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Shilpa Shetty issue reaches House of Commons
London, Jan 16 Labour MP Keith Vaz tabled an early day motion in
the House of Commons Tuesday about the allegedly racist comments
made about Indian actress Shilpa Shetty by fellow contestants on
the reality show "Big Brother".
Vaz said members of his Leicester East constituency had
contacted him about alleged racism on the Channel 4 show.
Television regulator Ofcom said it had received thousands of
complaints about alleged racism against Shetty.
The early day motion (EDM) reads: "This House views with concern
the comments made about Big Brother contestant Shilpa Shetty by
other housemates; believes that Big Brother has a role to play
in preventing racist behaviour in the Big Brother house; regrets
that these comments have been made; and calls on the programme
to take urgent action to remind housemates that racist behaviour
EDMs are used by MPs to highlight an issue and appear on the
Commons Order Paper each day.
Vaz said: "I have been contacted by constituents who have
expressed concern that apparently racist comments in the Big
Brother house have passed without any response from the Big
"We would not tolerate this kind of racism on other types of
television programme and we should not do so on a programme that
is watched by millions of people."
India acting on racial slurs against Shilpa
New Delhi, Jan 17 The Indian government is trying to collect
information about alleged racist remarks against Shilpa Shetty
on the British TV reality show "Celebrity Big Brother", said
Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma.
"Racism has no place in civilian society. India has, throughout,
thrown out any kind of racism and discrimination. We are trying
to collect the information," Sharma told reporters here today.
Viewers in Britain have complained that Shilpa, who is
participating in the show which has a group of celebrities
cooped up in a house with no access to the outside world, is
being subjected to racial abuse by fellow housemates.
Monday night's show, for instance, featured scenes of
participants picking on Shilpa for her cooking skills.
Former S Club 7 member Jo O'Meara made fun of Shilpa's Indian
accent and complained that she had touched food with her hands.
He was joined by model Danielle Lloyd. She said: "They eat with
their hands in India, don't they - or is that China? You don't
know where their hands have been."
During her time in the house, another contestant Jackiey
repeatedly referred to Shilpa as "the Indian" and never
pronounced her name correctly.
The show went on air Jan 2.
Germaine Greer defends Shilpa, show races on
By Prasun Sonwalkar,
London, Jan 17 Indian actress Shilpa Shetty has been catapulted
to fame in Britain with MPs, thousands of Asians and even
feminist diva Germaine Greer defending her against alleged
racism on the "Celebrity Big Brother" reality show.
With conflict and controversy known to drive ratings, television
strategists could not have dreamt up a better script. Bookmakers
have made Shilpa the favourite to win, while thousands of Asians
and non-Asians who never watched the show now tune in every
night to see what the uproar is all about.
The show has a group of celebrities cooped up together, with no
access to the outside world - no TV, no newspapers and no
phones. But viewers are complaining that Shilpa has had to
suffer racist remarks from other participants.
On the BBC Asian Network, presenter Anita Rani has launched a
'Save Shilpa' campaign: "Let's do it. Let's unite and save the
Bollywood princess. We have to get the real Asian network
working in full force and spread the word..."
The network said it had received more calls and e-mails on the
issue than any other recent topic.
MP Keith Vaz, who is of Indian origin, tabled an early day
motion in the House of Commons on the issue, Greer penned a
characteristically mocking piece for The Guardian, defending
Shilpa and ridiculing Britons for the way Asians are treated in
Greer wrote: "That is not surprising. This is a racist country;
to the vast majority of couch potatoes out there, Shilpa is a
'Paki bird'... Separation breeds division, as we are always told
when the subject is religious schools in Ulster, but there is
almost no inter-penetration of English and Indian cultures in
Greer says that not many seem to have understood that Shilpa is
"a very good actress. Everyone hates her because she wants them
to. She also knows that if she infuriates people enough, their
innate racism will spew forth.
"Endemol (the show's producers) must be over the moon because
racism has raised its ugly head. Every time someone sends in a
complaint to Ofcom about racism in the Big Brother house, the
profile of the show is raised and Shilpa earns a bit more of her
"Shilpa's enjoying herself. Ladbroke's are quoting her 10/3
Meanwhile, the show appears set to overtake "Jerry Springer, The
Opera" as the most-complained show in television regulator
Ofcom's history. The Shilpa show on "Big Brother" has already
provoked nearly 8,000 complaints while Channel 4, on which the
show is being broadcast, has also received thousands of
Vaz's early day motion in the House of Commons read: "This house
views with concern the comments made about 'Big Brother'
contestant Shilpa Shetty by other housemates; believes that 'Big
Brother' has a role to play in preventing racist behaviour in
the 'Big Brother' house; regrets that these comments have been
made; and calls on the programme to take urgent action to remind
housemates that racist behaviour is unacceptable."
Noted actress Meera Syal told the BBC Asian Network: "I
certainly wouldn't have taken as much as Shilpa has taken. There
is a very thin line between what is entertainment and a vile
spectacle and I think we are in that area now.
"What this treatment of Shilpa has done is remind a lot of Asian
people in Britain of the type of uncomfortable treatment they've
received themselves over the years."