In 1993 a film called Bhaji on the Beach was released here in the UK. I got a call from the BBC for an interview about the film. I was told that they would show me the film on a fast track. As I began watching the film a spotlight was focused on me and I realised that something was planned! The film showed an Indian girl kissing a black boy. The scene came and I showed no emotion and kept looking at the film nonchalantly! In the interview they asked me again and again about the kiss and how I felt about it. I kept saying that in a multicultural society these things will happen. We are not keeping our young people behind any fence. But I said our children were doing very well in education and by and large valued and respected our culture and traditions. Their plan was for me to condemn the film and cause a controversy which would give the film a lot more publicity! This was my first learning curve in my dealings with the media. 

Over the years I have got articles and numerous letters published in the national and international media. What motivates me is gross unfair criticisms of Hinduism and India. Many of the critics are of Indian origin holding high positions and they from time to time write for the national media. Pankaj Mishra and many like him as well our Lords and Baronesses never miss an opportunity to denigrate mainly because Hindus and India are considered soft targets. They know that we never respond either because we are not bothered or we would rather be on the good side of the great title holders. On 27th March 2016 multi millionaire Kartar Lalvani wrote an article praising the British colonisation of India. I wrote to the Times challenging his views. The letter was published but I wondered why tens of thousands of Indian’s including the PR wing of the Indian High Commission kept quiet. A very important weakness we have apart from apathy is that though we are highly educated we freeze in front of a camera and cannot put up a coherent argument. The same is true of writing precisely to the point and using words carefully and effectively. Mastering the nuances of the language of the country you are living in and being fluent in it is crucially important. In the fight to stop the Caste legislation we were betrayed by almost all of our favourite MPS and Lords whom we garland at  every opportunity. We have to sharpen our debating skills. I spoke at a Caste debate organised at SOAS. Though it had been organised by the Caste lobby and had many of its supporters there the chairperson concluded after my talk that a lot more research needs to be done before Caste legislation in the UK can be taken seriously. At the same university Arundhati Roy came to give a talk. She was in full flow accusing Hindus of everything. I challenged her and some more people supported me and she lost her argument and the meeting turned in our favour. There are tricks of the trade like always put your hand up first for questions! If you are overwhelmed by the audience and dither your opportunity to ask a knockout question will be gone! You have to have a burning desire to defend your heritage. We all need to pursue our careers but we should also have a parallel career of doing something good whatever it may be.  

Nitin MEHTA

13 July 2020

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