Make Chai Not War is the name of the group of Indian-American comedians who will tour seven cities in India starting yesterday (Jan 4) on the US State Department’s dime. Audience members will attend the show free of cost.
The purpose is to spread laughs and religious tolerance. The tour is estimated to cost $100,000 US, $88,000 of which is being footed by the US Embassy in New Delhi, according to the Wall Street Journal blog Q&A.
Three comedians will take the stage on the MCNW tour: Rajiv Satyal, Azhar Usman, and Hari Kondabolu. Rajiv Satyal founded the group. When asked (in the WSJ article linked above) how the show promotes peace and harmony, Saytal says:
Neither Azhar nor I preach to the crowd. In fact, we may dabble in some religious material but we do not overtly try to convey a message during our sets. It’s a subconscious takeaway… the fact that a Hindu and a Muslim are standing together as brothers-in-arms onstage. Some of my best sets (outside of “Make Chai Not War”) have been for majority-Muslim audiences. I always find it very fulfilling that a people with a different religion can accept me for what I am.
To see if the tour is coming to a city near you, check out the website at MakeChaiNotWar.com.
Before anyone gets bent out of shape about the expense of this tour, I’d like to point out that the budget of the Department of Defense in the US for 2010 was $691,200,000,000 (yes, $691.2 billion), a cost that breeds bad will worldwide. In comparison, this tour’s cost is 0.00000012731481% of our latest defense budget. If you’re rounding down to even five decimal places, that’s 0.0%.
Personally, I’d like to see a lot more American resources being spent on generating good feelings. How say you?