August 19, 2009

Think 315,217 will do it

Shah Rukh Khan is "detained" at Newark airport (where oddly enough someone I know well is getting ready to land as I type this), and it's suddenly a huge issue. He's a huge film icon, he's got the Muslim name, couldn't they have simply googled him and found the 3.5 jillion bazillion pages that reference him?

The Indian government, I read in my Hindustan Times, has "strongly take[n] up the matter with the US authorities." Not just that. A member of the Indian government, I&B minister Ambika Soni, "suggests equal and opposite reaction against Americans visiting India." Meaning, take them aside and detain them too, even their huge film icons.

But what's the complaint here?

* That the US immigration authorities detains some people? Well, if it happens repeatedly to the same person -- and I know two friends like that -- it seems wasteful and counterproductive. But apart from that, what's essentially wrong with such a procedure? After all, the Indian Customs, to take one example, is empowered to pick out incoming passengers at random and check their belongings. Do we protest that?

* That it was an icon like SRK that they detained? But so what? Is it the number of google hits that determine who gets detained? One of the two friends I mentioned has 7500 hits (I just checked). Does that exempt him? Or will he need to up that, and if so to where? 10K? 50K? 315,216?

* That we should put in place this "equal and opposite" action against Americans visiting India, and we haven't yet? Yet consider: what should be the priority of our immigration authorities? To thumb collective noses against Yanks? Or to protect our borders, and by implication Indians in general?

We live in uncertain times. Misplaced ideas about national pride -- if that's what all this was, I'm not even sure -- don't make them more certain.


Ann Cook said...

I do feel bad that he got detained, but after 9-11 homeland security can not take any risks. Has everyone forgotten that we are still at war? Unfortunately, there will be inconveniences, even for celebrities and diplomats. I am sure everyone would rather have an inconvenience than have a plane blown up.

Chandru K said...

The question really is, why is D'Souza prepared to give the benefit of the doubt to the Americans in this case? Here's a possible reason: because the Americans, being largely Christian and hence people of the book, are behaving within a rational, structured philosophy. That cannot be compared with pagan, non-Christian India, who are acting capriciously and irrationally. Never mind that India has suffered far, far, far, more from terrorism than the overrated Americans.
Yes, to answer one of Dilip's questions, the Americans should have been aware of a major Indian film star. That's just common sense. But the illiterate buffoons manning security in the US, are just too insular, parochial and self-absorbed to know anything, or anyone, Indian. THAT is what D'Souza should be denouncing.

Nikhil said...

what should be the priority of our immigration authorities? To thumb collective noses against Yanks? Or to protect our borders, and by implication Indians in general?

Mark that in BOLD and please apply that to any engagement with Pakistan. The aim of the government is to do the above and not pursue chimerical peace processes with a rogue nation.

It is this way that double standards are exposed

Dilip D'Souza said...

... the overrated Americans.

Which phrase might just go furthest in capturing a certain perverted mindset.

Here's a man who's rating countries based on how much terrorism he thinks they have suffered. So because he estimates that Indians have suffered "far, far, far more", Americans are naturally "overrated".

Chandru K said...

"So because he estimates that Indians have suffered "far, far, far more", Americans are naturally "overrated"."

But India has suffered more from terrorism, and for a longer duration of time, than the US. And the terror is going on, on Indian soil, right at the present. Not on some distant place like Iraq.

Relative to what India has experienced, and that too on its soil, India is a far, far less paranoid and aggressive country than the US. You take any two of these bombings- Ahmedabad, Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Varanasi- and the Americans would have gone to war, and also been ultra paranoid in every city and every major town.

Obama Tin Maiden said...

Dear Ann,
apart from you (and maybe all the people in the red states), nobody else in the world thinks you're 'at war'. You cannot wage war against an amorphous mass of people. A state, yes. A tribe, yes. An ethnic group, sure. But to wage it against some people, who might be somewhere there, or somewhere here, or somewhere else, is borderline insanity.

Second, war or not - the USA knows full well what the nationalities of the terrorists were, which countries they were from, and who in the world today is fomenting / abetting terrorism. After all of this, please explain why they have to 'randomly detain' people, and why it is that the majority of those people 'randomly detained' happen to be muslim?

The checking at the borders is pure theatre, just to make people like you think that there is actually something being done about terrorism. If somebody wants to cause another terrorist attack in America, they will succeed. It's easy. Make about 12/20 homemmade bombs, and put them in trash cans. Does the DHS monitor trash cans? All the checking is used for is to harass people of a certain color/ race, to make the people of USA 'feel safer'.