My Own Private India

Source: www.time.com

4 Comments

  1. Raghav Mittal July 8, 2010

    Despite the harsh and uncomfortable comments made by Joel Stein on the changing landscape of his hometown Edison, N.J due to the immigration of Indians out there; I do find a strong reason & feeling to empathize with him.

    We all possess a sense of belongingness to our native places – whether we are Indians, Americans, Europeans, Australians etc. Every culture, tradition and lifestyle has its own innate strengths and its share of weaknesses as well. We do like to live in our own peculiar manner and do cherish our own customs & trends. Stein, therefore can be discounted for the due expression of his feelings.

    The way Stein is disturbed or concerned or astonished over the transformation of his hometown Edison, I am concerned and disgusted over a similar transformation of one of the most venerated spiritual places in India brought about by the mindless influx of American dollars by an insensitive band of American NRIs.

    Chiksoli & Manpur are twin villages near the town of Barsana (located in District Mathura in the state of Uttar Pradesh) – which happens to be the birth place of Smt. Radha Rani – the eternal consort of Sri Krishna – the propounder of the world famous Srimad Bhagvad Gita.

    Everything was going on well in these twin villages till about a decade ago. The serene rural settings compounded by the ecological grandeur of Gahvarvan – one of the finest sacred groves of Braj, Dohini Kund, Vihar Kund, Maangarh, Vilasgarh, Ashtasakhi hills, Radha Sarovar, Mor Kuti, Kadamb Khandi, agrarian fields, gave an internalizing experience to one and all who dared to visit these spiritual hamlets.

    The experience was further amplified by the musical renditions of Sri Ramesh Baba – the revolutionary saint of braj – performed in honor of the Divine Couple Sri Radha Krishna, every evening. The warm hospitality offered by the locales at Ras Mandir made one forget the comforts of the finest hospitable destinations.

    A community led movement aimed at reviving the lost heritage of the region comprising of ancient water bodies, sacred groves, degraded pasture lands & hill slopes was going on silently inspired by Sri Ramesh Baba. It re-instilled the confidence in the local youth to take charge of their ecological infrastructure and build upon their prosperous socio-economic enterprises on the innate strength of Braj. To attract further support a team of locals went to the US to seek the support of the American NRI community out there. This proved to be a ‘turning point’ in the destiny of the twin-hamlets of Chiksoli & Manpur, in a similar way the 1965 Lyndon Johnson’s fetish for the Asians opened the gates of America for Asian immigrants.

    Hordes of Non Resident Indians got attracted to the persona of Sri Ramesh Baba and in their own characteristic pompous style, started influencing the entire state of affairs. The simple rural folks got swayed by their economic might and started selling off their prized lands for their palatial spiritual retreats.

    The austerity & simplicity of the place took less than a decade to get lost. The way Edison got invaded by the lesser intelligent Indians, Chiksoli and Maanpur got encroached by materialistic spiritualists.

    Now there are multi-storeyed towers in these small villages with shoddy drainage and sewerage disposal systems. The pompous display of money is clearly visible everywhere. To house cattle, fortresses have been built as if they are real endangered species.

    Instead of upgrading the local school Sri Raseshwary Vidya Mandir which was envisioned to be graduated into a rural university, the entire focus has shifted on residential apartments for the overseas clients. Due to the lack of building regulations in the rural areas in India, havoc is being designed as the effluent from these gushing buildings would spoil the local habitat like anything.

    Cultural invasions are happening all across. Whether its Edison, New Jersey or it is Chiksoli – Manpur near Barsana in Mathura. In both cases, the local communities are at peril and at a disadvantage as their independence and liberty is encroached upon.

    I would certainly empathize with Stein as I have really lost the charm and attraction to visit the very place of my inspiration and instruction while I was a little kid.

    Stein has simply been chastized on the intellectual plane by the Indian-American Community. The poor me was driven out from the very place by levelling out serious death threats by the goons flourishing on the financial support of the invaders from America.

    Cultural invasions of any kind just should not be and just cannot be tolerated or patronized.

  2. Antra July 9, 2010

    If I ever meet TIME columnist Joel Stein on the street, I’ll ask him where he’s from. He’ll tell me, “New Jersey.” The next words out of my mouth will be, “Which exit?” Though I don’t know him personally, I anticipate he’ll smirk and roll his eyes – or perhaps want to punch me in the stomach – but he’ll know exactly what I mean.

    It’s banter that only people from New Jersey or the surrounding region may understand, but it is a tongue in cheek way of saying that (corrupt politics aside) most people know nothing about Jersey except that it has its own Turnpike. Similarly, in his controversial column “My Own Private India” Mr. Stein (tongue firmly in cheek) admits he knew nothing about the ability of the Indian immigrant community to assimilate in his home town of Edison, New Jersey – a city which has undergone a demographic shift that caught even a native like Mr. Stein unawares. @ http://bit.ly/aRnPiW

  3. John Carson July 21, 2010

    Mr. Richard Stengel, Editor
    Time Magazine
    1271 Avenue of the Americas
    New York, New York 10020

    Dear Mr. Stengel,
    By way of introduction, I am John Carson, 74-year-old proud American businessman residing in Jacksonville, Florida. During my years on this earth I have found that the answer to living a worthwhile life is based upon the value system of honesty, integrity, truth, and credibility attached to a person’s name. I truly believe that also applies to a business, an institution or anything that relates to a standard that requires respect to the subject matter at hand.
    For years your magazine has been the benchmark of these traits that created the longevity of your years in business. In other words, you were trusted. Over the past few years your liberal bias has gained control of your magazine’s brain. It is now in the gutter of hypocrisy and misleading thoughts of life in America. It is time for you to ask yourself what has happened to you, your staff, and your position of excellence in America’s world of journalism. It is a terrible feeling when you are no longer trusted. Your magazine has reached the point in which you have no credibility left to build your future around. We all make mistakes in life and I have made some for sure; however, I can never recall being mistrusted or making a mistake as big as you allowing the article “My Own Private India”, written by Joel Stein to be published in your magazine on July 5th. That for sure is the most insulting article ever published about a culture in America. I can not believe you would have ever allowed such an article relating to the black race in our country to be printed in your magazine. “Have you sold your soul to the liberals of America to just exist for a few more years?” “Have you lost everything that you stood for that made you the leader in your field about truth in America?” I built my life around credibility and you did also. You have lost yours. I pray that I will never lose mine.
    I write this not to waste my time scolding you, but to tell you “the truth” about the “real” story about the people who have honored our nation by “coming to America”; the outstanding culture and people from India.
    In January of this year, after spending months of recovery from knee replacement surgery, I was offered an opportunity which turned out to be a privilege of doing some consulting work for a hotel owned by four great Americans from India who have been very successful since arriving in America some 22 years ago. I happen to know one of the four arrived with only 200 dollars. I reserved my judgment of these people for a few months to see if they passed the value system test that I believe in so strongly. It is now almost seven months into my tenure with them and I want to tell you that I don’t think my life has ever been lifted up so much by any foursome of individuals before.
    There is another person who is the brother of one of the four who is just as great. These five people stand for what has made America great. Mr. Stengel, these five people think harder, work harder and live by a code of ethics in running their business in as fine a manner as any I have ever seen in my lifetime. They are very fair and honorable to every employee. They want to give every guest the maximum in comfort and hospitality for every dollar spent. They only needed me because they had run several beach hotels and when the economy turned sour, they needed some creative thinking for a hotel that appealed to the corporate world of business. I can tell you my life, in my opinion, would not have been complete unless I had been given the opportunity to experience the real privilege of knowing what these five great Americans stand for in their principles of life. I will be completing my work assignment at the hotel within the next month; however, these five people have made such a mark on my life that I will never forget and I will for sure pass on many of my thoughts about them and their culture of principles to my grandkids.
    By now I hope you are wondering why these people are so successful. I believe I can tell you. They are hard at work nurturing their businesses when others are watching the clock to go home. They involve themselves in every small and large detail of the business. They are totally dedicated to every phase of success in the business itself. They are not asking for any handouts, just a fair and honorable set of guidelines to compete in the world of business. They only want an equitable environment to work within.
    Sometime ago, I began to do some checking and I could not find one person who has come from India that has gone broke, asked for a bailout, on government assistance, or cried for help in our system. I’m sure there are some, but I would bet the number is very few. They appear to be driven to succeed because they fear failure or just can’t accept failure or dependency on anyone or anything except the honest principles of hard work. They believe in themselves and their abilities to perform. We now have so many who have come to America from India who are great doctors, great leaders, and great thinkers in the business world. They seem to believe strongly in what America stands for. In so many ways, they are role models of what you can do with your life if given a democracy with which to function within. They are competitors and they are willing to sacrifice to gain the knowledge to prove their worthiness for any job or position of importance in our country. In my opinion, there has never been a culture introduced to the American way of life that has meant more to our country than those who have come from India to just have a chance at maximizing their lives and that of future generations. Now please compare that to our immigration problems in America of other cultures who seem to only want others to pay for their existence every day without paying their own way. As far as I know, the majority of people from India all came here legally. The people from India who have come to America have added to our productivity of every phase of our lives. They have done it right, the right way. Need I say more? And most of these people have only been in America 20 or 30 years. We should salute them for the example they are setting.
    I urge you to be fair and write another article to show the other side of Joel Stein’s incompetent remarks that reflects an almost racial jealousy of those who have been models of immigration as to what has made America great. I predict they will add more to America than any culture introduced in the past 300 years to our country. They have earned the respect and admiration of every American. Just imagine what these people will mean and contribute to America in the future.
    I have found the five of us don’t agree on every new idea or every aspect of running a hotel. However, we do totally agree on the principles to operate a hotel or any business by and the guidelines of life to live by. Show your guts, Mr. Stengel, and write the truth about the people in America from India. You will sleep better at night if you do so. We all need to correct our mistakes and your magazine made a big one. My guess is no article ever written about the people from India has ever distorted or hurt them or their culture more than your slandering of the real purpose in their lives than your “My Own Private India.” I don’t know Joel Stein, however, I can only think his life cannot measure up or come close to that of the equal of most people in America from India. By the way, Mr. Stengel, am I wrong or do we hardly ever seem to read or hear about the young adults born into the families of the people from India being involved in Gangs, or the drug problem that is so prevalent in society, as a whole. Also, I have not heard about the people from India being related to alcoholism or the growing drug problems, either selling or taking, as seemingly so many Americans are. I doubt many people from India have ever done the things Mr. Stein admits to in his article. If they had, their parents would probably have sent them to India for more training before they could qualify to “Come to America.”

    Sincerely,

    John Carson

  4. shalabh October 1, 2010

    I guess a lot of people are over reacting here. It is OK for a guy to feel a little sad / disturbed / unhappy to see the things that mattered to him as a kid and young man being taken away and replaced by things totally alien to him. Who wants their local culture to be over shadowed by immigrants.
    Chill people and take a lesson. You went to America for American way of life. Don’t make little Indias there. If you are not comfortable with that culture give up your dollar dreams and come back to India.

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