Dear Non-Resident Indians,
Congratulations on your wise choice of supporting Donald Trump, a bigot who never hid his disdain for immigrants.
Perhaps, in your momentary lapse in common sense, you somehow thought that Trump's hatred of Muslims and Mexicans would not affect you because, in his own words, he is "a big fan of Hindu".
You fell for his shtick hook, line and sinker. After supporting Barack Obama in the last two elections, you decided that "Ab ki baar Trump sarkar".
Despite being immigrants, many of your fellow NRIs thought that America should stop the entry of refugees and economic immigrants.
Your selfishness contributed to the Trump juggernaut and finally rolled him into power.
This lack of empathy for fellow immigrants, those who wanted the same opportunities as the ones made available to you, was visible during Brexit where many British Indians voted for leaving the EU.
They cited the refugee crisis and terrorism as reasons for their vote, but ultimately it was their self-interest that was threatened by new immigrants.
The UKIP party made falsified figures on EU spending and wildly exaggerated the inflow of immigrants.
The Islamophobia whipped by the UKIP was a work in progress for the last few years and finally paid off.
There is just one problem with this reasoning: the average racist sees all non-Whites as a threat. You probably thought that Americans will be more accepting of Hindus than they are of Muslims but the average Trump supporter can't tell the two apart.
The schadenfreude you were looking forward to has backfired. In light of recent events, NRIs backing Trump and Brexit come across as the proverbial fool who saws the branch on which he is sitting.
There has been an alarming increase in racist attacks on minorities since Trump's victory.
|If you are a NRI - or even if you're an Indian - I hope these recent events in America make you realise the perils of supporting fascism. Photo: Reuters|
More than 1,000 reports of hate crime were collected by the Southern Poverty Law Center in the first month since Trump's election.
Just hours after Trump announced a ban on Muslims entering the US, a mosque was set on fire in Texas.
Minority communities have been targeted by racist fliers and graffiti and continue to be racially abused.
Just three days back, Srinivas Kuchibhotla, a 32-year-old Indian engineer was shot dead in a Kansas bar. His shooter, a White man and US Navy veteran, asked Srinivas and his friend to "get out of my country" and later boasted about shooting two people who he believed to be Middle-Eastern.
When the leader of a country is openly xenophobic and blames the minorities for the country's problems, it legitimises racism and lets a country's majority think that their actions will have no consequence.
We have seen this in Nazi Germany where Hitler thought of Jews as "rats and cockroaches". Our own PM, Mr 2002, compared Muslims killed in Gujarat to the fate of the puppy that comes under the car.
Such boorish labelling makes the supporters of such politicians think they belong to a superior side. Just look at the language employed by most Sanghi trolls, who believe that they are soldiers in a war, which exists only in their heads.
During the US elections, the right-wing managed to demonise immigrants just like they demonised all brown people after 9/11.
But the sad thing is that this time around even the minorities are taking the bait and seeing their fellow immigrants as a threat. Trump's campaign exclusively focused on White nativism and there is no space in this intolerant America for non-Whites.
It turns out that more than Trump, it's his supporters that one has to watch out for.
If you thought that Trump was a "big fan of Hindu" then you are as gullible as those bootlickers in the Hindu Sena and Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha who celebrated his election win. The Hindutva brigade imagine that Trump's win does not bode well for Pakistan and Muslims in general.
But Trump has already started distancing himself from the Indians who supported him. His administration seeks to put curbs on the H-1B visa programme that allows skilled foreign workers to work in America for a limited period. This could be a massive blow to India's IT industry and independent computer programmers.
Trump wants companies using the H-1B visa to employ American citizens before hiring foreigners, and said, "I will end forever the use of the H-1B as a cheap labour programme".
I lived and worked in the UK for six years and generally had a positive experience. However, one morning, on the way to work, I walked past an elderly man who was sitting with his grandson on a park bench.
On seeing me approach, the man spoke to his grandson and said, "That's what a Paki looks like." I wasn't upset with this statement and didn't even try to correct him because people like these have their minds made up.
However, that morning I realised that just because I don't face racism doesn't mean that it doesn't exist. Also, it helped me understand that a racist doesn't care if I'm Indian or Pakistani and doesn't care if I'm educated or a terrorist.
To racists, all outsiders are despicable foreigners; there is no grey area, only black and white. Even though I've always believed in judging people on their character as opposed to their racial profile, that brief encounter crystallised my convictions.
If you are a NRI - or even if you're an Indian - I hope these recent events in America make you realise the perils of supporting fascism. India voted for a demagogue as well and the results are there for all to see.
We have never been more divided as a country. One only wishes that the Indian nationalist could see the writing on the wall.