2.5 - Desis of the World Unite (...or You may Lose Your Netentity)

Bhavin Jankharia

Background: This was a satire written in November 1999, during the dot-com boom, where everyone and anyone was blocking domain names and trying to sell them at inflated premiums. It was also a play on the word “desi”, which in the 90s was a common word used to describe Indians living abroad, primarily in the US. This word is no longer as popular and acronyms like ABCD (American Born Confused Desi) are no longer bandied around to the extent they were in those days.

I came across this communication issued by the World Desi Foundation to its members, a few days ago.

"As you all know, 'desi' means 'of or belonging to desh', which is a Hindi word for country. 'Desi' therefore, refers to all people from India or of Indian origin, and has been in vogue now for many years."

"Unfortunately, many non-desis have been violating the use of our identity and name and we believe that strong action needs to be taken to stop this."

"We have taken steps to register 'desi' as a trademark with the US government. Similar steps are being taken in other countries around the world. Anyone not of Indian origin found using this word without permission, will be liable for prosecution. We are in the process of forming alliances with local police and security agencies around the world to help us raid, identify and prosecute pirates who insist and continue to use 'desi' without proper permission."

"As soon as the trademark registration formalities are complete, we will start sending notices to various sites on the net and claim our domains back. Currently, except for .org, the other top-level domains belong to non-desis. www.desi.com is a site selling a Windows-based software called DESI, for printing labels for telephone instruments, and, www.desi.net belongs to Donnelly Enterprise Solutions, Inc, the yellow pages people. We will ask both companies to surrender their domains to us. If they don't agree, we will ask some of our friends and members from Silicon Valley to buy out both the companies."

"We would like to congratulate Samir Aggarwal of Syosset, NY for having the foresight to register www.desi.org, though no site has yet been put up on this domain. We have already sent him a certificate of appreciation, though if he had also registered the .com and .net sites, this situation would not have come to pass. We believe that as a true desi, he will eventually hand over this domain to us."

"One top-level domain, www.desi.edu is still available. Since only educational institutes are allowed to use this suffix, we have already registered an organization called the Desi Educational Society for Indians. We are in the process of applying for www.desi.edu. If anyone has ideas about what to do with this society later on, we would appreciate suggestions."

"Our lawyers are confident that once the trademark is properly established and registered, we will be able to stop all non-desis from using this word. For example, a search for 'desi' on Yahoo showed the first six sites to have nothing to do with desis and things Indian. The third site listed is actually for a Labrador retriever called Desi. Imagine, a dog using our name - we will obviously request his owner to change his name or to remove him from the net. The other five sites are related to Desi Arnaz, the ex-husband of Lucille Ball of "I Love Lucy" fame. Unfortunately since he is no more and in our true desi tradition, we do not want to disturb his soul, we have decided not to bother with these sites - Desi Arnaz sites however will be the only exception to our rule."

"We would also like to thank all the people who have started registering sites such as www.desibaba.com (a pornography site, patriotically restricted only to desi women), www.desiabyss.com (which takes us into the abyss of Bollywood) and www.desiparty.com (which lists party and DJ information for patriotic young desis in the US). We hope that more and more people will register such sites using desi as a prefix."

"We are also in the process of asking Network Solutions to give us information about the rest of the 190 countries that have country-specific domains. For only 100$ we will soon know where we stand in all these countries. For example, www.desi.fr (France) belongs to some artisan company called "Vikings", but www.desi.ca (Canada), and www.desi.br (Brazil) are still available. However, www.desi.co.uk has been blocked by a domain registration company. We will raise funds by calling Shahrukh Khan and Salman Khan to the US and UK for stage shows and we will use this money to buy all the 'desi' domains in each and every country in the world. We will then franchise or lease out these domains only to desis for legitimate desi use."

"Any help, especially from desis in countries other than the US and Canada will be appreciated. If anyone comes across infringements on our netentity, please get back to us at copyright@desi.edu, so that we can take necessary action. Desis of the world unite! Our netentity is at stake."

Addendum (in 2011): Most of the domains mentioned above are still what they have been described to be, except www.desi.net, which is now a rubbish social networking site for desis and desi.ca, which is now a gay pornography site. Mr. Samir Aggarwal of Syosset still owns www.desi.org, but he still hasn’t done anything about it, and www.desi.edu still has not been taken. Mr. Shahrukh Khan and Mr. Salman Khan are still around and doing “world” stage shows. And it’s been all of twelve years.

In 2023, as I am posting this, I have not bothered to recheck any of these sites or domains - they have all become pretty irrelevant given the way the Internat has morphed in current times into a completely different animal.

Man From Matunga Chronicles