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No Fear No Favour

Why India is still portrayed as a land of poverty and snake charmers; are we so tightly chained into stereotypes?

We all have always cheered to the Oscar we got for slumdog millionaire. That was the time when the actual debate started, that why is India always portrayed as a poor country? In most of the bollywood movies, we can see Indians either dressed up in heavy traditional jewelry or totally poor people with torn dirty clothes. India being portrayed as a land if snake charmers and poverty is something that is not at all acceptable by Indians as we are trying hard, really to emerge as a developed society.

Creating stereotypes about something is really easy for the media as well as the people. We Indians have always been knows for the naaga babas, kumbh mela, heavy embroidery lehengas, poor children and lifelessness. We may not really know the main intention behind the west folks portraying us like this, but this is really not appreciable at all. Even if you give us an Oscar for portraying us poor!

cultural appropriation is when folks cut open your culture and use certain parts of it to look ‘cute’, ignorant of its actual historical importance. You must have seen hundreds of movies and Hollywood actors/actresses endorsing Hindu Gods and goddesses as tattoos, t-shirt prints, wall decorations. Now question yourself, is this cool?

1. Iggy Azalea’s “Bounce” Video

Broken streets, sadhus smoking pot, cracky walls and a pretty white girl parading the city on an elephant – so where’s the logic?

Questions to raise: Who gave them the right to project India as a constant bling-party? To adorn a lehenga in all its glorious red depth for a shallow westernized – shake it break it bounce rant? Better still, why do they get to represent us in ANY way? Why has our history become their sugar and spice and everything nice? Exotic Indians, elephants and bling, an occasional bhangra and poor children on the streets. Yay, Iggy, looks like “first things first” you’re NO realist.

2. Selena Gomez’s ”Come and Get it”

Hold up, WHAT is going on?! That Bindi is no – no, Selena. As Hindu statesman Rajan Zed said, “The bindi on the forehead is an ancient tradition in Hinduism and has religious significance. It is not meant to be thrown around loosely for seductive effects or as a fashion accessory aiming at mercantile greed.”

3. “Lean On” by Major Lazer

Oh, so the song has absolutely NOTHING to do with ANYTHING Indian, but some ‘creative’ dude thought the song has an ‘exotic’ feel to it, so ofcourrrrrse you choose Exotic Land India (Becozez all of us are Priyanka Chopra guys, catch up). Please also take note of how Indian Dancers pounce around in the background while our white folk chill all-cool. Get out?

4. Coldplay’s “Hymn for the Weekend”

Oh, no, no. Where do we even start? Everything about this video is so wrong. Also all of white culture, there’s more to India than villages and underdeveloped public facilities. (highlight however remains Beyoncé playing the shining Bollywood actress while Sonam just runs about for a fraction of a second) Our own talented folk try to depict Indian culture in beautiful movies and it’s ignored like stale cake, then there’s them. Paint a child blue and make millions.

5. Fuller House and the “Indian themed party”

They had a cow. With people dressed as ‘Indians’, like it was Halloween and we were the perfect outfit. As full of love as our hearts are for Full House, nothing and nothing at all justifies the blatant mockery of Indian culture that was pulled off on these sets. An apology is due, I believe?

While cultural appropriation seems harmless, in reality, taking pieces rather than the whole out of their proper context delegitimizes their value, turns them into nothing more precious than costume jewelry—something beautiful to adorn a body for a little while, before being thrown away.

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