A high profile Diwali party for expatriates in Mumbai has a curt message for Indians: Keep away.
The Elite Expats Club—part of the Mumbai Expats Club, which aims to “bring together all the expatriates from different nationalities under one roof”—recently sent out invites calling on foreigners to attend a city event on Oct.27 to mark Diwali.
For the most part, the emailed invitation runs along conventional lines. Towards the end, though, it contains the following: “Kindly note that this event is strictly for expats and Indian delegates. It would be highly appreciated if locals are not escorted unless they hold a govt. political portfolio or are diplomats.”
It further said that two senior foreign diplomats, besides other guests, had agreed to be part of the function. Ugo Ciarlatani, the Italian consul general in Mumbai, would be the chief guest. Jennifer Larson, the deputy principal officer at the American consulate in the city, would the guest of honour.
Ironically, the founder of the club is Savio D’sa, an Indian, born and raised in the Mumbai suburb of Mulund.
“We do not have locals joining the Elite Expat Club event purely to ensure the security protocol, considering the profile of people being invited,” D’sa told Quartz. “We have a separate event for the Mumbai Expat club where locals will be allowed.”
When probed on the details of the event for “locals,” D’sa was evasive. “We keep having such events. We’ll have one for Christmas. But nothing for Diwali as of now,” he said.
Quartz reached out to the Italian and US consulates in Mumbai, seeking their responses.
On Oct.21, the Italian consulate explained in an email that the invite received by them “has no mention of the said remark and in fact stated that both expats and those of Indian nationality are invited for this event.”
“Consul general Ugo Ciarlatani does not hold or endorse the view that has been sought to be put across in the mail with the said inappropriate statement, and has instantly withdrawn his participation from the said event,” the consulate added.
The US consulate was yet to respond.
The egregious Mumbai event is not a rare one in India. In 2009, for instance, American ice cream brand Haagen Dazs kicked up a furore when it put up signboards at its New Delhi outlet, which said, “Entry restricted only to holders of international passports.”