August 14, 2020
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Telescope Myopia

Chet from America wrote: "Shame on you and all of India." My reply to him is: "You have done well to leave a country you are ashamed of."

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Telescope Myopia
Telescope Myopia
I received the following letter from America:

Hi Madhu,
I have read your articles ever since I was a kid and you were at India Today. You have often come across as a balanced person not prone to the Gandhi nonsense, until now.

I live in a White nation (the US) and have never felt like a second-class citizen. Only a blind and deaf person can compare the pride of a US citizen with the indignity of being Indian. A US citizen trusts his government, knows his/her death will never go unpunished, while an Indian soldier is there to die.

Elite is a bad word in India because 95 per cent of our country lives in abject poverty. Next time ask the waiter in Taj, who serves you the INR 400 drink, how much he makes in a month?

The durban who opens the car door for you to get in...asks him how much he makes? I bet his monthly salary will be around your one night's drink and dinner bill. Shame on you and journalists like you who have failed India in the past with coloured reporting and are doing so now. Indians should not feel proud about India. They should feel ashamed. Rather than call Bush names, maybe we should hang our heads in shame on PMs like Vajpayee who is too old to walk, too much of a coward to protect his people.

Maybe, just maybe, the day people like us (the English educated hence smarter) start feeling ashamed enough we will start making changes in India rather than just exploiting our servants and labour class. It anguishes me to read these national character articles. A nation that cannot feed its people (a la Orissa) has no character, a nation whose children run around naked (Mumbai) has no reason to feel proud, a nation whose elected reps call religious riots 'opposite reaction' has no future.

Once again, shame on you and all of India. I am ashamed to be an Indian and shame on you for sugg-esting anything else.


My response:
Hello Chet,

I will answer your letter point by point.

  • Your name. You can be Chet or Jet, stay away from the sun, fake an American/NRI accent, but you will never be able to run away from Chaitanya. He will always be there, even though you might hate him today.

  • Gandhi, whom you hold in such contempt, despite all his controversial behaviour, is largely responsible for the fact that there is no white boot on a part of your anatomy today.

  • You live in a white nation but you are not white and never will be. You can fool yourself to believe you are not treated as a second-class citizen. You choose to forget the Dot Busters, the Sikh who was killed because he looked foreign and rampant racism. How many times a week do you have to explain where you are from and spend your time EXPLAINING India to Americans? I cringe to think what you say to them about India. We do not need spokesmen such as you. You will never be able to share a good desi joke with any of your new friends. If you can't laugh together, you cannot understand each other. You will always be an alien.

  • Yes, we are economically poor compared to the US but we do not have to suffer the highest rate of teenage pregnancies, kids coming into schools and killing students and teachers, the highest rate of suicide among college students, alienated parents and children, lonely old people dumped in nursing homes, drugs being offered to eight-year-olds (as my daughter was when she was in the UN school in New York), serial marriages and divorces. The US had a President who was senile and deaf (Reagan), one who turned out to be a serial sex offender (Clinton), and now you have one who didn't know the heads of state of major countries and ignored warnings of a terrorist attack months before it took place.The US is responsible for massacres in Vietnam, Cambodia, Iraq, Chile and the list goes on. The rest of the world does not view America with the rose-coloured glasses you have been brainwashed by the US media to see through. And, how much does a waiter in Jean Georges restaurant in Trump International Hotel in New York make compared to the price of the drink he is serving? The labour class is exploited all over the world.

  • You seem to be very upset that I am pointing out we have a national character to be ashamed of and we should do something about it. Your insistence that we stay ashamed and do nothing about it is perhaps to make it easier for you to live in a country where the only religion is to hang out at malls and accumulate consumer items you don't really need but have been diktated by advertising to buy, to keep the US economy going. It is not by accident that Americans are flocking to yoga and meditation classes to buy happiness.

  • You have done well to leave a country you are ashamed of. Call yourself an American but sooner or later your disguise and American Halloween costume will frighten you enough to get rid of it.

  • I love America's energy and have good friends there. New York is the centre for an enormous outpouring of creativity and imaginative thinking. Every country has its own problems. It is for the people who belong there to take responsibility for change.

  • If you are so far removed from India, ask yourself why you are so anguished with my article. Chaitanya is raising his head, Chet is in trouble.

Madhu Trehan

(The author can be contacted at
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