A still from @WanderingKamya's Instagram video | Instagram
A still from @WanderingKamya's Instagram video | Instagram
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There was a time when your NRI cousin and family were your gateway to the world. The things that came out to their suitcases were your Kool-Aid, literally. Vanilla Coke, Disney merchandise, airport Toblerone, a Starbucks cup, and CDs of games distributed to kith and kin were obsessions for days. Then there were the stories of a ‘liberated life’ — school parties, Dubai life, even relationships — spoken with a twang and drawn out accents. You would practise saying ‘inner-net’ not ‘in-ter-net’. All of that has done a ghar wapsi now. And it was rubbed in our face with Indian-origin British influencer Kamya’s video decrying hatred against ‘us Hindus’.

Now, we desi Indians see movies the same time our NRI cousins do, we Netflix and make Dalgona coffee too. We party, work, make TikTok videos just like teenagers in the US or UK — or we did till a few months ago. We are ‘with it’. But the larger transformation has clearly happened to the NRI cousin — who says ‘Na-mas-tay’ and participates in Indian Matchmaking, calls Sima Aunties for traditional matches, and even dresses up like Zeenat Aman in Haré Rama Haré Krishna. She talks about spirituality — and has all the merchandise for it.

They now want a piece of us, a piece of the ‘old Indian world’. They want an Eat, Pray, Love tour of pilgrimage sites. The ‘cool’ NRI kids are so 1992 now.

As G. Sampath wrote in a column, “No one loves India more than the NRI.”


Also read: Dear pro-CAA Indian-origin protesters, you feed off US secularism but support Hindu Rashtra


The roots

A few days ago, the video of Kamya crying because others ‘look down’ and ‘bully’ Hindus and spirituality went viral on social media. She calls herself a spiritual guru and calls out the ‘hate’ that Hindus receive. Her video is particularly interesting because she compares the alleged hatred against Hindus to — wait for it — slavery in the US and displacement of Native Americans. She talks about being bullied for wearing a bindi and chanting mantras.

And to think how mad a significant proportion of this very NRI community was when Miley Cyrus and several other singers before her started wearing a bindi.

Predictably, her video became a trend on social media. And on the very day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended the bhoomi pujan at Ayodhya. Many wrote on social media saying, Hindus are certainly not the ones being bullied in India, neither is Hindu spirituality under threat. Others, who had just watched Indian Matchmaking, saw a deeper diaspora problem.

Kamya later put up a post on social media saying, “The woke liberal mob is not welcome here…Stop your Hinduphobia,” and “India is the only place I’ve been bullied and mocked for practising basic dharma.”

But she isn’t the only one. Another viral video, this time from TikTok, shows a desi-accented teenager attempting to define the caste system — and butchering the explanation.

According to him @WokeHindu, the varna system is just about choosing the job that you want and is “not hereditary whatsoever”.

Another Instagram account called ‘The American Hindu’ that claims to explore history and culture through “the lens of young Hindu Americans” is full of posts such as a campaign to ‘take back’ the Swastika — as if one can just erase Nazi history.

And if anyone wants a crash course on dharma, karma, fasting — check out Instagrammer ‘youngndharmic’ because of course, one cannot lead a good life unless one follows these pearls of wisdom.


Also read: Boris Johnson to Priti Patel, Indians love a desi connect, but only if it’s the right kind


Channeling Kajol from K3G

It’s rather ironic if one thinks about it. Now that we are not the ‘traditional ones’, our NRI cousins have become the repositories of ‘sanskaar’ and values. Suddenly, they are ‘mera Hinduism mahaan’ Kajol from Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham….

Of course, one also needs to remember that this cultural ‘reclamation’ is only limited to certain things. We dare not disturb the desi aesthetic with the real problems that plague the India they so love — such as inequality, unemployment, or even the workers’ crisis.

These accented, wannabe bohos only seem to care about sanitised cultural fetishisation and how good the jewellery, bandana and bindi look, especially on Instagram. Everything else is unnecessary.

For us, it’s a strange realisation. Maybe our NRI cousins are a bunch of contradictions just like us. Maybe, they believe, as Sanjay Dutt’s character says Rudraksh (2004), “Doing puja is cool.”

But a survey last year showed millennials and Gen Z in India are less religious than their elders. Another survey of Hindus in the US by PEW Research Centre showed that ‘absolute belief’ in God has significantly increased from 2007-2014 among all age groups.


Also read: Netflix’s ‘Indian Matchmaking’ is only too accurate


‘Firangi-desi’ idols

Remember Netflix’s Never Have I Ever? It was hailed as the NRI series that broke Indian stereotypes. But it really didn’t. It showed a community desperately holding onto ‘culture’ and ‘traditions’.

As Sharanya Deepak notes, in Never Have I Ever “Brown is Indian is Hindu is Brahmin is wealthy is cisgender is Ivy-league-aspirational – a linearity that forms the prime packaged deal in ‘model minority’ South-Asian identity politics.”

Even our so-called ‘firangi-desi’ idols such as YouTuber Lily Singh, actor Mindy Kaling and television host Padma Lakshmi engage with Indian culture as superficially as possible and without any real meaning. They fall back on their Indian origins only when they need to. All other times, they’re as Western as they come. The exoticised and fetishised incense-stick-and-junk-jewellery vibes don’t make it any better.

I think it will take a while for it to sink in — but NRI cousins, with their much-sought-after goody bag from the US or UK, are no more the ‘best’ version of you.

Views are personal.

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59 Comments Share Your Views

59 COMMENTS

  1. To all those brainiacs who are outright denying Hinduphobia under the garb of”opposing Hindutva”, here a titbit for you,

    After Banglore riots, Where is the candle vigil to protests “how intolerant is India”, where is the jolly old Washington Post article demonizing Muslims, where is BBC reporting the utter stupidity of the MUSLIM MOB, where is the court petitions to repeal “Blasphemy”, where is Netflix special depicting the “adventurous life of Mohamed”, where is the “I AM ASHAMED TO BE A MUSLIM” and “F*CK ISLAMIST” banners now, where is “Jihad tere khoon se Inqulab aayega” gang, where are all those brilliant historians debating how “there was no Mohamed” and was, in fact, a British conspiracy where are all those books winning Pulitzer depicting how “Islamist wage divine war”, where is the Vice documentary on PFI and SDPI????? Been 72 hrs and yet to see the “revoluting against Jisandist” “freedom from Muslims”, did I miss it? let me know.
    And then they say “there’s no Hinduphobia, its a RW construct”, no sir, it actually one and only one constructive thing that LW and their sellouts did for Hindus is to “construct”- Hinduphobia. Your hate is contagious.

  2. Of course, both the bhakths who comment here and the author assume that only Hindus become NRIs and hence the world has to be seen from the Hindu perspective. Or rather the Hindu Rashtra perspective.

    Fact is, India’s diversity ensures that NRIs come from all religions, regions, castes and classes. And some countries have more NRIs from one region and religion whilst other countries have NRIs from other religions and regions. Thus, in the Middle-East, one sees many from Kerala and many of them are Muslims; the UK and Canada have many NRIs from the Punjab and many are Sikhs; Belgium’s diamond cutting industry is dominated by Gujarati speaking Palanpuri Jains and so on.

    But regardless of religion, NRIs do take with them their brains, brawn as well as their baggage. One sees a well functioning caste system that sometimes is more rigid than even the Indian one; one sees extreme colourism and use of pejorative terms for Africans; one also notes that people prefer to socialise with others from their own home region who speak the same language etc. etc. In a nutshell, NRIs mirror the same traits seen in the India they left behind. Including the prejudices.

    But my issue with many of the comments that have come in is the fact nobody mentioned that the NRI community that faces the greatest prejudice and often violence is the Sikh community. Perhaps the single most bloody event took place in Aug 2012, when a gunman opened fire in the Oak Creek Gurudwara in Wisconsin killing 7 worshippers. Attacks on Sikhs increased manyfold after the 9/11 attacks in New York with Sikhs often being mistaken for Muslims. The Sikh NGO United Sikhs has maintained a timeline of attacks on Sikhs post 9/11 in the USA, ref: bit.ly/30Uhh4o

    Another marooned and marginalised community is NRIs who happen to be Indian Muslims. Often, they are left out and ignored by NRI Hindus, Sikhs and even Christians. They are wary of being associated with Pakistani Muslims and Pakistani mosques, especially if they happen to come from South Indian backgrounds.

    I am pretty sure that NRIs face a variety of problems stemming from their religion, skin colour, looks, clothes and so on. But rather than see this as a complex phenomenon, bhakths commenting here equate NRI with Hindu, to hell with the others. Not a single one of the roughly 50 comments touched upon the very serious problems that Sikhs face. already seem to Clearly, bhakths have already ushered in a virtual Hindu Rashtra and are now waiting for the real one to be implemented.

    PS: On a lighter note, I have even met a fellow in Finland – a researcher no less – who constructed his house based on the expert advice provided by a “Vasthu Engineer” from Madras. Of course, he paid no heed to the Finnish architects who pleaded with him to construct his house so as to maximise sunlight, circulation, reduction of noise from the streets and other more mundane considerations … !!!

  3. Yo wtf is this article. She’s not even trying to be objective. I really hope you guys have better writers, or should consider a better people.

  4. The NRIs were cool. But as they grew rich prosperous in countries they did not fit in, they wanted to seek connectivity with their roots. They RSS, VHP and other reactionary Hindu groups seized on this search of roots and milked these Hindus for money, and managed to turn these deracinated Hindus who enjoyed the best of all worlds into believing delusions of Hindu grandeur in an upcoming Hindu India. These NRI Hindus are funding the break up of India.

  5. Secularism is a most virutous idea, and therefore, it needs to be saved from the likes of the author of this article. Too much of such brain-dead diatribe is what has led to reactive conservative backlash and the weakening of secular ideals in India. Not one cogent argument of any insight was made throughout the article, just outbursts of misplaced anger.

  6. This is spot on. I have seen a concerning shift in Gen Z Indian Americans who are desperately attempting to conflate bullying and appropriation (which are very real) into something more systemic like racism, xenophobia, and…Islamophobia. There is no system in place to prohibit (upper caste) Hindus from practicing in India, the US, or the UK, and the conservative talking points in American Hindu temples are clearly paying off with this upswing in false Hinduphobia fear. I firmly believe that if Indian Americans had the opportunity to learn about contemporary India – society, technology, politics, and economics – they would realize their incredibly outdated operating model is just that.

    • The bullying is for adopting Hindu cultural symbols. If it is not hinduphobia, what is it? Haven’t you heard of the term `Dot Busters’?. What is `Dot Busting’ if it is not racism?

  7. Have anyone notice in many these types of hate articles,tweet or North-South friction is propagated and written by Evangelist Converts,Islamist.
    They do this under the garb of Anti Fascist revolution,pro federalism,pro secularism and other pseudo revolutions.Idiots think secularism means to demean and abuse Hindus.Shame on you all.

  8. It’s called cultural appropriation, it is very much a thing in the western world. Please stop engaging in puritanism because you (Author) feels like someone is being “superficial” because they are just being them. You’re mocking folks who take the time and effort to integrate in their host society. Something you probably will only understand once you live in a country where you genuinely feel lonely and hostile in.

    • ‘ secularism means to demean and abuse Hindus…’

      Hindu extremists have demeaned India by propagating an ugly image of the country. India is known for rape, pogroms, riots, hate speeches by politicians, police aiding rioters, dank superstition, obsession with cows and their dung….

      How are secularists to blame ? They are not into rape, pogroms, riots, hate speeches, fake news, dank superstition, obsession with cows and their dung, anti scientific culture….

      Other countries excel because their majority community is excellent. In India, the majority community has become the worst, so the country goes down.

      • The ugly image is propogated by Hinduphobes like you. You have built up this image. Since Pakistan is not excelling, we can conclude that Muslim Community, which is the majority community, is to blame? Don’t talk of Gau mutra ad nauseum. Go google `Feacal Cocktail’.
        Can you define who are secularists? Who are secularists in India?

    • ‘No proselytizing efforts on part of HINDUS.’

      You are saying you are the vishwa guru, proclaiming spirituality and yoga, while murdering people over cows.

  9. I doubt Rachel John has any Hindu cousins. Sorry, NRIs have seen what real Secularism looks like, and the third rate Sickularism pushed by John’s and her missionary jihadi buddies is now known to be a lie. Remember the Indian media in the US and Europe used to be sparse and nothing but Congress propaganda. Hinduism is under attack in India, Hindus cross borders, just like moslems or xtians. This girl changed her name to John, under the influence of Westerners, and she lectures about outside Hindus helping oppressed Hindus in India. Wahabi types flood India with Arab nonsense, but a few Hindus are regressive for helping their own. Indians need to think like the Jews in Israel, staunch Western ally. Hindus were enslaved by both Christians and Muslims in India, they had land stolen, institutions destroyed, all by Mrs. John and her allies ancestors. So now this rich xtian wants to lecture us about humanity. We know what humanity means in the Western context, not much. Read the History, it’s worse than even a typical BJP supporter understands.

    • ” .. This girl changed her name to John, under the influence of Westerners.. ”

      So under whose influence did you change your name to Jimmy Corrigan? Liqour? Ganja? Cocaine?

  10. In India These rice bag converts prays so louder on Sundays. Where In USA no one goes to church and they treat fellow black Christians badly

  11. A cheapo who gets converted for dew breadcrumbs and bends down fo a few dollars will ofcourse have a problem with Hinduism, not surprised

  12. It is true Mera Bharat Mahan has become Mera Hinduism Mahan. India has gone to the dogs but that is irrelevant as long as the Hindus believe their chai wallah that Hindus are the vishwa guru.

    • If India has gone to the dogs- why are you still here ? Will Bangladesh or Pakistan not accept garbage like you ?

      Only a librandus think that “hinduism” is NOT Mahan – but Katt-mullahs and Bible thumpers are mahan because Secularism!

      • Asking why people have not left does not prove that India has not gone to the dogs. Where can such a large population go ? They have to stay and suffer.

        The obsession to proclaim “hinduism” is Mahan comes out as an inferiority complex.

        That was evident in Advani’s slogan of the 1990s – garv say kaho hum Hindu hain. That means Hindus were ashamed.

        Other communities do not need leaders to tell them to show pride. They have something to be proud about. Only when you are hollow you need to proclaim it !

        • Really? How are they suffering? They have the right to follow their marriage laws. They have the right to establish their own educational institutions and run them without any interference from the state. They can even register their religious marriage, a provision not available in many of the secular european countries.
          Yes, the Hindus were ashamed because of the distorted history peddled by the biased left historians. According to them there was nothing good in India. They were pilloried by the so called secularists, basically hinduphobes. They have consistently white washed the deeds of Turkic and Afghani invaders. It is necessary to tell them, `Garv se Kaho Hum Hindu Hain.’.

  13. You and your propoganda make me sick. Try mocking any culture like this by belittling and see what happens. What the hell did she do to anyone? Did god fail you so terribly in life, Mr. author?

  14. What the hell?? The girl is expressing her pain for receiving rape threats after posting a picture celebrating her culture. Are you even human to belittle anybody like this? She was crying because nobody the fuck acknowledges all the Hindus who were raped and murdered and forcefully converted. She was weeping for all the Hindu labourers the mughals enslaved to build their countless monuments before chopping their arms off. She was lamenting for all the 60.000+ temples that were destroyed or turned into mosques. Why don’t you go chastise the missionaries that convert poor villagers by exploiting them? Cause that doesn’t fit your agenda, no? This is a news platform, not a propoganda platform for mocking people when YOU KNOW they’ve done nobody any harm. Take you and your propaganda shit and retire from the internet once and for all. News is supposed to be objective. You’ve literally lost all your credibility with this one article. you’re nothing but a joke @theprintin. Also, she never claimed to be a guru. She does her part to spreading spiritual awareness to her follwers AND I DON’T CARE IF YOU DON’T ACCEPT THESE PHILOSOPHIES but you are NO ONE to mock them when they aren’t being imposed on a single soul by saying such patronising bullshit. You are cancelled. Go mock other faiths if you have the balls – and don’t you dare justify this BS saying Hindus were the first invaders – if you still quote the aryan invasion theory after all the scientific developments, you are just an uneducated troll.

  15. So let me get this started -nri Hindus can’t be proud of Hinduism 🤦🏽‍♀️ wow print has stopped to new low…it’s had proofed it’s biasness

    • NRI Hindus show an even tackier Hinduism – they want best of both worlds, live nicely in the west and not face all the horrors of Hinduism like caste, rape, pogroms, mob violence…..

      Why are Hindus living in western countries and ME ? Go back and practise your dank religion, and kill people over cows.

      • For the same reason that Paki mullahs like you choose to live in the West.

        Indeed, Muslims who migrate by the millions to the West -legally and illegally – are the best examples of people who reject Islam whne the chips are down. I have been in several court cases where Pakistani, Iranian and Algerian Muslims seek political asylum in the West through sham conversions to Christianity. Their arguments would always be:

        “I was a Muslim, I have now converted to Christianity and if I get sent back, I will be killed for violation of Allah’s blasphmey laws. So please let me stay here and please do not send me back”.

        I have also been in court cases here in europe where the female witness from Pakistan refused to accept the authority of the female European judge screaming:

        “There will be no justice when women become judges. I refuse to accept any verdict from a female infidel. !!!

        And how would you feel if I were to use your own language and write:

        “Why are Muslims living in Western countries ? Go back and practise your dank religion and kill your people over blasphemy, stone your women for adultery, marry 4 women, prevent your women from leaving your homes, make them wear a bloody burkha and beat them as the Holy Qur’an says”

        It is precisely Muslims like you – bloody converts – whose hatred and intolerance for anything that isn’t Islamic that poison the debate and spawn populists and bigots like Trump and Modi.

        Shame on you Rasgolla ! Go to Saudi Arabia where they will treat Pakis like you as the slaves you fellows actually are.

  16. Nazi christian writer telling Hindus to shut up for being mass murdered by Muslims and Christians.

    Secularism of USA?, it is a Christian country with god in its constitution ya Nazi

  17. Writer is christian anti hindu …so what better can we expect from the rice bag converts who use religion to get visas in usa. N west !!! Kamya n other NRI hindus are absolutely right…

  18. Hinduphobia runs very deep. 3rd raters like Rachel John can Hindu bash and get away with it, because Hindus are tolerant and secular.

    Rachel John, a challenge for you – publish a similar article on Islam or Christianity. You don’t have the guts to face the unpleasant consequences that are bound to follow.

  19. Such a pathetic article. The Print type media houses are the ones who says we know what mental health issues are you people stood with agrima joshua when she was abused and threatened. But now writers like Rachel John and media house like The Print is becoming one of the bully who are harassing and from your article diverting your hateful readers to her profile where they will abuse her and make meme on her at least leave a woman. After seeing different treatments for Agrima Joshua and Kamya from the print i am pretty sure that sympathy is for everyone except those who have hindu tag on them. Shame on you Rachel John. I wish that girl report you or ncw take cognizance of this bullying by you and file a legal complaint against you.

  20. Whom do you hate more?
    Hindus
    NRI Hindus
    NRI Muslims and cristians
    Indians in general
    It is interesting how the author talks about Hindu nris only. It seems like everyone has the right to hate Hindus. As if their religions are epitome of love and tolerance.

    • ‘It is interesting how the author talks about Hindu nris only. ‘

      That is because Hindus are the majority and now claim India is Hindu. All India’s problems can then only be ascribed to Hindus. They are making a mess of the country.

      Hindus cannot have it both ways : proclaim Hindu supremacy and complain about Hinduphobia. Bully minorities and India and pretend you are the victim.

      • LOL – apparently even simple logic escapes you clowns! India is undoubtedly founded on HINDU values and Hindu culture. That does not mean India is a Hindu nation, though we might wish it. Because if it were, 300 million Muslims and couple hundred librandus would have to be thrown out!

        So, Hindus can be a majority and can be discriminated against in their own land by parasitical political ideologies like Secularism.

        • The alternative to democratic secularism is what ? Caste system and break up of the country ?

          If you want to remove something, have you got a viable alternative ?

          ‘ India is undoubtedly founded on HINDU values and Hindu culture. ‘

          Can you give me 5 points about Hindu values that others might appreciate ?

          • 1) Respect for other religions. When you chased away Christians and Parsis from Iran, we gave them asylum. We didn’t ask them to convert. We don’t people of other religioons Kaffirs. We do not impose discriminatory taxes like jizya on them. We don’t have blasphemy laws. We don’t kill people for converting to other religions.
            2) We are a constantly modernising society. We are not bound by 8th century texts like you. We have embraced the constitution framed by Ambedkar. We have made changes in our marriage laws and made it much more equitable.
            3) We have acknowledged untouchability and worked for eradication. All the reform came from within the relegion. What about your Pashmandas? Doesn’t Quoran say that descendents of the Prophet are special? If it is not hereditary caste system, what is it?
            4) We didn’t murder the followers of protestant faiths like Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains like you are murdering Ahmediyas. We allow dissent in the religion.
            5) We don’t say that the testimony of one man is equal to the testimony of two woman.

          • Why don’t you start by giving 5 aspects of Islam that you think are abhorrent ? Or is Islam such a perfect religion that you can’t think of any?

            Hint: Many of Islam have been banned in European countries so myou might want to think along those lines …

  21. lol the writer is spewing hate and is butt hurt that finally Hindus are being proud of their identity ..i m sure the rice bag converts see it as a problem for their convert all of india agenda

      • WRONG…Hinduphobia comes out of an inferiority complex!

        Political rejection and destitution are a result of actual inferiority.

        • The statement ‘garv say kaho hum Hindu hain’ means Hindus are ashamed. No other community needs leaders to urge this on their people.

          Even with the most strident Hindutva, the inferiority complex will not go.

  22. Why so much hate. You are not even trying to be objective. What happend to the ideals like tolerance. Targeting for culture is wrong, how is it OK if Hindus are at the receiving end. What a shame. Thank you Mr Gupta

  23. Why so much hate. You are not even trying to be objective. What happend to the ideals like tolerance. Targeting for culture is wrong, how is it OK if Hindus are at the receiving end. What a shame.

    • receiving end of what? we live in a country where its a crime to ever side with anyone who is non bjp or a hindu fanatic.This is exactly how the white poeple in America feel when the black people raise their voice against the systematic oppression they face. The only “hate” hindus receive is when they speak like this.

      • Really? How many people have been punished for this `crime’? I see a lot videos and news items, in TheWire, ThePrint, NDTV etc criticising the BJP. How many have bee jailed? You liberals don’t like it when your hinduphobia is called out.

        • Mr S.Venkataraman: The number of media platforms criticising the BJP has dwindled down to a handful. After all, the BJP perfected and then exploited to the hilt, the “paid news” model like no other party didn’t it Sir?. To the 3 channels you mention above, I will also add the Malayalam channel AsiaNet. And you surely know what your fascist friends in power did when AsiaNet covered the CAA demonstrations in a manner that did not please them. AsiaNet simply went off the air in the middle of a newscast. That is what the BJP is all about – running India under an undeclared Emergency with all democratic freedoms on hold.

          And of course that is aided and abetted by blinkered, blind Modi worshippers like you who will talk more about religion rather than hold your incompetent Gujarathi masters to account for the gross mismanagement of the economy, the COVID crisis and the many foreign policy débâcles.

          I guess your ilk believes that as long as the temple is built, nothing else matters. Ram Rajya will automatically follow and everybody will live happily ever after right Mr S. Venkataraman ?

          Your stance reminds me of a quote from the British author George Orwell (1903-50)

          “A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves and traitors are not victims, but accomplices”

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