Uh-oh, New York Times, where did you come across this peddler-of-inane-drivel of a writer? Calling him a reporter/journalist makes you look woefully inadequate as a newspaper of some chops. Do you have no Indian on your international/editorial desk who gave a look over to this piece before it appeared in all its ignorant uninformed biased bigotry on your esteemed pages? First, some facts:
1. The saree is not Hindu — My Punjabi mother wore it to work and parties; my Kannadiga mother-in-law wears it even as her nightdress; the Keralite sisters at my Catholic school wore sarees, with flowers in their crinkly hair; my Maharashtrian bai bustled through my house, cooking-cleaning-laundering, dressed in her saree… I can continue endlessly but you’re getting the picture, hopefully? Let me break it down for you: My mother is Sikh, my mother-in-law is Hindu, my Keralite sisters were Christian. Gotcha!
2. The saree is not nationalist — Heck, the saree is a garment as old as our civilization, give or take a few centuries, considering we’re several millennia old. And yes, we are one of the two (alongside China, albeit that market is steadily substituting its traditional clothes for Western apparel) oldest continuous civilizations of the world, which means our great-great-great-whatever grandmothers have worn the saree as do we, even our very young daughters — we have the concept of a half-saree, too. Surprise!
3. The saree has nothing to do with Mr Modi — The Prime Minister of India is doing many things, as elected leaders are wont to do, but the last I looked he was neither wearing a saree, nor promoting the wearing of one. And why would he? Indian women work in sarees, party in them, even jog in them! What? You haven’t seen Milind Soman’s mum jogging beside her handsome son?! Haw!
I could go on but let’s admit, dear NYT, you goofed up, big time. Time to shed those blinkers, say sorry, and meet some real Indians. You might end up losing those biases — how bad can that be? — and I promise, the six-yard garment might flummox you but one of us can teach you how to drape it. How elegant (informed, international, effective) will you appear then!