dwell on them as it will make living in India disturbing for me”.

I relate to this feeling. I personnally feel devastated by this story. The rape, the beating, the torture, the attempts to run over the victims, and conceal evidence, the people in the streets and even the police staring instead of helping…

I also feel so sad that since that horrible day many more rapes have happened in India, some followed by murder and some perpetrated on children.

I feel devastated because when I got married to my husband I also got married to his country, and it feels at the same time like I’ve been beaten up myself and like some member of my family has committed a heinous crime. I feel more sadness than rage.

As Damini’s boyfriend said, it will need more than candles to change a mentality. I pray that India seizes the opportunity to change.

And isn’t it interesting that at about the same time, children were being shot in the US, children were being stabbed in China, and students were being tortured in India ? (meanwhile in France, everybody’s talking about actors and fiscality – to provide comic relief ?)

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sid January 8, 2013 at 4:56 am

india is not developing ..india is mutating !!!
and in future the shape of mutation will far worse than any other developing or developed countries .
bad things were happening all the time .. nation just woke up to 1 occasion .
how can i expect acountry to change ? when we still got 45 year old men acting lover boy images in the movies .
the government has plundered this country beyond recovery .. now everything is hidden under the veil of inflation
and rape .. this is part of indian history .. we forgot it for some time under the name of gandhi ..and styagrah
but it was always .. india was never a country for peace and yoga .. india was brutal right from ancient times
..’( and according to my views gandhi . nehru ..all xyz ..they have hurt india more than british)

in ancient times .. women from rajputana royal families .they use to jump in fire .
to save themselves from rape .
if their men lost war from invasion of mughals .. the mangolians ..the muslims
the whole problem started with the conservative rules inflicted by the mughals and the british
and everything was adopted through centuries and centuries of these forced conservative rules..
..
if we want to empower women .. then i guess .. we have to wait few more centuries
i do not see any direct effect right now ..
if women become more modern .. and take more relaxed aproach towards marriage .
..or selection of partners ..or in sexual behavier or orientation ..
.then there will be huge cry over loss of indian culture ..( which actually never existed in india )
or if women take more conservative approach ..become more traditional .. and more as slaves
we will become worse than muslim nations .. and forget development ..india will not even mutate .
.it will stand still ..trapped in its own created trap.

..
now comes the issue of safety of women
now we all can make big speeches ..that we should condemn .. kill .. or stop rapists
but the thing is ..we cannot ignore real world .. real india ..that it is bad place
where most people have no sensitivity towards other people .. where politicians are real thugs
where friends are less enemies are more ..and yes .. bad people will do bad things .

so now indian .. or any women of any country .. india is not safe place
some demonstrations will not stop bad people from doing bad things ..
the lower class( yes the class exist .. and it will exist ..if you not believe me ask the film industry .. they only make movies for them )
is filled with misfits ..

so protection of women depends on the iq of the women and how she utilise it .

but there are some things they should remember
1- thou shall not talk to strangers ..
2- thou shall not take lift from strangers
3- thou shall not make boyfriends (who cannot afford a bike)
4- thou shall not take risk … by doing anything stupid cause this is india (land of perverts ruled by italian thugs )

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sid January 8, 2013 at 10:41 am

is there a really another person named sid? cause this is obviously not me; the language is just too out there lol

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Sab January 9, 2013 at 4:30 am

hi sharrel!
simple and analystical as always. However I find it strange that you chose to use the word “support” repeatedly in your post – like : “the reason is because Indian society and the legal system supports such behaviour”.
I believe i am speaking collectively when I say – no we/system donot support rape or any atrocities for that matter. The issue is we do not act or stop the atrocities from happening either. We as a system have become impotent to stand up for anything in a manner that brings the issue to a resolution. We agitiate,fume,demonstrate with Anna,Damini,Ramdev or whoever but then move on to our mundane life- never bringing anything to closure. Perhaps when people become self sustained and need not worry about putting food on the table, they will stand up for others and stall the perennial deep rot in the society.

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Rebecca January 9, 2013 at 5:18 pm

Sab, the great tragedy of India in my opinion is that Indians have collectively failed to realize that if they united to take action that benefited all members of society and enforced standards of behavior for all people then basic needs such of “putting food on the table” would be more easily attainable for many people. The distinction between cooperative behavior and selfish behavior is I believe a key indicator of whether a country will be rich or poor.

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Manny January 9, 2013 at 8:20 pm

I have a slightly different theory or it just may augment what you have already said.

One of the common things said about Americans is that Americans are ignorant of other countries and other cultures and what not… And when I first moved to a small western PA town, I noticed that the local newspaper had no news about the nation let alone International news. It was for the most part about their very local affairs. Here I was so used to reading the The Economist and The South etc. Their local school football, local crime and other local issues. And in a way it conformed with the stereotype about Americans. Indians (the college educated ones at least) on the other hand were quite knowledgeable about the world and world affairs.. They watch BBC and read stories of what is happening in far away places. They had opinions on Israel/Pal Issues and on South African Apartheid and would spout their leftists tirade against oppressors everywhere. These “educated” Indians were worldly people, unlike the very parochial Americans.

But then it took me about 2 years living here to figure out..It was an epiphany, what I had earlier thought of the weakness of the Americans was actually the very strength of this country. Here people cared more about what was happening in their immediate surroundings..They were acutely aware the population of their town, they knew the municipality officers of their town. They actively participated on the elections of their mayors and PTA and all kinds of associations that affected their …yet parochial needs”. This was in stark contrast with the “educated Liberal” Indians. Whose eyes were only on far away issues, where their contribution is only in platitudes, they don’t actually have to do anything. They are clueless about their own immediate surroundings.. They had no idea who their Police commissioner was or the officers in their municipalities.

My take is, If we are not capable of taking care of own affairs in our immediate surroundings we should STFU about far away places…

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nufio April 19, 2013 at 9:03 am

go to any village in india if you are comparing regional mindset. nobody gives a shit about whats going on anywhere else but everyone knows everyone else. its not an Indian or US thing.

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MomWithaDot January 9, 2013 at 10:24 pm

Rebecca,
What you say is theoretically true but that one that would take a Very strong leader and years of perseverance. Here’s why – A couple of centuries ago, India was a collection of kingdoms. Basically different countries. The first time they had a common cause to fight against, over the course of these 200 years, was The British Raj. At the end of which, they were left with a partitioned country and confusing philosophies. Add to it, the ‘divide and rule’ policies which always kept (perhaps even aimed at) highlighting the differences among people rather than unite them. (Policies based on caste, Language, religion, etc) Since its Independence, one has never seen Indians come together for or against any national issue. Simply because, none of these issues affect them all equally in the same way that the British Raj did. Anna, Ramdev, Damini, etc. are all modern movements and is debatable if any of them reached the grass root levels i.e every village and town as the movement for Independence did. Now, more than 60 yrs after Independence, generations have passed and this current generation does not have a precedent to go by, to unite and fight against a multiple headed enemy. Not a single headed monster as was the case during Independence. Because today, the enemy is corruption, a weak legal system, a political system filled with loop holes, Mafia, terrorism, radicalism, etc. Like I said, be it a bottoms up approach (from every town all the way up to the centre) or a top down approach ie. a Central leader with influence across all cities and towns, is required, to be able to first unify people and then lead them towards fighting for their cause. BTW, going by your key indicator, would you call USA a rich country or poor? Obama has been seeking cooperation from an unyielding Republican party for years now ….? :)

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Rebecca January 10, 2013 at 12:35 am

Hi MomWithaDot. I’m not sure what the solution is for India, whether it is a bottoms up or top down approach. I do know that nothing will change until the vast majority of Indians decide to start respecting other human beings. I wish I knew how/who could convince Indians to change their mentalities and behavior.

The USA is rich country compared to most other nations. Sadly the Republicans have been wreaking havoc with their uncooperative behavior and as a result our federal government is the most inefficient level of government in the US. But as Manny pointed out, many Americans do care about their local area and most municipal, county, and some state governments operate with decent levels of competence. When people look beyond their own immediate benefit it is amazing what they can achieve as a society and America is an excellent example of mutual cooperation.

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MomWithaDot January 10, 2013 at 2:48 am

“I wish I knew how/who could convince Indians to change their mentalities and behavior”

A Strong leader loved by the masses – No one in the current scenario.

“When people look beyond their own immediate benefit it is amazing what they can achieve as a society and America is an excellent example of mutual cooperation”

Absolutely, I agree. But its not like immigrants from diff. parts of the world woke up one morning in America and decided to cooperate with each other for common good. It is a culture that has been nourished and developed by visionary leaders who placed common good before all else and worked on the society’s imperfections until a fully functional working model emerged and is still being improved upon. Abundant resources and No Invasions only helped.

On your original comment.
“Indians have collectively failed to realize that if they united to take action that benefited all members of society and enforced standards of behavior for all people then basic needs such of “putting food on the table” would be more easily attainable for many people.

I found that statement a sweeping dismissal and rather judgmental of the Indian society, without a realistic perspective of how it can improve. On the contrary, I’m grateful that Indians have started getting together in large numbers to protest atrocities. I hope this trend continues till the desired result is achieved.

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Rebecca January 10, 2013 at 6:23 pm

Visionary leaders did help America but so did ordinary citizens who decided to not cheat on their taxes, take up positions of local leadership, and plan for generations that did not yet even exist. America has had its challenges and sins including slavery, a brutal civil war, and several “optional wars” but it has emerged today as a wealthy country that continues to attract millions of people from around the world.

My statement on Indian society is judgmental and based on numerous visits to India, travels to many parts of India, and a decade of observation of Indian culture both in India and in the Indian community in the United States. Protests will achieve nothing unless they result in action. Leaders in India have failed in so many ways so why have Indians not replaced them? India is a democracy and the government is a reflection of the people. I hope that perhaps some of the people venting their anger on the street will decide to take on the burden of leadership and run for public office. The first item on their agenda if elected should be to implement harsh punishments for corruption and a massive reform of the police and legal system. India is on the verge of lawlessness and no country can function well if the people fear the police and criminals are allowed to roam free.

The other changes that must occur for Indian society to change is for every person to decide to change. I have found the older generation in India to be the most backward and clinging on to traditions that are regressive. Young people are often more progressive but lack the courage to stand up to their elders and make choices that would benefit India. Also, some young people perpetuate backward traditions by agreeing to abort their girls, accept/pay dowry, trash their country, pay bribes, etc.

I have met only one man who lived in India who refuses to be corrupt and chooses to live his life 100% honestly. How he has suffered! He has lost jobs because he refused to lie, his family is destitute, and he doesn’t even have running water in his home (he refuses to bribe the local water official.) Yet imagine how India could transform if every person was like this honest man.

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MomWithaDot January 10, 2013 at 9:30 pm

“Visionary leaders did help America but so did ordinary citizens who decided to not cheat on their taxes, take up positions of local leadership,……..”

True. Would they have paid their taxes and remained loyal citizens if President after President was found plundering public money to the tune of billions of $$ and stacking them in Swiss banks? That is what has happened to India. I hope there won’t be childish questions like,”why didn’t India put them behind bars right then?” or some such. It is always easy to state the right thing to do after something has gone wrong.

“Leaders in India have failed in so many ways so why have Indians not replaced them? ” – Where there are better choices available, it has done so – Nitish Kumar in Bihar, Akhilesh Yadav in UP and Narendra Modi in Gujarat.

“India is a democracy and the government is a reflection of the people.”

A huge percentage of Indians consists of illiterate, malnourished, backward, impoverished people – I doubt if the Indian govt. reflects this. At least, I hope not. It is obvious, you are unaware of booth rigging and malpractices that occur at election centers in India which nullify efforts of the electorate.

“I hope that perhaps some of the people venting their anger on the street will decide to take on the burden of leadership and run for public office”

Really? Its naive to believe that youth with fire in their heart that commit themselves to a rally have the expertise and intelligence to run administrations. Would you want someone with no proven track record of administering a town, city, district or state to run for office? What you suggest is Utopic and is removed from realities that exist in India.

Rebecca, it is easy to stand on moral high ground and judge another society without contributing to its betterment in anyway. A society is like a public fund. If you don’t contribute to it, don’t expect to benefit from it.

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MomWithaDot January 10, 2013 at 10:03 pm

I realize, the last sentence on society was generic and is not applicable to you, since it seems like you don’t live in India.

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Padparadscha January 11, 2013 at 7:37 pm

@MomWithaDot. It seems to me democracy can only function properly if ordinary citizens get involved, including youths with fire in their heat :)

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MomWithaDot January 11, 2013 at 10:02 pm

@ Padparadscha,
Certainly! I agree with you. But if youth without experience run for office, they would be crushed by the manipulative political vultures around – Sad, but true.

Rebecca January 11, 2013 at 2:47 am

It is simple logic that if an Indian president did go to jail for stealing the money of his/her people then maybe the next Indian president might hesitate before plundering his/her own nation.

I’m happy to hear there are better alternatives in a few states and hope that the leaders in those places can make some progress. I’m unhappy to hear that malpractice occurs widely during elections in India because then the world has been sold a lie that India is a democracy. A true democracy has a government that has been elected by the people in a free and fair election.

If I were an Indian citizen I would elect a young, inexperienced reformer rather than an old corrupt official who has achieved nothing. Of course young officials will make mistakes but at least they will do so with the intention of helping their people rather than lining their pockets and gaining coveted “VIP” status.

I am judging a society because I want to point out what is obvious to any outsider so that Indians will see themselves as others do and perhaps desire to change.

Why do you assume I have not done anything to contribute to the betterment of India? I am not Indian but have given money to several charities assisting the poor in India. I have challenged some seriously backward notions among my Indian husband’s relatives. And I have given a few of my desi female friends crash courses in reproductive biology as they were never educated about their own bodies when they lived in India.

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MomWithaDot January 11, 2013 at 9:04 pm

“I am judging a society because I want to point out what is obvious to any outsider so that Indians will see themselves as others do and perhaps desire to change.”

Well then let everyone criticize each others’ societies and the world would be a better place – but oh! in your opinion, the US (or is it the entire West) is a social paradise and is beyond any criticism right?

“…. I am not Indian but have given money to several charities assisting the poor in India. …..”

I pay my dues to the PTA and cut out dozens of checks to the school – does that make me an involved Parent? (I’m assuming you are american and hence would relate to what that refers to) Get real Rebecca – the next time you try to educate your servants’ child when in India, or when you teach them hygienic habits, or simply spend a few hours working with any service organization, then you might understand what social contribution means. Hang on! Have you signed any of the dozens of petitions going in support of the victim of the rape case? Have you used simple tools like social media to get attention to her cause?

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Rebecca January 11, 2013 at 10:30 pm

MomWithaDot, you sure like to put words in other people’s mouths! When did I ever claim that the US was a social paradise? I didn’t! Go ahead and criticize America, I’ll make a list for you to help you get started: gun violence, high divorce rates, high rates of out-of-wedlock births, teenage pregnancy, drugs, and the list goes on. I don’t stick my head in the sand about my country’s problems because I acknowledge them and I want the US to be a better place.

I am doing my part to improve India even though I’m not Indian. If you want to criticize how I have chosen to do that then please do so. Several of the charities my family and I donate to do help educate poor children in India. Have you done anything to help America even though you are not American?

Padparadscha January 12, 2013 at 7:57 pm

@MomWithaDot. I am a long time member of Amnesty International. I have signed the change.org petition and posted articles on social media (articles not upsetting for my friends), and have donated to a charity suggested in one of the articles I read. I did it to feel a bit less powerless. But really, what can be done seriously ?

I mean, we foreigners, can do a little bit, but the change has to come from India herself. I remember meeting an old lady, Jewish, she was one of the children that was hidden during WW2 and survived. She told me big changes come from grass root levels, winning one heart after the other, knocking on every door of every street.

I am prepared to do my share, I am waiting for Indian people to tell us clearly what they need from us – if they want our help.

Manny January 11, 2013 at 10:05 pm

Modi the CM of Gujarat refused to give free electricity to his states farmers but assured them that he would provide uninterrupted service. And still people of Gujarat elected him to office

The liberal left congress and its local allies in other states promises free TV and free electricity and get elected.

Gujarat is a stand our economic powerhouse in India… and yet that state and modi is the most hated by the majority (immoral) Desies.

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MomWithaDot January 11, 2013 at 11:46 pm

“Go ahead and criticize America……….”

No, I will not, coz I do not believe judging societies and passing dismissive statements gets anyone anywhere. Please address the first part of my comment – will the world be a better place if we merely voice our opinions of each other?

I asked about the petitions specific to this rape (case since that is the topic here), to know if you react to issues with positive action or merely pass judgement.

“Have you done anything to help America even though you are not American?……….”
I do not see how this is relevant is a discussion about the state of the Indian society where such heinous crime occurs; Why do you ask this? I wonder. Unless now, you’ve turned your judgement away from the Indian society and are now pointing it to me! Anyway, this is a public forum which makes it obligatory to answer. So, yeah, I am not American by birth. Regardless, I volunteer at public schools for all PTA activities, including mentoring young adults most of whom are from unstable family backgrounds. I also work with the PTA council on anti-bullying activities. Last year, I worked with an election campaign office close to my geo location to campaign for the person I thought was the better choice for this country. Oh, BTW, all this, apart from donating to the said candidate AND to the various school and PTA funds. Blue cross fund relief to victims of Sandy AND organized a special prayer meet at my local temple for victims of Sandy Hook elementary. So? What’s your point Rebecca?

Manny January 11, 2013 at 10:09 pm

Who are we kidding.

The majority Indians are immoral because they rejected the values and culture of Mahatma Gandhi..instead they salivate at Nehru’s immoral socialistic values.

So they got what they has asked for. 600 million living in abject poverty and a nation heading for the precipice of immorality.

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Rebecca January 12, 2013 at 7:39 pm

This comment isn’t being placed where I wanted to but is directed towards MomWithaDot.

“No, I will not, coz I do not believe judging societies and passing dismissive statements gets anyone anywhere. Please address the first part of my comment – will the world be a better place if we merely voice our opinions of each other?”

I do think the world can be a better place if we do voice our opinions of each other provided that a healthy debate results in positive actions. I judge my own society as much as any other society because the only way to improve a society is to first recognize the problems. The reason that the US is developed today is because people in the past have recognized and addressed various problems. How can a society ever improve if people are not allowed to judge it?

I know it may hurt you that I judge India harshly and I’m sorry if it does. But really you shouldn’t care what I think (I’m just a stranger on the internet), what matters is what you think. I have noticed a trend that desis seem to be the only people that are allowed to criticize India and feel very offended if foreigners criticize India. Personally I feel this is ridiculous. Nationality, race, these are all just man-made labels. We are all humans and I will stand for justice everywhere.

Indians in general have failed to introspect their behavior and it make take outside “judgment” in the form of international condemntaion to spur the Indian government into taking meaningful action to protect women. And the law is only part of the solution, only Indians themselves can change their mentalities.

My opinion is that petitions are a waste of time as the Indian leaders have for many years shown absoloute indifference to the will of the people. I believe in the long term helping to educate childen who will hopefully grow up to be better leaders and have the ability to choose better leaders is the best way I can contribute.

And thanks for all the social and charitable work you have done in America.

Padparadscha January 12, 2013 at 8:04 pm

@Manny. Some analysts have pointed out that at the same time riots have been declining in India, gender violence has been rising.

They have made a relation bewtween violence, economic stress and lack of available and affordable recreational activities for youg men (cheap cinema, public libraries, parks…) resulting in a rising rage that cannot be expressed in a healthy way.

In other words ; not enough public investment, not enough so called socialistic values.

MomWithaDot January 12, 2013 at 9:59 pm

@ Rebecca,
“I know it may hurt you that I judge India harshly and I’m sorry if it does. But really you shouldn’t care what I think (I’m just a stranger on the internet…….”
Anyone being judgmental irks me. Many Indians do this all the time. It angers me even then. It may be common, but that doesn’t make it right.

A stranger on the internet, Yes, but if I’m able to get even a handful of people reading this to stop and think, I’ve done my bit. To that extent, this will be my last comment in this thread. So, thank you for participating in this discussion.

“I have noticed a trend that desis seem to be the only people that are allowed to criticize India and feel very offended if foreigners criticize India”

I don’t feel that way, but most other Indians perhaps do, and I can imagine why. Being American, the concept of ‘outsider’ doesn’t exist in your thought process (since everyone is an immigrant here and that’s great!) but people from most other countries, with a history of war and invasions (Europe, South Africa,etc.) react similarly to ‘outside’ criticism.

“Indians in general have failed to introspect their behavior………”
Ouch! that’s the part that hurts the most. A blanket statement saying Indians have failed. How about Indians are trying instead – Because…….yes they ARE! It is only the Jessica Lal case, Anna Hazare, Ramdev and now Jyoti Singh case that have gathered support enough to draw crowds out to the streets. This has NEVER happened before. So, Yes, the Indian society IS introspecting, IS making efforts. How about encouraging the trend instead of condemning the society as a whole? Also, Rebecca, India is only into its 13th Prime Minister, while the US has just sworn in its 44th President. It takes strong leaders, different thought process churns and decades of effort to finally see change. My point is, please encourage the tiny percentage of people headed in the right direction instead of including them in the majority that isn’t and dismissing this society as a whole. IMO, it simply doesn’t help.

“My opinion is that petitions are a waste of time as the Indian leaders have for many years shown absolute indifference to the will of the people”

Earlier you dismissed the Indian society for not taking action. Now, you say that the leaders have ignored what the people want. If you, an educated person from a more evolved society gives up on a formal process because you are disillusioned, how is it fair that you expect action from the lakhs of illiterate Indians? Yes, education will enable children. But it is only encouragement to those that are fighting that will commit them towards the right direction. Showing support to those that are right, gives them confidence to keep at it. Dismissing everyone, lowers their morale.

@Padparadscha,
” I did it to feel a bit less powerless………”
I know what you mean. Share that feeling with you.

“I am prepared to do my share, I am waiting for Indian people to tell us clearly what they need from us – if they want our help”

That’s a great attitude and am sure there are many like you from the west. Let me share one of my own experiences here in the US with you. To give a driving test at one of our local offices, one had to stand in line from as early as 5 am outside the office and sometimes even earlier – this was the case all through the year. Spots ran out fast. Despite all that rigor, there would be some confusion in the end even among the first ten that made it inside. 8th would end up 6th, etc. It surprised me, that a developed nation followed such a disorganized method. I voiced this to a local gentleman, in line behind me for the DL of his adopted daughter, who was from China. He rued about even more complication in his own case because of adoption papers,etc. I said,” I am surprised you haven’t written to the authorities about this. Someone who is new here, like me, might want to get done with it and move on, to shy away from possible friction, but you are a citizen, well settled here for years. You wouldn’t lose anything?” He said,”Hmm…you’ve given me a thought!”

I’ve cited this to share that what people need, to break a pattern is ideas. Something someone else sees, that they don’t. If they did, they’d do it. This happens to all of us, which is why the world keeps reinventing itself. I completely understand that Indian society needs a lot of thinking and rethinking and needs to make tremendous effort to get where it needs to be or could be. My suggestion, is to keep up the good work you’ve been doing in terms of bringing attention to the cause. Write letters of complaints every time you have issues with authorities. Write to the media. I am not saying you should, I’m only suggesting, one could. Also, westerners and those that don’t live there are secure in doing this because I know, those that live there never know who would choke their throats the minute they raise their voices. I exaggerate, but I guess you get the point :)

Rebecca January 13, 2013 at 11:23 pm

Again, this comment isn’t going where I want it to but is for MomWithaDot.

I still maintain that anyone can criticize anyone and judgment is the only way to move forward because it is necessary to identify problems.

I know that my blanket statements are problematic and that not everyone is failing to introspect. What I meant was that most people were, not everyone.

And you are right, I have been way too cynical for dismissing the efforts Indians are taking to change their society and I apoligize for that. Please understand that I am very angry at the horrible way Indian women are treated because not too long in the future my girls will grow up and be Indian women. I want them to proud of their heritage and have a safe and prosperous India to visit their relatives and explore. I applaud the efforts people are taking and would welcome advice on what westerners can do to help. I have written letters to the editor to Indian media outlets about the treatment of women and foreigner tourists and will continue to do so.

umots January 14, 2013 at 1:32 pm

@ Rebecca – “I still maintain that anyone can criticize anyone and judgment is the only way to move forward because it is necessary to identify problems.”
Criticism is not the same as making blanket judgements against a country – using hasty generalisations, infantile prouncements of morality and stubbornly refusing to admit that the people are doing all they can (within their power) to make the country a better place. Your one man who refused to pay the bribe isn’t helping the country.

Indians are often the most vocal and harsh critics of the way India is – just read some Arundhati Roy or for that matter, any Indian rooted in socio-political activism. The reason why Indians aren’t able to change the system at the snap of a finger is the reason why Americans looked the other way when your administration carpet bombed Iraq, Vietnam and Afghanistan to Stone Age. And why they feign ignorance that their Nikes and Reeboks are a product to slave labour in South East Asia.

Tell me Rebecca – before you claim Indians do nothing for their country – when was the last time you picked up arms, spend years in harsh living conditions and served months in prison for social justice? You don’t have to answer, but be honest with yourself – would you be able to do that, so that your government lifts the embargo on Iran?

Making ‘criticism’ that Indians as a ‘collective’ failed and that Indians are just sitting by, is utterly jugemental and infantile – it reflects that you aren’t as observant and well travelled as you claim you are. Armchair philosophy is a terrible way to ‘observing’ a society. I am glad you gave to charities (if you did, that is), but that doesn’t put you in a position to make blanket moral judgements. It is easy to throw a couple of lose change in the name of social justice, but it takes far more work to correct a country mired in the depths of third world desolation, poverty and lawlessness.

American ‘criticism’ and outlook towards foreign country is the reason why Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine is a mess. And Iran would have been, were it not for the support of countries like India, Russia and some European nations to carry on. So thank you very much, but the world doesn’t need your judgements. It is very toxic and for millions of human beings, very deadly. Literally.

Rebecca January 14, 2013 at 5:06 pm

umots – You are a hypocrite. You accuse me of being judgmental of Indians. Well if you haven’t noticed you are judgmental of Americans. And I could care less. Because I agree with you, America’s foreign policy is often despicable and I considered immigrating to Canada during George W. Bush’s presidency. Not ALL Americans “looked the other way” when America engaged in immoral wars. Some of us protested and voted in elections. The first time I was old enough to vote was in 2004 and I was devasted when W. was re-elected.

And no, I don’t think all Indians are doing everything they can to improve their country. Yes, some are. But the Indians who trash their country are not. The Indians who pay bribes are not. The Indians who sexually harass and assualt women and the other Indians who sit idly by watching their sisters being degraded are not. The Indians who cheat foreigners at every opportunity are not. These are things I (and MANY OTHER PEOPLE) have observed during my visits to India and if you went to delude yourself go ahead and live in fantasyland. And yes, my one honest desi is helping his country because he is raising his child to be a moral person and is providing a good example to others.

umots January 14, 2013 at 8:00 pm

@ Rebecca
I am well aware of the anti-Iraq war protests. Which is why I picked this example – to make you realise that people can’t just change a systemic problem by individual will. You couldn’t throw Bush out of power OR impeach him by mere votes. What makes you think it’d be easier for the average middle class Indian to put the leaders in jail for corruption?

The Indians who create the problems you mention are like those corrupt Americans – who use trickery, sychopancy and other short cuts to get ahead in life. It is no different in any part of the world. That you choose to focus on them as an example of Indian amorality while you pretend your country is a land of milk and honey, shows your hypocrisy. I despise it when some Indians do it and I sure find it despicable when it comes from you.

I don’t care enough to judge ordinary everyday Americans because I know they have very little control over what their government or bureaucracy does. They are too busy trying to make a living to change the system, even if they might be implicit in keeping it running. Thats not their ‘moral’ fault, its a human problem. People want to live – eat, drink, have sex, have kids, celebrate and just get by with their everyday lives.

But of course, for self-righteous judgemental cunts, socio-political passivity to make a living is tantamount to amorality. MomWithaDot already pointed out your hypocrisy, only to have you respond with a stubborn “I will cliitiiisizeeee”. Well honey, what you’re doing is not criticism, but plain my-dad-is-bigger-than-yours bollocks. Learn the difference and then maybe you can debate like a debator.

umots January 14, 2013 at 8:09 pm

I am a social activist, it is not my thing to live in a fantasyland like you do. I started two NGOs, risked my life fighting against the Union of India for the sovereignty of my people and I still keep myself abreast with social justice activism – whichever way I can. I understand this country better than you possibly could.

If you think you are ‘saving this country’ by raising a ‘moral child’ in America, then please, don’t try to argue with me. It’ll spoil your self-righteous, bubblegum existence. Keep arguing with those whose only refutation is claiming morality on sexual grounds, because they on your intellectual plane.

Sab January 11, 2013 at 1:55 am

Rebecca,
To elaborate on my point made above, the moral lines fade when vast majority of the people are still worried about where and how to earn their next meal. People are insecure about their survival : it is not as you put “Selfish Behaviour”. It is very convenient to take a snobbish view on what is happening in a third world when one has not actually experienced it first hand.One should rather a take a analytical view. To drive home a point let me point the loot and vandalism that happens in the aftermath of calamity. How about New York loot after the black out or more recently loot after Hurricane Sandy? USA is a rich county and is a mutually cooperative society. How come one then one explains these crime? My point is wherever there is poverty, disparity moral sense tends to be a grey area.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_City_blackout_of_1977
http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/11/05/superstorm-sandy-starting-to-bring-out-worst-in-public-along-east-coast/

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Rebecca January 11, 2013 at 8:00 pm

Sab, my argument is that morality and mutual cooperation help to reduce poverty. Your approach seems to be that poverty excuses the need to abide by moral guidelines. I am not trying to be snobbish but rather explain my viewpoint. Let me give you a few examples that I have observed in India:

1. Almost everyone (rich, poor, young, old, etc.) seems to have no problem with thowing rubbish anywhere outside of their own home in India. Also, many men publicy urinate. I do not think that littering is related to poverty, rather it is a selfish and lazy choice that does not help India. First of all I don’t know how Indians can stand to live in their own filth. Also, Indians call their homeland “Mother India.” Well that seems to be the height of hypocrisy and I think most Indians could give a damn about their country because would you piss and throw trash on your mom? Making your country a giant landfill does not help alleviate poverty because it discourages foreign tourists from visiting India and reduces a potential revenue source (tourism) that could help develop the economy.

2. Most people that I have observed in India seem to have no problem with paying bribes, “black money”, cheating on taxes, etc. For obvious reasons this does not help India and does not reduce poverty. It is quite self-defeating behavior.

3. Do Indians ever ask themselves why they are poor? One major reason is a corrupt government and also corrupt business practices. So what have they done about it? Have they replaced their leaders? Have they conducted business honestly? Have they themselves bothered to become good leaders?

The United States was once a relatively poor country and it is mainly because of mutual cooperation and strong leadership that it is today a rich country.

Could you please suggest another way besides mutual cooperation and strong leadership that India could become a rich country? I am open to new ideas.

Attempting to deflect but not address my point doesn’t change the reality in India but I will still answer your claim. I never said that the US doesn’t have crime. Of course we do. I was personally affected by Hurricane Sandy and did hear of a few incidents of looting in my town. But of the 60,000+ people who live in my city only very small numbers chose to engage in crime during the storm aftermath. Yet thousands of residents chose to behave in a mutually cooperative way by hosting their friends and relatives who had their homes flooded and donating to organizations assisting the storm victims. And for the people who were robbed they all knew they could immediately call the police and the police would dedicate the resources they had available to finding the criminals. And if the criminals were caught they would face swift and harsh punishment and consequences that would affect them the rest of their lives. Do you know how difficult it is for a convicted criminal to get a decent job in the US?

Again, I am not making these points to be a snob. I am writing this because it is what I believe and I want India to be a better place. My children are Indian and it is sad to me that we cannot even consider living in India due to safety concerns.

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Sab January 13, 2013 at 3:05 am

Rebecca,
I think my statement was very simple. Poor people need to worry about survival. In a rat race it becomes survival of the fittest. The aggressive ones crosses the moral line and the weak ones just worry about surviving another day. This is how the system in India is. It is my viewpoint of the psyche of Indian society.Now am I telling that because people are poor we can cut slack on the moral ground? HELL NO! But i think where you and I contradict is – I do not agree with your take that the crime perpetuated was because of “SELFISH” MINDSET I believe people here are not selfish but insecure and weakened by poverty to stand up and do the right the thing.. Other than that the mutual cooperation and standin up that you suggest are all solution and I never debated that.
And my point of NY loot was to draw your observation to the least common denominator of poverty and morality. When did it ever become a debate of USA Vs India? I think i made my point here and do not want to lock horns on tangential issues that are not related to the blog post.

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Rebecca January 13, 2013 at 11:09 pm

Just because a person is poor does not mean he cannot have moral values. I’ve met people who are poor in India because they practice morality and are punished for that in a thoroughly immoral society. I understand survival is difficult in India for most people but people still need to practice morality to have a successful society. Darwin’s survival of the fittest also applies to animals but if humans follow the same practice we fail to elevate ourselves above animals. If humans fails to provide for the weak and take actions that benefit their entire society then they are behaving like animals and not using the intelligence unique to humans.

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umots January 14, 2013 at 1:34 pm

@ Rebecca
You think poor Indians don’t have moral values and don’t ask themselves why they are poor? And you ‘travelled and observed India’ for decades. Yeah right! Because these days, making blanket pronouncements after reading blogs, news articles and books counts as travel and observations.

Cheers! :D

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Sab January 15, 2013 at 1:05 am

@Rebecca: (1)My comments are observation of present pysche of indan society at large and your comments are how the society should transform
(2) My comments was a response to your take the india is the way it is because of the “Selfish”ness.

Apart from that ..elevating from animals to human and your other preachings are all welcomed. Besides dont forget there is a rich reference of rich moral preaching avaiable in the form of epics, dharma, karma, pancha tantra – but the issue is whatever india has given to the world is not being adopted by the indians.

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Anamika January 9, 2013 at 12:59 pm

This is a topic I’ve been thinking a lot about after moving to the U.S. and comparing the two places. The U.S. of course has its own set of issues and frankly in my opinion, people are far too obsessed with having sex. OTOH, in India people are obsessed with *not* having sex. Turns out, that’s just another kind of sex obsession. And the Indian kind of obsession is much more unhealthy as a society and much more dangerous to women. Everything gets tinged with the madonna/whore complex. Talking to a boy? You filthy girl, you must want to sleep with him. Wearing jeans? You filthy girl, you’re looking to get laid.

And frankly, Bollywood’s got away with murder in this department. I cringe when I think back on the attitudes in the movies growing up, and how _normal_ they were. The raped girl never got married, she often conveniently committed suicide. There was a movie where she persistently tried to get her rapist to marry her. There were other movies where someone else made the rapist marry his victim. Oh and the overly aggressive pursuit of the heroine by the valiant hero who refuses to take no for an answer; half the hindi movies have stalker heroes. Songs with lyrics like “whether I say yes or no, you should bring me around, just shut the door”. The attitudes were particularly disgusting during the height of the action hero phase. Maybe because romance was not in, or maybe because the censors prevented straightforward sex on screen, rape was used regularly for titillation. I find it unbelievable that our obsession with protecting womens’ “modesty” led us to a generation of movies that glamourised rape. In this respect movies have got much better in the last decade or so, no amount of skimpily dressed heroines can be more damaging than titillating rape scenes.
The “broken window” theory definitely applies here; our casual attitude to the near ubiquitous but less severe acts of harrassment needs to change. That god-awful phrase “eve teasing” has got to go – call it what it is, sexual harrassment. My name’s not Eve and that stranger yelling obscenities at me is not “teasing”. Being felt up in a crowded train is sexual assault.

But the fundamental problem is the same as everything else in India – poverty and illiteracy.

Ah well here’s a very inspiring link : http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/08/opinion/after-being-raped-i-was-wounded-my-honor-wasnt.html?_r=0

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Sab January 10, 2013 at 1:37 am

You are right the films of the 80-00 were disgusting in terms of Gender Bias. But Bollywood is not a culture it is just a showbiz… India had its own culture and tradition which is guilty as far gender bias goes. We opened our economy and doing ok on that front but failed to imbibe the better concepts from around the world like feminism and trickle down to the grass roots.

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melbourne desi January 10, 2013 at 5:25 am

anamika
excellent last sentence. the single biggest problem is poverty and illiteracy.
Ta Nehisi Coates ( the atlantic) had a beautiful sentence a few months ago on his article about swimming pools (cant find the link).
Am paraphrasing ” when the essentials of human biology are not met then it is easy to descend into savagery”. he was talking about toilets.
it is hard to understand human rights when daily ablutions is demeaning.

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Sarah January 10, 2013 at 6:49 am

Sharell, Writing is a powerful tool! Do not hesistate to voice your opinion. Do NOT heistate.You have so many readers all around the world. It would be a great tool to bring to focus certain issues. I say that you would meet so many people you don’t meet in the real world through your writing. I used to write as well mainly about the plight of our women. I am myself am divorced and I know the plight of women in India. I am definitely proud to be from India, there is no doubt, but there few things in the society that I am NOT proud of. When I started writing, I had to change my name and create a pen name for myself because I feared that my message might not reach or open up the hearts of some folks if they knew it was from ME. When I wrote, many of my readers and told me how it helped them to look at that particular issue I addressed in a different light. Of course, I got H#$% from my male readers! It was bothering initially but then I got used to it, but I know it has helped at least few people. Even changing the heart and mind of one person would be something that would help the society. I do love my country, I’m proud to be an Indian, I am proud of my people, but I’ll not paint the roses red. Some want to paint the roses red when they need to, but I don’t.

I think you are doing a great job with your blog. It doesn’t matter whether one is a citizen of the country to judge anything. If you think something is unjust, I think we should not hesitate to stand for what is just.

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Rena January 10, 2013 at 12:14 pm

Dear Sharell,
i read your blogs quite a bit. I am of indian origin and have been born and brought up in singapore. The delhi rape incident has made me realise that i am blessed to live in a society where women are respected by whole. I am blessed to live in a society where we are not judged by what we wear or how late we come home at night. I seriously think India has to change but it should start with respecting their women and not treat them like second class citizens.

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karthik January 10, 2013 at 7:39 pm

I agree with your thoughts. I fear that things would happen as you feared, that the blame is put on men and laws are made to further complicate the matter.
I agree it is the attitude of people towards rape that really has to change. If people(men particularly) support the cause and still hold on to their attitude then they would effectively contradict themselves, and make some more crappy law which the indian government seems to be fond of making especially befor ehte elections. Last time it was the reservations and this time something else.
What is required is proper enforcement of laws on the government’s part and change in peoples’ attitude towards the matter and the efforts they are willing to make to change themselves.

P.S. Have you learnt Oriya? :D

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Sharell शारेल January 10, 2013 at 8:41 pm

Unfortunately, I only know three lines of Oriya. It’s just too hard for me to learn more languages when I have to think and write in English all day every day, it’s really hampered my progress. I feel sad about that.

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Karthik January 11, 2013 at 9:11 pm

It’s ok. Languages are learnt in time… so perhaps sometime in the future you may free enough to get to learn it. Though I would say it would be efficient to learn hindi than oriya, because of the usefulness, but you could learn it(for sentimental reason… lol).

And I read your response to pat’s question and I feel slightly offended.
True, people do tend to be the way you say, but there are also good people.
The Indian ‘Amm Admi’ is very dificult to describe, in a way it doesn’t exist, and it contradicts itself.
Indian society does have classes (not proud of it… but it does exist) and I think the class I grew up in wasn’t the way you describe things. There are good (expensive) private schools which do deliver good quality.
I cannot comment about the way you feel about loss of freedom, because I haven’t experienced it. I can imagine it, but I haven’t experienced it.
But what would you say about the other arguments I present.
Glad to get to know your opinion! :)

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Sharell शारेल January 11, 2013 at 10:19 pm

Yes, I studied Hindi for a number of years earlier on, but again my progress has unfortunately come to a halt — although I have grown to have a certain level of comfort with the language.

Please don’t be offended by my response. In regards to education, I don’t see the point in sending my kids to insanely expensive private schools here when they could get an excellent education for less back home and in a more relaxed environment. Plus, schooling is 1) extremely competitive and 2) very academic focused in India. I don’t agree with the concept of children having exams from as young as 3 or 4 years old, and then being rushed around to after school tuitions. I think children should be allowed to be creative and have fun while they’re young. Another thing about education in India is that it’s very focused on learning by rote and memorisation, not application of knowledge. Children aren’t taught to think for themselves. Anyway, they’re just my thoughts…. I’m sure there must be exceptions.

Oh, and most things in India are contradictory! ;-)

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Manny January 11, 2013 at 10:27 pm

So true about the education system in India. Do you know…I was very good in my Montessori school upto the 5th grade in India. But once I joined the mainstream schools I became an academic failure in India.

I basically tuned out. I was naturally good in math and I had natural interest in history and geography so I was good in those subjects but everything else I just flunked.. I barely managed pass through college. And Madras Christian College in Chennai was too perfect for my indulgence and I never attended classes.

But once I came to the US, I had almost perfect 4.0 GPA in my masters… and I did both in 2 years and 1 extra summer. So a duffer became an academic in the right environment.

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Sharell शारेल January 11, 2013 at 10:34 pm

That’s really interesting, Manny. Thanks for sharing your experience and it does validate my concerns.

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wikitheeks May 25, 2013 at 12:19 am

That’s because education in the US is a breeze for Indians and other Asians. Its so easy here you barely have to do any hard work.

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Karthik January 11, 2013 at 11:55 pm

Yes, what you say is true. The education system in India is such.
I was not offended. :)

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Anand January 21, 2013 at 10:27 am

I certainly agree with you about education system in india. Children are taught to be aggressive, competitive, to be better than others, always comparing with others. i dont fit into this society if i dont score good grades. education system has merely become to mould the children to fit into this rotten society. No one is encouraged to follow their interests. Even if the child follows something he likes, parent’s fear force them to change. I would never send my kid to school especially in india. even if i did, i wont expect him to do well. I ll ask him to enjoy. I ll go against all the teachers if they punish him.

but more or less this is the scenario in the whole world. but in india is too high. too much pressure on the kids.

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Rebecca January 21, 2013 at 9:17 pm

Anand – I’ve also noticed the incredible pressure put on kids in India. I feel bad for them because they do not get to enjoy the special time of childhood like children in other countries.

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MomWithaDot January 24, 2013 at 3:25 am
pat January 11, 2013 at 2:03 am

Hi Sharell, long time reader (i live in Mumbai), first post.

Not an easy question, given how much this incident has obviously played on your mind. But has this in any way changed your viewpoint on long term living in India, i mean like the prospect of ultimately maybe having to bring up a baby girl in this environment at some point? I say this as the father of a baby girl and having the realisation that she could not be brought up without fear in this environment, even acknowledging that mumbai is way better than the north in this regard.

Also interested in the reaction you have seen among the aam aadmi, who i think you have more in common with. I have a sinking feeling that the protests we saw are just the creamy layer venting while the rest of society has not shaken out of its core beliefs ( nor will for a generation or two) .

keep up the good work anyway!

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Sharell शारेल January 11, 2013 at 10:14 am

Hi Pat, welcome to the comments section. You’ve brought up some good points. In all honesty, I would prefer not to raise children in India, for a number of reasons including this one (the education system bothers me quite a bit too) — which is very sad really because I do think India has so much to offer. For me, it’s not even about fear — it’s about equality. Personally, I’ve never really felt fearful living in India, but as a female I’m very conscious of the gender divide and the way women are treated. Even the daily sexual harassment that women face is off putting and makes me feel very uncomfortable every time I go out — even just the lewd looks from groups of men. And, I make sure I dress conservatively too to try and minimise it, but again, that has also taken away some of my freedom. I really do miss the ease of being as a woman in my own country.

In regards to the aam admi, I think the younger generation and their progressive thinking are the way forward, however it is VERY difficult to change the mindset of the older generation. And since India is a community based society, the core beliefs of the older generation have a lot of influence. So, I do agree with your concerns.

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Anamika January 13, 2013 at 5:09 am

Sharell, I completely relate to your opinions of daily life in India. I feel the same way, except I came by it in reverse. Only after leaving India did I realise how constricted my life had been and the burden of sexism under which I’d lived unconsciously. When I was contemplating life decisions a few years later, I decided very definitely that I did not ever want to live as a _single woman_ in India.
But I’m far more optimistic than you for the next generation. I think India is changing so rapidly and attitudes in the _urban_ Indian middle class (particularly Mumbai) are becoming liberal at astonishing speed. Even with the education system, I see my friends’ kids get a far more well rounded experience than I did.
Of course, urban middle class India lives in a little cocoon. So the big question now is whether the rest of India will progress at a similar rate, and if not – what will happen at the edges where the two worlds meet.

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Lyn January 12, 2013 at 10:30 pm

I think the matter runs deeper as stated here: it is not only about the gender gap but about the societal gap in general. When we separate the discussion about women rights and human rights we don´t get nowhere. A society which is as deeply divided (i.e. social class, caste, religion, etc.) as the Indian one and which is partly enforcing these differences won´t fully support changes for ALL women.

IMO the reason why people went on the streets this time is because they were able to identify with the victims: young, middle class ,urban Indians. Who would have fought for a maid or a prostitute? How many Blog Posts would have been written? How many people would have cared?

On another note: The Hitler example doesn´t fit the Indian reality. Hitler did legally order the abduction, enslavement and killing of “unwanted individuals”. The German government was mainly operating on grounds of the newly set laws. India on the other hand claims to be a democracy and is rooting – on paper – for equality. Here it is less the direct actions taken by the governnment but the decided negligence of and indifference towards the status of women which is causing the damage.

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Sab January 15, 2013 at 1:28 am

“IMO the reason why people went on the streets this time is because they were able to identify with the victims: young, middle class ,urban Indians. Who would have fought for a maid or a prostitute? How many Blog Posts would have been written? How many people would have cared? ”

You have hit the nail right on its head. Some very hard question for every one of us.

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Lynne January 14, 2013 at 7:44 am

It’s a horrible situation. You’re right though, blame alone won’t solve the endemic problem of sexual harassment towards women in India. So? What can you do. Step up. You’re a role model to women in India. Use your power (and what little strength you can muster!) to join in causing a fuss. Create waves. Contribute to the cause and hope for change.

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happilymarried January 18, 2013 at 3:42 am

Why do you think she is a role model in India? I am Indian and my role models are other Indian women such as my mother, aunts and sisters. I know this is hard to believe but Indian women actually are active agents, we know how to stand up for ourselves (that is if we are not throwing ourselves on funeral pyres or dropping our drawers)and we don’t all need a fearless white leader. You know who has my ear? Vandana Shiva and Gyatri Spivak, female Indian intellectuals, who understand what the term gender bias really means. I visited this post because I have been in a loving marriage to a man who is not Indian or Hindu. We have been married for 18 years and until we die we will be together. Loving each other is easy. I wanted to see if others share this mutual love, respect and admiration. I really wanted to show how cross cultural, cross racial marriages succeed beautifully. Instead all I find on this blog is hatred for Indian women and condemnation for India. Aren’t your husbands Indian? I suppose whatever you find great in them must be found outside of India. Well our spouses reflect who we are: enough said. Sayonarra, clearly this is not the place for me… such inanity.

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Sharell शारेल January 18, 2013 at 9:16 am

Instead all I find on this blog is hatred for Indian women and condemnation for India. Aren’t your husbands Indian? I suppose whatever you find great in them must be found outside of India. Well our spouses reflect who we are: enough said. Sayonarra, clearly this is not the place for me… such inanity.

Baffles me how you came to such a conclusion when the majority of posts on my blog are about neither. Makes a change from the people who think it’s Indian men being condemned though! Clearly my blog isn’t the place for you if you’re going to make such sweeping statements and rants. I wonder how it reflects on your husband. Anyway, I’ve published a few of your posts and let you have a couple of minutes on your soap box, hopefully you won’t come back. :-)

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happilymarried January 19, 2013 at 12:55 am

You are wrong if you think I am ranting. I am not; I am actually trying to give you some insight. I am sure you are a wonderful woman and you may love India but your blog translates into a very chavanistic, almost anthropological “I am among the natives” quality. I am back to your blog because I do think you have an important role: you can show that these marriages work (and they do.)
You look at India (and your experiences are filtered) through the love you have when you look at your husband. To you he is, I assume, just amazing. Look at it now from another, much more common, perspective (again only if you want insight.) For example,
In a previous post, the inferiority complex, you suggested that Indians regularly look down on your husband and think you are superior. You attributed this to the Indian love of white skin. Your interpretation of these experiences were they think I am better than him because I am white. Let us do this exercise, switch it around. What if when most Indian women (and men) look at your husband, they do look down on him NOT because we hate Indians, or Indians with dark skin (like your husband) but because as an INDIAN MAN, he is not special. What if we do think that you, as a WOMAN, (not because you are white), but simply a woman CAN do better. Here is another view on the subject: strike one, he’s not a doctor or engineer; when I married out of my race and religion, my husband had to be better than the Indian man, in med school, whose family wanted a match. My husband has a phd in theoretical math. If you marry out, you must choose someone better. Yes, yes, there is nothing wrong with his occupation (to you) but to INDIAN PARENTS, he couldn’t even get in the door. Strike two, he’s passive–nuff said. today, as Indian women, we compare the man we marry with other men, including black, Hispanic and white, etc. A lot of Indian women (not all) get irritated a this passivity (you alluded to this in previous post where you said he stayed in the lobby and didn’t accompany you up to the hotel room). NOPE, my husband would have taken my hand and told that clerk “try to stop me”; strike three: he’s short. Now you could say, well..most Indian men are short and well, so are Indian women (I am only 5’2). You look at him and you go all a flutter; for the rest of us, well..eh…It is not a feeling of inferiority. It is that you are projecting your beliefs and interpreting those preconceived notions. I am not denigrating your husband; just giving some insight. So, actually if you looked at it from this point of view, you would see we are giving you a compliment NOT because of your race or because we feel inferior, we actually think you can do better. Now here is another complex issue I have encountered: I have encountered nothing but acceptance and joy in my interactions with white and African-Americans, regarding my inter-racial marriage. They love my relationship; people smile when they see me and my husband. Strangers, perfect strangers smile at us!There is one exception: Indian men. I have seen Indian men with caucasion, asian, hispanic (the most beautiful combination, might I add), african women. I smile when I see this but these very men look at me like I am poison. The only people I have seen resentment from when I am with my white husband is from Indian men. How do I choose to interpret this? Clearly these are men who are engaged in cross-racial and cultural relationships and I have no doubt they love their mates. I interpret it as it’s complicated; perhaps it has something with the way we evolve. I don’t know. I am just writing this to you to show you: please, please don’t generalize. The situation is complicated. Let me reiterate: I think this is a great blog. It is more common for Indian women to marry out, so it is great to see the other side. You seem to genuinely love your husband; speak of your love, your commonalities (more than anyone I know that soul mates can be from different religious or racial backgrounds.) It is not as simplistic as you present it (again, I give you the benefit of the doubt.) I am an Indian woman, and I am sure there are Indian women who disagree with me. Honestly, plenty will agree as well.
What I am really saying to you is that your relationship is a big deal to YOU and to be honest, your husband would be another in a sea of faces, if he didn’t have you to make him stand out. Accept it but don’t think it is a bigger deal than it is. Please don’t extrapolate your beliefs onto the Indian population; you know how truly different we are…

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Sharell शारेल January 19, 2013 at 8:54 am

What if when most Indian women (and men) look at your husband, they do look down on him NOT because we hate Indians, or Indians with dark skin (like your husband) but because as an INDIAN MAN, he is not special. What if we do think that you, as a WOMAN, (not because you are white), but simply a woman CAN do better. Here is another view on the subject: strike one, he’s not a doctor or engineer; when I married out of my race and religion, my husband had to be better than the Indian man, in med school, whose family wanted a match.

Thank you for your in depth insight but it makes me feel worse that there is so much emphasis on status. My being white is of course tied into it though, because it does elevate my status in the eyes of the Indian people. Here’s why. My father is an electrician and also used to work as a bouncer at a pub when he was young to get extra money to support his family. His father was a mechanic and my mum comes from a family of farmers — hardly of status. If I was Indian, it wouldn’t get me a look in the door of any doctor or engineer family for a match. Yet, because I’m white (what else can it possibly be?), Indians automatically assume that I can do better than my husband…. such as marry a doctor or engineer. I have no doubt that I could’ve snared myself one, if they were fine with a love marriage. However, I’m not concerned about status, or people’s professions, or their height. I’m financially independent and have been working since I was 14, when I got a part time job in a supermarket (because I wanted to). I simply desire to be with someone with the same outlook and views about life (including spiritual beliefs), someone who I have fun with, and someone who’s creative, humble and easy going (not brash, domineering and controlling). I’ve seen many people of “status” behave rudely in India, unfortunately.

What makes me sad is that I live in such a status driven society that’s ready to assume that I can do better… without even knowing me. If I was Indian, it would be expected that I’d have to marry someone from a family of electricians or similar (like I said, I’m sure no Indian “status” family would be interested in an electrician’s daughter as a match for their son)…so I don’t see why people should, applying Indian logic, think that my husband is inferior to me (especially as he earns much more than electricians in India and can afford a better lifestyle) — unless my white skin is a factor.

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happilymarried January 20, 2013 at 1:32 am

I actually have come to realize what unsettles me about your responses. . I want to make clear that I do not wish to denigrate you; I am only offering my point of view. I meet so many Western women who simply are so lost; they believe they are modern, free, yet, from an Indian woman’s point of view, it appears to be the opposite. Let me tell you how you (and many of the Caucasian women on this blog) appear to Indian women. We feel a little sorry for you. You are not allowed to be yourself, authentic. You have changed your entire lives, relocated across continents (what?) changed the very person you are so you can be acceptable to an Indian man and his familly. WHY? What is so missing in you that you have WILLINGLY agreed to your own subjugation? You had to change your religion, your language, your way of dress; you fall at the feet of his elders and celebrate another religion. Why is your husband and his family trying to turn you into an Indian woman? Ironic, the name of your blog, no? Why are you not acceptable as the person he met? white, Christian, Austrailian, Western? You willingly accept treatment that no Indian woman, with a choice, ever would. Those poor Indian women whom you wish to save had no part in their subjugation; they are poor, caught up in an economic, political, social and cultural cycle. For others, because of arranged marriages, their choices are limited. You have CHOSEN to enter into a relationship with people who have said (implicitly and explicitly) to you that YOU are unacceptable in your authentic self and the only way you are acceptable is if you change everything about you (your religion, your language, your food, where you live, what you wear, etc; yikes).
I am beginning to understand why you focus so much on your “whiteness” and why you believe it is power.It is a psychological shield; it is your armour. I understand. It must be very sad to have to actually admit that you are not acceptable for who you are; you have become acceptable only because you have been so willing to throw away your very identity; you have willingly become someone else. One day you will look in the mirror and you will be unrecognizable to yourself. Ironically, those will be the days of greatest happiness for those who have changed you.
My dear, you live in the land of Shiva yet you do not know the real power of Shakti. I don’t think you’ll get this entry; I suspect you’ll be angry.. The women of India are caught up in a system of patriarchy; they are locked in a cycle of arranged marriages. The truth is that Indian men are not competing in a marketplace with other men (Hispanic, black, white, Asian, and some of the most beautiful combinations in NYC). The truth is if they did, they’d be forced to change their behavior. They will not change their behaviour if they find women, like you, who are willing to become their little Indian wives. Indian women are caught up in a force of modernity (however it is defined). Many are being unshakled but why are you willing to pick up our leftovers? What is so great about any man or his family who expects you to change in order to love and accept you? Why are you so willing to turn into some turn of the century “Indian” housewife who even supports her husband financially while he “finds” himself. Have you lost your mind? That is not called equality, female emancipation; it is low self-esteem. NO Indian woman, with any sense–much less her family–would put up with that nonsense.
You are fine just the way you are; you do not need to become, or try to become, an Indian woman. You should be loved for being a Christian, foreign woman. EVERY WOMAN DESERVES THAT…stop pontificating on your whiteness…lol and start asking why is it that you are slowly being moulded into someone else. Even more importantly, ask what is so lacking that you have put up with this behaviour. With all of your comfort about being white, it still isn’t enough for your in laws and husband to accept you for who you are; ironic, since as an Hindu Punjabi woman, my husband’s family have never asked me to change a hair on my head—and I never would……I won’t dream of changing him either. Why should I? I fell in love with a Jewish American man. If I wanted an Indian man…well, that would have been arranged (so to speak)
And so we are clear, my family are also farmers (it’s India for god’ s sake). We were poor immigrants to the US. My generation is the first to go to college. You know what though? It didn’t stop an Indian med student (from a family of doctors, lol) from asking for my hand in marriage. And frankly, in America, he could have also married a black, Hispanic, Asian or white woman. He still wanted the Indian Punjabi girl who hails from a bunch of farmers and goat herders–who was dirt poor but if I do say so, mighty hot. His heart broken when he found out I was marrying my jewish American boyfriend. You know what his mother, you know from the family of doctors, said? “come test your love.” Check your sterotypes at the door. In many parts of the world (and in India), Indian men and women do marry cross “caste”-whatever that means..Though clearly, you have bigger issues to contemplate.
Anyway, thank you for the insight . I am seriously considering using your blog as a discussion tool in my class (Modernity, gender and female liberation). I am beginning to really think about our conceptions of female modernity; examining the mindset of Western women on this blog may prove to be very interesting. Rebecca is a treasure trove. Do me a favor, pick up a copy of Gerda Lerner’s The Creation of Patriarchy. I also want you to start meditating on Shakti.
Good luck my dear; you do seem like such a lovely girl. You deserve to be love, respected and accepted for who you are…

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Sharell शारेल January 20, 2013 at 6:24 am

Let me tell you how you (and many of the Caucasian women on this blog) appear to Indian women. We feel a little sorry for you. You are not allowed to be yourself, authentic. You have changed your entire lives, relocated across continents (what?) changed the very person you are so you can be acceptable to an Indian man and his familly. WHY? What is so missing in you that you have WILLINGLY agreed to your own subjugation? You had to change your religion, your language, your way of dress; you fall at the feet of his elders and celebrate another religion. Why is your husband and his family trying to turn you into an Indian woman? Ironic, the name of your blog, no? Why are you not acceptable as the person he met? white, Christian, Austrailian, Western?

Ah, I see we’re getting to the heart of your “issues” now. And, I see that there’s no point carrying the discussion forward because you are one of these people who come to my blog full of assumptions — which are sadly false. I’m not a Christian, and have never been, for starters. The assumption that I am, just because I’m western, is completely ignorant. People are not born Christians. I was into Buddhism before I started appreciating Hinduism, and celebrate the wisdom of all religions. No one has ever forced me to do anything, least of all NOT my husband or his family. Everything I do, I do willingly and because I WANT to, and because I enjoy being amongst another culture. And gosh, what makes you think my husband is trying to turn me into an Indian woman? He married me because he wanted someone with a western mentality, which he has himself. Funnily enough, my husband cooks and does the dishes just like yours.

Please take your agenda elsewhere because it’s not relevant to me or my blog. Quite frankly, you sound rather self obsessed and dissatisfied. Did YOU marry out of your culture because it didn’t allow you to be authentic. Is that your problem? I think I’m the one who should be feeling sorry for you. I’m glad I haven’t had your experience. Yeah, I might not have married up, but I was fortunate (wise) enough to marry into a family that is broad minded, accepting, and has always told me to be myself. By being this way, it actually encourages me to WANT to be a part of their culture and do things I know they’ll like (I touch their feet because they have EARNED my respect), and they love and appreciate every bit of effort I make in that regard. And, my life is enriched from it.

You mention in another comment that your white husband similarly honours your culture, so why do you assume that I can’t willingly honour my husband’s. Because you’ve got it stuck in you head that Indian women are forced to subjugate and have domineering mothers in law, and so it must be the same for me too? Very wrong. I find it crazy that an Indian would even generalise their own culture like that, let alone come to someone’s blog and straight away assume that it’s their experience too and “feel sorry” for them!! All this after you’ve told me I have no right to tell Indians what to do or impose my western standards. Laughable!

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Manny January 21, 2013 at 10:39 pm

Did you say that you light the Menorah or something and doing Jewish things? What happened to your own Hindu Religion? Why follow Abrahamic faith … Just because you married to the man that you gave up your own faith and following the Abrahamic faith? And you are blaming Sharell of the same offense?

WTF? :P

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Padparadscha January 23, 2013 at 5:06 pm

@hm. I find the first part of your message relevant to my situation. In the first year of my marriage I did play the Indian wife a little bit with my Indian husband. I let my hair grow, I started dressing in classic colors etc when that’s not really me. I dropped the acting after a bad fight.

And what’s funny is that we are now having serious discussions about our cultural/personal differences. Being a jolly kind of guy (and a Shakti devotee btw) he will imitate me and I will imitate him in return. We are working through the clichés so we are now getting somewhere and the relationship is richer.

I would like to offer a perspective ; if I played the Indian woman it’s partly because I am impressed by the cliché of the gracious and wise, cool and hot Indian woman (when I am the typical red faced angry struggling French woman – one guide actually told me heat doesn’t look good on people with my complexion). I guess I’ve been impressed with Indian women since I saw Disney’s “Jungle Book” ; what incredible qualities must a person possess to lure you out of the jungle where there is so much fun ? :)

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Lyn January 23, 2013 at 10:56 pm

@happilymarried
I enjoyed your comment. I surely did. It is in so many ways so accurate – while in others so faulty that I just NEED to comment. And I sincerely hope you´ll read my reply!

Before I go ahead: I would have wished you´d have generalized your comment and not addressed Sharell directly because what you described in your comment is – I assume (me not knowing Sharell personally and only following her Blog) – less her [Sharell´s] reasoning but more the outsider view of an assimilation process. So generalizing it by merely pointing at white women married to Indians would have been still wrong in many occasions but more easily to deal with to engage in an healthy discussion.

You write “You are not allowed to be yourself, authentic. You have changed your entire lives, relocated across continents (what?) changed the very person you are so you can be acceptable to an Indian man and his familly.” and “You had to change your religion, your language, your way of dress; you fall at the feet of his elders and celebrate another religion” – isn´t that the essence of a process many people (not only women and not only women married to Indian men) undergo when immigrating into another country/culture?

Looking at John Berry´s “Model of Acculturation” the assimilation process is one of four ways (integration, separation/segregation and marginalization being the other three) immigrants deal with their new surroundings. In short assimilation is associated with the rejection of one´s own culture and the extended readiness to embrace the other culture (in this case the Indian one – whatever that means when it comes to a country as diverse as India). It is – just like you pointed out – not necessarily a healthy way to deal with the new culture, since it goes along with the loss of one´s foundation and often the frequent rejection by members of that new culture (In Group/Out Group Paradigm). Of course all this being in dependence of variables such as how welcomening and accepting of diversity the host culture is.

Looking at this framework, you are certainly right that there are people who give up who they were and are willing to do everything to fit into their host culture – and yes “feeling sorry” might be an appropiate way to look at them. However, not all of “us” (white women with Indian men) are like that.

As for your idea to use this Blog for your class. I think rather than the Blog itself it would be a good input to discuss why (generalizing here!) women – even (especially?) if well educated and settled in their home countries – are willing (if I am rightly informed more willing than men!) to leave their countries to move to the country of their husband. Or in short: why is it that there seems to be a gender gap when it comes to horizontal movement within intercultural relationships?*

*For other commenters/readers: Not pointing at anyone, neither anyone of you nor Sharell but just putting an idea forward I already have on my mind for a long time!

Gosh, completely in love with this one-sided “exchange” of ideas!

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Manny January 24, 2013 at 10:00 am

So how should we react to “Anti Indian, Indian women” who wanna be western? You know, desi women who reject all things Indian in favor of western clothes and christian religion and what not?

:P

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Rebecca January 20, 2013 at 1:20 am

Happilymarried, you may not have any inferiority complex but I can tell you from my experiences traveling as white person in India that many of your compatriots do. If my family and I were brown we would not have been designated “chief guests” at a social gathering in India and felicitated and presented with gifts in front of 2,000 people. My family is not prominent and did nothing to merit several color photographs in a local newspaper except be white people who spent the time and money to visit a small town in India that foreigners rarely visit.

We are all products of our cultures but as an egalitarian I found it quite sad that you did not feel that you could present a non-Indian partner with a so-called “lower status” to your family.

Your comments about the hostility towards your cross-cultural relationship from Indian men is interesting because for me it is the opposite. Indian men have mostly been indifferent while some Indian women have been blatantly racist. And like you, most Americans have accepted my interracial marriage. Perhaps desis don’t like the idea of potential opposite sex partners made unavailable by foreigners?

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Manny January 21, 2013 at 10:46 pm

“If my family and I were brown we would not have been designated “chief guests” at a social gathering in India and felicitated and presented with gifts in front of 2,000 people. My family is not prominent and did nothing to merit several color photographs in a local newspaper except be white people who spent the time and money to visit a small town in India that foreigners rarely visit.”

ROFLMAO! Ha Ha!

I hate it when that happens! :P

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Manny January 21, 2013 at 11:22 pm

Look at the body language if this fella in this photo..its very telling

http://rupeenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/12/Nahru-Edwina-and-Mountabatten.jpg

This white waitress/housewife from Italy being given such importance by the Ghettos of India is sad and pathetic statement about India. This is how India got to be invaded and ruled by foreigners for over 1000 years.

There are progressive Indian feminists like Kiran Bedi who they have rejected in preference over this Italian white waitress/housewife and her fiefdom… And it makes my skin crawl and cringe when I see the congress sycophants growling on the floor at her feet.

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happilymarried January 18, 2013 at 3:50 am

Do nothing. It is not your place. You are a visitor among us. Read Gyatri Spivak and you will understand I am not making this statement out of bias: you begin from the place that you make the standards, that we have to meet those standards. We will make our own standards. You have not earned the right to tell us what to do.

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Sharell शारेल January 18, 2013 at 9:18 am

Sigh, here we go again. Thanks for the encouragement to care less and less about what goes on in India.

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ASG January 18, 2013 at 1:22 pm

Hi Sharrel,

Your posts have always been balanced and seldom demeaned Indians. There are a few people in India, who have extreme views on modernity, women issues etc., often influenced by the west. Their views are not only culturally inappropriate and impractical but have no connection to the socio-economic realities of India. These people constitute less than 1% of the population and leading an elitist life detached from the Indian masses.

I believe, that we Indians need to redefine the word “Modernity” in a way which goes beyond dress and language to something substantial. I believe what is acceptable and what is not, what is obscene and what is decent, is definitely a matter of culture. Why should Indians shy from taking a stand on this just because they may be called conservative and politically incorrect? Whether a women should wear short dress or dress conservatively, whether she should have a boyfriend or not, these questions engage us and we loose focus on the larger issues, how to deal with female infanticide, gender inequality, dowry and other such evils which are at the root of all problems. We are actually beating around the bush. What is your take on this.

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Rebecca January 18, 2013 at 7:46 pm

Keep caring Sharell! :)

I and have so many people have learned so much from you and others on your blog. You have increased awareness about so many issues. Because of you I found a worthy charity (Tender Hands.) You have just as much right as anyone else to share your views because we are all human and your aim is to improve India. India is your home now and who cares that you are not Indian, you just want your home to be a better place. What happilymarried doesn’t realize is that the more people who try to help a situation the better and India could use a lot of help.

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happilymarried January 19, 2013 at 1:23 am

Actually, Rebecca, I don’t think you get it. I hope Sharrell doesn’t follow your perspective; she will make a bigger difference and change if she realizes (and really think about) the advice I have given her. You are arguing about what SHOULD be the case: it should not matter that she is an outsider but the truth is it does. Sadly, you seem to think this pertains just to India. Actually, it pertains everywhere. I do work in poor communities in NY; first, I had to win the TRUST of the people whom I wanted to serve. I began by practicing humility and realizing that I am there to help–NOT LEAD or tell them what they should do. I began with the belief that it is an honor to be among this population and it is up to me to fit in and prove myself. Not the other way around. Good luck Sharrell, I think you can do it..

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Sowmya January 19, 2013 at 10:21 pm

@ happilymarried

Are you implying that Sharell is not humble, helpful, and the only reason she is in India is because she is trying to ‘lead’ India and ‘tell them what to do’? If that is the case, you ought to spend a little more than two minutes reading her blog.

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Sharell शारेल January 20, 2013 at 6:26 am

Unfortunately, it’s clear from her latest “rant” that she knows very little about me and hasn’t spent much time reading my blog at all. It truly baffles me how people just come along, casting their wild assumptions and judgements around!! Is that how they would behave upon meeting someone for the first time too?

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Sowmya January 20, 2013 at 11:25 pm

@ Sharell

I also think it’s delightfully hypocritical how she tells you about how you are nothing but a visitor (even though legally you are a permanent resident) and you have not earned the right to tell people what to do (even though you never have), but then she mentions how she, as an outsider, helps the poor people of New York by ‘winning’ their trust and serving them. I’m having a hard time understanding the moral of her story.

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Sharell शारेल January 21, 2013 at 10:07 am

You’re not the only one having a hard time understanding. She constantly contradicts herself.

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Rebecca January 20, 2013 at 1:08 am

Some Indians have not managed themselves to advance their attitudes beyond the stone age so it make take an “outsider” to state the obvious to motivate Indians to change their feudal mindsets. Sharell may have not been born Indian but she has lived in India for several years whereas your posts seem to indicate that you have lived outside of India for a long time. So who really is the outsider?

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Rebecca January 20, 2013 at 6:29 am

The comment above is directed towards happilymarried.

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happilymarried January 19, 2013 at 12:08 am

You misunderstand me: I greatly appreciate your love and care for India but what you don’t understand is it is not your place to tell how us to react. Have you ever heard of the Black Panthers? It was an Afro-centric organization working on behalf of African-American civil rights (please don’t believe the propaganda against them). Prior to this organization, there was a common and fruitful exchange between African-Americans and Jewish Americans; they worked together. But there came a time in their struggle when THEY needed to find their path; it wasn’t that the support and encourage of thier Jewish bethren wasn’t appreciate, it was just not applicable for the times. Your encouragement is welcome but it is not your place. Don’t be offended. I am rooting for your inter-cultural, inter-racial and inter-religious relationship more than it may seem.

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Padparadscha January 18, 2013 at 8:22 pm

@happilymarried. We will make our own standards. You have not earned the right to tell us what to do. Please keep your hatred of western women to yourself. Are you sure you’re happily married ?

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Lyn January 24, 2013 at 12:46 am

Actually happilymarried has a point. It is always easy to judge and to tell people what they should do, when we are not in their shoes. The example of her experience in “poor communities” is one I can relate to. When I lived in the states and worked with homeless mentally ill men I thought I´d know what they should do and how they should behave (i.e. stop using drugs, start using their meds, clean their rooms, change their clothes, get active etc. [I was very young then, 19, and didn´t know too much about mental illness]) but then I realized that some of them just were more comfortable sitting on a bench and watching cars drive by. So I stopped trying to tell them what to do. And accepted their stance. It was hard, I disagreed with many of their actions, I still do – but I stopped telling them.

The difference is, however, that I didn´t live in the homeless shelter or had their experiences just like you, happilymarried, assumingly don´t live in any of the “poor communities” – so you´re right neither place is our place. But if you live in a country – even if you´re just an immigrant (!) – you become part of that country and then you have a right to voice your opinion. If it would be any other way where would that leave us? No one would be allowed to comment on any others country´s state: no word of criticism about war or genocide or inequality. Of course those ideas might be very modern and in many cultures they are simply not applicable. But voicing them, discussing them should be ok, shouldn´t it?

And now lets start to exchange that horrible word “help” with “support” and we´re on an empowerment jam:D

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anonymous May 25, 2013 at 7:19 am

“Do nothing. It is not your place. You are a visitor among us. Read Gyatri Spivak”

Gayatri Spivak?! You have GOT to be joking.

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Iniyaal January 19, 2013 at 12:32 am

Sensible and honest post… a change from the emotional ones that I keep reading about. True that families and the society’s attitude towards rape and rape victims needs to change. But there is atleast one female member in every family whose view of rape needs to change.. Pathetic to see Indian women having strong negative feelings towards rape victims.. This is the root factor that needs to change. If women in a family change their attitude towards sexual violence, it will be a good start for the men of that family to change their views. But practically speaking, in India it is easier for men to sympathise with women, than women themselves!

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laanisa January 20, 2013 at 10:50 pm

“I actually have come to realize what unsettles me about your responses. . I want to make clear that I do not wish to denigrate you; I am only offering my point of view. I meet so many Western women who simply are so lost; they believe they are modern, free, yet, from an Indian woman’s point of view, it appears to be the opposite. Let me tell you how you (and many of the Caucasian women on this blog) appear to Indian women. We feel a little sorry for you. You are not allowed to be yourself, authentic. You have changed your entire lives, relocated across continents (what?) changed the very person you are so you can be acceptable to an Indian man and his familly. WHY? What is so missing in you that you have WILLINGLY agreed to your own subjugation? You had to change your religion, your language, your way of dress; you fall at the feet of his elders and celebrate another religion. Why is your husband and his family trying to turn you into an Indian woman? Ironic”

I feel sorry for you that you never even had the choice to choose a love that is YOUR choice and not based on status decided by your family. I hope your educated husband is as lovely as you describe him but you know there are many other lovely people in this world.
Not many movies was made with the suburban PHD people in mind. Simply, I would guess because there is not too much passion to be interesting for anyone else than your admiring family…….kind of sad….?
Sharell’s husband is a DJ, it takes guts and talent to succeed in this field, ESPECIALLY in India. If Aunties look down upon them, well, i am sure they have too much fun enjoying life than to care about it.
Its sad you’re critizising Sharell especially since she has made her life so amazing in India and she is accepting and loving her new family but you also have the guts to tell her to shut up about the issues SHE is facing in India whilst you are safely home and happy in the US. What makes you a better judge than her?

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Sharell शारेल January 21, 2013 at 10:06 am

Sharell’s husband is a DJ, it takes guts and talent to succeed in this field, ESPECIALLY in India. If Aunties look down upon them, well, i am sure they have too much fun enjoying life than to care about it. Its sad you’re critizising Sharell especially since she has made her life so amazing in India and she is accepting and loving her new family but you also have the guts to tell her to shut up about the issues SHE is facing in India whilst you are safely home and happy in the US. What makes you a better judge than her?

Thank you laanisa. The way I see it is, so what if my husband isn’t tall and outspoken, he’s had the courage and determination to choose his own path in life, which is quite difficult in India. If his parents had their way, he would’ve been an interior designer and had an arranged marriage to a girl from Orissa (yes, his mum did take him to see a few). He desperately wanted to study music, but his parents didn’t see it as honourable and didn’t support it, so he decided to get into djing instead as an alternative option, and taught himself everything. His parents have had to adjust their mindset A LOT, including to other love marriages in the family, but they’ve decided their children’s happiness is more important than what the community thinks. In my mind, it’s these things that are important, not people’s status.

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Rebecca January 21, 2013 at 8:54 pm

My husband is similar to your husband Sharell in that he also made his own choices, many of which have been unconventional in India, like marrying me! :) It does take courage in India to take decisions that may lower your so-called “status” when status seems to be the god that people really worship. It is sad that happilymarried has made ridiculous assumptions about you and generalizations about caucasian women married to Indian men without even knowing us. She feels sorry for us? I’m a happy person so she doesn’t need to feel sorry for me. I feel sorry for a person who lives her life obsessed with status.

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kaneez January 22, 2013 at 4:45 pm

Enjoyed reading..!!

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Ravindran Nair January 24, 2013 at 10:07 am

I love how happilymarried posts a rant about Sharell feeling special because she is white and then posts a rant herself in a tone that implies that she is a cut above her Indian brethren because she married a white guy.

Yes, sharell is a christian, even though she mentioned many times she is not a christian. And what a generalisation that a westerner ought to be a christian. The last census in New Zealand pegged the number of Atheists and Agnostics at the 28-32% range.

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Sharell शारेल January 24, 2013 at 11:12 am

Yes, sharell is a christian, even though she mentioned many times she is not a christian.

Um, why am I a Christian? A person needs to be christened or baptised to be part of the Christian faith. I have not undergone either. My parents wanted me to make up my own mind in regards to religion. It is a common erroneous assumption that people are born Christians like they are Hindus.

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Sharell शारेल January 24, 2013 at 11:59 am

Oh, I think I get it now, you’re not saying I’m a Christian… you’re referring to other people who say I am! Right?

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Ravindran Nair January 25, 2013 at 2:32 am

Yeah, that comment was sarcastic. Not every white westerner is a christian, not every Indian a Hindu or an Arab a Muslim.

There are exceptions to these.

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Ravindran Nair January 24, 2013 at 10:33 am

And I find it a bit offensive of some of the things she posts about Indian men. I am an Indian guy. When I was single, when I saw an Indian girl walking hand in hand and gazing lovingly into the eyes of a guy of another race, I did not well up with jealousy. Rather I had a tinge of sadness because while I was happy for them, I wished that I had a girl to share that love and be happy like that.

And I certainly don’t want my girlfriend to conform to cultural standards she doesn’t like. What I find even more egregious about your rant is how you act with a chip on your shoulder because you have married a white guy and you accuse Sharell of the same thing.

Save your own pontification, Sharell’s a big girl. I am sure she does not do things that is not of her own volition. this is the 21st century. Interracial marriages are not that much of a novelty anymore. If other Indian men are giving you the looks, screw them. You have found your happiness and that is what matters.

But your smug attitude will earn you no friends here.

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godbless January 25, 2013 at 10:47 am

http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=amnevwW0MJo

Watch this video to get some perspective on violence in India and honour killings

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Sam January 30, 2013 at 2:59 pm
K K Swamy May 22, 2013 at 8:20 pm

It all starts with education. The successive Congress lead governments have toyed with the facts and truths of History and have forgotten totally to infuse the values in education system lest they hurt sentiments of minorities on whom they depend on their survival. They even degraded Vande Mataram which inspired millions of people to fight for freedom. It is now crime to call Bharath Mata. What do you expect from the a party whose leader Gandhi said that Shivaji and Rana Pratap were not real patriots back in 1926 !!. The Media has also not bothered to usher in any value and rise real issues. They are more worried up the GRP points – viewership so that they can attract more ad revenue. I recall even an SC Judge wondered why the Media does not take up real issues – Poverty Backwardness, History in truthful hues instead of showing Bollywood trash. Truly India has lost its soul…..

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wikitheeks May 25, 2013 at 2:16 am

“They even degraded Vande Mataram which inspired millions of people to fight for freedom. It is now crime to call Bharath Mata.”

Are you serious?!

What’s that all about?

I recall a self-hating Desi Muslim who identified more with Iran than India on Robert Lindsay’s blog, (his moniker there is Dota), referring to India as “the FATHER Land”. He even typed “father” in all caps to get his point across. I figured it was just typical Islamic patriarchy coming across. He wanted the Hindus to take note of it there but no one took the bait.

So are there some people in India who are offended by referring to their country in the feminine, as mother?

What a shame.

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anonymous May 25, 2013 at 2:20 am

KK Swamy, “They even degraded Vande Mataram which inspired millions of people to fight for freedom. It is now crime to call Bharath Mata.”

Are you serious?!

What’s that all about?

I recall a self-hating Desi Muslim who identified more with Iran than India on Robert Lindsay’s blog, (his moniker there is Dota), referring to India as “the FATHER Land”. He even typed “father” in all caps to get his point across. I figured it was just typical Islamic patriarchy coming across. He wanted the Hindus to take note of it there but no one took the bait.

So are there some people in India who are offended by referring to their country in the feminine, as mother?

That’s a damn shame.

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Dinesh July 15, 2013 at 12:22 am

I just finished reading this one blog. And I am having numerous emotions in myself. having tears in my eyes thinking about my country’s situation. It’s frustrating, ridiculous and disapponting. Law can be changed but how to change the people. Even the civilized catagory people who live ethically are so negative about woman. They don’t want to give their daughters higher education because for that they have to send their daughters outstations, far from home- why this fear?? Don’t the daughters deserve education equal like the sons.. What is their mistake, born as female or born in India.. The mentality is the root of the problem.. Perhaps it will take 1 or 2 more generations to bring change in india when girls and boys will be treated equally..
Don’t you think that girls should take steps to get equality collectively overcoming their fear?
It is a disturbing fact that whenever a female child is born in an common indian family, they are not that much happy which thay wd be on birth of a boy. Parents priority is to marry their daughter instead to focus on her studies and career. Girls are considered like burden by their parants and the burden only eliminates after their marriage.
The lack of interest in politics of brilliant masses has left indian politics for lame people and criminal background people. They only seek the loose points of constitution to get benefit for own. They are not concerned with country, people, reputation of country, crime on women, rapes, social discrimination etc etc. Everyone wants to become IAS Officer, engineer, doctor, actor, cricketer but no-one has interest in politics. So we are giving the chance to non deservings to rule india and to make laws. Then how can be better judicial system and better laws developed??

You wrote “Now, I’ve reached a stage of resignation. It is what it is, and as I’m not a citizen of India, it’s not really my place to judge and criticise.”
-you introduces yourself as indian housewife then how can you say you are not the citizen of india. You are living here for so many years and married here with indian then you are fully indian now and you should feel like that. You said you like your work and your work which keeps you bind in india. But you did not say you love india. As Ì love india despite all the things, I think being indian now there should be love in your heart for india despite whatever. So to leave india for its problems is not a good idea if your heart is attached to motherIndia.

But one thing is for sure, India can’t grow without having an equal status and equal rights for females as their male counterparts does.
And you are doing excellent work by the medium of this blog site. This will help to motivate people for the right things.

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Sharell शारेल July 15, 2013 at 10:20 am

You wrote “Now, I’ve reached a stage of resignation. It is what it is, and as I’m not a citizen of India, it’s not really my place to judge and criticise.”
-you introduces yourself as indian housewife then how can you say you are not the citizen of india. You are living here for so many years and married here with indian then you are fully indian now and you should feel like that.

This whole thing brings up a lot of conflicting emotions in me. I feel that way because I’ve been told by many Indians that I have no place saying anything bad about India (even constructive criticism), and in fact I should leave if I don’t like it here. So, I’ve come to accept that point of view. India, yes, I can say I love the country. But I can also say that I dislike many peoples’ mentalities here, and it’s their mentalities that make me want to leave. For example, the behaviour of the men outlined in the blog post, and also the issues you’ve outlined above. It makes day to day life difficult for me and wears me down after a while, especially as I don’t live in a protective rich bubble like many foreigners or rich Indians. I just live a normal life here.

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Dinesh July 15, 2013 at 11:11 pm

People who opposes you from saying anything about India are stupid in my view because they are not seeing that the issues you are raising are very much important to be discussed about and to be acted upon for the sake of betterment of our society. So don’t worry about them because there are much much more than those, who support you and acknowledge you for your efforts. More or less these efforts are important and beneficiary.

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Sharell शारेल January 12, 2013 at 8:13 pm

I am prepared to do my share, I am waiting for Indian people to tell us clearly what they need from us – if they want our help.

It is difficult, because Indians often don’t want foreigners to acknowledge the problems in India. And foreigners often don’t understand the way India functions, and have ideas that might not be feasible. It’s so hard to know what to do!

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umots January 14, 2013 at 1:51 pm

I know it is difficult to criticise India without being attacked for it, but I think you do fine. Critique without the judgementalism and blanket generalisations, that (some) foreigners seem to be skilled at.

A lot of people aren’t good at handling criticism, especially if they identify strongly with the object of criticism (such as patriotard Indians, Americans, etc.). Ignore them if they attack you for the sake of moral outrage, rather than presenting an alternate viewpoint (seems a rarity here, or in my blog for that matter). You can’t possibly make everyone happy, so don’t even try. :p

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Padparadscha January 14, 2013 at 9:31 pm

Yes, what to do ? It’s infuriating – I haven’t got to the acceptance part ! :)

In fact it makes me thing about your post regarding apathy.

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melbourne desi January 15, 2013 at 7:15 am

sharell
it is such a powerful insight. yes indians dont want foreigners to interfere and most foreigners have zero clue. heck many of the elite dont even speak an indian language fluently. how can you understand a society when you dont speak its language(s).
i keep my opinions to myself when talking about social problems with indians who live in india (dont live there – hence it is not my problem).
the messenger is more important than the message in an indian context.

one upside with all the rape cases being reported in oz and usa is that the image of an emasculated weak indian man will diminish and be replaced by a pillaging raping violent image of an indian man. Is it better – I have no view.

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Manny January 21, 2013 at 10:54 pm

You know Sharell… There is certain truth to Indians not liking “outsiders” criticizing India while we trash the country left, right and center constantly.

But I have to point out one thing though. I do find many non Indians (and some clueless lefty Indians) use the word “the Indian culture” this and “Indian culture” that to any and all ailments in India. Which I actually find offensive. Many people use “Indian culture” as an euphemism for “Hinduism” or the larger Dharmic culture.

This is almost like saying American culture is where people shoot and kill children (like the recent many such shootings in schools in America) or American women love to be in Porn… cause someone watches too many porn with American women in em… or such similar stuff…

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Rebecca January 23, 2013 at 2:50 am

Manny – I don’t know why Manny you are hung up the use of the term “Indian culture.” American culture is shooting and killing children, I recently read over 2000 children a year and 10000 adults by homicide. Our love of guns and propensity for violence is to blame for that and we murder each other at rates 20 times higher than other developed countries. Now, do all of us kill kids and own guns? Of course not but glorifying guns and violence is a sick part of American culture that needs to change. And most of us do not act in porn but do have a stong libido.

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umots January 24, 2013 at 12:14 pm

@ Manny
What I find more ironic is when people justify blanket generalisations by using rhetorical obfuscation – “Yeah, my culture is violent, but you are a rapist!”. It doesn’t really justify anything, if one things a cliched generalisation against one countries, to boost their attempt at looking impartial.

The glorification of violence and guns is universal. So is libido.

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umots January 24, 2013 at 12:15 pm

*if one thinks.

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Manny January 25, 2013 at 7:16 am

I own guns and I am all for the right to bear arms! Love that part of American culture!

LOL :P

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wikitheeks May 25, 2013 at 12:24 am

“one upside with all the rape cases being reported in oz and usa is that the image of an emasculated weak indian man will diminish and be replaced by a pillaging raping violent image of an indian man. Is it better – I have no view.”

You DO have a view. You said its “one UPside”.

Plus, I’ve never heard Indian men have an “emasculated weak” reputation. The reputation is that they are mama’s boys, which is different from being weak emasculated.

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