Indian children born abroad

Partha Banerjee partha at CAPITAL.NET
Fri Dec 18 14:41:30 UTC 1998

I feel happy that someone has finally raised this issue here.

However, this is not exactly a matter to talk about so lightheartedly. The
fact that Indian-American kids refuse to visit Hindu temples has a lot to
do with how stereotypically the temples function, how conservative and
patriarchal class- and caste-based Hinduism functions, what relevance these
kids find with their parent-imposed "Indianness" (or the lack of it), and
how these youngsters relate to India vs. their country of birth.

There is a huge cultural vacuum in the minds of these children, and
right-wing Hindutva proponents Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and and its
offshoot Hindu Student Council (HSC) [or Shiv Sena] keep taking advantage
of this vacuum cunningly.  Their version of Hinduism is of course racist,
isolationist, ultraconservative, and jingoist.

VHP does not want to admit here in America that it is a DIRECT offshoot of
RSS and that it has created so much communal problems in India. Most
immigrant Indians do not know their link with RSS, BJP, or Shiv Sena.

However, because of a lack of any organized attempt on the part of the
Indian liberals, secular, and progressive, VHP and HSC's version of
Hinduism is getting ground abroad which is unfortunate.

Sunaina Maira who is a Ph.D. from Harvard has been trying hard to organize
these children (at least in some big U.S. cities) based on secularism and
progressive agenda.

I would recommend her book to everybody who is interested in this extremely
important and sensitive subject, i.e., the subject of South Asian children
born and brought up outside India.

-Partha Banerjee


>This is a book about Indian first generation
>emigrants and their children growing in an
>alien culture.
>The kids refuse to visit Hindu temples once they
>are 10 or more.
>I have heard a description:
>a) ABCDs - American born Confused Deshis
>b) Oreo cookies - brown outside, white inside
>(derived from the Chinese term -
>bananas - yellow outside only, but white inside)
>:-) :-)
>N. Ganesan
>Sunaina Maira and Rajini Srikanth,
>Contours of the Heart: South Asians map
>North America, 1997, Temple univ. press
>This anthology critically explores the immigrant
>conflict between home as a physical site in North
>America and home as an emotional concept tied to
>the ancestral country, and the second generation's
>questiong of both notions. It challenges undifferentiated,
>steriotypical images of South Asians in America, ...

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