Opinion: Activists in Search of an Indian Cause in the United States

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Hemendra Acharya

By Hemendra Acharya     

As a sequel to a 1950s movie “Rebel Without Cause we now have in 2020’s a plethora of “Activists in Search of a Cause”. People who want to use their celebrity status do some good are now commenting in social media on subjects or issues about which they know nothing.  India is now the flavor for “Activists in Search of a Cause”, and celebrities are commenting on Indian laws on Kashmir and Farm Production Acts and CAA without demonstrating any knowledge of the issues they are commenting on.

Greta Thunberg, a self-proclaimed Climate Activist recently lent her support to farmers and criticized the Farm Laws enacted by the Indian Government. She probably does not know that these laws prohibit Stubble burning which leads to harmful and unhealthy severe air pollution every year in Delhi. Activist Greta in looking for a cause to support is now suddenly supporting a cause which is counter to her other Climate Change cause. Rihanna, whose only claim to fame is singing, has suddenly become an expert on agriculture and food production in India and has supported opposition to these laws.

Even most Indians living outside India know very little about the agriculture situation in India but these non-Indian celebrities without understand the newly enacted Agricultural laws sufficiently are opposing them because they think that they know why these laws are bad for farmers.

Many activists, however, seem to be selective in searching for a cause to support. Activists who did not care when protesting farmers destroyed communications Towers and thereby disrupted phone and internet connections for all people, are suddenly upset when the government imposes restrictions on internet use in the area where protestors are congregating.

Activists who proclaim their concerns about women’s rights, never criticized the terrible practice of divorcing wife by just saying “Divorce” three times, have also been strangely silent when the Indian government finally outlawed this practice. These activists have also been silent when the Indian Government provided rights to Kashmiri women to marry any Indian living outside Kashmir when that right was available to all Kashmiri men since 1950.  Activists who are rightly concerned about the plight of Rohingya Muslims demonstrate no concern about the plight of minorities in India’s neighboring countries and oppose laws granting these minorities asylum in India.

Second generation Indian Americans who were born and brought up in this country and have in general meagre knowledge and understanding of the situation in India, have suddenly become experts on India and have started selectively criticizing actions of the Indian government. The cause for these activists last year was CAA. If you ask anyone in America what is CAA, chances are they will say that CAA means Clean Air Act.

However, these Indian American activists who never worried about the persecution of minorities in neighboring countries, suddenly decided that CAA is to be opposed because it does not allow members of the majority community in those countries from seeking asylum in India. Second generation Indian American lawyers were willing to ignore the insurrection and vandalism in Delhi on January 26 this year, but are now so concerned about Indian farmers that they want the Biden Administration to intervene.

Activists who understand the situation and are truly committed to a cause and sacrifice their time and money are to be admired and emulated. However, actions of some activists on issues in India that are otherwise totally foreign to them suggest that they are Activists in Search of a Cause.

(Hemendra Acharya is a Geophysicist and an Environmental Scientist. He is also a student of Ancient Indian Civilization. After working for thirty years as a professional in Boston, he has now retired and moved to California.)

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