2008/01/22




Why is Kerala always the butt of jokes, but not Gujarat?

It is a source of great interest to me that it seems like blogs of Indian emigrants to North America are always criticizing Kerala for its supposed 'backwardness', in continuing to elect communists into power, while ignoring the much more odious qualities of political life in the north, especially Gujarat.

It is almost like Keralans are the Indian version of Newfies (or Tasmanians in Australia, Azoreans in Portugal, etc.), ie. always ripe for 'sport'.

Some background:

Previously, in this space, I have mused aloud about the apparent anomalies of the Kerala Model. Meanwhile, over at Ultrabrown, Kerala is being presented as The land that time forgot.

Ah, yes, the land that time forgot. Except for literacy rate. And mortality rate. Etc.

A possible answer to this question is explained in an article in the last edition of Frontline Magazine (published by the same people that publish the Hindu), entitled "Why Gujarat?".

From the article:


“While the ideology of Hindutva [Hindu nationalism, akin to white nationalsim- PALGOLAK.] was gaining ground,” say Yagnik and Sheth, “moderate voices were getting weaker…. By the early 1990s, community leaders… no longer wielded any authority over their youth…. These youngsters… have grown up on a diet of anti-minority invective and the voices of moderation, of liberal thought and tolerance have been missing from their environment.”

A second factor is the influence of conservative ideas through the non-resident Indian (NRI) community. Gujarat has the highest representation of any Indian State among professional NRIs living in North America. Their reactionary “long-distance” nationalism feeds Hindutva. They are more orthodox and backward-looking than their resident Indian counterparts, but provide the role model for young Gujaratis.


At the same time, Keralans are mocked for their accents (Lola Kutty), their lungis (a very practical clothing choice IMHO), a tendency towards naive Christianity (implying a very strong caste system forcing dalits and the like toward conversion) and an over reliance on thick moustaches.

Still, enough is enough. Why don't these NRIs make fun of Tamils, for a change?


UPDATE
Since I accidentally published this post before it was ready, I was taken by surprise when manish from Ultrabrown instantly responded to the posting with a representative link to an Ultrabrown criticism of Gujarati politics.

I had already removed the original post from the interweeb before his comment was displayed, but I hope he will forgive my hasty action.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Is it just me or does the girl in the video still look like Kelly Kapoor(Mindy Kaling) from "The Office"

http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e352/ubercooltom/1102361519_l.jpg

PALGOLAK said...

I think it might be just you.

However, since the actor you refer to was originally named Vera Chokalingam (according to wikipedia, the most accurate info source in the multiverse™) you might have hit on something.

Chokalingam certainly sounds south indian, but differentiating between Keralan or Tamil names is beyond me.

The Commentator said...

The misplaced bastards look happier than Moscovites during the hey-day.

The little girl will be the town's first capitalist.

Very interesting stuff.