UK Home Secretary Priti Patel | Flickr
UK Home Secretary Priti Patel | Flickr
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Calling a spade, a spade, or in this case, a bully, a bully isn’t the problem. But being insensitive to cultural nuances is. 

Last week, as allegations of UK Home Secretary Priti Patel bullying her staff were levelled by three previous employees, The Guardian came out with a cartoon depicting her as a bully.

The Left-leaning and liberal newspaper is the woke generation’s favourite baby that draws the line between right and wrong, and more often than not, takes a progressive stance on issues. So, it’s bizarre that the editors looked over the cultural sensitivities of depicting an Indian woman as a bull.

Keeping in mind her Hindu identity and Indian origins, many members of the Conservative party deemed the cartoon racist and called out The Guardian for being irresponsible.

This isn’t the first time a ‘progressive’, Left-leaning Western newspaper has come under fire for stereotyping India. In recent memory, at least two cartoons published by The New York Times were called out for their overtly racist tone. One, where an Indian is depicted as a poor farmer with a bullock trying to enter the ‘elite’ space circle. In the second, an elephant acting as a hurdle in the Paris Climate Change agreement.

Ah, for all those white men with a superiority complex, who think all of us want to dress, walk and talk like them, brown people’s spunk gets to them. The success and authority of ‘third world’ countries’ are incomprehensible.

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The same men got a taste of their own medicine, though, thanks to cartoonist Sandeep Adhwaryu and ISRO’s fantastic success.

But when it comes to racist cartoons, one’s ‘favourite’ has to be from The Australian by Bill Leak in 2015 — where an Indian is shown eating China-made solar power panels with mango chutney. This abomination of a cartoon reflective of the white man’s worldview doesn’t even deserve a comment.

My problem with Western media houses is their woke stance on everything under the sun, but being completely deaf, dumb and blind to other cultures, especially the Eastern countries’ sensibilities. Last year, stand-up comedian and talk show host Trevor Noah, who calls out systemic racism at least five times in his programmes, termed the India-Pakistan conflict a most “entertaining one”. Noah was initially remorseless, but later expressed regret over the remark after much criticism.

Recently, when Tulsi Gabbard tweeted about ‘Hinduphobia’ in the US, she received instant backlash with some rejecting her criticism as merely being the invention of a nationalist. Even if it’s true that Gabbard is a Hindutvavadi who peddles hyper-nationalism, she was talking about discrimination against her community, dismissing which is outrightly wrong.


Also read: Who is Priti Patel? The ‘bully’ UK Home Secretary with some tough views on immigration


Problematic, not racist 

Here’s the thing: Steve Bell, who drew the cartoon for The Guardian, was ignorant of the sensitivities of the subject at hand, but I don’t believe he was trying to be racist against the Indian-origin Home Secretary. He was depicting her for what she is (or at least what many are insinuating she is) — a bully. The fact that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was lampooned the same way is testament to the cartoonist’s intentions. This is precisely what the racism-crying Conservatives conveniently and deliberately cropped out of their tweets. Perhaps featuring Johnson, the white man who received the same treatment, would’ve watered down their cries of racism.


Also read: UK civil servant resigns over strained ties with Indian-origin Home Secretary Priti Patel


The allegations against Patel 

Sir Philip Rutnam, a senior staffer at the Home Secretaries’ UK office, resigned on 29 February and in a letter detailed the kind of harassment, toxicity and bullying he had to suffer at the hands of Home Secretary Patel. He also pointed out how Patel had resorted to shouting, belittling, condemning her employees on several occasions, something that needs ‘bravery’ to be called out.

After Rutnam’s resignation, two more allegations of workplace harassment and bullying against Patel emerged, both painting a similar pattern of behaviour — a senior who ridicules publicly, shouts at the top of her voice and likes creating unnecessary pressure. Basically, a boss who enjoys making your life hell.

If the allegations against Patel are true, then make no mistake, she is a class A bully — the kind of boss who makes even waking up in the morning difficult, and work suffocating. Such bullies need to be called out.


Also read: Not just Rishi Sunak, Indian-origin politicians are everywhere — Fiji to Portugal & Canada


Bullying isn’t the answer to bullying 

While I think interpreting the cartoon as racist is misconstruing the cartoonist’s intentions, the hate and online trolling against Patel was disgusting to say the least.

Tweets were full of racist slurs, crude language and posts that basically amount to bullying, the very thing she is being criticised for. One Twitter user even called her an ‘undesirable immigrant’.

I feel the tweets were also a true reflection of the hate brewing in the UK against immigrants — something Patel’s party has inflamed time and again.


Also read: Brexit takes UK out of the frying pan and into the fire, and Trump’s deal of the century


In denial of racism 

Patel, a strong advocate of Brexit, has been instrumental in drafting the final ‘touches’ to the plan along with PM Boris Johnson, and ran a vicious campaign that heavily polarised Great Britain (not an alien concept for Indians at this point). Hate crimes saw a surge after Brexit vote, with 71% of people from ethnic minorities reporting racial discrimination in February 2019, compared with 58% in 2016, according to a study.

Patel has also strongly advocated for and helped implement stringent immigration laws that would limit the entry of ‘unskilled’ labour to Britain, thereby blocking the entry of people exactly like her parents, who migrated to Britain from East Africa. 

Patel has been a prominent face of division in the UK, backing and implementing laws that validate a racist’s perspective on many issues. In the midst of all this, Patel has dismissed allegations of racism against PM Johnson and has repeatedly said that there’s no racism in the UK.

The Guardian cartoon calls a bully, a bully. Since Patel is confident that there’s absolutely no racism in Britain, I’m sure she won’t see anything racist in the cartoon either. She should just laugh it off, perhaps check her behaviour and move on.

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9 Comments Share Your Views

9 COMMENTS

  1. Note that the government has held an internal inquiry against Patel and has found no wrongdoing. The alleged bullying is an allegation pushed by the Boris Johnson hating Times newspaper – the person concerned did not even know what she was supposed to have done beforer reading it in TheTimes himself. He is now taking the government to an employment tribunal for constructive dismissal – the truth will out then, but too late for the short-term memory of the general public. Job done. I hope that the accusations against Patel will be withdrawn here, as well as everywhere else that has accused her on the flimsiest of evidence – the gossip of a Murdoch broadsheet news outlet.
    If she is innocent, what exactly is behind the problem with her? Perhaps that she is actually trying to get a stubborn and ungovernable civil service department to get on with their jobs. This department has been considered unfit for purpose for well over a decade.

  2. “it’s true that Gabbard is a Hindutvavadi who peddles hyper-nationalism”

    I stopped reading after coming across this, LMAO… What an outright d umb thing to say.

    It seems that while trying to please it’s woke audience ThePrint has to resort to lying and name-calling.

  3. we need protect the indian in priti she seems to be slightly a bully correcting herself will do a world of good.She is not Indias home minister but of UK .We indians need not be oversensitive and help out on that count as Priti knows to manage herself

  4. Can’t believe theprint.com had this neutral (more or less) article on someone who is a hindu. How come this happened??

  5. Nothing racist or “genderist” about that! In fact more needs to be done to expose the import of subcontinental culture of corruption into these positions of power by these dubious personalities.

  6. We need more of your help in why her Hindu Heritage & Bull depiction is racist. Bull & Cows are two different things if the cow is the relation to her Hindu heritage.

  7. Neither the Guardian nor the NYT are liberal and progressive. Both hold extreme views with no space for nuances or alternate viewpoints. In addition both are more then happy to publish government handouts as news, as long as the government’s views match their own biases/prejudices.

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