Indian medical students' viral dance video: Praise from UN; denunciation from fundamentalists

UN Special Rapporteur for Cultural Rights, Karima Bennoune, has praised a viral dance video of two Kerala medical students, but said the criticism of it shows the dangers to “cultural mixing.”

Arul Louis Oct 22, 2021

UN Special Rapporteur for Cultural Rights, Karima Bennoune, has praised a viral dance video of two Kerala medical students, but said the criticism of it shows the dangers to “cultural mixing.” It also pointed to a creative way to further the cultural rights of everyone, she said on Thursday at an informal meeting of the General Assembly's Third committee that deals with social and humanitarian issues. The video has been overwhelmingly praised and the criticism was drowned by support for the dancing future doctors.

“We cannot take cultural mixing for granted in a world where it is often under attack,” she said citing the negative reactions to the video.

“For daring to dance across cultures, the two young people received an outpouring of support, as well as tirades and hate speech on social media that may have been motivated by Hindu fundamentalism, even accusing them of 'dance jihad',” Bennoune said.

She said, “The reply from the students to the criticism was: 'We will still dance together.' This must be our collective reply.” 

“The only way to guarantee the cultural rights of everyone without discrimination in the 21st century is to creatively and vigorously defend open and multiple understandings of culture and identity, and rights-respecting cultural mixing and syncretism,” she added.

Thrissur Government Medical College students Naveen Razak and Janaki Omkumar dancing in medical scrubs to the Euro-Caribbean pop group Boney M's “Rasputin” went viral on YouTube.