The older brother of TV and film actress Mindy Kaling is pushing back, after his sister publicly claimed she was not aware of his plans to enter medical school under the guise of a black man more than 15 years ago.
Vijay Chokal-Ingam, an Indian-American, revealed earlier this week after struggling to pursue his dream of becoming a doctor in the 1990s, he was accepted into medical school after he lied about his race to appear black during the admissions process.
Furthermore, Chokal-Ingam has been openly critical of Affirmative Action policies in general, and has announced plans to publish a memoir of the events, of which details are posted on his website.
A representative for Kaling told Us Weekly Monday: “Mindy has been estranged from her brother for years. She was not aware of his decision to apply to medical school under a different name and race.”
Now, in an interview with Daily Mail, Chokal-Ingam tells the site that his sister is being dishonest about her knowledge of the plans, and was actually one of the few members of his family he felt comfortable with confiding in during the 1998 scheme.
“I told my sister about it at the time, my younger cousins were aware too – they of course kept it from my parents,” he told the Mail. “Everyone thought it was a joke. They honestly thought, ‘Here’s Vijay the college frat boy pulling some sort of prank and it’s all going to unravel.’”
While Kaling seeks to put distance between herself and her Vijay’s plans, he insists she knew all about them:
I spoke to Mindy about a year and a half ago, before Thanksgiving. I brought up the issue to her that I wanted to write a book; she knew the story from the start. She was very unhappy about it. She said it would bring shame on the family. Because I was telling the world that I lied.
Vijay was informed this week that representatives for his sister attempted to suggest that he may be mentally unstable, in a bid to undermine his credibility and squash his story, per the Mail.
To that, Chokal-Ingam responds: “It’s unfortunate that my sister has gone to such dramatic lengths to stop me from writing this article. I have never been diagnosed with any form of mental illness.”
He continued: “Mindy has no clinical skills. She never attended medical school. It’s unfortunate if she thinks that I suffer from some sort of mental illness.”
Chokal-Ingam claims the he and Kaling only became estranged after he informed her of his plans to go public with his story of using the Affirmative Action system to further his academic career.
“In my junior year of college, I realized that I didn’t have the grades or test scores to get into medical school, at least not as an Indian-American,” he says on his website. “Still, I was determined to become a doctor and I knew that admission standards for certain minorities under affirmative action were, let’s say… less stringent?
Vijay claims he transformed himself into “Jojo,” by giving himself a buzz cut, and trimming what he describes as his “long Indian eyelashes,” in order to appear more black. He then began identifying himself as such on medical school applications and left the South Asian Student Association for the Organization of Black Students.
He claims he soon found himself interviewing at both Harvard and Columbia, and was put on waiting lists at other reputable schools, despite an underwhelming 3.1 GPA.
The now 38-year-old says he is authoring Almost Black: The True Story of an Indian American Who Got Into Medical School Posing as an African American, because: “My experiences applying to medical school as a black man impressed on me the injustice created by the system of legalized racism called affirmative action.”
Vijay believes Affirmative Action, “destroys the dreams of millions of Indian-American, Asian American, and white applicants for employment and higher education.”
Although the man ended up dropping out of St. Louis University Medical School two years after admission, he eventually graduated from UCLA as an Indian-American.
“My experiences at UCLA showed me that Affirmative Action is not required,” he said. “I got into medical school because I said I was black… funny thing is I’m not. My plan actually worked. Lucky for you, I never became a doctor.”
Mindy Kaling is best known for her roles on The Mindy Project, The Office, This is the End and The 40-Year-Old Virgin.