TODAY -

A storm in a political teacup
- The People's Chronicle Editorial :: May 10, 2024 -



WHETHER it was his statements on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, the 2019 Pulwama attack or the Ram temple issue, Satyanarayan Gangaram Pitroda aka Sam Pitroda is someone who has always courted controversies throughout his career hot just in politics but also as an entrepreneur in the field of telecommunications.

However, after his latest remark on the diverse looks of Indian people, which he made during a podcast interview with The Statesman, drew backlash from across the political spectrum, Pitroda has stepped down from the post of chairman of Indian Overseas Congress, thus, snapping ties with the Indian National Congress (INC), with which he had remained associated loyally since the time of former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

Because of his long association with the grand old party and close relationship with the Gandhi family, Pitroda has been often referred to as the mentor of Rahul Gandhi.

As his latest so called 'controversial' remark has come close behind another recent controversy over his statement on inheritance tax wherein he allegedly emphasised the need for a policy towards wealth redistribution in the country, it is not surprising that the resignation letter of Pitroda has been readily accepted by the grand old party, which has been trying hard to distance itself from these remarks of Pitroda.

On the other hand, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies have lost no time in taking advantage of the perceived 'racist' remark made by Pitroda in targeting INC and its Indian National Development Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) in every election campaign.

Leading the charge, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has accused INC and its leader Rahul Gandhi of resorting to racism and even asserted that INC's opposition to Draupadi Murmu's candidature for the post of president stemmed from its racist mentality.

In this unfolding political one-upmanship, what we really don't understand is how racist is the remark made by Pitroda.

All he had said in the podcast interview with The Statesman was, "We have survived 75 years in a very happy environment where people could live together, leaving aside a few fights here and there. We could hold a country together as diverse as India, where people on the east look like Chinese, people on the West look like Arab, people on the North look like white and maybe people on the South look like Africans... doesn't matter. We are all brothers and sisters".

When he said "people on the east look like Chinese, people on the West look like Arab, people on the North look like white and maybe people on the South look like Africans", Pitroda is only stating the obvious about the racial diversity existing in India.

Howsoever crude it may sound when it came from the mouth of a controversial figure like Pitroda, it is a fact accepted both by the archaeologists and historians that the present population of Indian subcontinent is made up of four racial groups, namely, Negritos, Proto-Australoids, Mediterraneans, and Mongoloids, and this is being taught in schools and colleges.

So, what is the fuss all about?

Without understanding the context in which Pitroda had used the analogies, any news report presented with headline like "People in east look Chinese, south like Africa: Sam Pitroda" is sure to create controversy in a country where everyone is only trying their best to look and sound politically correct in interpreting the term 'unity in diversity', which is more like a myth than a perceivable reality.

So, the whole issue surrounding the hasty decision taken by INC to disown one of its own loyal members over a remark that may be crude but factual and the energy being invested by BJP to blow it out of proportion is nothing but a storm in a political teacup.



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