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US sex racket dents image of Telugu associations abroad

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Worried over the suspicion with which the diaspora and authorities may now look at them

Every time a Telugu actor lands in the US, office bearers of the Telugu associations hosting them line up to receive them at the airport, take selfies and proudly post them on social media. Escorting them is much sought-after, given the star status of the actors and their huge fan following.

However, after the recent ‘sex racket’ involving Telugu actresses and small-time actors broke out in the US, things have changed.

Now, they just want to keep mum and stay away from the actors, fearing either possible police investigation or suspicion within the community. After all, the reel heroines came on their invitation and they were responsible for the guests’ itinerary in the US.

Image takes a beating

Superfluous though, the exposé has dented the image of several Telugu associations. Seniors who worked hard for decades to build credibility are worried not just at the dented image but the suspicion with which people and authorities will now look at the organisations.

“The hard work of so many people over four decades is hit and the commitment to preserve their culture and language in an alien land is undermined,” says Mohan Nannapaneni, former president of Telugu Association of North America, the first Telugu association to take birth in the US in 1977.

“Everyone forgets the millions of dollars that we pump into India for welfare activities, and also ensuring second and third generation Telugus in the US are kept in touch with their culture,” he rues.

‘Targeted by media’

“It’s unfair that Telugu organisations have become the Indian media’s target for the misdeeds of a few people,” says Parmesh Bheemreddy, president-elect of American Telugu Association, another popular Telugu organisation.

He agrees that with advanced technology, it is easy for such people to network and indulge in escapades unknown to the organisers.

Unlike what the Indian media has been projecting, Mr. Bheemreddy says the US authorities have not questioned the organisations but only the couples involved in it. And the investigation is also in the direction of the accused couples’ role than that of the Telugu organisations.

Guests, but footloose

“Associations sponsor visas for artistes and actors for performances at an event. When some of them want privacy to spend time with relatives and friends, how can we monitor their activities,” questions Eleti Vinod, a Sydney-based doctor associated with Telugu associations in Australia.

Interestingly, as the number of Telugus in the US sky-rocketed with the IT boom, “so have organisations and people with questionable antecedents. So there is a greater chance of such actors being exploited,” says Santosh Kakulavaram, Media Chair of Telangana Development Forum, US.

Yelishetty Srinivas, the former president of Gulf Telangana Welfare and Cultural Association, says 99% of people keep away from such practices.

“For those who are into it, place and distance don’t really matter,” Mr. Srinivas remarks.

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Printable version | Dec 13, 2019 9:16:26 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/us-sex-racket-dents-image-of-telugu-associations-abroad/article24256189.ece

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