Indians have made racism a fashion statement

Posted: June 22, 2009 in Racism, racist

Brits are racist. Americans are racist. Australians are racist. Yes, but what about us? It’s a bit like the pot calling the kettle black. Oops, sorry no pun intended.
Sure, a lot of people living in the US, Australia, and UK are colour conscious. But the thing is that a lot of them haven’t been exposed to cultures except their own. When another race of people come in, and start to interfere and take over their lives they react. When they haven’t stepped out of their little towns to even go shopping, what do you expect? A handful of teams from a few states play each other in some silly sport and they call it the ‘World Series’! So it’s not surprising that people from these ‘worlds’ have such a blinkered view of the rest. I guess that’s the problem numerous Australians face today.
Heck, till the World Trade Center became rubble, the US President didn’t know where Pakistan was. Let’s be honest, a lot of us were happy that 9/11 happened, not because we hated the yanks, but because they and a lot of other White nations woke up to the fact that there was another world outside of the USA with bigger problems than theirs. And now they too were forced to be a part of the problem.
We, Indians, on the other hand, have been exposed to different cultures and peoples, but our behaviour is downright disgraceful. Face it, for all the righteous indignation we Indians drum up when faced with the uncomfortable truth, we are just a bunch of hypocrites. We have a gender bias that goes to the extremes. We are colour, race & caste conscious. In fact, in India racism has become a fashion statement.
Why, we don’t spare even our own.
When my best friend wanted to marry an African national, and told her family and friends about it, most of them went ballistic. But she went ahead and married the guy anyway, migrated to London and now they have the cutest little son. But I know what she had to hear when she made the decision and, coming from people who were supposedly very liberal-minded, it was pretty weird.
I know of someone who told me that her grandmother never forgave her mother for not being fair-complexioned enough (how much is ‘enough’?), to the extent of insulting her quite openly in family gatherings. And this lady is from the Konkan, a region that prides itself for its fair-skinned men and women.
We label people Madrasis, Biharis, Sindhis, Bengalis or Bhaiyyas and it’s used more as an insult than as a way to denote the region they come from. Anyone south of the Vindhyas is a Madrasi, and never mind if it includes Kannadigas and malayalees! Some of my cousins from the South, who are as fair as can be, have been asked if they are really from the South, because all South Indians are dark-skinned, aren’t they? And what about the Punjabis who call anyone and everyone who’s not like them “woh kaale log.”
I once worked for an organisation where bigotry had been made into an art form. The day I joined the company quite a few of the staffers came up to greet me. A while later, another group of staffers met me and said they were “happy to meet a Kayasth” just like them. Even as I was wondering about that remark, I was ‘advised’ who I should socialize with and who I should generally stay away from! I hadn’t known till then that I was a kayasth and didn’t really care.
So I did the next best thing, I went straight to one of the persons they had asked me not to socialize with, and shook the guy’s hand. I chatted with him and others on the ‘banned list’ for a while before returning to my cubicle. To describe the look on the faces of some people is something that even money can’t buy!

  1. Aubrey Mullerworth says:

    Well written and so true. The gap between the North and the South in India continues to grow, and the East and West have joined the fray, so that pretty much makes everybody. It is possible that that the folks abroad have jumped on the same bandwagon! I for one have been lucky, as I do not belong anywhere, my name befuddles most when they hear it, and I have been called everything from parsi, goan and bangali to a punjabi! The truth being that I am anglo-burmese and no one would even attempt to guess that, and I for one never express the same. Whenever I am asked, I say I am Indian, and that really gets their goat. They then insist that I've got to be from somewhere, to which I reply "I was born in Calcutta." "Ah ha! So you must be a bengali!" "OK" I reply, "what happens if a south indian couple give birth to a child in Amritsar, would the child be considered a punjabi?" The silence is deafening and they will usually walk away with this puzzled look on their faces. Why can't we all just be Indians and not worry about which part of the country we are from? The answer my friend is we are human and we are flawed because our parents were flawed and we develop our prejudices and preconceived notions from them, and pickup a few more along the way which we package and pass on to our kids, so the cycle continues.

  2. Mohan says:

    How true! I didn't say it in the blog, but my mother was from the South, my father from the East. I lived in Maharashtra for the most part of my life, and married a Maharashtrian. So what do I call myself?

  3. Sumeet Nihalani says:

    You're still a Kayasth :-)Don't confuse me anymore

  4. Anonymous says:

    How very true… let me tell you while we condone Australians and others we carry this to far off shores. I must honestly claim I have been biased unconsciously and at times not so. Are these prejudices and the pre-conceived notions inherited from our parents and elders? If so why are our children not so prejudiced?

  5. Aubrey Mullerworth says:

    Don't give up hope! Their will genes remember, give them a chance and they too will get there, if they don't it will be a social experiment in the making. The degree of bias may change through the generations, but it never really goes away.We will never ever have color, religion, ethnic blind society.

  6. candice rato says:

    If we all woke up one fine morning as the same race, the same religion, the same gender even, we'd find something to fight about by noon! Differences need to intrigue and interest us intellectually, rather than divide us socially.

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