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The browning version

Krish Ashok
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Nina Davuluri’s win at the Miss America contest has changed the complexion of social discourse. Krish Ashok

Illustration: SATWIK GADE
Illustration: SATWIK GADE

This past week, Nina Davuluri became the first chocolate-coloured person of Indian origin to win a beauty pageant. And those racist Americans didn’t like it. They called her an Arab. And we proud Indians were outraged. How dare they denigrate an Indian by calling her an Arab? If she had the fair skin colour of an Arab, she would have won Miss India with Indian family values, not Miss America with Hollywood depravity. It is 2013 and it is time the United States learnt from India’s glorious tradition of judging people not by the colour of their skin but by the content of the character as defined by the stereotype of their caste. In fact, in the last five years, we have eliminated racism entirely from our society.

 And how did we achieve this? Through the cunning nexus of cosmetics manufacturers and the fair-minded people of this nation. Some days back, while in a supermarket, my wife picked up a moisturising cream and, being the conservative redneck I am, I noticed that the cream advertised a promise to wipe the darkness off one’s face and turn it into a small-sized stellar object as a beneficial side effect while it went about its main job of moisturising skin.

 Blasphemy, I thought. How dare these browner people banish the melanin from their skins and disturb the social order, I felt. How dare these chocolate bandits challenge the ovarian lottery that prefers a wheatish complexion (with added maida)? I immediately exhorted her to return that brand in favour of something that stopped at keeping skin hydrated instead of aspiring beyond its station in life. Confronted by a man who was actually asking her to spend more time in a retail establishment, she gleefully went back to the cosmetics aisle.

 Several minutes later, she came back with a resigned expression and told me, “There is no moisturising cream that does not advertise a side-effect metamorphosis into something as white as that thing hanging on to King Vikram’s shoulders.”

 That was when it hit me. India’s masterful plan to eliminate racism is to bleach everyone’s skin (and make them pay for it too). If everyone is white, there is no racism. There might be more skin cancer, but, hey, we have homoeopathy, Ayurveda and Unani medicine for that. And since Brahmastra was originally a nuclear-tipped arrow, using it for acupuncture serves as radiation therapy.

 So while we are turning our majority brown population white, the U.S. needs to turn its majority white population brown. You might say that the sun could do the trick but, in case you are not aware, the combination of sun and white people tends to result in something that belongs on a fine dining restaurant’s menu.

 All in all, I sense a tremendous business opportunity for Indian cosmetic companies to collect all the melanin our non-wheatish complexioned folks are jettisoning through the use of fairness creams and export it to the U.S. where it could help “arabify” (if you will) the population. Imagine the world we will create then. In one swift masterstroke, we will have settled India’s external debt. As the Americans would themselves say: “There ain’t no such thing as free melanin, baby.” This business model is not even new to us. If Tirupati can export hair, we as a nation can export brownness.

 We would have also cured the Americans of racism and made airport security checks simpler. If everyone looked “Arab”, then no one goes through selective disrobing in the name of national security. This is beyond win-win. This is an epic win raised to the power of epic win.

 And while they take our help in getting rid of that age-old scourge of racism, they could parallely learn a thing or two about immigration and naturalisation from our glorious traditions. They spend billions on an unnecessarily complex system that involves crowded consulates, bureaucratic bungling and political drama about the loss of American jobs.

 In India, we have a very simple approach. We wait for people who have Indian roots to achieve something good in life, like going to space, designing overpriced speakers, winning Nobel prizes or beauty contests. Once they do that, we declare them Indian citizens in one fell swoop. No visas, no red tape and absolutely no care for whether their Indianness had anything to do with their achievements.

 And thus I welcome the newest addition to the Indian pantheon of freshly-minted citizens, Nina Davuluri. May she get lucrative modelling contracts from Indian manufacturers of fairness creams.

krishashok@gmail.com

How dare these browner people banish the melanin from their skins and disturb the social order, I felt. How dare these chocolate bandits challenge the ovarian lottery that prefers a wheatish complexion (with added maida)?


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