Racism in India


In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist. We must be anti-racist.’ – Angela Davis.

The #blacklivesmatter movement and protests can be seen happening all around the world after the death of George Floyd by a police officer outside a shop in Minneapolis, following many more deaths of black people by the police in the US. People around the world also started taking part in this movement by peacefully marching and making donations to organizations that work to support this movement. However, it was us who started discrimination in the first place by believing that people can be divided based on their race and ethnicity. In Nazi Germany, there was discrimination between the Jews and the Germans, so much so that there were different schools for the Jews and the Germans. The Jews were considered to be sub-humans to the Germans and were deprived of their civil services, Jewish businesses were boycotted, anti-Jewish laws were legislated, and only Germans were subjected to the civil and political rights whereas Jews were just mere subjects of the state. 

This is just one of the many examples of racial discrimination around history. In North America and South Africa, during the apartheid movement, it was established that there should be segregation of the races, i.e. the blacks and the whites. They should have their churches, schools, hospitals, etc. and it was considered unnatural for the people to marry someone outside their race. During colonial India, there was a clear distinction between the whites (the colonial leaders) and the blacks (the Indians). There were separate towns for the British and the Indians to live. 

With modern times and the new generations, there is racial tolerance in people and we see people mingling with others around them irrespective of their race and ethnicity. In the Indian constitution, one of the fundamental rights i.e. Article 15, prohibits discrimination of Indians based on religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth. It implies that every person has an equal right on all the opportunities and no one can prohibit a person from doing something on the grounds mentioned in the article. 

However, there are still many cases in India, where some people make fun of others because they belong to a particular race. For instance, the people in the northeast are made of fun because of their looks and called names. There is also constant competition between the north Indians and the south Indians to prove that either of them are the best kind of people. There is a common perception in people’s minds that if a person is fair skinned then he/she is from north India and if they are dark-skinned then they are from south India. It is also believed that people from south India are extremely intelligent, which might be true; but north Indians are equally intelligent too. All these misconceptions are created by us only, however, what was started as a joke has now become a serious problem that has been rooted deeply in the minds of the people. Due to the spread of the Covid-19, the people of the northeast are facing another set of remarks being aimed at them like, ‘Are they from China’ or ‘have they got their country’s disease’. Many times, people belonging to the northeast are refused accommodations if they travel to another state for their studies. African people in India also face a similar kind of a situation as they are being made fun of, pointed out in the public, or are called names. The prejudice around Africans is that they are poor or that they come from a country that has a history of slavery. People think that calling an African a “negro” or a northeastern “chinki” is just a matter of fun and not something that needs to be taken too seriously; however what they don’t understand is that these types of jokes are the first stepping stone towards racial discrimination, which not only affects the other person but also creates conflicts between people. 

HOW CAN WE STOP RACISM?

Stopping racism is our responsibility and each one of us should make an effort on our part to stop ourselves from commenting about others as well as stop others from doing the same thing. The most important step to stop racism is that we need to be ANTI RACIST not NON RACIST. We need to strongly oppose racism and promote the idea of racial tolerance among people. There is also a need for strong laws against discrimination towards people who belong to different races. It is the responsibility of the person who is abused to not sit silently rather they should report it to their higher authorities or if necessary, then they must opt for legal action. Also, it is our responsibility to support our friends or any other person who faces racial discrimination and helps them to take necessary legal actions for the same. But if a person thinks that they have a right to not face any racial discrimination, then they should also know that it is also their responsibility to never discriminate other people if they belong to a different race.

The changes that we want to see in the world will only be made once we decide to change ourselves!  

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