India in its pre-independence era was presented with many stereotypes by the British. Fighting through all the discrimination and stereotypes, India emerged independent and marked its existence as a strong nation on the global map. In the post independence period, some leaders despite being referred to as “visionaries” carried the rhetoric stereotypes that every Indian in the present times denies to be labelled with. One such stereotypical phrase used for India was “land of snake charmers” which sounded exotic for tourists but is a bane for average Indians.
Jawahar Lal Nehru further boosted the stereotype by showing the then first lady Jacqueline Kennedy a snake charmer’s performance as a welcome gesture. It is sad to know that apart from the rich heritage, culture and monuments in the country, the first prime minster of the nation chose to boast out a stereotype which reduced Indians to mere “snake charmers”.
— HISTORY TV18 (@HISTORYTV18) May 28, 2016
The phrase portrays India in the bad light and signifies a backward society. The reality is that snake charming is illegal in India and has been for a number of years, although snake charmers do exist still. It is necessary to understand that snake charming has never been prevalent all over India. It was mainly practiced in Rajasthan by the nomadic Kalbeliya tribe, a snake charmer caste. Of course, there’s so much more to India than snake charming! It was banned and declared illegal under the Wild life Protection Act to save snake killing and selling of snake skins.
It is satisfactory to see how the narratives of the leaders of the nation changed, once the dynasty rule weakened in the country. Narendra Modi, even before becoming the Prime Minster had shown his aversion to the unethical stereotype of India being referred to as land of snake charmers. He coined another term stating that India was land of “mouse-charmers” The Prime Minster referred to “mouse” as a symbol of the IT giant that India has emerged as in the past years. It is soon going to give tough competition to the Silicon Valley. The robust development in the IT sector of India, very well proved its significance in 2008 financial crisis and during the dot.com boom.
With continuous analysis of his own policies, PM Modi has regularly been his own critic. He has brought policies which aimed in making India the next superpower. Developments from Space to IT companies, from social sectors to economic growth, no sector of the country has been left untouched under PM Modi’s regime. His government is a government for all, where there is development for all. Defence Universities have been established, steps to uplift the backward classes have also been taken. In all these efforts Prime Minister Modi has relentlessly tried to break the stigmas attached to Indians, and the stereotypes that bring shame to every citizen of the country. In his speeches to the young India he has mentioned that some political groups are considering young voters as “new age voters” instead of new age power.
Congress Party leaders however fail to understand the feeling of being stereotyped outside the borders of the country. Priyanka Vadra once again proved that the dynastic call is higher than service call of the nation. She, in her recent campaign is seen playing with snakes, which reinstates the derogatory stereotype that PM Modi is fighting against. It astonishes that even after more than 70 years of independence, Congress still thinks India as the ‘land of snake charmers’ and is utterly unwilling to let go of the stereotype.