Tag: Indian Americans

In a (Barely) Blue County in a Red State, Anxiety and Disbelief

Tampa is one of the few places in Florida that Hillary Clinton won. Immigrants there worry about the future.

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Seeking a “Peaceful Balance” for Hindus in the U.S.

The challenge of fostering unity in a diverse community

Radio

Reporter’s Notebook: Conn. Priest Shows How to Earn the Trust of an Immigrant Community

FI2W reporter Aswini Anburajan produced a radio piece for NPR’s Latino USA on Father James Manship, a Roman Catholic priest in New Haven, Conn., who teaches his immigrant parishioners how to stand up for their civil rights, and who has been in the news in the past for being arrested in a confrontation with local police officers. Here, Aswini narrates how she managed to produce the piece, which aired on Latino USA and which you can listen to below.

[audio:http://latinousa.kut.org/wp-content/lusaaudio/856seg01.mp3]
By Aswini Anburajan, FI2W contributor

If you think that ethnic reporting isn’t critical to knowing a community, read on. This is the first piece I’ve done for Feet in 2 Worlds that hasn’t been on Indian Americans. The basis of FI2W is to get reporters to write about their own communities, but even I didn’t realize why this is so important until I delved into a project for Latino USA.

My piece was originally supposed to be on the economic life of a day laborer or someone new to the country, undocumented and trying to establish a life in the U.S. That piece remains undone. Being an Indian American with some high school Spanish under my belt, I thought it would be a cake walk. Call some social service agencies, reach out to immigrant coalitions, and I could “break in.”

Manship in 2008 visited with family and friends of his Connecticut parishioners, in the province of Morena Santiago, in the rainforest regions of Ecuador. (Photo: Courtesy J. Manship)

Manship in 2008 visited with family and friends of his Connecticut parishioners, in the province of Morena Santiago, in the rainforest regions of Ecuador. (Photo: Courtesy J. Manship - Click for more images)

Four months later, I had to think again. Without truly knowing a community, or having cultural or language associations with them, I found it impossible to get through and talk to individuals who were undocumented. It wasn’t that every door I knock on was slammed in my face. Most of the time, people pretended they weren’t home. This ranged from individuals I knew with ties to the Latino community to social service agencies.

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News

Best Picture? Slumdog Millionaire Sparks Heated Debate Among Indians About Their Country’s Image: News Analysis From FI2W

By Aswini Anburajan, Feet in Two Worlds reporter

It was easier with Gandhi. Now that’s a movie a country and its people can love, wrap their arms around, and shout praise to. Love, peace, and Satyagraha (nonviolent resistance) — they roll off the tongue with an easy lilt that represents the best of what India has to offer.

Not the case with Slumdog Millionaire. There’s the ambiguity. What does it mean? There’s the connotation. The only other compound word that begins with “slum” and easily comes to mind is slumlord. It doesn’t quite inspire you to go out and change the world.

A scene from Slumdog Millionaire

On the surface it appears that India is celebrating the success of Slumdog Millionaire, the unlikely independent, low-budget film that swept the Oscars. Thousands crowded the airport in Mumbai to greet the cast upon their return from the Academy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles. The evening news in the U.S. beamed back images of the film’s youngest stars riding the shoulders of the crowd, their small hands clutching golden statuettes to shouts of “Jai Ho,” the title of A.R. Rahman’s Oscar-winning song from the movie.

But the post-Oscar celebrations and the Western embrace of Slumdog Millionaire mask a heated debate over the movie among Indians around the world.

Listserves for Indian American groups, such as the South Asian Women’s Collective in New York and South Asian Sisters in San Francisco, are brimming with comments about the film and links to blogs written by amateur and professional writers who either praise or condemn the film’s depictions of corruption and poverty. The South Asian Journalist Association (SAJA) has held four webcasts to date to discuss the implications of the movie and the heated controversy it has generated. Rediff.com, the largest Indian news website, has an entire page dedicated to international coverage of Slumdog.

The arguments range from the right to tell the story – India seen at its worst through British eyes doesn’t help the film’s cause – to charges that the film’s producers and British director Danny Boyle exploited the young children in the movie, plucked them from the slums, paid them little and failed to provide additional compensation when the film shot to global prominence. (more…)