Petty Politics

There are politics all around you. Put a bunch of strangers together, they'll divide themselves up into groups and bring out issues you never dreamed about. You try to get away from politics, office or community but you get sucked into it. And today you get a one-on-one into Houston's desi community politics. Some of the issues and examples given here are a few years old and why do I bring them up again today? That stupid email I received a few days back.

Let us start from the beginning. Houston has a big desi population and the obvious Indian organizations. There are just too many to count, each state has its own organization, a few cultural organizations and the big umbrella called Indian something something. What do these organizations do? That is other than gossip and create politics? A festival celebration. And most people align themselves to the organization representing their states. We do not belong to any of these organizations but we do attend events of interest organized by different people. Like the Nithyashree concerts by the Bharati Kalai Madram, the Republic day celebrations by ICC, the Malavika Sarukkai dance program by Kannada Vrinda, the Rama Vaidyanathan's program by Meru Education Foundation and so goes the list.

And there are some unwritten rules these organizations follow. The rules often stupid and not in anyway helpful in bringing people closer which in my opinion is the number one priority of any organization. The stupidest unwritten rule 1 is that members of X organization do not patronize shows/events conducted by other organizations. They consider that a crime. I call it stupidity. Art/culture/entertainment should not have boundaries. The second rule is even worse, if X organization is for members who speak X language, they will invite entertainers/artists who are native Xians. For example, if Malavika or Rama perform under the name of Malayalee Association or Kannada club or Andhra warriors it is a sin. After all, these top dancers are Tamilians. Are'nt we being frogs in a well?

This has for the longest time been the issues with the desi association scene in Houston and the biggest reason we keep away from them. But we happen to be on the mailing list of many of these associations as it helps us to get information about the events they organize and recently we received an email from organization C. This is the gist of the email (edited version of course)

The present committee members have received numerous phone calls and enquiries about soliciting registration and participation in XXXXX. We would like to inform you all that C is neither sponsoring or endorsing this event and no way connected. Registration, donation etc will not benefit C but may help the individual and/ or group to defray expenses involved in organizing this event. C is not benefitted in any way and we caution members to be wary about such repeated solicitations. This committee's policy is not to encourage or support individuals subtle divisive approaches in the name of promoting culture.

I am not bringing up names right now but the story is that some people, let us call them the Zs belong to more than one organization (A,B and C) and when they organize an event through A, they of course will invite friends from B and C. And members of B and C are educated and literate enough to know that Zs program is under the banner of A and if they want to attend the event they can attend it. It is after all a free world. Why make such a fuss out of the whole thing?

If we organize something, we would of course want our other friends who are interested in the subject to benefit from it. Why are we pushing them away? Over and above, I am surprised by the divide in name of states miles away in Houston. I remember college elections where we were told to vote for the candidate from our state or city but seven seas away in Houston aren't we supposed to unite as Indians and enjoy those rare visits by Malavika or Nithyashree or Yakshagana artists anyone else for that matter? And why are we behaving like kids? Why are we still drawing lines between ourselves? Has education, miles away from motherland, years of living alone in the US not made a difference in Houston desis?

What is needed to change? I firmly believe youth participation changes a lot. But in most of these organizations, the patrons are not the youth. There are so many functions where V and R have felt that they are the youngest in the room. What is needed to change the mind of old-timers who still believe in clinging to their state and statesmen and not be open to Indian art, Indian culture, Indian entertainment as a whole?

Have you faced such scenarios? In India, in US and anywhere else around the world? What are your suggestions?I would love to hear from you.


Homecooked said...

Oh my!!! Didnt know such politics exist in the US too.We are not associated with any such groups but I would have loved to.We move so often that I dont really bother checking for groups in the new area I move to.Your post was an eye-opener.

Pooh! said...

politics exist everywhere. I always feel we look for petty issues to create politics rather than enjoy the moments of happiness it gives us.
Glad to see your comment and look forward to seeing you around my blog

Lavs said...

This is racism in its varied form. The more we grow technologically, the more our minds shrink!!sigh!

Pooh! said...

I totally agree with you. It surprises me to see highly literate people draw these stupid boundaries around themselves