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Violated in the Temple: A Victim Speaks Out

 

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Editor’s Note: The following is a real firsthand account of unfortunate events involving someone I know, which happened in summer 2018.  I have watched her grow up since she was born, and this story has filled me with anger.  Even worse, she was not the only one.  But her response deserves attention.  She has courageously fought back against the holy priest and the management of the otherwise outwardly beautiful Mangueshi Hindu temple pictured above, visited by no less than former US Defense Secretary Ash Carter himself (!)

The story has received national media attention in India (links below).  

It is high time that India sees the rise of its own powerful #MeToo movement and we are beginning to see the saplings grow as victims bravely engage the patriarchal and supposedly religious systems stacked against them.  Ultimately, there is an uplifting future embodied below, if others are inspired to act.  

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A monumental victory was achieved yesterday, all thanks to my family for fighting tirelessly over the last month for my rights, a lot of strangers for their support, the media all over India who shone light on this issue, and the Indian legal system for ensuring that justice was served against a perpetrator who wronged me. I’m not one for sharing intimate life details with everyone on Facebook, but by my sharing this experience, I hope that others can avoid the same situation.

This past June when I was in India, my family and I made a day-trip by flight to Goa to visit our ancestral temple, as we have been doing at least once a year for as long as I can remember. Single women are not allowed in the innermost sanctum, so I have always sat and watched my parents and brother perform the rites inside. On this particular trip as I was sitting outside the sanctum, our family priest in his 50s, Dhananjay Bhave, beckoned me to the side, grabbed me, and attempted to kiss me. I turned my cheek and body away just in time to avoid him. I told my parents what had happened, and they confronted the priest who then admitted it and requested us not to escalate the matter.

Finding this to be completely repulsive and unacceptable, and yet wanting to preserve the reputation of our family temple, I sent a formal complaint to the management committee of the temple charging Bhave for his behavior, demanding he be fired, and pointing to the CCTV security footage from that area of the temple as evidence. THREE WEEKS later the committee responded saying they would not be taking any action and we were free to take up this case with the ‘relevant authorities’. During this time, we found out by chance that another 20-year old girl from Mumbai had filed a complaint against the same priest for a nearly identical incident 8 days prior to my visit, and had received the same noncommittal response from the temple management. The day after we received their response from the management, my mom filed a police report/ FIR on my behalf with the Goa Police, and a few days later the other girl also lodged another FIR.

Around this same time, the formal complaints which the both of us had written to the temple management went viral on WhatsApp to everyone in the community, and news sources picked it up. Overnight every regional news source in Goa and every national paper all over India was carrying the story. 10 days ago the matter went to court for the first time for Bhave’s bail, where his defense argued that me and the other girl must be conspiring together for publicity and to tarnish the reputation of the temple, and we had mistaken his gentlemanly affectionate behavior for something more sinister. Our public prosecutor argued that me and the other girl had never met (and have still never met) and could have no ulterior motives, and Bhave was already a HABITUAL offender and would possibly target many other girls while out on bail. Yesterday, the judge in Goa gave her verdict of DENYING Bhave’s bail. As of now, Bhave is ABSCONDING from arrest and is yet to go to jail where he now legally belongs. I don’t know where this case will go in the years to come, but for now this court ruling is a big victory for everyone who has been fighting for me and the other girl, and for all the girls who have undoubtedly faced similar experiences at his hands in silence, and the many more who would have suffered in the future if not for this ongoing case.

A few points that I want share about this entire experience for other girls who hopefully won’t, but one day may find themselves in a position similar to mine:

1. A lot of people asked why I didn’t yell or even hit him right when it happened. Or why my family didn’t file a police report in Goa the same day. In the moment, I reacted with shock because I have been raised to have utmost respect for the temple and our priests, and not question many practices associated with them. I was genuinely shocked about what was happening given that this is someone I have seen once a year while growing up. I needed time to process the incident, and my family needed time to decide on the best course of action. In hindsight while I could have reacted differently, I also believe that the actions that have taken place in the last month will have a more permanent impact on the running of the temple and putting a stop to such behavior.

2. “Is this honestly really even a big deal? These things happen all time. Why don’t you just forget about it and move on, that’ll be much easier.” This is actually what makes me the saddest, and is something I’ve heard mostly from women. The bottom line is that nobody can touch me ANYWHERE without my permission. Yes, it would have been easier for me to forget about this incident and move on, but the complacency we’ve come to have as women from facing these sorts of incidents regularly from passersby on commutes etc. is truly depressing. As a result, many women have become desensitized to being taken advantage of, and because most of the time no action is taken at all, repeat offenders continue to get away with it. In this case, Bhave’s perverted behavior stops with me, and I hope in due time, that we develop a no-tolerance policy to such behavior.

3. I have been very fortunate with a lot of factors in my favor: the good judgement to recognize that what was happening that day was in every way wrong, the education and support to take steps to stand up for myself, and that my family has taken this forward. I recognize that not everyone who experiences these things has these resources, but I HIGHLY encourage everyone to at least tell someone they trust. Information is power, and it is only because the secretary of the temple confused our two cases and accidentally told us about the other girl’s complaint that we were able to connect with her family and our case became twice as strong with our joint police reports. It was also by reading the Facebook post of another acquaintance a few years ago, that I remembered that perpetrators are discouraged from doing such acts not by harsh punishments, but by the fear of being caught. It is imperative to trust your gut about how a situation is going and call out such behavior.

4. “It’s a pure reformist attitude and these girls have links to America, and are broad-minded. They are not village girls. This is the new generation of girls” — If you can believe it, this was part of Bhave’s defense attorney’s statement AGAINST me in court. I never imagined these words would be used in a negative connotation, because honestly they sound like the biggest compliment anyone could have paid me. However, what he was implying was that we were too educated and too bold for our own good. Little did he expect that these are the very factors that have now determined that his client belongs in jail.

5. This point should not even bear mentioning, but since it has become a point of debate: A lot of people have questioned what I was wearing that day. Just to clarify, whether it was a prom dress or a saree, Hindu priests never, ever touch any part of a woman’s body. As it happens, the priest’s traditional dress is a simple silk cloth around his waist, and I was wearing a traditional salwar kameez and was covered from head to toe as I am when I visit any holy place, but as I said this detail is totally irrelevant to the case. On a similar note, many (including Bhave’s defense) questioned the caste of the other girl and whether she should have been allowed into the temple in the first place. I can’t even bear to get into how it doesn’t change the actions that the managing committee should have taken when they first received our formal complaints.

6. Lastly, although I took the first step of writing a formal complaint to the temple committee, every step taken in this process since then has been by my parents, my dad’s brothers, and the rest of my extended family in India who have been working round-the-clock to ensure justice. I have been back at med school for the last 3 weeks, and if it wasn’t for their indignation on my behalf and unconditional love, I would probably have given up a long time ago. Countless others have been instrumental in working towards this. Also, in every article about this incident, I have been referred to as a “victim” or the “U.S. based medical student”. Part of the reason I am sharing this whole experience is because I refuse to be the anonymous victim to someone else’s wrong doing. Instead, I will claim ownership over this incident, have ensured that the guilty party has been shamed and punished, and then move on with my own life.

Once again, I am writing this to raise awareness that unfortunately incidents like these are commonplace, even when you least expect it and from people you least expect it. Some people have reacted to my story with disbelief because the perpetrator was a holy priest in the most famous temple in Goa. Many people also expressed doubt that this case would go anywhere because of the power and money behind the temple (ironically donated by many families like ours over many decades). Unfortunately evil can lurk anywhere, but regardless of who it is, you ALWAYS have a voice, options and the rights to never let anyone take advantage of you.

 

Sexual assaults in Goa temple: ‘Charges stem from reformist attitude, aim to gain publicity’

Two Mumbai women accuse Goa Mangueshi Temple priest of kissing them

https://www.ndtv.com/…/medical-student-accuses-goa-temple-p…

https://indianexpress.com/…/goa-mangueshi-temple-us-studen…/

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/…/articles…/65275344.cms

photo credit: alchetron

 

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HOW TO END ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION IN 30 DAYS

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One of the many pitfalls of our current climate in America is the severe breakdown in identifying causal links between policies and outcomes.  All too predictable in a country where science and logic are being trumped by emotions such as fear.

Let’s take an example from the 2018 frame.  Forget the raging immorality of separating 3,000 young children from their parents at the US border and throwing them in cages using my hard-earned taxpayer dollars.  Is it at least an effective policy?

The answer is of course, no.  It ain’t working.  We spend billions to protect our borders, billions to prevent illegal drugs from pouring in, and billions more to protect our cybersecurity.  But America is a total and absolute failure at all of these aspects of protecting Americans, which is the federal government’s #1 job.  American efforts in these areas are a complete joke and everyone around the world knows it.  Locking up kids in cages doesn’t work, either.

Emotions are quite simply the reason why we are in the current state we are in. Americans are overall pretty uneducated, misinformed, and ruled by our lizard brains.   We elect leaders who are disproportionately crooks that prey upon our emotions.  The solution itself is easy: pursue policies that make logical and scientific sense.

I can end illegal immigration in 1 month.  Requiring nothing more than manipulating the simple laws of supply and demand.  Pass a law that any corporation, restaurant, bar, farm, cab company, family, or individual who employs illegal immigrants will immediately be thrown in jail for 10 years.  Go out and arrest them en masse.  Such employers are explicitly breaking the law by hiring workers under the table.  Yet nobody ever goes after these criminals simply because they come out of the political donor class that fuels both parties.

But, uh, justice is supposed to be blind right?  F*** the political donor class.  After this swift administration of justice, let’s see if illegal immigration drops dramatically or not.  Yes, the president and his family and his cronies would be even more knee-deep in trouble with the law than they already are, because among other projects Trump Tower itself was built by many- you guessed it – illegal immigrants.

Of course the policy will work.  The supply and demand curves don’t lie.  Illegal immigrants would be unable to find work in America again, and they’d stop coming here soon enough.  But good luck keeping the child care, the factories, the farms, the armed services, the restaurants, the cabs, and the food supply running.  Those are different problems for different days.

Mahanth S. Joishy is Editor of usindiamonitor

VIDEO: Pervert Orangutan is Worshipped by More Indian Goondas

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Mahanth is Editor of usindiamonitor

One of the most fascinating and strikingly bizarre aspects of the Pervert Orangutan Presidency (POP) and its Fourth Reich happens not in America, which is the least great we’ve ever been, but in rural India where poor, uneducated Hindu nationalists have latched onto this Pervert Orangutan as if he is some kind of god.  As a Hindu, I’ll be the first to admit that we’ve got some issues.  If you need proof, just watch this brief video by Ruptly…

I don’t blame these people, who clearly have very little in their lives; I blame the United States for creating a long con where the poorest in both America and India are the most cruelly victimized.  The rest of us can only look on with horror and disgust until the nightmare mercifully ends.

The irony? These poor brown folk and Hinduism surely disgust Pervert Orangutan far more than they could ever bother you or I.

 

DOCUMENTARY SERIES REVIEW: Wild, Wild Country Perfectly Captures a Bizarre Episode in US History

Mahanth S. Joishy is Editor of usindiamonitor

Growing up in the 80s as Indian-American kids with parents from India, many of us often heard rumblings about the mysterious Indian figure Rajneesh, also known as Osho or Bhagwan (God).  At dinner parties and picnics, Indian parents and other adults would talk animatedly about this cult of personality and his myriad followers who forcibly parked themselves on an exceedingly white and conservative part of Oregon in the late 70s and early 80s to form a weird religious cult commune.

The hushed tones and liberal use of the language Hindi by adults in those gatherings, which most of us kids didn’t know very well, always denoted to me that there was something deeply sinister going on in conversation about the Rajneeshis.  My parents thought that they were being discrete, but using Hindi as a covert device was the biggest dead giveaway that the talk was of nefarious things, and probably involved something called sex, and it had gone awfully wrong.  And it sure did make us Indian people look bad throughout that decade on the global stage.

This was an exceedingly unique American story and a touchpoint of its time: mostly white hippy American types by the hundreds falling over themselves to drop everything, move to Oregon, and unconditionally worship the (admittedly interesting) teachings of a brown man from India who presented himself as no less than a God floating around in flowing colorful robes in a fleet of expensive Rolls Royce cars and private jets.   Rajneesh was the ultimate figurehead of an American Mega Church movement, if that person was not only considered a God but also a rock star.  His core message was promoting the guilt-free enjoyment of materialism, pleasure, and spirituality side by side.

Once I was old enough to know a bit more, the Rajneesh story bored me.  It seemed like a typical trope about cultural appropriation of Indian traditions, fueled by Americans and Europeans flocking to ashrams in India to “find themselves” and engage in large sex orgies and liberal drug use in Indian clothes in a misplaced quest for spirituality and personal growth.  When the predictable downfall of the highly suspect cult/commune arrived, it all came crashing down with an avalanche of financial embezzlement, illegal surveillance, threats of violence, and the long arm of the law coming down hard in the form of FBI raids and prison sentences.  Everything about this just seemed so cliche to me, that I never cared to research too much into it below the surface knowledge I had as described above.

As it turns out I was completely wrong, at least in terms of how interesting and intricate the narrative actually was.  Until this spring when I started watching Wild, Wild Country, Whatever little I had picked up about the Rajneeshi cult was more than I cared to know.  I had been dismissive of it all.  But that changed in one fell swoop, further evidence that a lot of what I think I know, I really don’t after all.  It was easy to dismiss these failing sannyasins as a bunch of gullible nutjobs and posers trying to build their own obviously unattainable utopia right here in the United States.

But then a flip switched.  Until I recently watched the Wild, Wild Country documentary series on Netflix out of vague curiosity, I learned there was much I didn’t know about the Rajneeshis.  I had no idea how big they became, with thousands of members at their peak in numerous outposts around the world.  I was especially unfamiliar with the tiny young Indian woman named Ma Anand Sheela, the hand-picked deputy of Rajneesh who effectively launched and then ran the massive communal enterprise of Rajneeshpuram in Oregon with an iron fist.  I mean this chick was feisty, fearless, smart, tough as nails, camera-ready, and a formidable manager and leader by any objective measure.  She was for some reason empowered by Rajneesh to lead the vast religious, political, and sociological experiment, and managed to accomplish large things within a few short and eventful years.

Wild, Wild Country is absolutely fascinating and so is its subject.  It has certainly earned its 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.  Built upon many hours of original archival footage, it shows not just a commune but an entire city government being built from the ground up in rural Oregon, surrounded by communities who downright despised the Rajneeshis to pieces.  Suddenly an airport, roads, farms, homes, buildings, police force, defense force, city hall, and city council rose from empty land through the sheer will of the Rajneeshis, their collective sweat equity and organizational acumen.  This intrigued the city government official in me.  They built something special.  The cult even began to perpetuate their own laws and justice proceedings, somewhat akin to a Native American tribal reservation, within the United States but somewhat separated from it.  They sure had balls.

And the problems started right there.  Predictably, a minor war ensued between the suspicious locals and the passionate Rajneeshi cult members who were performing all manner of rituals in their little city, and rubbing their newfound wealth, power, and peculiar culture in your face.  Copious amounts of interviews were filmed in the modern day with some of the people involved from opposing angles, including conservative local retirees who hated the foreign influences they were seeing around them, law enforcement personnel who were eventually called upon to investigate the cult, and several key Rajneeshi members including Ma Anand Sheela herself calmly explaining the history of the downright bizarre events that permanently shaped all of their lives during that period some four decades ago.  This stuff is stranger than fiction.

The documentary series spends far more airtime on Ma Anand Sheela, her tight inner circle, and her wheelings and dealings than the overall leader Rajneesh.  After all it was she who ran the nuts and bolts of the movement, while Rajneesh seemed to just float through the scenery sort of above and outside of it all, saying and doing little of consequence.  The filmmakers were wise to do this.  Though I wish I could have seen more about Rajneesh and where the hell he came from, and what the hell it was this fraudulent Indian con man did all day, Sheela is a far more complex, interesting and intriguing character in this play.  She was no doubt a true believer.

Even if you know how the story ends, the journey holds many plot twists, escalating conflicts, outright danger, and thrilling moments leading up to climax.  There is plenty of well-timed suspense.  During some parts of the 6 episodes, it almost felt like I was actually there immersed in the city of Rajneeshpuram during that time in history.  The townspeople splinter amongst themselves.  The Rajneeshis also suffered epic meltdowns and schisms within their ranks, some self-inflicted and others by force of outside influence.  Although many of the key figures come across as batshit crazy at times, on both sides of the war, it’s hard not to feel sympathy for both perspectives as much of the conflict falls into the gray fog between what was right and who was wrong.

As for Ma Anand Sheela, she goes through a long and most wonderful metamorphosis worthy of comparison to a butterfly, and the series documents this arc well.  It is in fact near impossible to reconcile what she was, to what she later in life became.  And this may be the best part of all for those who believe self-improvement is possible.   It is a phenomenon within the Rajneeshi phenomenon that I came to learn more about them despite my own chauvinistic blinders.

I encourage all of you to drop everything else in your queue and enjoy Wild, Wild Country.

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VIDEO/EDITORIAL: US FAST FOOD CHAINS NEED TO STOP OVERLOADING INDIAN CONSUMERS

usindiamonitor true to its name has been monitoring in fascination the wild growth of fast food franchises, many of them American, in Indian cities.  When I was a kid visiting or living in India in the 80s and 90s, American fast food was one of the things I missed the most about America.  It was so vastly different from what was being served in Indian households and restaurants- of course, that food was healthy and delicious in its own right but something would be missing.

But fast food has gone gangbusters in India since that more isolated, innocent, idyllic time in India.  McDonald’s India was perhaps the canary in the coal mine, even though the corporation has of late been mired in massive legal troubles with its local business partners.  In the past we wrote a business case study about McDonald’s India on these pages.  Now we also have Pizza Hut, Domino’s, KFC, Subway, and many other brands making deep inroads with Indian consumers.  And this was to be expected.  As we repeat every single day, American corporations MUST have an India strategy to survive.  The market is too huge, and the economic growth is on too high a trajectory to be ignored.

One the one hand, it’s great to have access to quick, cheap, and admittedly tasty food for working Indian families.  As with fast food in America and around the world, things have taken a decidedly darker turn though.  India’s obesity epidemic is crushing the nation’s youth, with much of the responsibility falling on America’s food and soft drinks.  And now, we have news that fast food companies are dumping saltier, fattier, and more calorific food on the Indian market as compared to the US market, with at times, MULTIPLES of the sodium and fat content of the exact equivalent food item in America.

This is just not right at all.  It’s actually evil, and my bet is that the joints are trying to addict a new market of people with this salty behavior.  WE CALL ON ALL US FOOD CORPORATIONS TO STOP OVERLOADING INDIAN CONSUMERS WITH TOO MUCH JUNK IN THE JUNK FOOD.  Sure, we all know it’s junk food and we make the choice to eat it freely.  But this targeted overload is an outrage and the Indian government and people should not stand for this highly unethical behavior.  All that we ask is that you don’t make the Indians eat junk that’s junkier than the Americans do.  You don’t have to trust me- just watch this video here.  It should make you sick to your stomach.

Mahanth S. Joishy is Editor of usindiamonitor

 

Meet the Biggest Indian-American Traitor in US History

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Indian-Americans tend to be loyal to the United States.  They generally work or study, raise their families, and peacefully go about their business as doctors or cab drivers or hotel owners.  Some sign up to be in government (like me) or the military.  They tend to be liberal, but they do float across the political spectrum.  They win almost every spelling bee.

Rarely will you find an Indian-American shooting up a school, joining a gang, starting a supremacist militia, or getting recruited by ISIS or Al-Qaeda.  While these things might occur, they happen at far lower rates than with other diasporas.  Most people credit education and family structure for these things, like with other successful communities.

Therefore, when someone from our diaspora commits active treason against the United States, it becomes sort of a big deal because such cases are so few and far between.  Dig and scrape through the archives back to 1776, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find what’s right in front of our faces today.  I present to you Exhibit A, the deplorable White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary, Raj Shah, a traitor not just to Indian-Americans like Bobby Jindal is, but to the United States itself.

Unsurprisingly for a Trump appointee, Raj is reckless.  His DWI conviction for a booze-soaked BMW ride in New Mexico got him fired from a political job in 2010.  Want to bet that the time he got caught was the only time Raj went a-boozin’ and a-drivin’? Perfect fit in this administration full of boozers, wife-beaters, racists, traitors, misogynists, money launderers, gangsters, and perverts, right?

Now we don’t use the word *traitor* lightly, and not all of those cursed souls in the White House deserve that label.  Only the ones outright lying to cover up crimes against the United States, like Shah’s disgusting boss, Sarah Huckaberry Colonel Sanders whom the guy must have learned so much from.   He has been fortunate to learn from the very worst.  On February 8th, Shah gave her the day off and fumbled through a press conference about the administration’s extremely poor handling of wife-beater Rob Porter’s employment, and worse, personally defended Porter himself repeatedly.  Shah embarrassed all Indians around the world that day.  On top of it all, he was an overmatched, unprepared blathering idiot on the podium: he was not even good at being a bad human being.

But the treason against the United States has taken place in relation to Russia.  Shah is knee deep in the #TrumpRussia scandal, defending his boss’s illegal activities time and again, hyping up the obstructive Devin Nunes memo, casting aspersions on the Steele dossier, and repeating wing nut nonsense about FISA warrants, all of which smells very much like obstruction of justice.

Congratulations, Raj.  You are the biggest Indian-American traitor in US history.  I hope you go down hard along with your false idols Colonel Huckaberry and Captain Bonespur.

Mahanth S. Joishy is Editor of usindiamonitor

PS: Nikki Haley today saved herself from joining the Indian-American treason this week by squarely blaming Russia for the chemical terrorism in the UK.  Raj, it’s not too late to get on the right side of history.

MILITARY PARADE? NO. WE NEED A US CYBER FORCE.

We spend upwards of $600 billion annually on our military, and yet we do a subpar job in protecting our business and political interests from the Chinese, Russians, and others robbing us blind, hacking our elections, stealing the plans from weapons systems and federal government personnel files, etc.

The problem is structural.  No entity is accountable for our cyber arena threat matrix- both offensive and defensive capabilities.  There’s the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Pentagon, Homeland Security, CIA, FBI, NSA, and the list goes on.

Whose fault was RussiaGate?  Whose job is it to respond?  WE ARE AT WAR.  We should be going on the offensive.  And the future isn’t tanks, and jets, and carriers, and missiles.  We already dominate those categories, and we are still left unprotected and vulnerable.  We can’t even run a clean election or a free and truthful press, those most basic tenets of democracy.

The United States must create, ASAP, a new military branch on par with the Army, Navy, and Air Force called the United States Cyber Force.  It’s not just land, air, and sea anymore. It must have cutting-edge technical and personnel resources to show overwhelming AND disproportionate force if any nation or terrorist group or criminal organization ever decides to attack America’s cyber infrastructure.

I’m writing a novel about this.  But this is more important than that.  It’s about patriotism, and it’s not partisan at all.  We need to make it reality. Today.  The clock is ticking, and no less than our democracy is at stake.

Mahanth S. Joishy is Editor of usindiamonitor

Michael Jackson’s Love Affair with India

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2016 MJ Statue Unveiling Ceremony in Chennai.  via indiawest.com

We now know that American Empire reached its peak in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s before the inevitable downward slide we’re now stuck on.  While American power was bringing the USSR or Iraq to its knees (a favor those Cold Warrior Comrades and ISIS monsters are paying us back in {//:spades//} this moment), it was also ripping the existing world’s popular music scene playbook to shreds and tossing it into the ocean.  Michael Jackson, the foremost cultural artifact that America produced at the apex of its very highest peak, romped freely across the Earth to sold-out stadiums and crying adult fans who urinated themselves and thought suicidal thoughts paradoxically stemming from uncontrollable pure love and joy emotions.  People didn’t know how to feel the feelings they were feeling around the King of Pop.

That transition from 80’s into 90’s was also MJ’s peak as far as we can tell on all objective metrics except what was in this bizarre and gifted human’s mind.  Physically he was indisputably in top dance and voice form.  He was simply the greatest entertainer to ever live.  Not only was he pair bonding with the attractive spawn of Elvis Presley himself, MJ was as yet unstained or unsullied by charges of child molestation and other uniquely weird and mysterious life trajectories which would dog him around until his premature but perhaps merciful death in 2009 (on usindiamonitor‘s wedding day).

In the neverland that time forgot, before Internet and social media, MJ went more viral than a vicious flu outbreak.  His raw and sexual tentacle porn tentacles tickled everything and everywhere.  Virtually all of India’s youth knew Michael Jackson, the endless child.  In this the nation was truly unexceptional.  India was just another domino in the collective soul of North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Australasia to fall for Michael Jackson’s dance moves and inimitable androgynous silken voice despite thousands of years of glorious indigenous music tradition.

Michael Jackson’s torrid love affair with India was the song and dance- the very pillars of the mutual admiration society.  Here’s Michael Jackson dancing Bharatanatyam in the Black or White Video! And we couldn’t hate him for it despite its canned and ambitious theme of racial tolerance, which Indians were in desperate need of in the United States and India and everywhere else.  Here’s Michael Jackson emerging on a stage in Bombay from a f***ing spaceship in a f***ing spacesuit!  In an alien world, Michael Jackson fit right in, right as rain during monsoon season.

India was all in for MJ.  If you peer close enough, the various shades of MJ’s skin over the years exactly matched those of different Indian gene pools.  Lookalikes and lounge acts sprouted up from Kashmir to Kannyakumari, from Bajagoli to Bengal, from Chennai to Chowpatty Beach to Chandigarh.  Kids and adults at home, in the streets, at wedding halls, in the slums and on the riverbanks danced joyously to MJ’s music as only Indians can.  College students dressed up and jerry-curled like him, riding their BMX bicycles to class like it wasn’t no thing.

At many a nadir in US-India relations, MJ was a far superior and more effortless US diplomat, friend, and representative than any government official could hope to be.    He represented so much that was great about the American story.  In a land littered with brutal racists, religious bigotry, misogyny and caste chauvinism, Indians loved this black man as their own.  In this, again, India was no exception.  MJ’s blackness is almost an afterthought in society, so transcendental was the King of Pop.

There will never be another Michael Jackson in pop music, just as America will never be great “again.”  There will be an endless parade of mediocrity and self-absorbed pop tarts grabbing their 15 minutes of fame until the next generation completes their first menstrual cycles and nocturnal emissions just in time to grab the frame and assault our sensibilities on what is good in this world.

Michael Jackson lives on in India.  In 2016, a 10-foot statue cut from a single black stone from my home state of Karnataka (like the Vietnam Veterans Memorial) was dedicated to Michael Jackson utilizing an unmistakably Indian sculpting method, the star forever frozen in a hot place to the soundtrack of Beat It.  In a meta-story for the ages, at the unveiling was the Tamillionaire Prabhu Deva himself (pictured above), India’s answer and living homage to Michael Jackson.  The sizzling Indian dancer owes much to his spiritual mentor, just as Martin Luther King, Jr. did to Mahatma Gandhi on the time/space bridge of black and brown. The statue of Michael looks suspiciously like an Indian holy man.  And that suits us just fine.

Mahanth Joishy is Editor of usindiamonitor.   He is OK with sharing initials with the more famous person in this case.

Trump’s Pakistan Aid Threat is Not so Easy

Donald Trump’s first tweet of 2018 made a huge splash around the world.  It was that rare sort of Trump foreign policy statement that didn’t deny collusion with Russia, or taunt North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.  It was about withdrawing US aid to Pakistan.

My first instinct was to agree with the premise.  I was shocked by positive truths while visiting Pakistan, but I have long thought that the United States should predicate the billions in military and civil aid to Pakistan on effectiveness and measurable progress towards eliminating terrorism and increasing economic development, respectively.  It would be fair to take some of that aid away at this point.  Pakistan’s government has proven over and over again that a large chunk of US aid will go to build up its armed forces against India and twist the spigot of American blood in Afghanistan to and fro.  This dirty double game has been going on ever since 9/11.

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credit: Pfc. Cameron Boyd

Ending the double game is a noble goal.  But it’s not so simple.  The Trump administration is ramping up the US military presence in Afghanistan by thousands of troops, even as yet another American soldier was killed and four others critically injured there on the day of Trump’s above tweet.  The longest war in American history continues even further into Year 17.  We are in endless territory when it comes to US blood and treasure and the suffering of the Afghan people.  We hardly know or understand who we are fighting and why.  The media hardly bothers to cover that war anymore even when Americans die.  It’s the textbook definition of mission creep.

Pakistan has been a beneficiary of this war’s largesse from the start, from Bush through Obama to Trump, partly because the US military supply lines run heavily through Pakistan’s ports, airspace, and roads.  America pays dearly for the right to use Pakistan’s resources.  Cutting off US funds to Pakistan could also result in an explosion of fire and fury as terrorists are unleashed from Pakistani territory and other parts of the world in retaliation by dark networks we aren’t very good at tracking.

Like most half-cocked Trump policy prescriptions, the foreign policy establishment in the United States has no plan prepared to follow through on the threat.  The Tweet was poorly timed.  How can you cut off aid to Pakistan when you need them for your war?  Without winding down the war in Afghanistan, or being able to control Pakistani terrorists or nukes minus the local government’s help, Pakistan still has America by the balls.  Even drone strikes in Pakistan require local human intelligence.  These things cannot be separated.  India’s rejoicing may be premature, and I’m not the only one saying so.

We shall watch now how it all unfolds.

Mahanth S. Joishy is Editor of usindiamonitor

 

VIDEO: Does the Simpsons’ Apu Need a Do-Over?

Comedian Hari Kondabulu gave millions of Indians around the world a voice by tackling the subject of Apu from the multi-decade hit cartoon sitcom, The Simpsons.  He decided to make a documentary film called “The Problem with Apu” on TruTV which asks some fundamental questions about Apu and why he has to be the way he is.  As we all know, Apu is a minstrel with a fake accent and his appearances comprise an unending parade of unforgivably unfunny stereotypes of an Indian convenience store owner in any town USA.

So ingrained is Apu on the world’s consciousness that when I went to a remote region of Brazil where they never see any Indians, many of the locals nicknamed me Apu for the week.  This is literally the first thing that people who have never met Indians think about when they see an Indian.

The documentary is worth watching, whether you believe Indians are being way too sensitive about Apu, or you are outraged by the minstrel portrayal of Indians by white voice actor, Hank Azaria.  Above you will see the TruTV trailer.

Mahanth S. Joishy is Editor of usindiamonitor

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