One of the challenges facing free and heterogeneous societies like India and the United States is the war of cultures. I was listening to a Chinese-American student at Stanford University on a radio program she was broadcasting. She used terms like “yellow fever” and “king of rice”.
She then explained. Yellow fever is the apparent attraction a white man feels for East Asian women. The same man is called the King of Rice apparently because he loves the exotic rice dishes served by the East Asian woman. Everywhere you go in America, it seems like yellow fever is raging.
I sometimes wonder about the families of East Asian women. Are they not worried that so many of their wives will mingle with people outside their culture? He does not seem. My best friend is a Chinese American. Her only sister fell in love, not with a white man, but with a black one. Hell broke loose in his family. Finally, the sister put her foot down and married her man and is very happy.
I was sitting next to a black Briton on the train. We are talking about yellow fever. He raised an eyebrow and asked me if the attraction the East Asian woman had was limited only to the white man. I understood his point of view.
Jungle fever was a term coined in America to describe the apparent attraction a white woman had for a black man, a supposed jungli, a jungle man who would be Africa. One of the central causes, no, the central cause of the Civil War, was the fear of white southerners that if their black slaves were freed, how these black slaves would then take away their white wives.
Postage stamps have also been issued for this purpose. Nowhere was it mentioned that in fact many white women would have liked to be carried off by black men.
The white man still reigns in America. There is no setback in American society against yellow fever. White men freely associate with East Asian women and procreate with them. There is apparently not a great deal of racial prejudice faced with the problems of such a mixture. A few white women have expressed their anger to me about what their men see in East Asian women, but overall this criticism is hushed up.
This is not the case with jungle fever. White women are still not allowed by white men to freely date black men. A tremendous racism is experienced by the children of this interracial mixture, who are automatically considered black. In many parts of the United States like Silicon Valley where there are large numbers of East Asian women, white men choose them and there aren’t enough eligible men for women white women marry because these men would necessarily be of “color”.
The East Asian population in the United States is expected to increase dramatically, as is the resulting yellow fever. How are white women going to handle this? Will they defy societal pressure and opt for “colors” or will they prefer to remain single?
India faces a similar cultural war in the so-called love jihad. I was talking to the former chief secretary of Gujarat who happens to be a Muslim man dating a Hindu woman. He told me that many Muslim women stay homebound, while many Hindu women are much more outgoing. It is this gregarious nature of Hindu women that Muslim men find so appealing.
But was there an attraction that a Hindu woman had for the Muslim man? I didn’t think so, until a Hindu woman got me wrong about this notion.
She claimed that Muslim men were so beautiful. I didn’t ask her why, although I suspect she was referring to the Muslim men who were handsome and well built. But was there a dearth of handsome and well-built Hindu men in the country?
Sex, that old dirty subject, of course plays a huge role but it is rarely talked about. The East Asian woman is supposed to be submissive, even in bed. The Muslim man in India is said to be more sensual, and even more manly, than the Hindu man. The black man’s sexual prowess is seen as almost legendary.
It must be said that many Hindu men are also attracted to Muslim women, and maybe even the other way around, but here religion is a barrier. Indian awakens insist that it is acceptable for Muslim men to interbreed with Hindu women, but see red whenever the subject of love-jihad is mentioned. Hindu men thus sometimes feel emasculated in their own country.
It is hypocrisies such as the fact that members of a community seek to marry apart from the faith, but prevent their own wives from doing so, that have led the majority community in India to feel discriminated against.
Unless the playing field is leveled, this grievance, which is not quite imagined, will not go away. Grievances such as the love jihad have led masses of moderate Hindus to subscribe to the Sangh Parivar ideology, even if they do not fully subscribe to it.
Unless the opposition like Congress does not come out to fully and squarely tackle the hypocrisies inherent in cultural wars like the jihad of love, the Hindu right will continue to rule India. The Constitution of India provides for equality for all religions in theory and in practice, not just in theory but not in practice.
The writer is an energy expert and regularly contributes to publications
in India and abroad.