January 18, 2010

Yurok, and Jerry

I am honoured to count as a friend a man named Jerry Rao, easily among the sharpest, best-read people I know. He was a successful banker and then an even more successful entrepreneur (Mphasis). In recent years, he has written a number of thought-provoking columns for the Indian Express. I've not always agreed with his views, but he invariably makes me think.

That, I am grateful for.

Last week saw the release of Notes from an Indian Conservative, a collection of his essays in the Express. I wasn't able to go to the event, but I ran into Jerry at a friend's place a couple of days later. He came over with a copy of the book and told me that I find a mention in it.

I'm delighted to be in there, and here's why I am.

A few years ago, Jerry wrote
Fog of political correctness
for the Express. This is one of the columns reproduced in the new book.

I felt I had to respond to his arguments, and the Express carried my Hello, the yobs speak no Yurok. (To my surprise, that page did not mention my name as the author of the article. But I assure you it is mine. A slightly different version appeared on India Currents as Do Yobs Speak Yurok?).

In the introduction to this column in the book, he mentions that I disagreed with him.

Any thoughts welcome.

(My blog post from that time: Yobs and Yurok).


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GBO said...

I disagree with you too but you and your wife and children are always welcome for scrambled eggs and more, you know what I mean?

Anonymous said...


Pray tell, in what way is this twit of an Uncle Jerry Rao (he is so similar to the standard Brahmin uncles in my family, I feel like punching him in his god dam face)
different from Raj Thakre?

I am almost shocked by the fact that you describe your reaction to his reactionary, brahmanical talk reminiscent of the imperial slave mentality of all the british loyalist of pre-independence era as a mere "disagreement"

Dr. Mrs. Satish Lal Bahaddur (Phd.)
1- 800- OUTRAGE
Call us for a free expression of moral and intellectual outrage on any topic of your choice.

P.S: Come to think about it, my impulsive yearning to hit this Uncle in his God Dam Face is not very different from Raj Thackeray. But I stand by it. I have known these f!@#er in and out. They publicly behave like reasonable and intellectually stimulating but privately are the most bigotted, narrow minded twits you will ever find.

Anonymous said...


ofcourse Harsha Bhogle lauds this man


he would love to see an Uncle Adolf with a good old thread around his torso to take the reigns in his hand.

Anonymous said...

also i sort of apologize for the above 2 posts. they are just unwarranted nonsense.

Anonymous said...

Friend of yours?

Just because its linked here, I struggled past stuff like "shrill activists" hit a major bump at "woolly-headed liberals" and somehow managed to finish it. Will come back later after a cool-off and compare the 2 pieces :-)


Suresh said...

I can't help feeling Mr. Rao has half-a-point. Of course, immigrants to a country, as full citizens, have a right to demand books in their own languages in public libraries. As you correctly note, it's their tax money also.

However, would the librarian say "We have books in Hindi, Urdu..." to a white or a black person who's just joined the library? (Forgive the choice of words; I couldn't think of better ones.) I think not; and this is what bothers me: the presumption that books in Hindi or Urdu (or whatever) will interest only someone from the subcontinent.
I guess I am bothered because this policy seems - unintentionally perhaps? - to keep the various communities apart rather than bring them together and I don't think that is good. May be I am overreacting.

Bottom line: I would have little problem in (UK) public libraries having (lots of) translations of books from Hindi, Urdu etc. Having translations, I would argue, is good not only for the immigrant communities (keep in touch with roots or whatever, improve English maybe?) but it also helps the "natives" learn about the immigrants. But I tend to agree with Mr. Rao that having Hindi or Urdu books in the original is not really needed.

Just out of curiosity, do US *public* libraries have books in Hindi, Urdu etc. like the UK public libraries? If the answer is no, then what explains the difference?

Anonymous said...


The librarian was trying to make the non-native feel at home; but maybe the exclusionary nature of, or non-accessibility of books written in notEnglish to the locals makes it a barrier to them.

Additionally Nth generation offspring of immigrants maybe more comfortable reading English translations than originals. But translations arent really the same as original and I would have at least a small stash of classics in original.

Dilip may have highlighted unintentionally what maybe the great conservative? fear of majorities in our glocalizing times- of being yurokized away in their native lands.

Jerry Rao does have other, more thoughtful and less annoyingly labelly pieces on the IE archives.

I am almost certain South Indian language books are available in US public libraries -for sure in Sunnyvale.