TODAY -

Racism at its worst

Kajal Chatterjee *



Recently lot of hue and cry is being raised revolving around racist abuses hurled upon the Indian cricketers by the Australian spectators during the Sydney Test. While the ugly incident indeed deserves the strongest of condemnation, the Indians should also try to look a bit inwards and introspect whether they are at all free from this philistine mindset !

Racism runs deep in India not just against African students or Black, but also against its own citizens.

Due to their "unpardonable sin" of looking, dressing or talking "differently"; our North-Eastern cousins often get subjected to the worst form of racism in the "progressive" cities of the rest of India ! The physical harassment and mental torture meted to the North-Eastern students studying or living in the "mainland" India do not form any news of surprise any more.

As a former resident of Bihar, this correspondent had witnessed how the Bengalis used to suffer regular racial taunts and abuses in that State. In such a scandalous state of affairs; the barbaric fatal attack on Yannick Nihangaza --- the innocent Burundi student in July 2012 in Punjab, murder of Nido Tania --- the Arunachal student in Delhi 2014, physical as well as sexual assault on a Tanzanian girl in Karnataka 2016 are not a bit surprising.

Less said about the atrocities on Dalits the better ! How casually can little poor Dalit children be assaulted if found responding to nature's call along streets or any youth dares to step upon a temple and these things happening in full swing in that country which religiously boasts of being "liberal" "modern" and "progressive"!

Apart from that notorious atrocity on Dalits in Una, Gujarat; the "role model of Indian development" has witnessed assault on Dalits for daring to peep into a Dandiya show, sporting a moustache or riding a horse! Report came from Punjab also how a Dalit groom was assaulted for displaying audacity to proceed for his marriage ceremony by riding a horse !

Not to speak of "honour killings" whereby two lovebirds or one among of them can be killed just for daring to enter in a romantic or matrimonial relationship with individuals of the "other" caste with the "lower" among them being in greater damage of getting fatally assaulted as had got witnessed few months ago in Uttar Pradesh where the youth Ambika Patel was burnt to death by tying him up around a tree!

And what to say of religious chauvinism ! Had Indians been truly non-racist and identified themselves as Indians only, then ideologies daring to cash on religious divide by sowing seeds of hatred and majority muscle-flexing to reap electoral dividend would surely have bitten the dust !

And the pandemic has again brought India's racist face in very very naked light! As if mocking and abusing our North-Eastern brothers and sisters as "Chinkies" was not enough; many many untoward incidents happened in almost all Indian cities, targeting them as "Chinese" and "carrier of virus" perhaps just because of their Mongoloid features ! Reports of Africans facing the ire of the "nationalists" have also been witnessed.

And Nizamuddin with its after-effects! By cleverly sweeping the congregation in Hindu temples under the mischievous carpet even after lockdown including that of the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath worshipping "Ram Lalla" at Ayodhya; the whole community of Muslims had been accused of "intentionally spreading" the virus just because their representatives attended a congregation before lockdown with full-fledged permission of the Central authorities !

And promptly innumerable poor Muslim vegetable vendors or hawkers had got boycotted or assaulted that too often by direct instigation of lawmakers! Muslim patients requiring delivery or dialysis had even got refused by hospitals resulting in miscarriage or death! In an Ahmedabad hospital, Hindu and Muslim patients got segregated! Racism at its most vulgar face has got brutally exposed thanks to the pandemic when minimum sanity and rationality demanded a united fight against the virus amidst the civilizational crisis!

And that notorious WhatsApp "joke" going the rounds --- "Dear Corona, the SC/ST/OBCs get priority in this part of the world. I am from the general category. Please remember!" Anybody holds full right to oppose reservation policy; but this type of heartless "jokes" amidst this human crisis reflects the crude casteism prevalent in the society!

If the Australians or British are "racist" due to the stray incidents of attack upon the Indian students studying there; then the assault on Africans, the North Eastern students, Muslims or Dalits are also not a bit lesser form of racism.

Apart from these, we can't forget how Tamils face the music in Karnataka if Cauvery water sharing dispute crops up, how Hindi-speaking migrants got abused in Gujarat hardly a year ago leading to their mass exodus after one of them was alleged to have sexually abused a local girl or not-too-rare flare-up in Mumbai targeting the North Indians with the perpetrators being cadres of Shiv Sena or Raj Thackeray's outfit !

Many housing societies around the country are alleged to unofficially ban Muslims from purchasing properties there! And skin! While the fact remains that innumerable Indian girls get humiliated in "marriage market" for not being "fair-skinned" enough, full-fledged Indian citizen Sonia Gandhi gets religiously taunted as "Italian" by her political adversaries and their supporters !

And for her "sin" of having foreign origin or "white-skinned", even her son Rahul Gandhi (son/grandson of two ex-Indian PMs) does not get spared from racial humiliation! In contrast, the much-maligned USA also had no problem in electing Black Barack Obama as its President whose father was of Kenyan citizenship with Islamic heritage ! Also not to forget how the whole Bengali community were subjected to choicest abuses in social media by mischievously linking a Bengali starlet with the unnatural death of Sushant Singh Rajput.

It should also be taken note of that while many Australian goons have been sentenced for their barbaric acts, rarely do we get to hear any news about punishment of the Indian brutes who dare to assault rape kill or threat their own countrymen or foreign guests by playing on demographic factors of all possible hues.

Thus, instead of beating its own trumpet of "tolerance" or accusing others of practicing "racism", instead of engaging in rabid "patriotism" and chanting 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai', specially by "mainstream" and "elite" vintage; Indians should at first learn to clean up its own backyard and learn to introspect a bit so as to turn better and tolerant human beings. Else India will end up as a classical case of "pot calling the kettle black"!


* Kajal Chatterjee wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on January 21 2021.



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