Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Indian idol - Meiyang Chang


I have been interested in the connections between India and China, because of the special knot tied with Mr. Awaara. This handsome ethnic Chinese boy, Meiyang Chang, in Indian news came into our attention because of his Chinese ethnic origin. He got into the fifth position in the Indian Idol!

His name has become a term in Wikipedia, the third generation Chinese living in India, originated from Hubei, China. He is 24 years old, a dentist. His name clearly shows his Chinese ethnic identity, the same as well as his look. There is a Chinatown in Kolkata, the only one in India. It started forming the community since late 1700s. Their main industry is in restaurants, shoemaking, beauty salon. Mr. Awaara's family dentist is a Chinese origin. The dental clinics are becoming dominated by Chinese in Kolkata. Chinese community has made most of the restaurant in Kolkata has both Indian and Chinese menus.

China in the history has experienced too much turmoils, so its population has continued emigrating to all over the world. I was surprised to find out that
it was not until 1998 that ethnic Chinese were allowed naturalized Indian citizenship. I would imagine that in such a diverse and highly mixed country, living as a foreigner might not be as difficult as living as a minority. Meiyang is definitely a Chinese. There is no traits of India blood in his gene. However, he speaks the perfect Hindi, better than Mr. Awaara (he admitted to me). His soft voice singing Hindi songs, has won him lots of support. However, his not brown color has been highly stressed throughout the competition. And some have made it the reason why he could not go up further.

India Times says:
That fact shows how well the Chang family have assimilated themselves into the fabric of this nation they now call their very own. It is also a great tribute to the neighbors, the community, and the towns and cities that surrounded generations of Chang family without making them feel isolated and left out, and showered them with Indian hospitality. ... Meiyang Chang, an Chinese-Indian citizen, represents the modern India, the global version of Bharat, the multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-racial, multiply-talented generation of Indians who, it seems, are out to create a community that one day will make the world a better place.

However, some argue for his winning for other reasons:
... (his) achingly innocent voice and humble demeanor make him sound like a young Kumar Sanu I’m rooting for him to win Indian Idol, and not only because of his voice. Chang winning would throw a fag on the pyre of the idea of India as a nation state. He would throw in the BJP’s face the idea that the cow belt has a monopoly on who’s a true Indian. He would do it in the most patriotic way possible, singing the songs all of northern India knows.

It becomes an interesting debate within Indian communities about the way the media is placing on him, constant reminders on his ethnic Chinese identity (although he doesn't speak Chinese) rather than a brown Indian people. (See this.)

For me, watching his performance on Youtube, the attachment built because of commonly being Chinese crashed slowly. He speaks the language that I have no ideal of! I can't tell how well he was singing, since I don't know who Kumar Sanu is. He is totally an Indian for me.

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