Sunday, October 17, 2010

Racist India

Article first published as Racist India on Blogcritics.

Recent news is full of a New Zealander TV show host, Paul Henry, making fun of the surname of Delhi CM ‘Sheila Dixit’ pronunciating it as ‘Dick Shit’ (Link). Earlier, the same host was making fun of their Governor General of Indian origin, following which he was summarily suspended for a fortnight. (Link).

Now, it is not for the first or second or even third time that such a thing has happened. We have had incidents in which TIME, an erstwhile leading magazine, published an article by Joel Stein here leading to the entire furor; ultimately leading to TIME publishing an apology. We have had an Indian actress win a Big Brother season sailing on the popularity generated by such racial comments when she was called racist names by Jade Goody (Link).

But this post is not supposed to be an outrage against such incidents. I do not intend this post as a rant against how the world is not giving India the respect that is due to it. This post is intended to question us alleging anyone else is being racially prejudiced when we Indians are the biggest racists ever.

A conventional racial system of Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya, and Shudras has been prevalent in Indian society for quite some time now. This distinction was based on the kind of work that people were doing and often ended up creating a divide between the different factions of the society.

Modern India follows a more culturally-based racism between ‘The North India’ and ‘The South India’; between ‘The Punjabis’ and ‘The Gujjus’; between ‘The Bengalis’ and ‘The Mallus’. Usage of Chinki in common parlance is very frequent. An average Indian will still stop and gawk at any 'firang' male or female they come across, even while buying sweets at a shop. Any Caucasian would be addressed as being ‘amerikan’ while any dark-skinned, non-Asian person would be deemed as ‘negro’ or ‘afrikan’. And anyone showing traits of being in foren is promptly robbed blind, not by thieves, but by people who are no better; the kulis at the station, auto wallahs etc.

And then there are distinctions on the basis of religion. Not getting into specifics, it is not entirely uncommon for people to be denied flats to rent sorely because they do not (or for that matter do) belong to a specific religion. (Link) 

Some time back, I received a mail forward as to how an average Delhite looks at the rest of the country and the neighborhood. I am sure an avid observer of human traits would be able to construct a similar map from the viewpoint of all parts of the country.

After all this, I ask, are we really qualified to call someone else a racist?

PS: I am not the original creator of this image and I do not know whom to credit for it... But it is good! 

PPS: Please do realize that while this article has been created with India in mind, an american can find similar things in US of A and can a Chinese in China. So this is not something pertinent only to India; but valid across all countries.


  1. exactly how i feel abt the hypocrisy of our society...

  2. @Chintan: Since this is your first comment on my blog, Welcome to my world of Wandering Thoughts. Feel free to explore more.
    Even I feel that our society is a hell lot of hypocritical and often creates mountains where none mole exists!

  3. @Showman: Welcome back... Indians are really good at forgiving stuff... And I do hope that Australians do learn to live with Indians and vice versa; especially in consideration to all the close the ties, even beyond cricket, that these two nations share!

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. I agree to the fact that our diverse indian society needs to uplift itself from the shakles of Casteism & Communal differences, but at the same time we should know that globally we represent an Egalitarian country that is respected for its diversities in every aspect.Even america had its internal regional differences with blacks and whites, still it never tolerated any act of malign over "United" States of America. Chinese society has a heriarchial system of socio-economic classes, but still globally it is so rigid about its reputation. We know that internally, even our society has disparities but this doesnt mean we can tolerate anything that can tarnish the pride of our cuntry by anybody.

    P.S: Liked the image of India shown as percieved by a Delhite.

    Rakshit Sharma

  6. Aashish basically we have lost respect for each other. We need to focus on building a global community with respect of every individual/nation.

  7. @Rakshit, Chocolate: Welcome to the world of my Wandering Thoughts. Feel free to explore more...

    @Rakshit: A hurt to the pride of the country doesn't mean artificially taking a hurt to the ego on every small and big thing... Agreed that every culture has their own idiosyncrasies, and so had India. But what is required that you do realize these idiosyncrasies yourself, set your own affairs before pointing fingers at others. That still does not mean that you take ridicule from others and I, for one, am all for a united front against external abuse. I am just against the hypocrisy of pointing figures at others while your own house is in a mess.
    PS: Good English, never really thought of you as being such an articulate writer.

    @Chocolate: True, we do need to learn internally how to respect each other more properly.

  8. Exactly!! I am surely a very racist guy, and its inducted upon me by the way i was brought up, and so is the case with most, if not everyone!

    Actually..i think everyone is a bit racist, for he will naturally have an affinity towards his own color and kind, and feel the others are aliens! And in India, people have an already set of ideas in mind for every other kind of people!!

    Excellent article n information!

    A Journey to the Unknown Spaces

  9. @Naveen: For sure we are a racist nation... from the very birth we are taught the lessons in racism; right from mother telling their children what are not the children that they should play with; indirect teachings through their treatment of servants and maids; servile like attitude to foreigners etc, derision of certain culture and people... so we all are racists, some more so than others... But that's what my idea is that since we ourselves, and by extension every person can recognize similar patterns in their own culture; we all lose the right to point fingers at anyone else

  10. That was an interesting and quite an informative post Aashish. Personally speaking I hate this entire concept of racism! After all we are all humans!

    Btw, hope you enjoy reading my post - When love calls

    Take care and keep blogging :)

  11. @Romeo: A big welcome to the world of my Wandering Thoughts... feel free to explore more...
    Even I do hate this entire charade and would love nothing better than a boundary less society... BTW liked your post!

  12. Anonymous10/19/2010

    You are right..!! I think when god created earth he might have thought about it to be a wholesome place,but we humans through various psychological barriers have created differences in this world. And this doesn't pertain to India itself it's happening right around the world.
    The people are still preaching those sick thoughts about Racism. I recommend you to watch that movie called "American History X" which really does give a good thought about this discrimination.
    Anyways, Thanks for visiting my blog and I shall follow your posts from now.
    Good Luck. :)

  13. culturally-based racism between ‘The North India’ and ‘The South India’; between ‘The Punjabis’ and ‘The Gujjus’; etc further gets sub divided in to regional caste wise!

  14. @LA Lawyer, Criminal Attorney LA, Aniruruddh: Welcome to the world or my Wandering Thoughts... Feel free to explore more; @Ayyangar sir: Welcome back

    @LA Lawyer: I agree with you completely; all these are superficial differences and should not matter to anyone. Sadly, they do to the most people.

    @Criminal Attorney LA: Infact caste system is the most fair division of society; atleast it serves the purpose of creating a perfect division of work. And it is not like such a division exists in India only. I have observed it here because I am here; I am sure if I am in states I can write a similar article for that as well... What about stereotyping that NY people are busy while Texans are loud... Though, I would love nothing better than people working together for a change

    @Aniruddh: Could not agree with you any more. Will find and watch the movie for sure. I will look forward to having you here in the future

    @SR sir: Very true... I am sure that even if everything was grey and all of same shape and size, people will find any which way to create discrimination

  15. @Barns: Welcome to the world or my Wandering Thoughts... Feel free to explore more...

    Very true... from the very beginning we see our elders judging others on the basis of appearance and very soon, however much we might hate it but, we too start doing the same.

    About Paul Henry, I do not care about people such as those who do such idiotic things without thinking twice.

  16. Aashish........ all said and done, differentiation in any society and world is going to stay.... Show me a place where this does not find itself.... The other day I went to a musical show, holding in hand a VIP pass and when i reach there I find a VVIP stand therein..... Even in many places of worship people r attended differently according to their richness or some other might, which to me is another kind of racism..... Personally, of course I don't like and support this but Yes as a practical person I know differentiation is here to stay..... My friend, human race needs some differentiation to use one of the evils called 'Ahankar'(ego)......

  17. @Bro: Diffrentiation is a very good factor because that is exactly what drives an individual to better themselves; to innovate and get to things in life. I am not sure racism is something that can be clubbed with Ahankar as it is derived out of base assumptions! And what I also want to say is that if you are a racist, then you yourself lose the right to point fingers at anyone else. Following this, since we all are racists; no body has a right to point fingers at anyone else.

    @dui attorney san diego: Welcome to the world or my Wandering Thoughts... Feel free to explore more...
    I agree with what all that you have said. I would like to point out to you that it is not only in India that such a thing is seen to be happening. It is something practiced worldwide. It is just that this post is written in an Indian context. I am sure that you, belonging to States I guess, would be able to write a similar post in that context!


Powered By Blogger