Disclaimer: This article is not intended to offend or belittle anyone. Reader discretion is advised though.
Indian ethnic pride is something that rises every time an Indian achieves something in foreign land. Currently it’s Sundar Pichai. Now that Sundar Pichai has been appointed as Google CEO, as usual, many Malaysian Indians proclaim, “Proud to be Tamillianz/Indian.”
Indian ethnic pride is a flawed concept
Okay, you are proud to be Tamil/Indian. You indulge in your Indian ethnic pride when an Indian regardless of his/her nationality achieves, preferably in the US. Fine. But being Tamil/Indian doesn’t represent only what Sundar Pichai has achieved. It doesn’t only represent what Tata Group or Mukesh Ambani or closer to home, what Dato Ambiga Sreenevasan or Tony Fernandes has accomplished for that matter. It represents other aspects also, for example, Malaysian Indians have a predisposition for violence, diabetes, obesity and alcoholism. India Indians have a penchant to be racist, patriarchal, misogynist, sexist etc. Are you proud of that too? Because, Indians aren’t all achievers. Some chop each other for a stare while watching a Tamil movie in theater. Others broke the glass of a theater when Maari screening was cancelled. Other races call us, ‘India mabuk’ and ‘India kaki gaduh’. So, when you indulge in Indian ethnic pride by saying proud to be Indian, are you proud that Indians are criminals, a bunch that rock the boat and drunkards as well? Because the word Indian is all embracing – both the positive and negative ethos of being Indian. You say you are proud to be Indian and Tamil because Sundar Pichai is Indian and Tamil. Bentong Kali is also Indian and Tamil. How does it feel to be proud to be Indian and Tamil in the latter context? I hope you get how daft this Indian ethnic pride is now.
This Indian ethnic pride is not only useless; it’s worthless. Sundar Pichai wasn’t made CEO because he’s Tamil/Indian. He earned it by his workmanship. Similarly, you have to earn it. If you go to Google and say, I am Tamil/Indian just like Sundar Pichai, so come on, give me a job, they will lock you up in a mental asylum.
Maybe these Proud to be Tamil/Indian people contributed to Google by drinking and using the sublime word senju hence they feel entitled to ride on Sundar Pichai’s success, pun intended. Let me tell you all who are Indian ethnic pride indulging agents, you can be proud of Sundar Pichai but not be proud because he happens to be of your race. That samsu drunk uncle making the road his bedroom also happens to be of your race. Are you proud of being the same race of the drunk uncle? He is also Indian. So, the right thing to do is congratulate Mr Pichai Sundarajan, make him our inspiration and rehabilitate the drunk uncle. That’s how progress is made.
The main point is, you didn’t do anything to be born as Indian like how you didn’t do anything to be born with 10 fingers and toes. It’s a freaking genetic accident. Would you be proud of having 2 kidneys and a brain? No right? So, why would you be proud to be Indian or Pan Asian for that matter? You should be proud if you accomplish something by initiative not being something or somebody that you don’t have control of.
You trumpet that you are proud because you need some sense of belonging, knowing that you have none to be proud of thus clinging onto the glory of others particular someone that you can associate with, in this case through race. The pathetic logic is that being Indian/Tamil is akin to success than being hardworking and talented. Sundar Pichai is Google’s CEO because of his groomed talent, not because of his race. So, instead of clamoring ‘proud to be Indian,’ groom your talent. The latter will take you somewhere. Being static and screaming proud to be Indian takes you nowhere.
If you say that this Indian ethnic pride is for inspiration sake, let me correct you. If you wanna take Sundar Pichai as an inspiration, you should say, “Sundar Pichai maari varenum,” read up on him, learn how he made his success, not scream “Proud to be Indian.” By saying the latter you are saying, “Proud to be of Sundar Pichai’s ethnic.” It’s not a qualification FYI.
I do encourage people to healthily have some idol to look up to for inspiration in life. However, most of these Indian ethnic pride indulging people, the Tamilan/Indian da individuals are only good at hollering out the phrase and it ends at that point. They will never take the effort to improve themselves or at least to follow in the steps of Pichai and the likes of him. Their entire life will be wasted on Indian ethnic pride with 0 accomplishments. Because Indian ethnic pride breeds complacency – Sundar Pichai = Google CEO = Proud to be Indian = no need to achieve because Pichai has achieved. This is the pattern I observed.
So, please quit being proud of being accidentally born of the same race of Mr Pichai. It’s a random incident, not something you worked your ass off to be. You could have been born a Jew, a Japanese, a Swede or Danish. And guess what? The latter never go proud to be ______. Because they know that action speaks louder than words and that riding on the success of their fellow men doesn’t account as their success.
Indian ethnic pride in Malaysia breeds Indian internal nationalism
This Indian ethnic pride is giving rise to Tamil nationalism in Malaysia. Take me as the non Tamil rep of Malaysian Indians.
A Tamil fanatic fellow pinned me down for being a non Tamil writing for a Tamil portal. But if a white speaks/sings in Tamil, these lots go “Proud to be Tamil!” But, if a non Tamil like me write for Retamil, some Tamil nationalists won’t accept it. I can’t read and write my mother tongue but I can read (but not write effectively due to the similar sounding different letters, zha, la, etc) Tamil. I went to SRK but I taught myself to read Tamil. Why you may ask. It’s because I love languages. I try to improve my half baked Telugu by watching/listening Telugu movies and songs from India. I also know quite a bit of Hindi. My India Telugu and North Indian friends laugh at my wet market Telugu and Hindi.
My siblings have married Tamil people. My cousins married Chinese and Malays. Many of my family members went to Tamil school. When I see Malaysian Indians proclaiming ‘Tamilan Da’, I feel left out. So I comment, “There are non Tamil Malaysian Indians too ya know.. Look at us too bros, acknowledge us too bros by saying Indians.” I get accused of racism when I do that. If proclaiming my distinct identity makes me racist then how should I project myself? And, how it is not unfair, myopic, ignorant and regressive if Tamils feel they have the right to project their distinct identity but get agitated when non Tamils do the same? I never go “Proud to be Telugu,” because I practice what I preach. I didn’t do anything to be Telugu so why should I be proud to be one? It’s just my identity, not my accomplishment.
My dearest and honorable Malaysian Indian Tamils, don’t feel insecure or threatened when non Tamil Indians go public with their identity or state their sub ethnicity. Instead, get to know them, their culture and language. In Malaysia, the problem is many think Indian by default Tamil. And if an Indian doesn’t know how to speak Tamil then he or she is branded ashamed to be Indian. No one thinks that he/she might not be Tamil in the first place. I will give you an example most Malaysian Indians can relate to full throttle. Indian cinema. Take Indian actors for example. Siddharth can speak Tamil, Telugu and Hindi – he is pure Tamil Iyer. Aishwarya Rai is a south Indian – Tulu and she speaks her mother tongue, several other Indian languages and Hindi. Rajinikanth is a Marathi – he’s a superstar in TN. Bhagyaraj was the one who taught Rajini Tamil. SPB is a pure Telugu fellow but he sang predominantly in Tamil. And, he dubs for Kamal Hassan’s Tamil movies dubbed in Telugu. Kamal Hassan, no need to say lah. Avaru sagalagala vallavan. Geddit? Same applies to me, and why not to Tamils, Malayalis, Ceylonese etc? Tamils here expect non Tamils to know Tamil. It’s warranted since the majority of Malaysian Indians are Tamil. But learning the languages of non Tamils will broaden our perspective. It will make us appreciate our similarities and differences all the same. Try to learn pleasantries or using ‘Ippudu chudu,’ ‘Manasilayo’ or ‘Bahut accha hai’ pun kira ningge puluthy la. Learning the languages of non Tamils won’t make you less of a Tamil than I am a Telugu speaking Tamil or English for that matter. Try traveling throughout India. If you stick to any Indian language nationalism there, then Muthu nilamai than ungalukkum.
Being multilingual is a strength so please abandon language nationalism that resulted in the low standard of English in this country. Tamil nationalism is rising and hatred towards non Tamils like me is brewing. Please know that a Tamil poet, Kaniyan Pungundranar was the one who introduced the idea of global citizen first. Please don’t embarrass the legend by being so squished up and paranoid of non Tamils that they’re out to mock Tamils or even xenophobic. By the way, the govt doesn’t screw us as Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Punjabi. They screw us as Indians. United, we stand, divided, we fall. The Chinese are more sub racially diverse than Indians but they still have a sense of community despite the differences. The Indians? I hope you reading this reflect deeply on what I’m trying to say.
Indian ethnic pride quells the mastering of English
Mahathir changed the language of instruction from English to Malay in national schools when he became education minister. The standard of English in Malaysia steadily declined since then. It deteriorated so much, the very man decided to teach Science and Math in English in 2003. Mahathir saw that if we ever want to keep up globally, the mastery of English is critical.
But, what does Indian ethnic pride engender? Statements like, “Sapderethe paruppu kari aana pesurathu English.” “Your ass is black right? Then why speak English?” “Periya velle kaari/kaaren nu nenepu.” The very same Indian ethnic pride infused Malaysian Indians who habitually utter these vitriol at those Indians who speak and write good English are the ones who hollered, “Proud to be Indian/Tamil!” when Sundar Pichai beat Americans to become Google’s CEO.
Mind you, Pichai Sundarajan did not become CEO by saying that Indians who speak English are ashamed to be Indian. He didn’t climb the corporate ladder by mocking those Indians who speak good English. He made it this far by mastering English. Mastering English doesn’t make him any lesser Tamil/Indian as it makes you.
Watch Aishwarya Rai GRILLING David Letterman in his own show and put him in his place.
If you want to progress in a global scale you have to master English. There are no two ways about it. I hear you saying many Malaysian Indians know Tamil or their mother tongue but still choose to speak English like how Nayantara does to Arya in the movie Boss Engira Baskaran. So bloody what? They still know Tamil/their mother tongue and speak it at home. This is a free country. Anyone can speak any language they like wherever they like. But, if you wanna make inroads in an international milieu like Sundar Pichai, you have to be proficient in English.
Many Malaysian Indians are slaves to Indian entertainment from India. India celebrated her 69th independence anniversary this year. And, their English is superb.
When Oprah Winfrey was in India, she was feted by the NDTV news channel. When Barkha Dutt started to speak about Oprah, Oprah was surprised that she didn’t read from a script. It was impromptu. Oprah lauded Dutt’s stellar English which she said surpassed hers. I can’t find the video to embed here hence the meme below. Instead of solely watching entertainment from India, get to know the country’s other tenets which you can exemplify – quality of life increment wise.
I work with American clients and their English is BAD. And, English is the only language they know. Indians generally know at least 2 languages – adding more into our language repertoire won’t do us any harm. It will only do us a world of good.
The irony of Indian ethnic pride
Ironically, Indians need white validation to know that our Indian languages and culture and the Hindu religion has palpable worth. Minda masih terjajah.
If a white speaks/sings in Tamil, many Malaysian Indians go, “Proud to be Tamil!” If a white chick dons a sari, these lots go, “Proud to be Indian!” If a white dude takes the kavadi on Thaipusam, “Proud to be Hindu!” The worst thing I heard was when Julia Roberts declared that she’s become a born again Hindu, many went that that’s the proof that Hinduism is the right religion. Just because a white became a Hindu, Hinduism becomes the right religion?
We don’t see whites becoming proud when they hear us speak English, embrace Christianity (Jesus is Asian by the way) or when we wear bow ties and tuxedo do we? I understand that there is a certain awe when whites do all that I mentioned which makes us go “Wow, vellekaaren Tamil pesran!” That’s the remnants of colonial influence. We must consign it.
I am not sure why whites or Jew or a Maori for that matter learn/do Indian ethos. But, there must be a reason for it. Mark Zuckerberg learnt Mandarin to communicate with his Chinese wife’s granny. Similarly, we should master English is we want to be globally marketable. If whites can master Tamil/Malayalam/Hindi/etc, we can master English/French/German etc.
Being multilingual is a strength. And, our Indian ethos are worthy on its own. We don’t need foreign validation to appreciate our roots.
This Indian ethnic pride is an epidemic infecting unmotivated Indians who only feel worthy of being Indian only if another Indian achieves. These people go, “Proud to be Indian!” then go on to be preoccupied by sub race and caste division and the latest Kollywood actors’ fans division.
And, I find it funny. Malaysian Indians treat India migrant workers like shit and then go on to worship actors from India. By the way, Sundar Pichai isn’t Indian – he’s an American.
This proud to be ______ plague the 3rd world countries. They are so delusional and so unmotivated they think the only way to show that they have something worthy is to claim allegiance to the successful people who belong to their race and country, especially if they’ve achieved in white countries, particularly Uncle Sam.
People who keep on posting that I’m proud to be Indian, Malay, christian, Buddhist, Malaysian have no personal achievement to be proud of. Any movement of ethnic pride or ethnic supremacy is bound to fail due to its partial, regressive, repressive and oppressive nature – Ku Klux Klan and the Black Power Movement are just 2 examples.
Every time I see these Indian ethnic pride indulging machas and machis going, “Proud to be Indian,” I am reminded of this VIP dialogue that I modified to suit the situation, “Yethene naaliki da ungge inam pereh kooru potu vippingge? Unggalukunu oru thanipatta pereh tha sambarichikenggelen.. Please stop being proud of being Indian and start making our own pride that will be internationally recognized via effort. Ithu en anbana, taalnthana vendukol..