"if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen
the side of the oppressor." - Desmond Tutu.

Why am I not excited for Harnaaz Sandhu ? Featured


Gurpreet Singh  

As soon as the news came of an Indian model bagging the Miss Universe title, many of my media colleagues and Facebook friends of Indian origin began congratulating her.  

Being born in India and deeply attached to that country, I too would have been happy for 21-year-old Harnaaz Sandhu who won the title on December 13, but preferred to remain indifferent.  

Though I have nothing against her, as she must be a deserving candidate, the very fact that she was crowned at a beauty pageant in Israel was too difficult to ignore.  

The event was held in a country known for occupying Palestine and committing grave atrocities against the original inhabitants of the land. Even so, the calls for a boycott against the pageant for this reason were completely overlooked. This was in sharp contrast to the recent decision of a few nations, such as Canada, to have a "diplomatic boycott" of the upcoming Olympics in China for its "dismal human rights record". What can be more illustrating to see the selectivity and double standards of the big powers when it comes to social justice? While China continues to be portrayed as a villain, the crimes of Israel were conveniently pushed under the rug.  

So much so, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, under whose watch the attacks on religious minorities and political dissidents have spiked, congratulated Sandhu. Notably, the repression of non-Hindus under his right wing Hindu nationalist government rarely raises red flags in the western democracies who are obsessed with China.  

It’s a pity that India, which remained under British occupation for years until 1947 and traditionally supported Palestine in its liberation movement, is now celebrating its growing cozy relations with Israel. Modi became the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Israel in 2017. Ironically, he belongs to the ultra Hindu supremacist group RSS, whose founders glorified Hitler and justified the Jewish holocaust, and yet the state of Israel was happy to take him into its embrace.  

Welcome to the new world order, where human rights have taken a back seat. Sorry Harnaaz Sandhu, I cannot be happy for your achievement in these circumstances. Maybe another time. 

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Gurpreet Singh

Cofounder and Director of Radical Desi


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