No one needs an introduction to how big a problem “Racism” is, and how India has been caught several times in disgust for being a “Racist country”. If you haven’t already seen it, here are the results from a survey conducted by Washington Post last year.
Even if the evidence do-not stand strong during this survey, I would never deny the fact that India could be one of the top racist countries.
I recently came across the rally conducted in Bangalore opposing racism towards Africans. My first reaction towards it was “Well, one more. When will this stop?”. When I was in India, there was a huge campaign, “Dark is beautiful“. Dark is Beautiful is an awareness campaign to draw attention to the unjust effects of skin color bias.
This campaign doesn’t seem to have had the transformative impact in intra-Indian social relations.
Everyone across the globe is proud of our cultural diversity and it’s amazing united efforts when it comes to sports like cricket, pitching voices against attacks from other countries. History shows us as the nation of “Ahimsa”, non-violence. But, deep down the hearts, there are stems of caste based prejudice. This is how most of us were trained to distinguish between people based on their caste, gender, color, creed, status, etc. Every community believes that their culture, traditions and customs is the best, which is good, however, they fail to accept and understand the differences in people. There is a low esteem towards several other communities/states/religions. Like this wasn’t enough, the other factor that added to it, was skin color. For ex: Arranged marriages in India, technically happen among individuals from same caste, creed, status, religion, state.
To detail, all the discrimination towards North-East Indians, Biharis, North Indians towards South Indians, S.Indians towards N.Indians, what’s the basis for all this?
The common notion of beauty in India is attached to fair skin, which is evident in several incidents. Matrimonial ads boast of fair, very fair and very very fair skin alongside foreign visas and advanced university degrees.
(Although out of context, do watch this video made by few colleagues of mine from college, showing the Indian style matrimonial ads.
P.S: They took inspiration from actual matrimonial pages and a lot of these were actual real ads.)
The endorsement of a plethora of fairness products substantiate this. With most of the celebrities not only endorsing these products, but those who are dark skinned transforming themselves to fit into this big puzzle, only adds up to the craze. The insane ads show all kinds of crap and god knows what they are trying to teach.
- Fair and Lovely : A retired father with money problems laments that he didn’t have a son to bail him out. His dark-skinned daughter decides she’ll “be a son” and uses a Fair & Lovely to land a coveted job as a flight attendant.
- Fair & Handsome : Even India’s biggest superstar, actor Shahrukh Khan, is in on it. He recalls his (clearly fictional) past, when he was a regular guy who wanted to be a celebrity.
The oppression of Africans and black skinned people from Uganda and Nigeria in the past can also be attributed to the deep seated contempt towards dark skin. Several movies portray jokes/racist comments towards other religion/caste/color. They might not totally mean it, but, they should also remember the impact they are going to create on general public.
“Living in India was a childhood dream that deepened with my growing understanding of India and America’s unique, shared history of non-violent revolution. Yet, in most nations, the path of ending gender, race and class discrimination is unpaved. In India, this path is still rural and rocky as if this nation has not decided the road even worthy. It is a footpath that we are left to tread individually.” said a foreign PhD student at the Delhi School of Economics, in his post in outlookindia. Read more about his experience here.
We blame foreigners for being racist to Indians living in their country. But are we any better?
We are racist towards people from our own country!
While trying to become a developed nation like America, are we also trying to incorporate their skin color and victimize others? If we’re so desperate about changing the world’s perceptions about India, if we want to tell the world that we are modern, educated and developed, that we’re not a land of snake charmers anymore, the first thing we should do is to look into ourselves and understand that we need to change our own perceptions about ourselves, before changing others. Ofcourse this doesn’t represent everyone. There are several Indians who aren’t racists and are fed up of many because of whom the entire nation is being blamed. On behalf of all of them, I plead,
“Don’t be the racist you hate so much”