Xenophobia are Us

Indian documentary film maker Aditya Seth just released his newest project Bahadur:The Accidental Brave. Based on bitter reality of young Nepali men from far west migrating to Indian cities in search of work and returning home stricken with HIV/AIDS, the documentary, according to Seth, is an honest effort to highlight the plight of these men.

Anup Ojha at The Kathmandu Post says,

“Owing to tenuous economic conditions, brought on primarily by the unstable socio-political state of the country, Nepali youths have long been compelled to migrate to India to seek work. The jobs they find are generally menial, as dish-washers, security guards or housekeepers in various companies or hotels. And prone to loneliness, they often frequent the kothis (brothels) that are in abundance in any city—Mumbai, for instance, has many such operations—unaware of the potential risks that they are undertaking. The documentary demonstrates how these cases are so widespread that locals have their own phrase to describe the infection—Mumbaiya Rog (the Mumbai disease) as it is called. “

I have not watched the documentary myself, but the issue it explores is important and must be brought to the public’s attention. For that, I congratulate Aditya Seth.

However, the behavior of few who have adopted vile name calling and xenophobia as an acceptable way to critique the documentary,is worthy of strongest condemnation.

The name “Bahadur” is commonly used in India for Nepali laborers. It is more of a derogatory term and much resented in Nepal and within the Nepali community in India. The documentary happens to use this hated term.Disappointment expressed by Nepali audience is understandable.

Seth has said that he means no disrespect, but I believe he should have considered communal sensitivity. But is this cultural faux pas so great and unforgivable that it is ok for some to be downright racist?

N.P Upadhaya is so incensed that he calmly claims that pick-pocketing and begging are India’s gift to Nepal.

“The Indian beggars and vegetable vendors across the nation in millions and millions are treated sympathetically in Nepal. Nepalese do not offend them. Not at all.

Nepalese learnt begging practices from the Indian beggars. Or it was a rare phenomenon. Pick pocketing too is an Indian gift to Nepal.”

His bizarre claims are just the beginning. Watch out for more hate,

“Insulting and humiliating the Nepalese nationals by the citizens of the neighboring Indian Republic, which only came into existence, 1947, thanks the British East India Company, is not a new phenomenon.

We are used to such fanaticism.

But yet Italy rules India.”

In one post, Upadhaya has managed to make mockery of India’s history, current leadership and its culture; and this racist  is referred to as an “intellectual”.

Yes, his tirade was an attempt to supposedly protect’s Nepal’s honor; but with his xenophobia and racism Upadhaya has hurt Nepal.

It is a common knowledge in India and Nepal, our relationship is that of love and hate. In past India has hurt Nepali sensitivity and we are no saints either. But is it sensible to let a perfectly deserving issue get sidelined because some of us don’t have our priorities in order? Wouldn’t you rather forgive the film maker for his slip-up and let and public see the movie and be informed.

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