Racism: Are Indians any better?

India is on the way to become an economic superpower in the next decade or so. In the past, I have talked about (what it takes to become a developed nation) and I had touched upon a number of things that we Indians need to do to take us closer towards being totally self reliant and rich. One of the things that I didn’t quite talk about at that time is the racism and even the caste based hierarchies that has been prevailing in India for 100s of years now.

Racism in India

Well, India doesn’t have any permanent black or white (if I may use those words) migrants here. All that we get to see here are tourists or foreigners on work related deputation. I had a chance to attend a Boney M (re-formed) concert in Bangalore in 1998 where I witnessed a bunch of Bangalorean boys shouting ‘you black bi****s’ etc at the singers. It was a shock to me. It was like you give back what you got or even heard remotely. Something like ragging.

However, we Indians do not need any black or white here to take part in the racism related activities. Historically India had the caste hierarchy system for several hundred years and hence we have been the biggest racists ourselves within. How many times haven’t we heard of the North Indian – South Indian unpleasant references and certain Indian fanatics referring to Madrasis, Biharis or Chinkies using their unparliamentary language and extreme spite? And have you ever imagined our attitude towards some of our neighbour states such as Nepal, Bangladesh etc?

Economic growth and racist behavior

With India getting more and more rich, visible and powerful we are getting to see a different kind of racial behaviour from the Indians – the arrogance of a new rich man who was once underprivileged. At every given opportunity now India tries to take on the ‘white’ nations on racial related one-off incidents. Of course there are certain genuine cases that need international attention but the following are some of the examples where I thought we are being petty (and arrogant).

E.g. 1: There was this Facebook viral video of an Indian man getting electrocuted after touching the railway power line. I have myself seen a lot of Indians calling him a fool and making funny comments. The same was the reaction from other people around the world including some police personnel in Australia. Then it became a racial thing and even Mr. SM. Krishna, our External Affairs Minister, made his statements. Absolutely unnecessary and silly behaviour I would say. There have been, through, genuine situations where he had to actually intervene and he has done so.

E.g 2: BCCI’s (Board of Control for Cricket in India) using their money power and political influence to lift a ban on the Indian cricketer Harbhajan Singh, after he called the Australian ‘coloured’ cricketer Andrew Symonds a ‘Monkey’ is another example of the wrong racial behavior and then defending the same.

Inferior complex, Campaign mania etc

The above two examples, and many such incidents, are nothing but the unwanted inferiority complex that is building up within. Instead of taking part in the globalization and amazing growth potential, at times, we are pulling back ourselves with these kind of behaviors. I would say that, instead of focusing on such issues let us solve our problems within India first.

Yet another related bad behavior is the inability to think in an unbiased manner especially when it comes to sensitive cultural aspects, our iconic figures etc. For example, how many times haven’t you received emails to vote for Sachin Tendulkar, Amitabh Bacchan, Taj Mahal etc to win certain online campaigns? Majority of such spam is generated by us, computer literate Indians, out of unnecessary fanatic thinking process. The recent campaign mania example was the effort to persuade Barack Obama to visit the Golden Temple during his Indian visit. Does anybody really care if he doesn’t visit Golden Temple, Taj Mahal or Tirupati for that matter? Don’t we have better things to do in life?

Learn from the Chinese

My last request to my fellow Indians (global and within) is to learn a lesson or two from our big neighbour China. The Chinese people are actually spread out globally much more than the Indians but they chose to mind their own business and adjusted well with the other people and races without creating any issue whatsoever. They actually do not care about what others say. Instead of picking on every petty issue and blowing it out of proportion, let us follow the Chinese model of co-existence without disturbance (I am not going to talk about India’s stance on Tibet and Chinese stand on Arunachal Pradesh here) without going emotional about what others say.

Hope you understood what I was trying to convey…

2 Replies to “Racism: Are Indians any better?”

  1. Now this is an interesting post. I was having a conversation with someone else from India last year and he was trying to say that India didn’t have a racism problem but a caste system problem. I asked him to define the castes for me in his words, but I already knew the issue; the darker the people the lower the caste for the most part.

    It’s a shame, but basically that’s the way it is almost everywhere in the world, except in those countries where the dark people run things. I hate racism, and point it out whenever I see it, no matter where it is. And you’re right, no one is better than anyone else until they work on solving this issue.

    Great stuff!

    1. Mitch, I share your sentiments. I too hate racism not just when the white do it but anybody else including Indians. Yes, you are mostly right that the caste system has been conducive to racist behaviour within India. However, Indians attitude towards some of the neighbouring countries has not been any better either.

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