The January 2009 cover story, Bhowanipore Junction, was one of your best covers in recent times. It was indeed a collector’s item. There is a sense of revisiting history as you flip through the pages of the magazine. I have read and re-read the magazine and each time I put it down to wonder at the huge price paid in terms of human life by our country during the colonial era. Our ancestors like Jai Chand and Mir Jafar would never have imagined that India would have to pay such a heavy price for their betrayal to the British.
The perfidy of the British and their complete lack of civilised behaviour is evident (if evidence was necessary!) from their treatment of the poor and illiterate Indian workers. Plucked away from their homes and families, they were sent off in sweaty boats to lands far away.
Indians shipped off to Fiji suffered greatly at the hands of the British colonialists. Thousands of men and women were brutally beaten in their camps and forced to work for a pittance. Much has been written about African slave labour but what happened to Indians was not much different. Indians in Fiji were forced to work in inhuman conditions, much of it has been documented but the British still refuse to apologise for their actions. Fiji Indians also have to pay a double indemnity. After the coup led by the Pacific tribes, the Fijian Indians have again become second class citizens, they are abused openly by the locals, their lands have been snatched, and at least a hundred thousand have fled to various countries.
Under Siege is a very incisive story which shows there is one constant factor in Indian life—disunity. In fact, the hounding of Sonal Shah by the fringe academics, Indian Muslims and Indian Christians in America is nothing but plain betrayal. Here was the opportunity for an Indian to reach a summit where no Indian had been before and the rest pull her down. Shah is a person of impeachable values, to out her like that is nothing but churlish.
People who bring down Indian achievers like Sonal Shah are no better than traitors. For them narrow sectarian ends justify any means. They will character assassinate any Indian, even at the expense of India. For them their narrow ends are more important than India’s pride, India’s security and India’s honour. We should boycott such people and send mails to them about how small they think.
New Orleans, Louisiana
A DIFFERENT AMERICA
Inder Singh’s column on Indians in America is quite an eyeopener. So far we have thought of the land of the free to have been very different from other western countries. Europe has always been a bastion of parochialism but America was supposed to be the place where the poor and oppressed could rest their weary bodies and free their minds. But now we know the beginning wasn’t so great for Indians. In fact, the went through a harrowing time. Well, Barack Obama’s win is poetic justice!
INDIA EMPIRE has some excellent regular columns, one of them being Yogi Ashwini’s Mind and Body. His recent articles on prana are simply superb. However, one grouse is that the columns are rather short and are over before you can start them! Seriously, 800 words should be the minimum for a column. Otherwise you stop taking interest.
I was at a newsstand in Edison County in New Jersey and asked for a copy of INDIA EMPIRE. Imagine my surprise when another person behind me wanted precisely the same. The vendor had only one copy of the January 2009 issue left so I ended up buying it and told the other person he could take it from me in a couple of days. He did call after two days and we are now good friends. I thank INDIA EMPIRE for that!