Meiyang Chang’s phenomenal success at the Indian Idol has firmly brought the focus on Chinese community in the city. Though Meiyang is shown to be hailing from Dhanbad, there’s no doubt his family has settled there after moving from Kolkata.
Kolkata has the largest population of Chinese in India and they are mostly concentrated in the east of the city at places like Topsia and Tangra. Younger generation like Meiyang’s can barely speak Mandarin though their parents and grandparents may still be conversing in their mother tongue.
In the 60s and 70s when Kolkata was relatively at a prime compared to late 80s and 90s, the Chinese would be found in businesses like dentistry, eatery/restaurant, selling leather shoes, dry cleaning, etc. They were good in business and flourished and they were still living mainly in east Kolkata.
When militant politics started spreading roots in Bengal with the coming of left front, it proved bad for industries many of which closed shops and quit the state. The Chinese too had to leave the city in search of better earnings. The young among them left in droves mostly for abroad, and other cities in India as well.
Some figures suggest that now the members of Chinese community in the city hover around 5000, down from 30,000 a few decades back. In Mumbai the figure is said to be just 400.
Meiyang Chang’s success is a pointer as to how much the Chinese community has merged in India. In Indian Idol’s top 4 is another contestant, Prashant Tamang, who though works with the police in Kolkata is perhaps from Arunachal Pradesh, that wondrous beauty in the north-east bordering China.
May the likes of Meiyang and Prashant succeed so that we, the so-called heartland Indians know that this great country is not only about some states that are more in reckoning. India has much more variation and wealth than many would care to imagine, and all of that constitute the strength of the country.
Meanwhile here’s a video of a Meiyang song.
- India’s Chinese community
- Meiyang Chang: I look Chinese but my heart is Indian
- Indian Idol: Top 13 Contestants