Jobless Indian youth stir up extremism

Raymond Thibodeaux Jun 10, 2009
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Jobless Indian youth stir up extremism

Raymond Thibodeaux Jun 10, 2009
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Steve Chiotakis: The effects of globalization are being felt in India. And especially in places such as Bangalore. But there’s a growing backlash by extremists against the symbols of India’s globalizing economy. Many locals are calling it the “talibanization” of India’s tech hub. The extremists are not Muslim, they’re Hindu. Raymond Thibodeaux reports.


Raymond Thibodeaux: Friday night at the Hard Rock Cafe. Young software engineers and call center employees sit down to beer and burgers. Western-style venues like this anger Hindu fundamentalists, who say the clubs are corrupting the nation’s youth.

A particular offense: women wearing blue jeans and mini-skirts instead of the traditional sari. Some of the women have been beaten up by extremists.

Aarti Mundkur: They’re able to create a fear that’s spread so widely that girls are scared.

Aarti Mundkur works for an organization that tries to prevent violence against women. But she says Hindu extremists have also been targets Muslims, gay activists and Christians.

Mundkur: It is actually a very deep pogrom against minorities.

Over the past decade, big American companies like Microsoft and IBM have turned Bangalore into a prosperous and cosmopolitan city. But not everyone is getting a piece of the pie. Many of the region’s youth have turned to extremism — not because of their religious views, but because they feel excluded, says Arvind Narrain, a civil rights lawyer.

Arvind Narrain: The girls who they attacked are girls who would never look at them even once because of where they stand in the social-economic hierarchy.

Narrain says the global economic downturn has made things worse. He says jobless youngsters are probably behind much of the past year’s fundamentalist violence — the bombings, religious rioting and attacks on couples who dared to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Many of them tech workers from different parts of India.

Vasanth Bhavani heads the hard-line Hindu group that carried out those February attacks.

Vasanth Bhavani: After the IT sector started, I think there was a huge demand for employees. So I think these people who are come from other states or other part of the world, they have spoiled our culture. I think they should be teached a lesson. We’ll do it. We’ll teach the lesson for them.

Bhavani wants Bangalore’s software companies and call centers to invite him to their offices. He wants to teach the tech workers about local customs. But so far, he’s had no takers.

In Bangalore, I’m Raymond Thibodeaux for Marketplace.

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