Monday, July 30, 2012

Are Indians racist in nature?
By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

The incident of brutal assault on a student from Burundi is not isolated incident of our treatment to African friends of dark color. It shows deep rooted prejudices in our society towards dark skinned people. A country with so much hatred and prejudices cannot become world leader. India need to change or accept that we are still a discriminatory civilization and have a long way to go.

A few days back a number of people were discussing how British Prime Minister David Cameron waited for his coffee at a shop despite scolded by the waiter for lack of time. The prime minister did not try to impose his ‘status’ on her and waited till he is name was called for it accordingly. Such incident is impossible in India where even a street leader would come along with gang of his ‘followers’ and bulldoze on everything that come in the way.

Most of the Indian men actually are uncomfortable whenever they travel abroad. Unlike Indian situation where they are kings and princes at their homes, in Europe and America you have to work yourself and will not always be surrounded by the chamchas and ‘well wishers. Their moms are not there to clean the mouth and wash their ‘ugly’ garments. There won’t be many domestic chhottus who would carry their school bags. But whenever there is a crime against Indian, our media has turned that into a racial crime while completely ignoring the racial slur that happens in India on dark skinned people, and Dalits based on their caste and untouchability. Indians make huge noises on such issues even when it is clear that they do not face racial slur anywhere in the world. It may be possible that in certain parts of the world they might have faced discrimination as well as ugly spat with individuals but that is not a general way of life in those countries where we dream to live rest of our lives. In fact, Indians rarely reciprocated against racial prejudices and look down upon the native African people of dark color.

On 26th December 2011, Anuj Bidve, an M.Sc student in Lancaster University was stabbed to death brutally when he was visiting his friends. Anuj was from Pune and many in the Indian media tried to make it as a racial crime but the British people and their concern must be appreciated as they stood with the family of Anuj. The police officials came to Pune in person and participated in a prayer meeting and apologized to the family for this ghastly crime against their son. Even when one listens to Member of Parliament Keith Vaz in U.K., the concern comes automatically for the diverse section people. The police resolved the crime in three days and now the culprit is in the jail facing charges. Despite this immense grief, the British government and common people stood with the family of Anuj reflect how far the society has travelled there.

Contrary to this, ours is a history of racial discrimination against those who do not look like us. We would not like to put our houses on rent to Muslims, North Eastern people and Dalits and tribal. An owner of the house in Delhi feel that he has got fundamental right to investigate, humiliate you because of your ethnic character. Physical violence against the persons from North East in different parts of the country is example of this ‘liberal’ democracy.

Now in a gruesome incident, Yannick Nihangaza, a 25 year old computer science graduate was brutally assaulted in the street, outside his house in Jalandhar. He is now battling for life in a hospital in Patiala.Hailing from a war torn African nation Burundi, Yannick had come to India with big dreams as he was a bright student and thought of a new society for him where he can live in peace and respect. Little did he know that our youngsters are not ready to accept a person with color whom they always looked down upon as contemptuous Negros as term which is racial and done away with by any society claim to be civilized. Unfortunately, we still have these terminologies and tendencies in our blood which is sickening as well as frightening. How come such an incident in which a foreign student is assaulted and virtually killed goes unreported for three months. What about the civil society, human rights groups which cry about Punjab over the roof top. Why they kept quiet. How come our blood boil when the person is of fair skin and upper caste. The fact is that the scant carelessness and insensitivity which Indian authorities and our nationalist media showed for this incident shows the caste and color bias among our society. It only came to highlight when a few channels ran the story but none had time to follow it up after three months. It is sad that the incident occurred in April this year and now some of the news channels reported the incident and talked to the grieving father who is helpless in a country which is completely unknown to him. The Punjab government has now contributed Rs 5 lakh to boy’s father who had written a passionate letter to Prakash Singh Badal to think of his young son who has been brutally assaulted and now doctors are not hopeful of his life. The external affairs ministry has now taken note of it and ironically the incident has happened in the constituency of Minister of State for External Affairs and yet she did not know about this incident.

It is widely known that Indian society is not only caste conscious but skin conscious too. What is most unfortunate that Punjab which is considered to a non brahmanic region where the Sikh Gurus actually formed the new panth away from caste based hierarchical Hinduism towards an equitable society. More irony is that Sikhs were victim of racial prejudices particularly after the operation blue star in 1984 as well as in the aftermath of Mrs Indira Gandhi’s assassination later in the same year. Sikhs, who are a global community too suffer from such prejudices is the most shocking part of the Punjab story. While not much be expected from a society so conscious of its status, the apathy on part of the government is absolutely shocking. A government which is inviting international investment and which goes overboard if anything happen to Sikhs elsewhere is so callous that it did not have time to take action against the culprit. Why are Punjab and Haryana becoming most ungoverned states in India where no laws of te land are applicable simply because the murders, looters are the so-called powerful communities? How will these two states which want to portray internationally that they are the best infrastructure and network of educational institutions cannot guarantee of international students coming there for studies. Punjab can take a clue from United Kingdom and how it has been tackling cases related to South Asian communities. It has become accommodative to diverse view points and cultural sensibilities. It does not look down upon Indian expatriates simply because of their class. The important part here is the failure of the government to act. India can learn a lot from United Kingdom as how they have appreciated diversity and make every effort to accommodate it. Streets in London have sign board in Hindi, Urdu and Gurmukhi. At the Heathrow and other airports, you may find various ethnic people welcoming you speaking to you in your native language
It is tragic that South Asians communities have no respect for minority protection and democracy. We are hypocrite and have not learnt anything. Our laws are applicable when it does not disturb the status quo. That is why Punjab and Haryana government have rarely acted on complaints of honored killings. The economic benefit could not change the social mindset in both these states. The violence against Dalits is rampant and people still wait for justice. Girls are burden for them and have no rights and therefore should be killed in the womb itself and they preach us greatness of their culture. Stop this vulgarity of your money and muscle power. The problem is that racism has increased because we feel inferior to the white skinned and that in turn make us superior to black skin. We look down upon them and make them isolated. It is difficult to accompany an African native to Indian villages and cities where people would make numerous remarks on the color of the skin.
Looking for special treatment in every public platform is a South Asian trait.

We are habitually ghettoized in the den of identities which is rarely sensitized on the issue of human nature. It is pained only when there is identification with the other person. We protest for our person even if he or she is wrong but do not do the same when the other side is right. Our beliefs are still between us and them. That defeats us. Instead, we return home from these ghettos abroad we turn more fanatic Indians and look down upon others who are not like us and have dark skin. Indian government must take it seriously. A country, which think itself as a global player cannot really allow such criminal mindset amidst our society getting legal cover. The centre must ask Punjab government to take strict against on this issue and assure the African countries that they are most welcome here and can roam around freely in this country. The authorities have to be sensitized on the issue so that such incidents do not get unreported and action is taken immediately. In the meanwhile, we can only share the pain of the aggrieved father from Burundi in the hope he will get justice and his son would recover soon.

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