Friday, August 25, 2006

"I am Macaca"

In today's Washington Post, Frederick Kunkle profiles 20-year old University of Virginia student S. R. Sidarth--who revealed Virginia Republican Senator George Allen's racist campaign rally appeal,while tracking Allen for Democratic rival James Webb. Whether Allen wins or loses the Virginia race now depends on the size of Virginia's redneck voting bloc. He's clearly not going to win any Indian-American support, after going calling Virginia-born S. R. Sidarth a "Macaca" and shouting "Welcome to America!"
His political interests follow family tradition. His great-grandfather accompanied Mahatma Gandhi to London for talks on political reform. His grandfather, R. Srinivasan, was secretary of the World Health Organization in the 1990s. His father, Shekar Narasimhan, aided some political campaigns, usually for Democrats but not always, Sidarth said.

Sidarth's father, a prosperous mortgage banker, came to the United States to study about 25 years ago. His mother, Charu, a teacher of Indian classical dance, followed later.

Both played important roles in the founding of Sri Siva Vishnu Temple in Lanham, one of the largest Hindu temples in the country, said Narayanswami Subramanian, the temple's president. Shekar Narasimhan is a trustee emeritus, Charu Narasimhan chairs the board of trustees and Sidarth volunteers there.

"They've instilled in him all the values that are important to a Hindu: being honest, working hard," Subramanian said.

Ali Batouli, a senior biology major at Stanford University who befriended Sidarth in a 10th-grade calculus class, said Sidarth could solve complicated math problems in his head faster than anyone else. As a high school senior, Sidarth also seemed to know more than his Advanced Placement classmates about Virginia and United States government history, Batouli said.