The Tamil Nadu government on Saturday condemned the remarks of 'dark and dirty' Tamilians by a United States diplomat with Chief Minister Jayalalithaa alleging that it smacked of racism and was an affront to all Tamilians.
Demanding an apology from US Vice-Consul Maureen Chao, who had remarked that her "skin became dirty and dark like the Tamilians" after a 72-hour train trip, Jayalalithaa said the remark was 'highly condemnable'.
"This remark which smacks of racism is highly condemnable. You will agree that this remark of the Vice Consul is an affront to all Tamils," she said in a letter to Jennifer McIntyre, Consul General, US Consulate, Chennai.
She urged McIntyre to impress upon Chao that she has to withdraw this remark and also apologise for having made such a comment on Tamils.
"I was on a 24-hour train trip from Delhi to Orissa. But, after 72 hours, the train still did not reach the destination... and my skin became dirty and dark like the Tamilians," US Vice-Consul Maureen Chao had said, going down the memory lane two decades ago when she was a student.
In a speech at the SRM University in Chennai on Friday, Chao also said, "Some 20 years ago, I was a student like you and had an opportunity to do a semester abroad. I chose to come to India, fascinated by the culture and religion. I traveled across villages to understand the culture better. I was amazed at the graciousness and friendliness of the people."
Going into a damage-control mode following her controversial remarks, the US consulate in Chennai said, "During the speech Ms Chao made an inappropriate comment. Ms Chao deeply regrets if her unfortunate remarks offended anyone, as that was certainly not her intent".
The consulate said in a release that the diplomat was describing "positive memories from her own experiences in India 23 years ago".
As US Secretary Hillary Clinton recently noted, the US-India partnership was based on shared values of democracy, liberty and respect for religious and cultural diversity, the consulate release said.
"The US consulate in Chennai and the US Mission in India are committed to upholding these shared values," it said.