Vir Das Controversy Was it Insulting India

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Stand-up comedian Vir Das did a show in the US's Kennedy Center recently.

At the end of the show, he recited a poem.

He named it 'Two Indias.'

A satire, a social commentary on India.

Showcasing two aspects of India.

  • the greatness of India.( The rich culture of India.)

The inspiring philosophy of India.

  • the bitter truths. (The problems that India is facing today.)

There is a huge controversy on this poem in the country.

On one hand, some people call it a brilliant poem

they loved it and thanked Vir Das for being truthful.


On other hand, some people are so offended after listening to this poem,

that the question, 

Why did Vir Das say so?

Why did he talk bad about India in America?
Why did he insult India?

Calling him a vulgar person.

Calling him an anti-national.

And saying that he should be prosecuted under the UAPA.


In today's post, let's try to understand this.

Monologue by comedian Vir Das

in Kennedy Center in Washington DC has gone viral!

But it has also attracted huge online hate

and two criminal complaints

in Delhi and Mumbai."

"If one takes offense, should one be allowed to file police cases?


Is it a penal offense? Should there be limits to free speech?"

"So is our skin too thin when we've taken offense to what Vir says?

Or is this actually treason?"

Friends, most people weren't bothered about Vir Das talking about India's problems.

They were bothered because Vir Das talked about these problems in America.

Talked bad about India to the Americans.

Defamed India.

In my opinion, this type of thinking

shows a very specific type of attitude.

Let me use an example.

According to the 2019 NCRB data,

more than 10,000 students died by suicide that year.

On average, each hour, one student dies by suicide in the country.

What's the reason behind it?

Technically speaking, the reason behind it is a clinical illness.

It may be depression or an anxiety disorder.

But there is also an underlying problem,


Stress about what?

We hear about student suicides mostly when

the results of some exams are declared.

Because students fail the exam.

Failing an exam isn't a huge deal.

One may take the exam next year again.

Even if it can't be retaken,

one may study something else.

One may not earn in millions,

but they would still survive.

One's life doesn't end simply because one fails an exam.

But many students are scared of their parents.

The expectations of the parents

are seen as a major cause

for the stress in students.

It isn't that the parents don't love their children.

The parents are under a different kind of pressure.

The parents are afraid that if their child failed

what would the neighbors think?

If people get to know about it,

what would they think?

Mocking them that the child they had praised has failed an exam.

"Oh, God! What will people say?"

This is the same type of thinking that I'm talking about, friends.

We can see this ideology in our society,

our culture in many places.

According to the 2015-16 National Family Health Survey,

it is estimated that 99.1% of cases of sexual violence

go unreported.

Can you imagine that?

99% of rape cases in the country aren't ever reported.

What's the reason behind it?

A major reason behind it is

the stigma attached to the rape victim.

If a family member is raped,

then the family pressurizes the victim

to not register a police complaint.

Because if they do register a police complaint

everyone would come to know about it.

The neighbors would get to know.

And they imagine that the reputation of their family would be lost.

"It is what it is."

"Forget about it now."

"Because if other people come to know about it,

what would they say?"

Not only not reporting the crimes,

there are very simple examples of this

that we come across in our daily lives.

We see people buying expensive cars,

by taking out a loan,

not because they need an expensive car,

rather so that they can show it off to the people.

Imagine what people would say when they're seen with an expensive car. 

Fairness Creams.

All of us speak out against it publicly,

but according to the analysis by Moneycontrol,

last year, Fair&Lovely reported sales at ₹41 billion.

Who are these people buying fairness creams secretly?

Those who are concerned about what people would say.

Many people in the country consider the country as a mother.

And suffer from the same complex.

What if they talk about the country's problem to any outsiders,

then, "Oh, my God, what would people say?"

What would America say about our country?

Considering it to be an insult to our country.

It is quite similar.

And in both cases, it is a very problematic mindset.

Because by covering up the problems

we are the ones being harmed.

If a rape victim doesn't register a police complaint,

who is at a loss?

If a student dies due to stress,

because of society's pressure,

who is at a loss?

If the problems of the country aren't discussed,

who is at a loss?

Imagine friends,

if the citizens of the other countries were also afflicted by the same mindset.

Netflix India has the documentary of Edward Snowden,

wherein Snowden thoroughly exposes

the war machinery of America

and the intelligence agencies of America.

But if an American pops up to say

that Snowden's documentary should not be streamed in India,

because their country is being insulted in front of the other countries,

and so the documentary needs to be banned,

because how could it be allowed to happen;

That we should discuss America's problems in America only

and such documentaries should be watched in other countries.

Or suppose if a person from Afghanistan,

gives a speech in America,

or in India,

against Taliban,

sharing the problems of the Taliban,

But then a person in Afghanistan sees it and is offended by it.

Claiming the problem of Taliban to be their internal matter

and that it shouldn't be shared with the outsiders.

"Shut up; you are slandering our country Afghanistan,

it is an insult to our country."

Isn't it quite ridiculous?

Because it is ridiculous.

The second point.

Let's suppose for a moment that 'what would people say' mindset is not wrong,

that it is justified.

But even so, think about it,

does America not know what's happening in India?

India isn't a country like, say North Korea,

that is isolated from the rest of the world.

No, India is a country

that is a part of the new globalized world.

Today, we see trade across the globe

imports-exports are seen among almost all the countries.

According to the 2019 data,

more than 2.7 million Indian immigrants live in the USA.

And according to the 2017 data,

more than 700,000 US citizens live in India.

Additionally, tourists are constantly moving between the two countries.

There are also international media agencies.

When the Black Lives Matter movement takes place in the USA,

or the Capital Riots break out,

everyone in India gets to know about it.

Similarly, there are several US-based companies like CNN,

with CNN News 18 in India.

BBC, a UK-based company,

with BBC Hindi offices in New Delhi.

It is an era where International Consortiums of Journalists are formed

for reporting major stories.

Like the Paradise Papers, the Panama Papers, or the Facebook Papers.

These exposés weren't done by a single country.

Rather, journalists from several countries came together to achieve this.

And the Americans aren't being salty over

an American company Facebook getting exposed by the journalists from other countries.

Thereby insulting America.

Instead, they are acknowledging their problems

and are working to rectify them.

Vir Das isn't the first person

to address what's happening in India in front of the world,

Before this, TIME magazine has printed such articles.

New York Times has reported these.

The Guardian, Wall Stree Journal, Los  Angeles Times,

many newspapers have reported on Indian events.

Other than these, there are international organizations,

like the United Nations, UNDP,  the World Bank,

Pew Research Center,  Economist Group,

all of them have researched India-related issues

and have reported on them.

And moreover,

almost all social media websites are international nowadays.

Twitter, Facebook, YouTube,

anyone can upload a post,

and anyone can watch it.

So it is quite idiotic to say that

Vir Das has put these things in front of the USA.

People in the USA were already aware of these.

If you want to improve India's image,

then keeping your silence will achieve nothing.

You will need to look at the problems here and acknowledge them first.

And then you'd have to work hard to solve them.

Here, there's a common misunderstanding among people

that if such news spread internationally,

then it would give rise to hatred against Indians in the other countries. 

Does it make any sense?

Think about it yourself.

When we hear about the terrorist attack by Brenton, in New Zealand,

where he killed more than 50 people,

are we then filled with hatred

against every person living in New Zealand?

Or when we hear about the Taliban in Afghanistan,

does it mean that we start hating every Afghan man and woman?

When we talk about the Israel-Palestine conflict,

it doesn't mean that we hate all the common Israelis and Palestinians.

There are some people indeed that like to stereotype like this.

And start hating a specific community or a specific group of people.

They start hating everyone whenever there are a few incidents.

And these are the people harboring the most inferiority complex.

They are afraid that if the problems of their country are discussed,

then people would insult their country

and would start hating them.

In any case, most of the audience of Vir Das's show,

were NRIs rather than Americans.

Non-Resident Indians.

On 9th January we celebrate Bharatiya Pravasi Diwas.  [Indian Expats' Day]

In 2003, Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards were constituted,

and even Prime Minister Modi,

praised the near 30 million NRIs residing in other countries

saying that they are the role models for the other communities.

Whenever Prime Minister Modi goes to another country,

he meets the NRIs

and expects their co-operation.

The roles of the NRIs are limited to

praising Prime Minister Modi,

and repeating good things about his Party,

And never discussing the problems prevalent in India.

What would happen if the NRIs come to know about India's problems?

At most, they would try to suggest solutions.

They learn from the country they reside in

and they might be able to work out a solution for India.

Friends, you might have realized that

I have talked only about Vir Das speaking out the bitter truths.

About how Vir Das talked about India's problems.

But his show and his poem,

was about Two Indias.

One of the India Vir Das talked about

is the one he feels proud about.


India that has the largest youth population,

India that feels united through Bollywood,

India that threw out the British in 1947,

and India where people of all religions

live in harmony.

He feels proud of this India.

But the anchors of the pliable media are experts

at showing clipped posts,

and at taking things out of context.

Many people did the same thing on social media.

They showed some tiny clips and screenshots,

to show that the entire poem is for humiliating India.

It wasn't so.

Every country has its set of problems.

and every person living in this world

has the right to speak out against any problem present in any part of the world.

If you keep pushing the trash in your house into a corner,

then it'll slowly become a mound of garbage,

and your house will remain unclean.

To clear out the trash,

you'll have to look for it and throw it out of the house.

It is important to identify problems like this.

Problems need to be acknowledged.

They need to be discussed.

And you need to speak out against them.

That's true patriotism.


Thank you very much!

Speak Out! Even this short while is enough.

Before you die, and your voice dies.

Speak Out! Because the truth is still alive.

Say everything that you want to say.

Speak Out! You are free to speak.

Speak Out! You are free to speak.

Speak Out! You are free to speak.

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