‘Big Guy’ vs. ‘Short Guy’ & the ‘Little Master’ – Are “educated” Indians Really That Different & Why?

Rick Santelli and Steve Liesman of CNBC are usually on opposite sides of monetary issues. Their disagreement is most intense when it comes to discussing whether the US Federal Reserve is doing the right thing for America. These conversations are a viewer favorite. So anchors like Joe Kernen sometimes set up a fight. This Wednesday, the fight got heated.

Rick Santelli ended one of his points with an emphatic ‘Big Guy‘ directed at Steve Liesman. Santelli’s use of ‘Big Guy’ may have packed a punch but Big Guy is never a derogatory term when used for a man. But Steve Liesman was so riled up that he said:

  • “so what I am supposed to say when you say Big Guy, am I supposed to say Short Guy, Is that what I am supposed to say?”

The reaction from CNBC co-anchors tells the tale. Becky Quick went “ohhhhh” and Joe Kernen exclaimed “ Oh my God” and added “now I feel responsible“. Get a sense yourself by watching the CNBC ‘Big Guy’ vs. ‘Short Guy‘ videoclip for 30 seconds from minute 02:00 to minute 02:30. You will see what a shocker the term ‘Short Guy’ was to the CNBC anchors.

Now can you imagine the reaction had Liesman called Santelli ‘Little Guy‘?  There is no culture on earth in which calling a man “little” is anything but a put-down, a severe put-down. Sorry, no culture on earth with one solitary exception.

That solitary exception, of course, is that of ‘educated’ Indians. Why? Consider their favorite compliment to a great Indian – ‘Little Master’.

The Little Master

The greatest Cricket player of this generation is India’s Sachin Tendulkar. He holds just about every record in the book, including the previously unimaginable 100 centuries in International Test Cricket. In fact, Sachin Tendulkar is now regarded as the greatest batsman ever, even greater than the previous great Don Bradman of Australia who played in the 1930s-1940s. 

The respect for Sachin Tendulkar is probably best summed up by the following comment of Australian player Mathew Hayden during Australia’s tour in India in 1998:

  • I have seen God. He bats at no. 4 in India in Tests.

So what term do ‘educated’ Indians use for India’s great son? They call him the Little Master. Reportedly, this term was first used for Sachin Tendulkar by a British player. This was a left-handed compliment at best. In this early days, Sachin was derided for his short stature (5’5″ height). Look at the comment made by Australian player Merv Hughes to the Australian great Allan Border in the 1991-1992 series:

  • This little prick’s going to get more runs than you, AB.

Tendulkar is lucky that ‘educated’ Indians didn’t begin calling him by the above nick name. Even they realized it was not a compliment. Or perhaps, a left-handed comment from an Australian doesn’t count.

But a compliment, even a left-handed one, from an Englishman is totally different to ‘educated’ Indians.  The fact that an Englishman paid a “masterly” compliment to an Indian player was so thrilling to this tribe that they began calling Sachin Tendulkar the ‘Little Master’ themselves.

Don Bradman, the previous all time great, was also a short, compact player and he considered Tendulkar’s batting style as similar to his own. But no Britisher ever called Bradman the Little Master and had they done so, no Australian would have tolerated that left-handed compliment.

But to ‘educated’ Indians, a compliment from an Englishman is the ultimate glory. So Sachin Tendulkar, the greatest batsman of all time, is stuck with a half-derogatory nick-name.

The ‘educated’ Indian species

Since childhood, we have been hearing admonitions to Indian men from teachers and elders:

  • you are ‘educated’ people, you shouldn’t behave this way!

So what does this ‘educated’ title mean?

  • It means you have learned English, you have obtained a ‘modern’ English education and you are no longer a core Indian, one who mainly speaks an Indian language, one who works in Indian type businesses or occupations. 

So ‘educated’ Indians are supposed to ‘talk English, walk English, laugh English*”. They have to keep flaunting their ‘educated’ status. They try desperately to speak English the way the British speak, they use British pronunciations for Indian names and above all, they try to disassociate themselves from activities of ‘non-educated’ Indians.

The ‘educated’ Indians will not use old Indian names that were changed by the British. And they will absolutely not use the names now being restored to their Indian origins. The ‘educated’ Indians will not use the old and now reestablished name Mumbai, for example. They insist on using the anglicized ‘Bombay’. The name “Mumbai’ to them is a name associated with the local Indian language, the language of the ‘non-educated’, of a class lower than themselves.

How stark is the difference? Just look at two daily print publications of the Times of India. One, Mumbai Mirror, has a shoddy, dark look and prints stories of local people. The other, Bombay Times, is bright, colorful, fashionable and mainly prints stories about the elite, the stars, fashionistas and the who’s who of the city. Just one look at the front pages of Mumbai Mirror and Bombay Times tells you what ‘educated’ Indians think of the difference between Mumbai and Bombay.

The ‘educated’ Indians don’t just look down on core Indians. They are also contemptuous of America and American way of speaking. We know people who still use the old line from My Fair Lady, “And in America, they haven’t used it [English] for years‘. These ‘educated’ Indians still speak the way the British spoke 50-60 years ago. Call an Indian call center and you will hear old British phrases like “we will do the needful“, or “we will revert back to you“. The ‘educated’ Indians look down on American directness, and call American style as “crude” meaning too blunt, too direct and without class.

But the most visible symbol of their slavish devotion to the British way of speaking is their pronunciation of Sanskrut words. When they speak in Indian languages, they pronounce revered names the right way, “Ram”, “Shankar”, “MahaBharat”. But when ‘educated’ Indians say the same names in English, they use the femi
nized English versions, “Rama”, “Shankara” or “MahaBharata”.

But this is restricted to Hindu names only. Just try calling CNN’s Zakaria as Fareeda on his show instead of Fareed and see his reaction. Call a Christian in India as Carla instead of Carl, or Roberta instead of Robert and see their nasty reactions. But Hindus happily call themselves in the feminized versions of their names, happily because they are speaking the way the British did.

There is enough historical evidence to demonstrate that the British deliberately and persistently tried to emasculate Hindus to minimize the only threat to British rule. Converting masculine Hindu names to feminized versions was one easy way to emasculate Hindus. The other was the constant exhortation to ‘educated’ Indians to not behave like ordinary Indians, but to emulate the British ways.

So Sachin Tendulkar is lucky. Being called the Little Master by the British is so much better than being called “Sachina”.

Today’s “educated” Indians – just like their ancestor class?

Many of our relatives and friends are ‘educated’ Indians. They are nice people. They have done well economically and socially by hiding their pride within their homes while acting ‘educated’ in their business and external lives. Frankly, acting ‘educated’ is the ticket to social respect in Indian society today. We don’t blame them because frankly, they are doing what their ancestors did during the past 1,000 years or so.
The reality is that Indian states, barring a couple of exceptions, have no history or even any conscious memory of being victorious, or of conquest of another culture. So they cannot inspire themselves in any fight, in any struggle by remembering an Indian victory.  Northwestern India was first subjugated by Afghan Muslim invaders in the 10th century. Delhi and much of North India was conquered in the 12th century. The rest of north India was conquered and invaded in the late 13th century. The Mogul rule began in the 15th century, the British rule in the late 18th century.

All these invaders conquered India in the same way, one local kingdom at a time. The invaders were always single-minded in their purpose. But they could never rule India themselves. They were too small in number and the Indian population was too large. So they co-opted a class of Indians, bright Indians who could learn the invader’s language and customs. These ‘educated’ Indians were then made into an elite class who would help the invaders rule the rest of Indian society.

Those classes of ‘educated’ Indians learned Persian and helped the invading dynasties to rule India. In the Mogul rule, they learned Urdu & Persian and helped Mogul rulers in administering India. The “Persian-educated’ or “Urdu-educated’ Indians behaved much like ‘English-educated’ Indians behaved during the British rule. 

Strangely, this remains true even after 60 plus years of Indian independence. Not so strange, when you realize that ‘educated’ Indians still administer India. They simply have no understanding of a fight, no inner memory of victory. This is why most Indian prime ministers have always tried to surrender territory for hopes of peace. This is why every single Indian prime minister has given up territory won by the Indian military. This is why no Indian prime minister has ever tried to add territory to India, even territory that was previously seized from India. This is why no Indian prime minister has ever tried to build a dominant Indian military.

This is why India still does not have a concrete counter-terrorism plan. This is why, despite so many terrorist attacks, India has not built a national anti-terrorism group. This is because such thinking is utterly foreign to ‘educated’ Indians, just as it has been to foreign to their ancestors for the past 1,000 years. This is why the entire world considers India a sissy country.

This is why they are so happy to hear Englishmen praise their greatest cricket hero as the “Little Master”.  So Rick Santelli should be glad he is not in India. There, an ‘educated’ Steve Liesman would have called him ‘Little Guy’  or even Ricka Santelli.


  • Watch the short clip below (with English subtitles), a parody of a job interview of a core Indian pretending to be ‘educated’. This is the origin of the cult phrase “I can talk English, I can walk English, I can laugh English”.

  • Like all other cultures, Core Indians know that Little or Chote is not a compliment. This was amply demonstrated in a risque (just conversation, folks) videoclip of Katrina Kaif & Gulshan Grover from the film Boom. This was way before Ms. Kaif became a super star. The clip is a bit too risque for this Blog. Those who want to see it can search for it on YouTube. 

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