Kavya Shivashankar, the winner of the 2009 Scripps spelling bee (left), with US president Barack Obama, at the Oval Office in the White House in Washington D.C. on Thursday.
Kavya is the daughter of Sandhya Shivashankar of the Class of 1985 of Marimallappa’s College, Mysore, and Mirle Shivashankar. Their younger daughter Vanya, the second youngest contestant ever, was knocked out in the early rounds of the competition this year.
From the Kansas City Star:
Obama told the family about the importance he places on education.
Then Vanya said she had a question.
“Are you going to ask me to spell something?” Obama asked.
But Vanya had no intention of quizzing Obama. Instead she wanted to invite his daughters to attend the bee. She also wanted to ask about Bo, the president’s dog.
Link via Yogesh Devaraj
Photograph: courtesy Kansas City Star
Also read: How shlokas, mantras put a bee in Akshay‘s bonnet
Something that only one boy can earn or gain
Prem Panicker: Spell i-n-c-r-e-d-i-b-l-e
congratulations to the kid and their family! I wish all the best to the little kid.
However, one thing that I think every time Indian media highlights the success of second generation Americans, I feel that we try to some how relate success back to India. While many Indians are doing great outside India, there are also several achievers at home and they hardly get any credit for their success on a day-to-day basis.
Here is how a typical immigrant family works:
first generation: somebody with a middle class background moves to the USA (as a doctor, cab driver or as an IT professional)
Once he/she gets married, they make sure to have kids in the US so that they are American citizens.
The kids grow up in the USA, speaking American accent, visiting grand parents in 3-4 times in their lifetime in a “dirty” place.
Since the parents know the value of education, kids end up at Harvard/Stanford.
They marry americans or other Indian americans
their kids are completely american, with very little or no link to India.
Now, why should we keep track of all these people? For how many generations will we keep doing this? Do Europeans also do this whenever a white American achieves something? I guess not!
Ok, I agree, there are exceptions, many people are coming back. But that is mainly because H1B visas are limited or they usually have very strong commitments (towards parents).
>Now, why should we keep track of all these people?
A good question, i have asked myself many a time. While it is an individuals choice (and a perfectly sane one) to leave his home country to live elsewhere for better prospects, why should we fuss over people who don’t have any connection to India other than Accident of birth (like second/third/xth generation americans)?
I also wonder why is it that an NRI is treated so reverentially in India! Ok, they contributed by getting $$$ at one point, and also perhaps increased India’s profile in west to a certain degree.
But the fact remains they chose to leave the poverty of India for a good life elsewhere. They shouldn’t be given special privileges of any kind and can’t be treated above Indians who chose to stay back and contribute in India!!
The muslim Kashmiri kid deserves praise for comming first in the IAS exams. Hope the rest of the community gets motivation from this achievement and raise their educational skills.
@Div… Well said, we need guys who come back to India, to serve the nation, and really to help the country improve its standards.
I am writing in context with the living standards of India viz-a-viz the West.
Congrats to the American Kid! The media should give similar or better publicity to our own people’s achievements.
It is like giving Indian national awards to foreigners as though we do not have any body matching!
Superb! Thought provoking, precise questions to be answered by many of us.
I fully agree with Div!
It is better to read that an NRI, Mysorean’s American citizen daughter has done well than to read some thing bad about them
i agree with Tanveer that a boy from J& K has topped IAS should make us glad. Having spent some time in one of the underdeveloped part of J & K soem 30 years ago I was surprised many of them were poorly literate, had not travelled beyond the valley, not seen a train,etc. Money meant for development was going into pockets of people like Bakshi and their kin
Cant agree more with divs !!
I dun think Indian americans even care much for whts happening in India ! Wonder y v as a nation r so obsessed with anything phoren..
its like the guy who drives cab or sweeps in the streets in phoren.. is still looked up to.. but then doing something respectable is so ‘uncool’
its the middle class who have taken this country to dogs.. coz all they want in life is to see the damn kids settle abroad ! n come back after visiting them wearing denims n sports shoes n abuse everything in india..
like they say.. growing old is mandatory but growing up in optional !! Grow up u guys !!
Economic migration happens all the time. People from village move to towns and people from towns move to cities. Moving across country is similar. It is just the opportunities human beings explore. To all those who commented earlier that NRIs should not have left India I ask a question.. how many of you want to go back to agriculture in your ancestral village. by your own logic you should not leave your village.
Some of you are trying to postulate a notion that NRIs left India to its poverty instead of fighting it. This is a specious argument. Is this a new caste system or what. Why should NRI do the work which yourselves are not doing. How can NRI fight in India? Please let me know. If I sit in India and write software or if I reside in US and write software I do not understand how I am fighting. If you meant that I should have stayed in India and do the social work.. let me ask you.. are you doing social work? So dont throw stones from your glass houses!!!
Now the story about Kavya or now Anamika; Those who are bashing NRIs are missing a point.
Individual success stories need not be classified with that label. Every story whether it is from India or abroad is equally invigorating. Kashmiri topping IAS is as enthusiastic spelling bee or geo bee.
If Indian kids are doing well in USA that is because the Indian quality of hard work and devotion to family. To that extent all these super kids in America are still Indian in their outlook even though they may not know the language. That is the biggest takeaway from these stories my dear friend Div. We have winning qualities and it is only Lord Macauley’s notion that we are inferior that is losing now!!! This quality is not NRIs but a quality of India. This century belongs to India and that is the takeaway.
P.S. For those who are claiming NRI running away from poverty argument, being an NRI I can not afford prices in Bangalore :-). To that extent I ran away from Riches..:-)
Your arguments are too simple. I think Kavya deserves our congratulations. Much better to be seen winning a Spelling Bee contest rather than leaving a smoking SUV filled with a fertilizer bomb in Times Square right?:)
More like a diseased eye. You write like a retard and you probably never went to school. Here is one Indian who is not obsessed with your ‘phoren’ post…:)
My point is not to say that NRIs are bad or that they are our enemies. All I am saying is that, people left and they found US as a better place to leave, that is fine. We can also be proud of their achievements, no doubt. But to go to the extent of highlighting everything they do whereas ignoring achievers at home, to me, seems very bad and lacking self respect to some extent. I don’t see a difference between this and a parent who praises all the kids in the neighborhood but who fail to recognize talents in their own kids. If you see my first post, the first thing I said was to congratulate the kid and to wish her all the best.
If all successful stories are equally invigorating, why just highlight Indian success abroad? Why not highlight every achievement anywhere in the world?
Many Indian origin scientists are typically forgotten by everyone. But when they are recognized with a Nobel prize or a Turing award, Indian media and people go ga-ga. All I am trying to say is, while the achievements are commendable, why do we always have to find ways to relate to success while doing very little to solve our own problems? So the blame is not really on the NRIs but the media and the people who go ga-ga every time,for example every time an Indian American gets some responsibility in Obama administration (and so on).
I think you have completely misread my post. I have no ill will for anybody including NRIs.
@Narayana – you put this issue in a very nice perspective.
To answer the question about why the media chooses to highlight these achievements, could it be that for a country of our size, whether in sports, academics or other fields there are relatively fewer noteworthy items to cheer about?
Or the fact that a sizeable number of the readership consists of NRIs and it makes sense to include articles that they can relate to?
@Div – I think instead of European nations, a more apt comparison would be with Latin American or other Asian nations. I believe one would find that the media in those countries behaves in a very similar fashion when there is some achievement about anyone who has links to the mother nation, however remote.
Looking at the picture – I love the pose of Kavya’s younger sister : carefree ,curious and fully engrossed looking at the arguably the most powerful man on earth. The grown ups are all – coy and “respectful” with their hands held in front of them.
dammit, she should have asked him why they hate him so much.
In USA, people eat money, but AFTER they have built the damn highway.
In India, people eat money, but BEFORE they have built the damn highway.