The dangerous stereotyping of so called "Bengalees."

A young Nepali family that now lives and works in Aranmula 

Mean spirited song;
Many Keralites have been amused by the song "Bengalee' that was recently aired on a local TV show and shared with the media. Nobody seems to know who wrote the song but the young woman who sang the song on TV claims that her father added a few words to the end of the song. The song appears to have struck a chord (or nerve) and has been making the rounds on the Whatsapp accounts of Malayalees.

Song reinforces an unfair sense of "otherness" for guest workers.
These hard working people who constitute some 13.5 percent of Kerala's population or 40 lakh individuals. These "guest workers" many of whom come from Assam and Bengal,  send home an estimated Rs 50,000 crores annually. That may seem like a lot of money until you realize that half as many NRK's (20 lakh non-resident Keralites account for more than twice that amount (or some Rs 1,00,000 crores), annually.

The song goes on to propose (quite rightly) that the cause of the guest worker phenomenon is the Malayalee worker (who presumably does not want to work). The song concludes by (unfairly, in this writer's view) claiming that the local Malayali is adrift and penniless on account of the (industrious guest worker).

Malayalees are guest workers all over the world and all over India. They are mostly well treated but we do not have it in our heart to be kind and gracious to the people who come here to do the work our brothers and sisters do not want to do? Also once locals start acting on their resentments there could be fallout against Malayali populations in other states.

Even the word Bengali is offensive. How would Keralites like it if they were called "Madrasi outside the state?" 

Another more acceptable term to describe a so-called Bengalee could be Guest worker" or "Out of State Guest Worker." 

So if they are guests here, should we not be making them feel more welcome?

For more insights on diversity in India, please check out C. Balagopal, IAS's observations on diversity at


  1. Most of us Keralites lack inclusiveness. Added to this is masala media which ignites non inclusiveness.

    1. true, but what amazes me is that Malayalees have received such decent treatment in virtually every state. It is sad that our guest workers receive such prejudiced treatment.


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