Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Dil Manga More

A man from India migrates to South Africa.
From there he migrates to Canada.
He marries a Polish woman.
A child is born.
This child grows up in Canada.
He migrates to America.
At the age of 37, he is featured by People magazine in their issue on the 'Sexiest men alive'.

Journalism students: how many permutations and combinations of headlines can you make with this news? And which of these combinations is technically correct??

Indian scientist among Sexiest Men Alive says DNA. It goes on to call him an 37-year-old Indo-Canadian geophysicist

NRIs can't ask for more, Manga Sexiest Man Alive, says HT. A geophysicist of Indian origin has been selected the 'Sexiest Man Alive' ... goes their story.

PIO prof among world's sexiest men, says TOI (print). It goes on to observe - quite rightly - that the list came out a month ago but is making headlines in India only after the delirium-stricken desi media (their words, not mine!) discovered that he has a remote Indian connection.

However the TOI web version is equally delirious:
SILICON VALLEY: An Indian geophysicist of Indian origin has been selected the 'Sexiest Man Alive' by People magazine along with Hollywood superstars Johnny Depp and Brad Pitt.

Menawhile a Canadian TV station reports: A Canadian shares a page with Bono in People magazine's sexiest men issue but Michael Manga is a reluctant and unlikely heartthrob...

Further down it briefly observes: "Manga is 5-foot-11, has long, dark hair and his family background makes for an interesting DNA mix with ties to South Africa, India, Germany and Poland".

My question is: who or what is 'Indian'.

Had Michael taken more after his Polish mother and looked Caucasian with blonde hair, would we have rushed to claim him as one of our own?

Is being 'Indian' a racial characteristic ie defined by colour of skin? In which case no matter how many generations we may move away from the Motherland, its culture and customs - we will never be fully 'American' or 'Canadian'?

Science can be sexy?!
I know every newspaper needs a peg to hang it news on - so that's where the 'Indian' bit comes in. But to me, the fact that a scientist makes it to 'world's sexiest men alive' was a far more interesting point.

As every write up mentions: Manga was one of only two men in academia admitted to the ranks of America's dreamiest dudes. "That's why I agreed to do this..." he explains."I wanted to get information out to people who wouldn't normally hear or see anything about science."

Of course, I may be more excited about a 'scientist' being called sexy as I grew up in a colony of scientists who were anything but.

What 'People' wrote about the 'hesitant hottie' is not known (they don't put up their entire mag online u see!) But a scan on the 'UC Berkeley News' site shows he was featured on the same page as U2's Bono.

The category was 'Smart Guys'.

As this blog notes:
To celebrate the 20-year milestone, editors highlighted some "smart guys" (CNN's man of the hour, Anderson Cooper), a few "bad boys" (actor Russell Crowe) and a bunch of "funny guys" (Steve Carrell).

Glad to see that the definitions of sexiness are expanding! Point to be noted is that Manga is not smart in the regular "muggu" sort of way.

In September this year, Manga was named a Mac Arthur fellow. The fellowship is described as 'an exclusive club of creative and original thinkers given $500,000 with no strings attached over the next five years'.

Manga, who combines theoretical geophysics with innovative laboratory experiments, intends to use some of the money to travel more and visit the subjects of his research: volcanoes.

Hot stuff.

Thought for the day
Albert Einstein, Abdul Kalam, and now Michael Manga, being quizzed about his long dark mane. Is being a celebrity scientist all in the hair?!


  1. So who's an Indian?

    We indians follow multiple standards while branding people as Indians.

    One classic case is labeling V.S. Naipaul as Indian while he himself had said many times that he doesn't consider himself Indian.

    Then we have the case of Mother Teresa and Dr. Hargobind Khurana. The former was born abroad and did work in India while the latter was born in India and did work abroad.

    We Indians call both of them as Indians which should not be the case.

  2. Apart from all the serious 'identity crisis' stuff, what I'm curious to know, from a woman - of course, is - "Did you find him sexy?"

    A 'Yes' would make many a geek jump in glee ;o)

  3. I would just say now definition of sexiest is expanding & they see minds also with style & muscles - Rahul

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. We Indian always look forward for some motivator. Media always created them for us. So any person, with even a distant Indian Connection, if he does something good or bad, we call him Indian. So its like Indian has become a wrapper in which we want to pack new dreams..

  6. Who is indian?

    as for as we indians consider, any one who makes news in good sense and had once roots in India ( valid upto back 1000 years) is Indian.
    some examples: mother teresa,V.S. Naipaul are all indians.

    dawood, salem ... are not indians ok

    not a good comaprision! i know .... i know

  7. before asking who's an indian, maybe you should begin with what is a nation. surprising answers will follow if you be honest

  8. answer is simple. we(or media want us to) feel proud for them being featured as sexiest man in world, leading economist, businessman, philanthropist or whatever for that matter.

  9. This craze with Indian roots is because of lack of our own heroes who are internationally accepted. So few are they that anyone in these lists even remotely Indian will be big news.

  10. Precisely yes ,,its more exciting to know that a scientist is on the list..it shd be for Micheal Manga to describe himself in the way he wants..so as to describe himself with a particular lineage...as in germany, poland, india or canada..or whatever...one more fact is that ....he chose to come on the scene and accept the invitation .... on accnt of the publicity the science he vouches for...would get if he accepts it..and as far as that is concerned ..i think he has made it..

  11. But this was bound to happen wasn't it Rashmi? We are so starved for attention that anyone who has the slightest Indian roots is extolled by us far beyond any limit. Another case in point is that Bobby Jindal. A guy who has relinquished his Indian roots totally, follows anti-Indian policies a la Republicans is held up as some sort of a hero because he won an election, especially by the expats. Same goes for Navin Andrews and Kal Penn, who have finally found fame with Lost and Harold and Kumar Goes to Whitecastle respectively. I consider people of Indian nationality Indian. All these examples are totally and completely American. Time we stopped fawning over them because of nationality and just appreciate them, if they deserve it, for their achievements.

  12. What else can one expect from newspapers like the TOI and HT?

  13. This writeup reminds me of the experiences of a handsome punjabi chartered accountant who was a friend of mine. Everywhere he used to go, people simply refused to believe that he was a chartered accountant and asked him whether he was in Marketing. Theses are perceptions connected to accountants-thin, spectacles, studious types. That is why the great intellectual, j.krishnamurthy encouraged to do away with images in our thinking.

  14. sexiest man alive???????? who cares?!?!??!

    the more important question is whos the sexiest woman alive? ;)

  15. I don't think that he is the sexiest men! I have my own list!

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