Pigment of our imagination

When Nina Davuluri was crowned Miss America earlier this week, racists in the United States gave free vent to their prejudice on social media networks like Twitter. Their comments ranged from garden-variety hate against foreigners to deeply Islamophobic bilge. Some called her Miss Al Qaeda, others Miss Terrorist, and still others made offensive remarks about the colour of her skin. Back in India, where few things are more celebrated than an Indian’s success in the United States, whether that’s in San Jose, the spelling bee or a beauty pageant, people are shaking with outrage that Americans should react in this manner to the achievement of a Person of Indian Origin. But before rushing to denounce American attitudes, it would be pertinent to ask if Ms Davuluri would have ever made it past the qualifying rounds of a beauty contest in India. In a country where a multi-crore rupee cosmetic industry thrives on promises of lightening a woman’s skin colour in 


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