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Our Mother Country is Britain, Our Parents’ is India

I have nothing new to say to those who heard this before, but sometimes repetition reinforces sad truths and calls for change of pace. Some may accuse me of tarring all with the same brush but in social anthropology one has to generalize. Exceptions do not break the rule.

Some might have heard from their children (raised in the West) that India was nothing but a land of half-naked fakirs before the British went there and colonized it. Some children and adults might go on to list of facts to buttress their claims - like bringing in the railroad to link various parts of India and modern technology, and of course democracy. Of course, it is sad but true that railroad and the steam engine were not invented in India. They were invented in Great Britain. It is also deplorable that Indians talk only about the glorious past (which anyway many historians dispute - like Harvard’s Indology Prof. Witzel). It is also sad that while many first generation NRIs or NRAs have visions of a civilized land of their forefathers, many in the second generation contend that it was no way superior to that of the Britain or the United Kingdom - their Mother Country. America’s Mother Country!

As part of Americanization, it is the duty of all citizens to uphold the concept of  Mother Nation. India has no Mother Country. USA has a mother country - Great Britain.

In this context, what should be expected from second or third generation Indian Americans?

Should they be expected to uphold the interests of their Mother Country or that of India - the land of their forefathers?


It is true that Mother Country provides a more welcoming smile - better colleges (like Rhodes scholarship to Oxford University to Piyush “Bobby” Jindal, the new governor of Louisiana) which result in more acclaim when they return to the US. The stay there makes their accent even better - British accent is favored even above the New England one. What does India have to offer besides a visit to Grandma’s home?  Further, Mother Country Britain helped the USA during the World Wars and current Iraq War. What did land of forefathers, India, do? Nothing! No wait - it is taking away American jobs through outsourcing. Now some second generation Indian Americans are forced to work or do internships in Bangalore. None wants to go to IITs to study or teach.


It is true that if a child has to grow up in an immigrant family in the USA or anywhere else, it is a great challenge, since the s/he has no support network of a large family - the way these kids have who have all their grandparents and all their relatives in the USA. Those Indian American kids have it tough - who have no support network or endowment backing their trip to elite colleges or helping them get jobs in top firms where a phone call from “someone you know” lands jobs (ceteris paribus - all else remaining equal). Thus, Indian Americans turn to top quality education to open closed doors to success. And success is generally defined in a very materialistic sense for most Indian Americans. Materialistic people should not be expected to go out and save the Indian souls.


Maybe some have indeed gone to India to save souls - in the spiritual sense. However, none seem to remain for their entire lives (like Mother Teresa) to take care of the Indian economy. The World Bank was formed for the reconstruction of Europe following World War Two. It was the USA who wanted to help the land of its Mother Country and other European nations.  Which Indian American organization is there to help the cause? Which organization is there which can counter the claim by top economists (like Harvard Business School professor Mihir Desai - second generation Indian American) that India is losing ten percent of its national income because a million of their educated elite (including perhaps his parents) have seen it fit to head West (Desai, 2002).  Some at ILO (International Labor Organization) said thing along the same lines - that Indians should remain in India or the brain drain would damage Indian economy

I wonder how many of the Indian Americans have thought of calculating how much did Britain lose when its citizens left its shores to head for the USA. Why such step-motherly attitude towards the Mother Country of USA? No one in the USA accuses a Frenchman of being a FOB or then why do some look down on anything Indian? Russell Peters is a shining example - though some are quite interestingly done - making fun of cricket, Indian food, Yoga, Hare Krishna  12 days of Christmas.

Any comments?

Umesh Sharma
Washington DC