I think you are completely missing the point. Hindus visiting abroad may often come across as having speech issues, or "bumbling idiots" as you note, but in their defence they are speaking in their 3rd or even 4th language. Can you tell me how many westerners know more than 1-2 languages? Indians make do with what they have.
Second, its completely unfair or even ridiculous for anyone to spend all their time defending themselves or acting as defenders of their faith, in fact the very thing proves the point the game is rigged against them. Do Americans visiting India have to spend all their time justifying Iraq or Belgians visiting us, speak apologetically about the Congo?
The issue is not with Indians, its with folks who are bigoted against them, period.
Who has the time or opportunity to sit and pontificate in length on India?
Business visitors are under extra stress to be cordial to their hosts, have to suck some real stupid shit for the sake of "portraying a good persona" and on top of it, if they are being billed as consultants or sales folks, have to go out of their way to put up with stupid behavior from the side of the hosts as well.
Guys who are living abroad can make the effort to play up their culture, speak away on random topics etc. You are given that leeway as you are now domestic (and treated with some fairness, to whatever degree).
That's not the case for most business related interactions and short trips.
Surrounded by colleagues, senior management folks, some random colleague or customer makes some really bigoted comments against India. You have two options here. Play the stereotypical Indian nationalist and set him to rights, and bore the entire table and embarrass your host. Its worse if many tacitly agree with him, which caused this moron to vent it out loud. Suck it up, and make a comment disagreeing politely.
Most Hindus/Indians do the latter, its not because they are bumbling idiots, its that they very well understand how the circumstances are, and how the power differential is stacked up against them.
They are also on tenterhooks because folks already prejudiced against them will interpret even simple actions in the worst possible light or seek to use their power differential to the max.
The answer to this is to not sit & educate every Indian on how to counter propaganda, but plain and simple attack the sources of propaganda themselves.
One two short term discussions are not going to change anyone's POV (in fact research shows that a view strongly held will be buttressed, if somebody counters with something exactly opposite) but to ensure the steady pipeline of atrocity literature being pushed out from India/abroad is stopped or countered effectively.
Karan M wrote:In our case, they are attacking the very bedrock of the Indian's self belief, his faith & implying that by supporting anyone remotely associated with their faith, they are evil.
This perception has deliberately been mainstreamed. Indian Hindu males in particular, are considered primitive, sexually depraved, and out to either molest or chase white women. Just google for the standard meme on Indians chasing b*bs and v*gene.
If anyone attempts to counter this, a NYT or WaPo article will be waved to imply, that the above is justifiable.
We ignore all this to our peril. We have been too chalta hain, with these vipers for far too long.
We are all Ambassadors for our race, our faith and our culture, no matter where we go and whether we want to be or not. Any brown person is considered FOB until he/she starts speaking at which point the accent, if local guarantees instant acceptance. Even in my case - have not been able to put on the local accent ever - I find I have no issues as long as I am my normal self.
The problem of Hinduism getting a bad rap is nothing new, have been hearing it for over 30 yrs - all the usual snake-charmer, rat-worshipper, cows on the streets crap. People often ask me in a serious tone when I tell them I am a Hindu and I do not eat beef - is it true that you worship cows in India? I respond equally seriously - no we do not worship them but we do love them, much like you love your cats and dogs. How would you feel if somebody was serving cat or dog meat here at this table? That shuts them up immediately.
In a world where democracy is celebrated (as it supposedly is in the West), you do have to stand up for what you believe in. 'Jo dar gaya, samjho mar gaya'
- (he who is afraid is as good as dead) It is up to us to be proud Hindus and proud Indians, "apni chai mein khud hi shakkar milani padti hai"
- (you need to sweeten your tea yourself). I lose no opportunity to correct people of their misconceptions both at work and at home - family or friends. You have to have the right tools to fight back with. Too many Hindus become sheepish and defensive when faced with this kind of bull$hit. The right approach is to educate yourself both about your own faith and culture and their own. A simple question to a Catholic would be ' is it true that you really eat Christ's body and drink his blood every Sunday"? And if he says yes, the trap is sprung, with 'so you really believe a piece of bread is the body of Christ in actuality?" (you can then discuss the 'Doctrine of Transubstantiation'). If he wants to take it further, you can ask him about the Gospel of John, 6:53 where Jesus urges his followers to eat his body and drink his blood and then say - how is this different from the cannibals of Papua New-Guinea who developed CJD from eating their ancestors' brains and whom you consider so inferior?
All this is terribly OT for this thread, and I beg the indulgence of the mods, but the whole point of this exercise is that we need to educate ourselves not only about us but also about the opposition, only then can you discuss or argue your case with conviction. Else you come across as a bumbling idiot which unfortunately is how most Hindus abroad appear.
An example would serve well here:
I have a close friend whose wife is English, both his sons have been brought up 'Janeyudhari Brahmins'. The boys both wear the holy thread, do not eat beef and proudly proclaim they are Hindu - helps to have an American accent and white skin of course - but hey, they are well respected and more importantly, well-liked by their local Catholic and Jewish friends. They do puja regularly at home and the neighbors (non-Hindu) come and sit and take prasad together.
So it is entirely up to us how we want to tell this story. And how we want our children to spread it.