Racism in India – A Reality Check

Heal the world
Make it a better place
For you and for me
And the entire human race

Heal the World – Michael Jackson

Racism in India is as deep-rooted as casteism is. But less discussed and understood as compared to the latter. Racism is discrimination based on one’s physical traits.

It’s not only when they call you names for being dark, but also when they make memes on your small and stretched eyes or broad lips or even short height.

The recent knocking down of a black man by a white policeman in Minneapolis, Minnesota has stirred a storm in the US. This has attracted the attention of all the other countries who bear the flag of human rights high. 

Meanwhile, many from India are also supporting the #blacklivesmatter campaign. But are we better off?

Also, why is it that the injustice that happens in the west grabs the attention of even those who themselves practice the same in their own country, if not do yet never raise voices here? 

black lives matter

Incidents of Racism in India

Several incidents point to a feeble conclusion that human life is a little less valued in our country. Let alone respecting people as they are. The thrashing of African students in Delhi in 2016 gathered much jibber-jabber. 

But did we learn? 

The answer lies in the spitting incident on a North-eastern girl calling her ‘corona’ in the back-drop of the pandemic. Even otherwise, we have seen Northeastern students being hurled racist comments upon and distinctly being marked as sexual objects in the rest of the country. 

The capital city, Delhi does the maximum of it, as reported in various surveys and newspaper reports. Even if you are alien to the above incidents, you must know about the practice of finding a fair and beautiful bride for an eligible bachelor in our country.  

This is the most basic incidence of racism in our society, that we overlook consciously. And the funny part is that they call this subtle art of racism as “arranged marriage”.

Not only this. The Advertisements that set standards for girls and even boys to look a certain way, strengthen the foundation of a prejudiced society.

The tremendous growth in social media users has strengthened the act of ‘free speech’ worldwide. Everyone is an orator now. Everyone has thousands of hearers, just a click away. 

Unfortunately, people prefer more power and less responsibility. As a result, the social platform has become one of the greatest sources of rumors, derogatory activities, and false news.

Memes that are discriminatory towards any person or social group or even an entire nation are promoted like a frenzy.

For instance, the meme on the couple Hardik Pandya and Natasha Stankovic, inciting racist slurs. 

Why is it wrong?

Many would argue as to why is it bad to crack a few harmless jokes if your friend is dark-skinned or short or looks Asian. 

The only ‘sensible’ answer to this ‘nonsensual’ question is that the features that are being hurled jokes to have nothing to do with a person’s nature and actions. 

A person has no control over his/her looks or physical features. Also, no demarcated line distinguishes between harmlessness and the harmfulness of a joke. 

And who gets to decide it? The one who’s mocking? Or the one who is facing it? Or all those people who have the same trait?

You can’t make someone feel miserable upon something one doesn’t have any control over. It is the action and thinking of a person which should be judged as a conclusion to a personality trait. 

That is progressive thinking. This is humane. What is the fun in the plight of someone? What fun is it to mock someone just because they are different?

How can we improve?

Before anything else, our society needs to start valuing the lives of its inhabitants. As a matter of fact, we don’t do that. 

You ponder, every news of someone’s death that you read. Does it create any feeling of loss in you? Or it’s just a normal piece of news, no different than others?

On May 24, 2020, the New York Times published the name of all the deceased people who died of the coronavirus in the US. The list had 1,00,000 names. The significance of such a publication lies in the fact that they consider it a loss worth remembering.

NY Times List of people who lost their lives due to the coronavirus

On our part let alone, printing names. Some even hurl stones at our frontline warriors. It doesn’t matter if you are doing it or not. The fact is that it is happening, while you watch. 

Once you start valuing lives, you move towards a more civilized and sensible mind-set. You start respecting human emotions. You become sensitive and empathetic. 

When YOU become empathetic, WE become empathetic. When WE become empathetic, society becomes empathetic.

Legal Remedies

Any society that believes in the spirit of the law, that aligns itself with the law of the land doesn’t benefit anybody else but itself. 

The constitution of our country, in Article 15 gives all its citizens the right to equality. How does that help? Whenever you hurl a racist comment, the aggrieved has the complete right to knock the doors of the law to file a complaint against you and seek redressal.

There are other legislations enacted under the Constitution of India exclusively designed to safeguard equality and protection against racial discrimination. 

Some of them are: 

  • The Criminal law (Removal of Racial Discrimination Act, 1949) 

In 2012, the government of India recommended that all states notify the term ‘Chinki’ as an offense under The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, and Section 153 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

Conclusion

Racism is not a cool drive to slur your opponent. This only degrades you as a human being as well as society. The further you go down on the scale of humanity, the more you dig ditches for yourself as a social animal.

Remember, not always will you be at the thicker end. The moment you reach the thinner end, the foxy, inconsiderate, insensitive, apathetic society (that you contributed to) will reap you apart.

Therefore, treat others as you would want yourself to be treated. Make this life less of a struggle for yourself and for the fellow human beings too.

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