India a ‘more racist society’

10Jun09

 Following is a thought-provoking article by Jag Surya and yet a very down to earth realisation of  present Indian society which is far from catering ‘one man- one value ‘ as coined by father of Modern Constitutions, Dr Ambedkar. The segregation remains at worst in Indian villages , exemplified in Khairlanji .  Irony is  ane ducated lot from Indian middle class when crosses national bourdarieds  experiences this and makes it a Front-page news.  Had they understood Indian realities well in school times , they would have participeted in greater humanity causes across the world. Let it be Africa or Australia!

 Anyways many thanks Jug for such an eye opener, we Indians need strong Anti-biotic!

 

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The attacks on Indians in Australia have once again raised the ugly head of racism. Once again India is caught up in the midst of a racist storm. A while ago, the Big Brother controversy launched Shilpa Shetty as an international anti-racism icon from India. This is entirely appropriate as Indians are arguably the biggest targets of racism in the world. And they are targeted not just by unlettered British yobs or Australian thugs but, first and foremost, by their own compatriots. It’s because we are so racist ourselves that we are so quick to react to a racist slur: it takes a racist to catch a racist. And our racism is colour-coded in black-and-white terms: white is intrinsically superior and desirable; black is inferior and undesirable.

 

In the Indian colour scheme of things, black is far from beautiful. The colloquial word for a black person of African origin is ‘habshi’, an epithet as offensive as the American ‘nigger’, both terms derived from the days of the slave trade.

 

For all India’s official championing of the anti-apartheid crusade in South Africa’s erstwhile white regime, north India at least is steeped in colour prejudice – ask any African student who’s had a taste of Delhi’s campus life. For the north Indian, fair is lovely, as those abominably tasteless TV commercials keep proclaiming: Don’t get sunburnt, use skin whitening creams, or you’ll end up dark and no one will marry you. (When did you last see a matrimonial ad seeking an ‘attractive, dark-complexioned life partner’?)

 

Why is dark literally beyond the pale for so many of us? Is it an atavistic throwback to the supposed superiority of ‘white’ Aryans vis-a-vis the ‘non-white’ original inhabitants of the subcontinent? Is it the result of 250 years of white rule under the British? Is a pale skin, as against a deep tan, a testimonial to social rank, segregating those who don’t have to toil under the sun from those who do? Is it an amalgam of all these?

 

Whatever the reason, ‘chitti chamri’ (fair skin) is a passport to fawning social acceptance — which might partly explain why an increasing number of Caucasians look for assignments in India, be it as MNC executives or bartenders in 5-star hotels.

 

Our racism is largely, but not exclusively, based on colour. Caste is India’s unique contribution to the lexicon of racial bigotry. Whether ‘caste’ – a result of cultural and social segmentation – can legitimately be conflated with ‘race’ – with its genetic and physiological underpinnings – is a matter of academic debate. However, as only too many horror stories testify, the average rural Dalit fares worse on the human-rights scale than her ‘kafir’ counterpart in the worst days of South African apartheid.

 

Caste apart, real or imagined ethnic traits compound our racism. People from the north-east are said to have ‘Chinky’ (Chinese) eyes and are routinely asked if they eat dogs. Even in so-called ‘mainstream’ India we sub-divide ourselves with pejoratives: ‘Panjus’, whose only culture is agriculture; stingy ‘Marrus’; mercenary ‘Gujjus’ who eat ‘heavy snakes’ for tea; lazy, shiftless ‘Bongs’; ‘Madrasis’, who all live south of the Vindhyas and speak a funny ‘Illay-po’ language. In our ingrained provincialism is our much-vaunted and illusory unity.

No wonder we can’t stand racism. It reminds us disquietingly of the face we see in our own mirror.



One Response to “India a ‘more racist society’”

  1. 1 Francis

    You yourself seem to be a racist. And seem to be dumb and unaware of anything about your country. They way you are referring to the different people of your country takes note of this anyways.

    People like you themselves create this divide. Look at thye way you referring the language of the south. You probably dont even know how many states are there. And each state is different and has its own language. not the same language. And are you even aware of the northeast? Any one state tht you can confidetly name?

    In India all the states that start from maharashtra and goa onwards to the south are the only developed states in india. And Punjab to add from north. Rest are backward dirty and uneducated morons spoiling the country.


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