Racial discrimination & intolerance of diversity


It appears that racism runs deep in Indian psyche. A girl from Manipur was subjected to all kinds of harassments at Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi at the hands of a semi-literate immigration official just because she looks different from typical mainland Indians. Yes, people of the North Eastern region look different from mainland Indians and for too long they have been at the receiving end of racial discrimination and harassment. It would not be any exaggeration to say that people from the North East (both students and professionals) have been taunted and haunted by racism at different cities of India, most prominently at Delhi. The semi-literate immigration official may be a patriot but he is definitely a bigot and a racist to the core. The official may have statistical knowledge about the number of Indian States and it was this question he threw to the Manipuri girl to ascertain her Indianness, but ostensibly he has no idea there are people in India whose looks are different from mainland Indians belonging to the Aryan and Dravidian stocks. That is why, we call him semi-literate. Unfortunately, racism seems to have afflicted vast majority of the Indian people if hate crimes, rapes, murders, physical assaults and discriminations, all fuelled by racism seen in different parts of India which are/were directed against people from the North East  are any indication. These humiliating incidents tend to project that racism has been ingrained in the worldview and thought process of majority of the Indians, particularly those belonging to Aryan stock. If this is true, the oft-repeated national slogan ‘unity in diversity’ will only remain a mere rhetoric.
One of the theories that suggests existence of racism in India or that India is a racist regime points out appropriation of Brahminical values as well as colonial character both in terms of skills as well as the craft of making the Indian nation, which dates back right to the days of the freedom struggle. In such a project, how Hindustan as an idea of India or Hindustani as a national language became victims of the national project is a familiar story. Such rejections and appropriations of national symbols from largely Brahminical myths and texts continue to have a tolling effect in India’s nationality policy. In the face of repeated onslaughts (against people from the North East) in Delhi, there is demand for passing an Anti-Racism Law. This demand, by implication, can be assumed as acknowledgement from India that racism indeed exists in India.  It is akin to anti-rape law. In spite of the prevalence of similar law, rape continues to occur. But the enactment of the law proves that there is rape in India. Racism in the 21st century independent India is the biggest structural flaw in the socio-political set up of the country, and people from the North East are the worst victims. We hope External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s assurance to look into the matter (of harassing a Manipuri girl at IGI Airport) would do something to soothe the victim from the humiliating experience. Yet laws would not be enough to deal with the scourge of racism. Education and information for cultivating a progressive mentality should be given the central role if the issue must be addressed effectively.


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