RACISM IN INDIA: AN UNFORGOTTEN STIGMA SINCE THE COLONIAL RULE

RACISM IN INDIA: AN UNFORGOTTEN STIGMA SINCE THE COLONIAL RULE

Racism is the old virus that has never ever left India but has transformed as per the time and still has not pulled out of our society since imperial India. Racism was just a concept introduced to prove domination of colonialists over the one to be ruled upon. Because they were answerable to their own mother country and with an aim to rule over the colony state, it was necessary to differentiate between the Caucasians (European physical type) and Indians.

Britishers were the introducers of physical differences amongst Indians for their own interests. They came to India with a motive of not only draining away the wealth but also to colonize the country and rule over the state. India was culturally diversified yet with backwardness and conservative thoughts possessed amongst the people. Such kind of orthodoxical beliefs could have been constructed through social reforms. And that’s why it wasn’t enough for the colonialists to gain control over Indians unless they were divided on the basis of physical division which is a permanent characteristic of a human that will remain until he dies.

Slaves prior to British colonialism were never sold on the basis of race but later on, it became a foremost criterion for their sale. The approbation of a caucasian aesthetic became a new standard for all and it continues till the recent times post-independence where plastic surgery, skin lightening, fairness treatments etc. have emerged with a huge demand amongst the Indians. The leaders like Sardar Vallabhai Patel who always had a motive to unite India and was successful in his ideas but still somewhere we see the differences amongst the people in the society on the basis of race which represents the last symbol of division that the British left here before leaving.

Today a fair person is considered to have a good looking face whereas a person with a dark complexion is said or rather mocked by racist slur “Kala”. Creams and cosmetic products have created a huge industry just because people have become obsessed with their darkness being questioned in society. Our brothers and sisters from South India have to face these discriminatory comments regularly like “Tamilian” for someone who is black or reiterating the accent of southern languages in front of somebody who is dark-faced. There are weird concepts spoken openly in the society that “drinking tea would make you black in colour”. 

These social stigmas have ruined the minds of the common citizens and have made them weak mentally as well as physically because such kind of people always carries an inferiority complex within them reducing their confidence. In India, most of the African and Nigerians are looked with a feeling of uncertainty of being involved in drug peddling or other heinous crimes which is not correct.

Every community has few individuals who are a threat to the society but maligning every person of that community just because they appear similar leads to racism. Activities of this kind have no boundary limits which is evident with the recent killing of a 46 years old person named George Floyd in Minneapolis, USA, who was an African American choked by a police officer after kneeling on the victim’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds despite the victim pleading for his life. This violence was protested by a huge crowd all over the world, which has shown the revolution people seek to attain in this 21st century.

While in India, words and slangs like “Chini”, “Chinky”, “Momo Seller”, “Chowmein” etc. have become common for those especially belonging from North-East India. More than 60 % of Indians have experienced racist reactions and most of them are from the North-East. Recently amid a pandemic, a Mongoloid looking girl from Manipur was “spat on” and was called “Corona” by a middle-aged man. Similarly, on March 16, a man named Rinzin Dorjee along with his daughter was not allowed to enter a Mulund society in Mumbai as inhabitants thought they both were “Chinese”. 

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According to a New Delhi based organization, Rights And Risks Analysis Wing (RRAG), there is a huge upsurge in the activities of racial discrimination against the people of North East, which went to about 22 cases between February 7 and March 25.

North-East locals move to metropolitan cities for employment or students who migrate for their higher studies have to go through such tortures and harassments. There are many civil societies now who have come ahead in the protection of such North Eastern residents which has brought an effective plunge in the number of cases.

Lack of stringent laws: As the women are more vulnerable to the attacks though men are too facing this discriminatory behaviour but lack of stringent laws have made even police officers unaware about what sections the complaints to be filed under. No such law has been made which criminalizes racism or punishes the culprit for the same act. In case of a victim being a woman, police invoke section 354 of the IPC(Indian Penal Code) and Sec. 509 but what should be done if there is a male victim still remains a question to be answered by the lawmakers. 

Notwithstanding, derogatory words like “chinky “ or “corona” being abusive racially yet such words are not mentioned in SC and ST (Prevention of atrocities act) whereas few Mongoloids and not every community are a part of listed Schedule Tribes and hence this puts the police officer under a dilemma while attending such complaints.

Few Factors Responsible for Racial Discrimination:

  • Preconception: Usually a few people have a negative thought towards some other group or a religion or a community or an ethnic group. These preconceived thoughts lead to an act of discrimination towards some other person or a group.
  • Ascendency: Racism basically is an act of oppressing the minority group and few people in the verge of creating their dominance try to oppress others belonging to a lower hierarchy. This proves their superiority in society and gives them pleasure of power.
  • Lack of Cultural Sensitivity: People unaware and far away from their cultural roots would not have a feeling of brotherhood for another person belonging either to the same or a different civilization. Let’s say for example a terrorist who does not have any concern with respect to the culture of another group or an individual would always oppress and attack.
  • Discrimination: Favoring and showing biased actions towards one’s own group, leads to racial discrimination in society.
  • Impulse: People usually react with an impulse after watching different people from other groups. Eg. The recent discrimination is shown against North Eastern residents in India believing them as Chinese.
  • Self Respect: Some times such kind of prejudicial steps are taken against an individual or a group just to boost up their own self-respect. When the self-respect of these people are threatened they perform prejudicial, racial discrimination against the others to reinstate their own self-respect.

In a nutshell, whatever we have derived from our colonial past must now be forgotten and such social backwardness within the society would not only stop the progress of a nation but also shatter the bonding amongst the people in a society. 

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; Only love can do that”

-Martin Luther King Jr
Yash Dalvi

One thought on “RACISM IN INDIA: AN UNFORGOTTEN STIGMA SINCE THE COLONIAL RULE

  1. Well written and presented, it is true that racism has existed from time immemorial and it is justified by the way of hypocrisy.

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