More on the ‘Thank You’ ad

Neera Tandon of the Center for American Progress weighs in on the ‘Thank You’ ad over at The New Republic:

The poorly produced ad, which somehow cost Americans for Job Security $900,000, trades in crude cultural clichés and carries the clear implicit message: Don’t vote for that politician who does business with the funny-sounding Indians.

Our society strangely tolerates mocking Indians. There are never, for instance, ads attacking outsourcing to Ireland with Irish actors, even though that country has made a major push to become an outsourcing hub. Or imagine an ad featuring Hassidic Jews and klezmer music and the outrage that would generate. Or remember the storm of condemnation that rightly rained down on Senator Bob Corker for his racially-tinged attack on Harold Ford. Yet, similar treatment of Indians seems to be perfectly acceptable in many quarters.

Read the whole thing here.

(Hat tip, @sepiamutiny)

FYI, inspired by yesterday’s craziness in the comment section, this blog now has a comment policy. Please check it out before you comment.

Bangalore Loves Bill Halter

Courtesy of the “Americans for Job Security“, I now have a new favorite political attack ad of all time.*

As political junkies across the country closely watch the Arkansas Senate race and Senator Blanche Lincoln’s (D-AK AR) struggle to hold onto her seat, the “Americans for Job Security” have released this ad against Bill Halter, Lincoln’s opponent in the Democratic primary:

As I’ve probably mentioned before, Bangalore is my family’s hometown and it isn’t everyday when you see an entire campaign spot filled with characters who represent your relatives. It’s extra special when you actually recognize streets and stores in the background of said advertisement. (More on this a bit later.)

Here’s a quick look at why I find this ad so interesting:

1) As Amardeep of Sepia Mutiny points out, “the “our jobs are going to India” bogie [sic] is also still alive and well in American politics.” (I was hoping this meme peaked in 2004.)

2) Despite outward appearances, this ad wasn’t produced by Senator Lincoln or her allies. According to Open Secrets, Americans for Job Security is a “a pro-Republican, pro-business organization” that was founded in 1997. Executive Director David Carney formerly worked for President George H.W. Bush.

3) In a post titled “Worst Ad Ever? Arkansas Senate Race Hits New Low”, Politics Daily reports that Lincoln spoke out against the ad on Saturday:

“I condemn the television ad reportedly scheduled to air in Arkansas sponsored by a group called Americans for Job Security,” Lincoln said. “It is offensive and doesn’t belong in Arkansas. As a victim myself of constant negative attack ads by outside third party groups since early March, I deeply regret that their participation in this campaign isn’t more constructive.”

4) Despite the condemnation noted above, a quick glance at the Facts section of Lincoln’s election website shows the extent the Lincoln campaign is playing up Halter’s ties to India. On the first page alone the word “India” shows up 22 times, while “Outsourcing” and “Bangalore” pop up 13 and 7 times respectively.

5) Finally, a shout out to the producers of the spot. To their credit, that is actually Bangalore on the green screens behind the actors. At 00:20 you can see a glimpse of Jayanagar’s 4th Block. (You can even clearly read the Raymond’s sign.)

*If you are curious, my former favorite attack ad of all time can be found here.

Would you like salsa with that? Taco Bell comes to India

Via the Global Post, news that Taco Bell has arrived in India:

Like the Desai family who spread themselves across three tables, half of those who came into Bangalore’s only Taco Bell that evening couldn’t tell the difference between a taco and a burrito.

Nearby, groups of teenagers, middle-class families dressed in traditional Indian attire and couples clothed in their weekend best stood in snaking lines to try India’s latest fast-food sensation, pronouncing each syllable phonetically, “tor-til-a” and “fa-jee-ta.”

“It’s kay-suh-dee-ya,” Taco Bell staffer Jagruthi, 19, explained patiently to a bespectacled, bindi-sporting woman in a sari. Then she politely asked, “Do you like cheese?”

The woman shook her head and chose the potato taco instead.

Several other employees scattered across the restaurant were doing the same thing: explaining ingredients and sounding out unfamiliar words.

In addition to the potato taco, there is also a paneer option. I wonder if they have dancing waiters?

A rare look at the Beatles in India

It was 40 years ago today that Paul McCartney announced that the Beatles were breaking up.

In honor of the greatest band of all time, I thought we’d take a look back at the Beatles’ visit to Rishikesh in 1968. Unfortunately I don’t speak Italian, but here’s a news report about the Beatles arrival in India. (See if you can spot Mia Farrow and Donovan in the footage.):

Part two here. And be sure to visit The Beatles in India for some extraordinary color photographs of the band on their meditation retreat.

Eat, Pray, Love: Julia Roberts, with elephants!

The Eat, Pray, Love trailer has arrived. At 2:26, you can see glimpses of an ashram and elephants.:

The film, based on Elizabeth Gilbert’s phenomenally successful memoir, is set to be released in August.

Star Julia Roberts garnered a huge amount of media attention, both positive and negative, while she was filming in India last fall. There were reports that Roberts’ security detail barred devotees from entering a temple while she was inside filming, as well as glowing pieces on her admiration of the Taj Mahal. (Julia also enjoys chai. But who doesn’t?)

Will LiLo be banned from India?

Remember when Lindsay Lohan filmed a documentary on child trafficking last summer? The Telegraph reports that her failure to get a work visa and her claims that she rescued dozens of child workers could get her banned from entering India.

According to the Telegraph:

Activists involved in the raids criticised her comments and accused her of trivialising the issue of child trafficking.

Now she may not be able to visit India again after officials looked at her case and found she had failed to apply for a work visa for her trip.

Senior civil servants in New Delhi are now studying the case and will rule on whether her name will be added to an immigration blacklist.

Seeing this story made me wonder (not for the first time) who exactly is managing Lohan’s career. The fact that no one thought to make sure she had the proper visa to work abroad is ridiculous.

(Hat tip: Sepia Mutiny’s news tab)

Remembering the Connaught Rangers Mutiny

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! In honor of our Irish brothers and sisters, I thought we should take a look back at a moment in time when the histories of South Asia and Ireland intersected.

The Connaught Rangers was an Irish regiment of the British Army.

According to Wikipedia, the regiment rebelled after soldiers received word that the Irish War of Independence began:

On 28 June 1920, five men from C Company refused to take orders from their officers, declaring their intent not to serve the King until the British forces left Ireland. The Union Flag at Jalandhar, in the Punjab, was replaced by the flag of the Irish Republic.

More details can be found at this message board about James and William Daly, two brothers who led the mutiny.

Unfortunately, it looks like the two titles that come up in an search of “Connaught Rangers Mutiny” are out of print. However, Ireland and India: Nationalism, Empire and Memory, a book that came out last year, looks like it could be promising (warning: the book is ridiculously expensive).

Jessica Simpson’s “The Price of Beauty” Premieres Tonight

Jessica Simpson returns to the world of reality television tonight with the premiere of her documentary series The Price of Beauty (VH1, 10pm EST/PST).

Over the course of the series, Simpson and her two best friends (Ken Paves and CaCee Cobb) visit various countries and sample local beauty rituals. The trio traveled to India for the episode scheduled to air on March 29th.

Wondering what beauty treatments Simpson learned about during her trip to the second largest country in the world?

I’ll let the gossip blog “Entertainment and Showbiz” answer that:

Monster and Critics reports that Jessica Simpson has been paying “The Price of Beauty” to certain high level that surely makes us feel like puking! As per reports, Jessica has been offered to drink distilled cow urine in the television show. She is given a bottle of “Distilled Cow Urine” in India which has shocked her to the core.

Jessica is told that cow urine is a detoxifying drink! But drinking excreta? Horrible…and yukkks!

This series also sounds “horrible and yukkks!” Despite that, expect a live blog during the India episode when it airs on the 29th.