Tuesday, March 22, 2011

British : Indians :: Punjabis : Non-Punjabis

I've often heard stories from others that individuals from the Indian subcontinent are mistreated in the UK (I've never been to the UK, so I've to assume that this is true). Since I'm an avid reader of Western publications (BBC, CNN, FT, NYT, TIME, WSJ, etc.), I've sometimes read comments such as "Indians have infested the entire universe!" on some articles about outsourcing.

What I've heard and read makes me feel that many British people (and by British, I'm referring to the broader West) hate the presence of people from the Indian subcontinent in their country. They hate that we've infested their country and are flouting their culture and norms. They don't like our skin color, our smell and our accent. They see us everywhere, they curse us, give us angry looks, sometimes even beat us up, and want us out.

Are their feelings unjustified?

At first I thought so, but over the last few months, I noticed something strikingly similar right in my own state, Punjab. Now, Punjabis are quite patriotic and proud people. We believe that we're superior to other people in India, and that no non-Punjabi can ever match the grandeur of a Punjabi. And like the UK has a large and growing population of people from the Indian subcontinent, Punjab has a large and growing population of individuals from other states (most notably, from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh).

And what's happening to Indians in the UK is similar to what happens to people from Bihar and UP in Punjab - those from Bihar or UP are cursed, beaten, mistreated, looked down upon, and generally given little respect by native Punjabis. I've heard fellow Punjabis exclaim that "These 'bhaiyas' have infested the whole of Ludhiana!".

And so, I've finally understood why the British feel the way they feel. How they feel isn't surprising anymore.