|Rahul, Katrina: the hybrids|
He is half-Italian. Why did she have to apologise to Rahul Gandhi?
Actress Katrina Kaif made a harmless comment, primarily because her own origins are questioned:
"Am I supposed to be ashamed that I am half Asian, half European? I mean, no! Rahul Gandhi is half-Indian, half-Italian. So? I am very proud of what I am and I just don’t understand the confusion - as if I’m trying to hide the fact that my mother’s British. Why would I? "Indians are obsessed with the gori/gora, but when it comes to certain visible professions there is a call for the pure ‘nationality’. We will have pizza with pudina (mint) chutney, but our powerful people must not be hybrids.
Ironically, the person defending Rahul’s purity is dismissive about the real Indian. Congress spokesperson Manish Tiwari said:
"Katrina Kaif kaun hai, main nahi janta. Kal ko aap Johnny Lever ke bayan par pratikriya mangege. Raajniti ko kitna neeche lekar jayenge (I don't know who Katrina Kaif is. Tomorrow, you will ask our reactions on Johnny Lever. To what levels will you bring politics down?)"He should apologise to Johny Lever. He at least makes us laugh, despite his sometimes over-the-top humour, and does so in his capacity as a comedian in films. Not like the jokers in politics who do not intend to make us laugh but are tragically funny.
I do not understand why anyone had to get a response at all on Katrina’s comment. And Mr. Manish Tiwari (who you?), politics is down already and politicians need film stars to go out and campaign for them. It is lame that you do not know who Katrina Kaif is. Chances are that you would like to. That aside, if having to comment on Johny Lever amounts to bringing down politics, then you are wrong. It really elevates it, for no people’s movement can achieve what a stand-up act can do to expose you straw warriors. Mr. Lever has struggled hard and one knows that he comes from a rather impoverished background. It is creditable that he is where he is today and it is also a fact that he encourages new comedians.
Think a hundred times before you open your mouth about an Indian citizen only to curry favour with your boss, assuming he likes curries.
The Buffett-Gates lot lecture Indian industrialists on philanthropy and it is fine; NRIs who do well overseas are glorified. Foreign labels are coveted. What brand is Manish Tiwari’s watch, his shades, his shoes, his fragrance? So, does he smell half Armani-half Indian sweat? Indian time-Swiss watch; Indian eyes/feet covered with Italian eye/footwear?
Given the manner in which we are obsequious to the foreign aspect, why has Katrina's statement been perceived as almost an insult to Rahul's Indianness? His father was half-Kashmiri, half-Parsi, and since Parsis are originally from Iran it would make him part Iranian. Omar Abdullah is half-Indian, half-British. And are Manmohan Singh and L.K.Advani not full Pakistani?
I wish we were an India where people did not have to hide their identities. Had there been no political opposition to Sonia Gandhi’s origins, although she has survived marvellously well, would her son proudly declare he is half-Italian? It is unfortunate that she took Indian citizenship rather late. But what about the rich Indians who conceive babies in India or wherever and then go overseas to deliver so that the child gets citizenship of that country? Sonia’s nationality now is Indian. Rahul is an Indian, but due to the nonsensical touchiness over this ‘controversy’, he should publicly declare that, yes, his mother is Italian by birth. Such openness is not a mere reaction to some puerile issue; it is about facing facts that we Indians are so adept at skirting.
We want to be like Shanghai and Singapore, so maybe some young Indian leader should find a partner from one of these places. Perhaps, the offspring will have the right genes and we will get to be like the desired city or nation that we so shamelessly flaunt as a national ambition. Then, we may have to say that we are half-India, not just half-Indians.
Does anyone like the slightly sweet, slightly salty biscuit Fifty-fifty? Does anyone remember the ad that said, “It’s a toffee, no it’s coffee,” with a mouthful and the tagline: “Melody khao, khud jaan jao” for the coffee-flavoured toffee? Just thought about it because I have these half and half type snacks and sweets. And sometimes I have half a mind…to hit someone.
- - -