Why Bushra Ansari is an idiot, and why artists coming from our region need sensitivity training
At the HDF fundraiser held on May 18, Bushra Ansari, the star of the evening, may have amused the audience, but she also put off a large number of people because of the way she picked on one of her team members while introducing the two accompanying musicians: Robin John on keyboard and Ashneel Singh on tabla.
Ashneel Singh is a fine tabla player. He is an American of Fijian descent. But all this detail was lost on Ms. Ansari. For her, Ashneel Singh, with his distinctly Sikh/Hindu name, was an Indian. And that was enough for her to ridicule him. The quip was off-color—had something to do with Indian musicians not knowing the Pakistani songs—but a small segment of the audience, as uncouthed as Ms. Ansari, found it funny, and the laughter was loud—visibly embarrassing Ashneel Singh. What an idiot Bushra Ansari is! How dimwit an artist should be to make the audience laugh at the expense of their own team-member, a musician who with his work is trying to make them shine!
Back in South Asia newly minted and constantly evolving Indian and Pakistani nationalisms clash. In Pakistan, nationalism has already been hijacked by the religious elements and the triumphant--albeit sick--ideology pushes for a Muslim-Pakistan, Hindu-India understanding of the South Asian geography—gullible citizens take the venomous feed numbly.
As Pakistan gradually becomes more 'Muslim', many in India react and push for a 'Hindu' identity of India. The recent Indian election results tell us which way things are headed. The phenomenon fits the definition of self-fulfilling prophecy like a glove.
Whatever nonsense is going on in South Asia, it must not be allowed to poison us here in North America. Artists coming from that region must be trained to leave behind their biases and cheap jokes. Promoters need to provide sensitivity training to the artists they bring out of the subcontinent. South Asian audience deserves performers who conform to higher moral standards.