Thursday, December 22, 2005

Land of “OPPORTUNITY” !

A couple of incidents that happened over the last one and half years.


A few months ago while me and my colleagues were crossing the road a car driven by two teenagers, both blonde, (probably some expats kids) nearly ran us over. They stopped the vehicle and cheekily peeped out of the window to see our reaction. However they accelerated off recklessly at dangerous speed when some guys from my office who witnessed this incident ran towards them in rage.

Last month, just as we were nearing the Cubbon Park traffic junction, the traffic lights turned yellow. A bike with two guys who were near the signal slowed down and stopped on seeing the yellow lights. Right behind them was a Tempo Traveller driven by a foreigner. The vehicle was carrying four Great Danes, probably his pets. The white man was furious when he saw the biker slowing down. He pulled down his window and swore at the bikers fluently gesticulating obscenely. He was angry that the biker didn't jump the light thus holding him back too.

Last year in Mumbai the head of a large MNC abuses an Indian who overtook him by calling him a “bloody Indian”. The incident was reported in the papers however the foreigner got away with an apology.

Earlier this year in Ooty a rashly driven Scorpio (again a white man) nearly ran down a lady carrying firewood on the road. He too stopped to abuse the poor lady before driving off in rage.

In Kodaikanal last year while trekking we came across a huge house amidst a fruit plantation. We were warned by the locals to keep away from the fortress like house as the people who owned the land (Germans) owned ferocious dogs (to keep out the “natives”). The dogs had apparently grievously injured a kid and another woman who had gone to collect firewood in the Estate. Collecting firewood in the Nilgiris is not considered encroaching. In fact quite a few foreigners have bought land in the Nilgiris and you can make out their property with the imposing high walls and patrolling dogs.

On my recent Goa trip, I was witness to yet another incident. After browsing through the famous Flea Market my brother and me came across a Pizza joint. As we sat with our beers waiting for the rest of the family to join us the other tables soon filled up with foreigners. The topic of discussion at the table next to me was about the “awful lot of Indians coming to Goa!!” Many of these foreigners here were “service providers” for the foreign tourists. They ran tattoo parlors, hair braiding parlors, organized tours etc etc. We were told by the owner of the pizzeria ( a Goan) that the locals rarely interfered with these foreigners. The tourism industry here was run by the foreigners for the foreigners with the help of a few Indians.

A disconcerting scene at the same pizzeria. An old Frenchman covered in Rudraksha with a small girl in tow and that of another young man with another small child. Both kids looked like laborers kids.

Another incident in Goa. A religious procession carrying a statue of some Christian Saint is being carried to another house in a procession. A group of foreigners all youngsters, hoot and jeer at the procession.

Go to the outskirts of Bangalore where foreigners are farming huge tracts of land. The produce of these land range from flowers to fruits to vegetables is flown out of the country by private cargo aircrafts. The seeds and pesticides bought in by these people are unregulated I am told. (But this is an unverified report)

I have nothing against foreigners in fact there quite a few of them in my company and they make excellent people to work with. But when I was in Goa I was told that the tourist industry has been virtually taken over by foreigners and was dangerously out of control of the State Government. The main reason behind this was the strong network that these people establish exploiting the loopholes in the system. In fact the newspapers in Goa were simmering with reports of foreigners running illegal businesses in Goa leading to a lot of local discontent. (Please note the word illegal)

Our people have found jobs abroad when opportunities were scarce here. So we should extend the same welcome to people from other countries too. But the haughty attitude towards “natives' is disconcerting. Besides we have a virtually non-existent system of keeping track of foreigners and their activities here.

So India is a land of opportunities now? Opportunity for what?

40 comments:

Sujit said...

Yeah its a land of oppurtunity... to be exploited!! I guess.. and the govt has to take some action to bring things under control!!...

.... said...

It takes two hands to clap, and one of the reasons why things have gone out of hand is because the government and the local people have let things be the way they are. What exactly stops them from exerting control over their birth-right? Indians still reel under a colonial hangover and unless we can rid ourselves of it, we will forever be slaves in our own land.

Alexis Leon said...

Part of the problem lies with us. When I was working in Pondicherry, I have seen this kind of behavior from many foreigners and the locals seem to accept it without a fight. This happens every where—in restaurants, railway station, bus terminals. I nearly had a fight with a foreigner (I think he was German from the profanities he was using) for jumping the queue at the PTDC bus ticket counter. When I objected, he was furious and threatened me, but thanks to my build and my equally loud shouting, he backed off. It was funny, both of us started arguing in English and when it became ugly he switched to German and to counter his heavy outburst I switched to Malayalam. In the end Malayalam won.

MeesaMadhavan said...

So you belive that
1.India is being expolited
2.Foreigners are mean to natives
I agree with point no.1. India lacks a system to track its own people, let alone foreigners. I spend so many years in India and the only proof of my existence was my driver's license.
Point 2 - I beg to differ. It's sort of wild generalization that "Foreigners are bad". Foreigners can be from any where in the world (even Persian blooded Arabs look like Europeans). Also it is a known fact that India is popular as a cheap tourist spot abroad. May be we may not be exactly be getting the cream of the tourist layer here.

MM

silverine said...

@sujith: Yes, our land is being exploited, but are we getting any compensation for this?
@Twinkle: You are very right when you talk about "exerting control over our birth-right" but not many people know of these new trends..yet!
@Alexis: Wow that was quite an incident. We do have this pasive attitude and take any dirt thrown at us. Which is what led to the British colonising us. I think if we are not careful a second albeit covert colonisation will happen.
@MM: No I dont think they are the bad guys. But there are bad guys among them and when given a chance to exploit our system for their own gains I am sure anyone will make full use of the opportunity. About being a cheap tourist destination, thats news to me. Perhaps thats why we attract a different type of crowd.

Casablanca said...

But the reason a lot of foreigners get away with all this in India, is because many Indians still suffer from an imperialistic hangover. I wrote a post this week about how I wasnt impressed with New York, and most of my american friends agreed, but the Indians were ready to chop my head off for even suggesting something like that.

W-Bix said...

isnt it too common to find lots of indians loving/respecting white skin for no other reason than the colour...

For the while tht i was in india, it was way too horrible catching your middle class guy or richer guy treating the 'rickshawallah' like shit. In fact i was told, either learn to live like the indian-- try to be rude else you will be cheated upon-- or then go away.

me thinks it's the Indian who should change his 'behaviour' first before expecting the same from foreigners.

>|' ; '| said...

i never knew such an issue existed before i read this post. thanks for the info silverine...foreigners shouldn't be viewed as a menace, or looked up to, or looked down on. we would be no better than the afrikaaner apartheid system enforcers. i don't think that any action will be taken to curb these activities as such, due to the mega efficiency of our beautiful bureaucracy. however, some kind of economic benefit will ultimately reach us, the natives, even if they are the ones running the show. let them be, let us be.

silverine said...

@casablanca:We are used to foreign tourists and we tend to see most whites as tourists. But many are running businesses and farming here. I am talking about monitoring their activities.
@wbix: I am not pointing to our behavior with service providers.Since we have opened the economy to foreigners we should ensure that the loopholes in our system is not exploited and our security jeopardised. The attitude towards Indians by these foreigners also leaves a lot to be desired.

>|' ; '| said...

and, as an aside, an interesting observation that i have made is that, once someone says that he/she is taking a break from blogging, there is high chance that you can expect a new post very soon!

jaguu said...

:)

Very thought evoking post. From what ever travelling I have done and from working with some "Gora's" my inference has been that in most cases us "Brownies" are/were too submissive or meek.Many times I have worked that much harder to have a chance to sneer at some "Westerners". But lately Young Indians have started getting the "in your face" attutude coupled with education & confidence. Another Thing I have noticed is that "Natives" of the G7 countries suffer from some silly superiority complexes. I am not saying everyone but few scums. On the other hand I have also met some people who are so genuine & so very interested in India.They seem to know more about the culture & history Our Great country is blessed with then even us natives.

Damn...this is supposed to be a comment not a blog entry. I just wish all Gora's agree to What Apollonius Tyanaeus said about India....In India I found a race of mortals living upon the Earth. but not adhering to it. Inhabiting cities, but not being fixed to them, possessing everything but possessed by nothing.Cheers !! Jai Hind!

Lazy strokes said...

We are bound to feel a bit of chauvinistic outrage when we see such unjust/uncivilized acts from a foreigner.

But thinking straight, we have no reason to single out the foreigners here, the treatment should be the same; be the offender a foreigner or just another "bloody indian". And not to forget the treatment some of our people dish out against the unfamiliar foreigner.

ursjina said...

I guess its also partly because deep down within us we are still placing them a pedestal higher than us..the awe and the wonder on the white skin still remains..no offences meant..but i am sure we would behave differently with a black if put in similar situation...

MeesaMadhavan said...

@Casablanca - We are all in the same boat. Your American friends hate NY because they belong there. Your Indian friends hate India because they belong there. It's all a great eternal circle.
@Jaguu - "Natives of the G7 countries suffer from some silly superiority complexes. I am not saying everyone but few scums".
Now I know who has got the "Superiority complex".

MeesaMadhavan said...

"Apollonius Tyanaeus" ?????????
I thought the year is 2005.

Tha Dalda said...

we surely cant stop them from comin here since a lot of indians have moved to other countries. and as far as the attitude part is concerned, its mainly isolated incidents. there are a lot more who are well behaved and proper. its all these racist pigs that create the trouble.

gosh this is the most meaningful post i have made in ages. kewl, herez the plan, next time u see someone behave like that, poke him / her to death with toothpicks. add a bit of venom at the tip if u want to speed up the process.

Safari Al said...

gee...i landed on my way out. new post...damn. will read in the night.
i like fries too, salted ones with cold beer. aaah...nirvana.

silverine said...

@Poison: Lol on that observation. But this post was done last week but I was unsure about posting it. Finally after whetting it with a friend for any impropriety and getting the go ahead I decided to post it today.That's two post in two days. A record by my standards! :))

@Lazystrokes:It's true that we need to deal with misdemeanours whether the perpretrator is an Indian or a foreigner.But I was surprised at the obscene gestures and epithets the guy in the Tempo Traveller levelled at the biker. Of course I have seen countless instances of road rage but this beat them all.
@ursjina:It is the lack of land for farming that is bringing these people here. Well it's OK if they want to cultivate crops for their country from here, but then we are a fertile ground for misuse too. Regarding attitudes I think it's more of a 'familiarity breeds contempt' kinda thing. Gone are the days when wonder eyed white tourists roamed our fair country. Indians are also not willing to take such attitudes now.
@Jagu: Glad to get a differing viewpoint here. Try and get your hands on the Tehelka issue that exposed the peadophilia racket in Goa and you will get a glimpse of the sordid Goan tourism scene.
@dalda:You are right that there are many nice foreigners too and we should not make much ado about isolated incidents. But these are incidents that I have come accross. I have not listed experiences of my friends here. Besides we need to be aware of a growing number of foreigners who are engaged in farming and other activities. Most of them are good people but there will be bad apples who will exploit the situation to harm the country. Abroad a strict vigil is kept on all foreigners, in India alas we do not have such a rigorous system.

flaashgordon said...

Hi Silverine

Guess ths is really a topic none has really talked about before. But i really dont know how big the issue is.I personally think that most of the incidents u narrated can happen even with an Indian at the wheel. For every one like u described there are many living here imbibing the local culture n doing good..We shouldnt really pass judgements based on isolated incidents. However i agree tht govt: has to make 100% sure that the local laws are followed regardless the skin color

And not just in Goa, in every tourist spot in S&SE Asia ; the whites are accorded better service; but the motive is purely economical...saw this during a Srilanka trip....Well on a lighter note ; in London clubs saw the white gals falling all over the Arab looking Guys; leaving the white ones!!!!...well, THEY are the ones with even more money!! heheh

Anyway really thought-provoking post, Silverine !!

flaash

~*. D E E P A .* ~ said...

What the hell ?????

When we go outside for work etc , we are anyway segregated and made fun of ...

now , in our own nation too , we are treated so cheap ... damn !!!!!

~*. D E E P A .* ~ said...

it bugs me to no end ... we dont go around doing weird things in their land , then what right do they have to mess w/ us ???

they talk so much abt consideration .. these incidents just abt show their consideration ..

B.U.L.L !!

AF said...

this is really rediculous and annoying!
the fault is actually with us "INDIANS". we only treat foriegners as if they r an inch or two above us...
In our coolony a number of student foriegner have taken houses on rent...an engineering college is nearby....and believe me the way these people r treated by the local shop owners and bakers seems toooo much....they r given preference ...i guess our people should stop doing this...!

Matter of Choice said...

a very very interesting post!!!

i guess we are seeing huge inflow of foreigners..even in the staid n not so happening chennai, the pubs have a disproportionate number of foreigners.

Lotsa people seem to have commented about our historical baggage about whites n white skin etc..but then if we have that problem we cant blame the foreigners for it. If for example we go to a country where brown skinned people are considered gods and the population is willing to slave for them..i would be happy to play god (especially to the ladies..wink wink!)

seriously, the incidents are what they are..just incidents!. take any of these incidents and i am sure this would have been also committed by a native!. Native kids frightening pavement walkers, native drivers abusing fellow drivers, native rich walling themselves in, native pimps or drug sellers and native law breakers, they all exist!

even we arent that far behind in engaging in similar acts. Every single mallu who has been to gulf (and there are lotsa them!) tell me that arabs are stupid!.

free markets n free trade also means free movement of people.

They must be expected to follow the laws n practises of the land they are in, nothing more nothing else. They should also be judged as the natives are, nothing more nothing else.

The danger in this kinda reasoning is that it ends up being a weapon for the xenophobes!.

The next step would be internal foreigners (lets say a mallu in chennai or a bihari in mumbai!). Pramod Mahajan (former union minister) recently complained about the gundagiri of bihari students in mumbai. does he mean to say that all bihari students does this or that no true maharashtrian does this?.

cheers
MoC

silverine said...

@flaash: These are not isolated incidents. It is happening a lot and will soon be more apparent.When an Indian insults you , you insult him right back. But it will bite when u r called a "bloody Indian" or worse "these natives!"
@Deepa; You said it!! We behave ourselves when we are abroad, but some of these people now conducting business here are increasingly getting the feeling that they are superior!We are treated cheap in our own country!
@AF: As Flaash pointed out it is the money power of these people that makes them so attractive to shopkeepers etc. Our people are also culprits in this sordid drama.
@MoC:You do make a lot of sense.But a mallu in Arab land has no rights while foreigners here are getting away with a lot.Internal foreigner like situation happens when you do acts that stand out. In a cosmopolitan city like Mumbai where people of different states live together, no particular group should try to disrupt the status quo. Perhaps thats why the Bihari were singled out for comment. Ultimately people will notice such behavior and Xenophobia will set in.

Ganja Turtle said...

Hmmm...sorry, just couldnt resist checking ur blog from a local webworld...

Hmmm...like someone has already said, all these that you talk about - these are things that us Indians are as guilty about - from exploiting the poor to polluting our cities to raping the environment - we do it first. Yeah, some foreigners join the game and play it well - but how does it make a diff just because they are foreigners? As an extreme thought, should we expect all foeigners to be servile and without exception, appreciate the heritage of India as also its extremes of poverty and diversity?

Do these examples stand out because it is the colour of the skin? Maybe it offends our sensibilities that a foreigner can come to our country and exhibit disdain/haughtiness to us? Its ok if an Indian does it, but hey ur not from around here, so watch it?
I seriously do think that the moral construct for judging such acts must transcend meer nationalities/ borders/"status as a resident"...more an absolute question of right and wrong - the sheer disdain for rights of a poorer man - another human - is abominable whether its a firangi who sets up an estate and abuses trespassers or an Indian politician who runs a hooch adulteration biz on the sly...

I think this would be an issue floating around in the grey area separating a xenophobe from a normal person...reminds me of Tamilians who expect Mallus to be grateful just because they have been allowed to set up shops/ allowed work in Tamil Nadu....ditto attitude from Arabs towards Indians in Dubai...This kind of dangerous resentment builds up over a period of time and is exploited by the Thackerays of the world...

Taking off on a tangent, I have been to just about a couple of places abroad - Dubai...Switzerland...Dubai is almost as dirty as India is...made dirty by pan spat all over the place, general garbage spilt all over the place, opulence personified in hughe highways and malls - better civic order (vs India) seems to be maintained by the sheer volume of wealth committed to maintenance and also possibly because of "no offence to the golden goose" sensibilities...

On the other hand, Switzerland was almost magical - not only the mountains or the art or the churches...but the general attitudes of people - everyone smiles at you (yeah, apart from attribution / general allowance for my usual charm ;-)...ths streets are very neat, garbage outside houses is left by residents in black plastic bags, there are no bars/grills on windows, there are no restrictive compound walls/ not many throws plastic into the lakes . When I rented a bicycle adn was dangerously tottering on all the "strasses/gasses", 99% of drivers very pleasantly stopped for me and waved me ahead even when I skipped red lights, even when I got confused about the lanes, even when I almost "rammed" a tram...100s of cars proceed on the road at speeds upward of 80m/h without any screeches/ honking/ rash overtaking...drivers allowed pedestrians to cross roads even after the lights turned green...(discount even say 20% of this as my experiencing general cultural change and resulting tingles all over the body,still...) Friends tell me that it isnt the same in the US and of course, this is absolutely no justfn for the crappy behaviour you had mentioned. But if I were to come from such a country, I would feel quite bugged at Indian traffic and general demeanour...to emphasize again, OBVIOSULY that doesnt justify any behav like this, but...BUT possibly these are just random examples noticed all the more because they are firangs and not a general trend that so seriously begs the question "Opportunity for whom"...

Almost seems like a school essay "Write a letter to the editor replying on his article about behaviour of foreigners in India" ;-)

One bottle of homemade wine down, half a plum cake and assorted helpings of custard, jelly and puddings...Merry Xmas...hic!

Safari Al said...

Saala firangs.

but like you say, some of them have come over home and stayed with us. dad happens to part of some international society called servas. and the folks who have come over have been nice. a couple of them were bombshells from germany

Safari Al said...

damn you silverine. just when i thought i was happy single you turn up.

marry me!

p.s. : i think i might be much much younger than you, but hell how does age matter....right?

kickassso said...

Aaah.. Xenophobia shows its head!
I, for one wouldnt mind restarting the india for indians movement:D.
It seems like the sahib mentality of the old days is returning...also, it would seem bad to condemn the barrel because of a few bad apples:P Thankfully, foreigners in tvm are the subject of weird glances, esp the ladies*winks*

silverine said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Leon said...

My My.. Two posts in two days!!!

A lot of issues here that I would want to talk about.. but it would be a whole blog post..

To keep it short..
Regarding incidents 1,2 and 4, my friends and me have observed several Indians behaving the same way.. usually drunk Indian teens.. I guess it's more of a personality thing than a racism issue...

The others are of course very disconcerting.. However, I doubt if the foreigners you are talking about are the ones that arrived in India recently to make use of the booming "opportunities". For instance, the people in Goa have probably been there for several generations. Others as you yourself state are probably spoilt kids.

/*Besides we have a virtually non-existent system of keeping track of foreigners and their activities here.*/

This is sooo true.. In fact we don't even have a system of keeping track of our own countrymen.. I think a scheme such as a "Social Security Number" is called for..

kickassso said...

but the best is always reserved for foreigners, like kovalam beach for ex....GRRRR!

anthony said...

Now that was some observation. I haven't come across anything like that though. will keep my eyes open.

Jagan said...

well ..this is the first time i hav heard something of this kind .

well...the crimes u stated sud NOT be "generalised " as such . bcos there are very friendly foreigners out here . the foreigners who do illegal or drive rashly fall under the same category as the locals who committ crimes and who drive rashly .

Lost in trance... said...

doesnt this happen everywer? r v any better?

Ganja Turtle said...

@ safari al - she might turn out to be like susie - watch out! ;-)

silverine said...

@leon: Yes a system like social security number is urgently needed!
@kickasso: Even in Goa :(
@Anthony:It's happening all over and I blame our outdated laws full of holes for it.
@Jagan: No, I am not generalising. But you have to be aware that if we give opportunities, then people will take advantage of it. We have redo our laws so that our legal loopholes will not become a noose around our neck one day!
@lostintrance: Do Indians flout agricultural laws in the US?
@safari al: that was so sweet!!muuuuuah :))
@ganjaturtle: Who on earth is Susie?

silverine said...

@ganjaturtle on the loong comment: Guess you are ready to crack CAT now :))

Lost in trance... said...

i was more hinting at the way people tend to tweak their immediate surroundings to suit themselves...some ppl can go to ANY xtent to 'help' themselves..

silverine said...

@lostintrance:What you say is absolutely true, but we are a very vulnerable society, especialy due to our arcane laws and careless attittde. We usually wake up after the damage is done. Even before opening up of the economy, we had the Purulia arms case. The various militant outfits in the country will become sources of business for gun runners and soon we will have other 'businessmen' coming here too. We are just not prepared to be a global village yet!

kicha said...

we should have more control over foreigners..otherwise, we will rollback to our 1600s :-(