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Crowning glory for Telugu origin beauty

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Americans have once again proved that they are no different from other nationalities when it comes to tolerance, racial bias and equality. There is no...

Americans have once again proved that they are no different from other nationalities when it comes to tolerance, racial bias and equality. There is no other rational explanation for the kind of behaviour some of the people in that country have exhibited through tweets over the crowning of a 24-year-old Indian American as Miss America 2014.

Nina Davuluri, whose parents hail from Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh, and whose grandmother still lives in the coastal town, is the first winner of Indian origin to win the prestigious event. Nina, the Miss New York, walked away with $50,000 prize which she intends to use for her medical education.

Her triumph has stunned the audience and triggered a storm of abuse on social sites soon after the panel of judges declared her as winner on Monday. No doubt, the American selectors might have been swept off their feet by her Bollywood groovy number and her focus on “celebrating diversity through cultural competency.” But why should the judges’ decision invite ridicule and derisive remarks from sections of people? Sample these: This is America … not Miss Foreign Country; She’s like not even America and she won Miss America!; How can you be Miss America if you don’t even know what state you are from!”

The worst abuse is to spite Nina as Muslim. One tweet said, “they just picked a Muslim for Miss America. That must have made Obama happy. May be he had a vote.” Another said, “Miss America? You mean 7/11?” Some tweets had even used four letter words to spew venom on her selection. While it is normal in beauty pageants to disagree with decisions on crowning, it is unusual that contestants and winners to be maligned and called names on religious and racial lines.

This may be one-off such instance, but it shows the increasing level of intolerance in a country that preaches and mandates equality and fair play in every walk of life. While the large Indian community in general and the Telugu people in particular is celebrating Nina’s crowning glory, the unsavoury remarks making the rounds on Twitter will leave a bad taste in the mouths of people of Indian origin in the US as well as those living in India.

One can easily blame the prejudiced thinking on 9/11. But it is hardly a justification when the events are totally unrelated. Simply, it’s an overdrive by Twitterati since they are unable to digest the fact that an Indian origin girl is wearing Miss America tiara. The toxic reactions remind us of the (ill)treatment meted out to Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty in Big Brother reality show in Britain in 2007.

The racial slurs were, of course, condemned but not before raking up a huge international controversy. In a world that is supposed to be coming closer, at least culturally and linguistically, stereotyping has no place, particularly in the US which is a potpourri of all global cultures. In recent years, Indians flocking to the US like migratory birds and everything Indian is flavour of that country and its people, it is most unfortunate –and deplorable – that some sections of people should resort to condemnable practices in judging others when they suddenly become celebrities.

The unacceptable reactions on digital social sites may be fault lines in personality, but unless they are corrected by whatever means, they reflect the same xenophobic ideology. Thankfully, there are some sane elements who have decried disparaging remarks against Nina, saying she is American by birth and has every right like any other citizen there – despite her skin colour.

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