My Take On “Turning Their Back On The Fatherland”
I read with interest Jeezo’s take on the Thai – Indian relationship, however I feel that there is more to it than this simplistic explanation. Not that it matters, but it would have been nice to know the author's background as it gives
the reader a better view of his thought process. So I need to introduce myself. Age 48, Indian Male, Married (Surprisingly happy – well that’s another story), Educated (Doctor of Medicine), Living in New Delhi, travelled the world
(38 countries at last count) and many trips to Thailand (over 15 in the last 20 years).
I also happen to be a “Stickman addict” and since by the time Stickman posts his daily readers submissions it is noon here, so to avoid daily morning disappointment I leave the last day's submissions unread so as to have
something interesting to read every morning before starting my day.
To start – Like China, India is no country, it’s a subcontinent. Hence there is no set pattern of cultural behaviour to be found all over. Also India lives at many levels, The rich- poor, The have- have-nots, The rulers –
ruled, The educated – Uneducated, The big city dwellers – country cousins, The various religions (80% Hindu, 14 % Muslim, 2% Christians, 1% Sikhs, Buddhist etc.)
The reason that bias (I shall not use the word racism) has existed in various societies against Indians and to some extend Chinese are rooted in history. Let me explain.
1) Till 1947 India was a British colony (Jewel in the crown) and Indians were second class citizens, From the early 1900’s till about 20 yrs back huge migration took place from India to various parts of the world purely for economic
reasons. India was very poor then (And is still so in large parts but things are changing very rapidly.) These economic migrants to U.K, U.S.A, Mauritius (48% Indian origin people), Fiji (54 % Indian origin people), Even places like Jamaica, South
Africa (12 % Indians), were poor labourers and uneducated people till about the late 1970’s. This major lot of India origin people came in conflict the world over with the societies they migrated to because they primarily effected the Job
markets of the locals (especially the local middle and lower income groups). This was the initial reason for the so called bias. This group being uneducated, poor, impoverished, and unaware of social norms faced the maximum bias and resulted in
the general impression about Indians in other societies. Similar example would be the early Africans in U.S.A
2) The second wave of migration took place in the mid 1980’s and 1990’s when educated Indian I.T professionals and Doctors invaded U.S.A, U.K, Australia and other first world countries in waves. (Obama is constantly fretting
about Job outsourcing to Bangalore). This group faced lesser bias on the streets and more in the work place. Also along with a little bias I have seen a lot of envy for the progress and financial success of this group.
3) Last 10 years more and more Indians are into money and love to travel. In May and June Indians form the biggest tourist groups to Europe, U.K and U.S.A. They are generally welcome because of their economic might. You will be surprised
that in these mouths the Switzerland authorities hoist the Indian flag on Mount Titlis along side their own (How money makes the world go?).
In my years of travel I have seen this so called bias definitely reduce as more and more educated, moneyed Indians travel for work and pleasure. As more of India becomes educated and developed (It will still take us another 40-50 years),
the public at large will learn more social skills. I remember 20 years ago a British Airways hostess checked my business class boarding pass 3 times before taking me to my seat. Not anymore.
In Thailand also I have noted the bias more on the street or in road side bars or gogo bars in Pattaya etc. The bias is from a uneducated and unexposed Thai (Taxi drivers / Bar girls / etc etc), not the educated cultured Thai. Go to the Indian
restaurant at Rembrandt Hotel off Asoke skytrain station or any of the high end soapy massage parlours in Bangkok or the spas in Phuket and you shall understand what I mean. An educated, well turned out Indian has no problem in the high end hotels
and entertainment establishments of Bangkok and Phuket. You will be surprised at the very large number of Indians who go to Thailand on package holidays with their families and come back happy without having noticed any bias against them. (I shall
however accept that most Indians do not spend money freely and prefer to move in groups)
Before this becomes too long, a few facts :
1) Since there are no Thais in India, an average poor Indian has never seen or met a Thai, so he has no response. The average poor Thai has meet and seen Indians in Thailand since Thailand has a significant permanent population of Indians
and therefore he has formed an opinion about them.
2) Do you know that Pattaya has both a Hindu Temple and a Sikh Gurudwara.
3) Asoke sky train station and the locality is name after an Indian king (Buddhist).
4) The new airport is named in HINDI – Suwarnabhumi meaning “ Land of gold”.
5) The huge sculpture you see at the airport showing the fight of good over evil has been taken from the Hindu religious book.
Thanks to those who have read so far and apologies for any ruffled feathers.
If Stickman puts this up then on my November visit you shall have a trip report of the naughty nightlife from an Indian Stickman fan’s point of view.
A very timely submission given that in my column yesterday I commented on how Pattaya is changing with many Indians amongst the "new" Pattaya tourists.
It's good to hear that a lot of Indian visitors enjoy their time in Thailand without any of the experiences of racism that are quite prevalent in some of the farang-dominated nightlife areas.