An American diplomat is under fire in India after making reference to the “dirty and dark” skin of the Tamilian ethnic group there.
U.S. Vice-Consul Maureen Chao told Indian students that her “skin became dirty and dark like the Tamilians” after a long train journey, Agence France-Press reported, citing Indian press accounts. The Tamilians are native to the southern state of Tamil Nadu and are a minority ethnic group on Sri Lanka.
Chao, giving a speech in the Tamil Nadu capitol of Chennai, said Friday she “was on a 24-hour train trip from Delhi to (the eastern Indian state of) Orissa. But, after 72 hours, the train still did not reach the destination … and my skin became dirty and dark like the Tamilians.”
The American consulate in Chennai on Saturday apologized for Chao’s comments.
“Yesterday at a Study Abroad Orientation Program at SRM University, Vice Consul Maureen Chao gave a speech describing positive memories from her own study abroad experiences in India 23 years ago,” the consulate said on its website. “During the speech Ms. Chao made an inappropriate comment. Ms. Chao deeply regrets if her unfortunate remarks offended anyone, as that was certainly not her intent.”
The founder of Tamil political party PMK, S. Ramadoss, called for Chao’s resignation and expulsion from India, the Times of India reported.
“Its highly condemnable,” he said. “While Tamils have been excelling in many fields, including Information Technology and surprise many including Americans, a US official saying this cannot be tolerated. People like her should not be allowed to stay in Tamil Nadu. The ministry of foreign affairs should call her in person to express its opposition and expel her immediately from the country.”
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