Time magazine apologises to Indian-Americans for offensive article

Last Updated 07 July 2010, 08:25 IST

"We sincerely regret that any of our readers were upset by Joel Stein's recent humour column 'My Own Private India.' It was in no way intended to cause offence," the Time magazine said after large number of Indian-Americans demanded an apology from the magazine and the columnist.

"I truly feel stomach-sick that I hurt so many people," responded Stein, who in his column 'My Own Private India' gave his own impression of how his home town of Edison in New Jersey has changed over the years with the desi influx.

Nearly one in every five resident of this New Jersey city are Indian Americans; thus making it one of the few such cities in the United States.

"For a while, we assumed all Indians were geniuses. Then, in the 1980s, the doctors and engineers brought over their merchant cousins, and we were no longer so sure about the genius thing. In the 1990s, the not-as-brilliant merchants brought their even-less-bright cousins, and we started to understand why India is so damn poor," Stein wrote in the issue dated July 5.

"Eventually, there were enough Indians in Edison to change the culture. At which point my townsfolk started calling the new Edisonians 'dot heads'. One kid I knew in high school drove down an Indian-dense street yelling for its residents to 'go home to India'," Stein wrote.

"Sometime after I left, the town became a maze of charmless Indian strip malls and housing developments. Whenever I go back, I feel what people in Arizona talk about: a sense of loss and anomie and disbelief that anyone can eat food that spicy," he wrote.

The article outraged many Indian-Americans. "...I always thought it was hilarious when I'd get the crap kicked out of me by kids like Stein who would yell 'go back to India, dothead!' I was always ROTFLMAO when people would assume that I wasn't American. He really captured the brilliant humour in that one too!" wrote Kal Penn, the popular Indian-American actor.

Indian-Americans also launched an online petition demanding Time and CNN to remove the article from their online edition.

"Such prestigious magazine like Time should not have allowed such an article to be published in the first place. We respectfully request Time magazine to remove the article from the web and have Mr. Joel Stein write an apology letter that shows some remorse," the petition said.

Regretting that his article hurt the feelings of so many Indian Americans, Stein wrote: "I was trying to explain how, as someone who believes that immigration has enriched American life and my hometown in particular, I was shocked that I could feel a tiny bit uncomfortable with my changing town when I went to visit it. If we could understand that reaction, we'd be better equipped to debate people on the other side of the immigration issue."

(Published 07 July 2010, 08:25 IST)

Follow us on