Being an Indian Abroad

ObamaLast time when I reached SFO Airport, there has been a very long queue to reach the immigration counters. A security personnel was guiding the passengers to form the queue. The moment she went to other side, a man suddenly came out of the queue and ran towards the front, out of turn. I have noticed the passport in his hand – it was a Pakistani Passport.

A bearded westerner (obviously not an American as this was a queue for non-citizens) made a comment: “He must be an Indian…”

I got angry. I told him: “No, he is a Paksitani”

“Paki, Indie, whatever, what difference it makes? They all are the same. Indians do not have decency to stand in the queue”

“Sir, you are wrong. How can you generalize? There are good people and bad people in all countries”

He didn’t say anything.

I also have seen lot of Indians getting impatient in the queue. But a comparison with India and Pakistan made me angrier.

Have you noticed this cliché: “Indo-Pak” in any international media? The world, outside India, touts India in the level of Pakistan. There are 1000s of reasons as to why one can’t compare India and Pakistan. But just ONE reason is enough to uphold Indian status.

India is world largest democracy (insiders (us) know it is DEMO-CRAZY) where the minorities get preferences for everything. Minorities are considered No.1 citizens in India. On the other hand, Pakistan, the epicenter of terrorism, enjoys killing minorities. Facts on the ground = No rights for minorities. (There are good people in Pakistan too. It’s about political policies)

Once, my good friend Advocate Rasheed (he is a senior government law officer in Kerala) told me: “India is the only country in the world where Muslims enjoy such a freedom and liberty. Muslims never get so much of freedom even in Islamic countries” – that’s India.

So there is no comparison with Pakistan. Still why Indians are discriminated abroad? And why are they equating with Pakis?

Few years ago I saw this headline in USA Today: “Indian doctor arrested”. This doctor has been migrated to USA 20 years ago and now an American citizen! So, what’s the intention behind the news? Is it the deep rooted perception of the layman? (Though minor changes happened after IT boom) Is global media deriving pleasure from India bashing? And fortunately for them, our breed of leaders provides enough raw materials in the form of scams, corruption and adharma (non-virtuous deed).

Have you watched BBC, Fox or ABC discussion programs related to India-Pak issues? The Pakistan representative would be a western-educated, well-dressed, well-mannered (appearing to be) knowledgeable person with whom the Westerners can feel home. But the person they choose to represent India (mostly) would be a still-to-be evolved product of Laloo Prasad multiplied by Mayawati divided by Mulayam. Same theory goes for most of our representatives abroad. Remember, we had an ambassador who stooped down to the level of taking measurement of a VIP wife’s foot to buy her leather footwear from India.

As a frequent traveler, I had participated in an Onam festival celebration in USA. All were wearing traditional Hindu attire and females had tilak in their forehead. They were all Christians, not even a single Hindu. I have seen Diwali celebration abroad. Lot of Muslims and Christian were among the organizers.

Please tell me, when you are abroad, what’s the identity of your tradition and culture? Is it Arabian or Western? No. Indian culture, though appears to be Hindu culture, belongs to all Indians. You can believe in any god or religion, but what dress would you wear abroad to represent India? What festival can you celebrate as a non-resident Indian (NRI)? What you can be proud about? Yes- our rich cultural heritage!

My article titled “Am I a Hindu” ( was published in various western media from 2004. I have got overwhelming response from NRI parents (including few Muslims and Christians) – “now we were able to answer few questions raised by our kids (born and brought up here). I have a classic example – a letter from an Indian-origin Christian girl abroad (Some of you might have read it in SpeakingTree) telling that “I am a Hindu Christian and I am proud of Indian ancestry” (However, the negative side of the story was, this article has been plagiarized, pirated, made changes and circulated as emails and thousands of shares in FB itself, by some Hindu thieves only)

The lesson from this incident: The Indian Diaspora abroad will make us proud – if they really understand their heritage and culture. If a small article from an ordinary writer like me can make a change in few, what will happen if our government takes initiative to teach the Indians about its culture and tradition? Or at least government can notify the public about those supermarket yoga swamijis, dime a dozen Hindu priests who recite film songs as mantras, fly-by-night Hindu gurus, and spiritual traders abroad.

What are the reasons behind discriminating Indians abroad? Think about it. Who is to blame? Reflect on the following observations:

1. India government never gives importance to merit, but to caste, religion and politics.

2. India never teaches its real history in schools. Instead, it teaches history of Invaders and glorify them, making young Indians shameful of the past culture.

3. India doesn’t have curriculum to develop patriotism and civic sense among students. (Are we outsourcing our syllabus from Pakistan?)

4. India never promotes Sanskrit – India’s cultural language. Middle East doesn’t have problem in making Arabic mandatory. Israel (a democracy) can make Hebrew mandatory. Those languages don’t have the merit or advancement of Sanskrit, any independent linguistic scholar will tell you. Sanskrit is mother of all languages including English & German. Just observe the character of Sanskrit users, you will know why it is called the “god’s language”

5. Every media produces such things to make sure that an ordinary Indian would be ashamed of his/her good culture and tradition (I agree there are lot of superstitions). It may not be that they think negative news about India would fetch high target rating points (TRPs), but it pleases the eyes of some of major advertisers and sponsors.

BTW, I had a dream that day. In that dream, the bearded westerner said:”Oh, you are an Indian, my pranams!” with beaming face! What a pipe dream, moron? This jet lag is too much! (

Udaylal Pai
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