Sunday, February 16, 2014

Racism in India

 Indian media has been recently filled with the sexist culture that leads to rape. It is now being supplemented by reports of widespread  racism. Nido Tania was from the North East and was murdered because of it.  Nido Tania’s death is just one of many incidents. Two years ago — triggered by an SMS hate campaign — many Northeast residents were forced out of Karnataka back to their home States fearing racist attacks. Only when the Rapid Action Force was deployed in Bangalore did the exodus stop. By then 30,000 people had already left the city. Similar campaigns by Sena activists in Maharashtra have led to marches against Bihari outsiders. Despite the media attention, little or no action is taken and race issues are brushed aside as being insignificant.

“Nobody will come as a saviour to help us,” said Alana Golmei,  of the Northeast Support Centre and Helpline that attends to distress calls from people from the Northeastern States.

An article in The Hindu  observes:
 “That the very idea of looking down upon the tribal culture as something that is to be ‘assimilated’ into the dominant, mainstream culture by means of state action, engenders a social attitude of discrimination and subordination based on racial lines. The social psyche that has developed over a period of time is that ‘anything other than the dominant mainstream is not worth appreciating until and unless it loses itself into the mainstream.’ The atrocities perpetrated by the armed forces under the auspices of pieces of legislation such as the Armed forces (Special Powers) Act, reflects the same mindset. It is portrayed as if the region being infested with ‘insurgencies’ is culturally underdeveloped and has to be chided and forced into civic values and mingled into the ‘developed and more civilised mainstream culture.’ Anuradha Chenoy et al, in Maoist and Other Armed Conflicts, argue: “A dominant, mainstream model undoes the very idea of multiple modes of living and diversity. It excludes the real demands from these regions for justice, dignity, equity, opportunity and rights.”
Today, economic changes have spawned competition and jousting for jobs. This competitive contact of cultural groups adds to the inter-cultural friction. What we need today is not just territorial integrity based on the ‘mainstream model’ that subjugates the ‘other’, but an ‘emotional integration’ of each group with the other. This cannot be achieved by mingling ‘other’ cultures into the dominant mainstream but by developing a genuine appreciation for the uniqueness of each culture in itself. This genuine appreciation can be developed only through cultural understanding and true knowledge of other cultures.”

Gautam Bhatia, a Delhi-based architect and writer, asks:
“Will then, Indians of African descent, the Siddis, settled in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Karnataka ever be truly accepted as Indians? Would Ugandans, if they settled down in India, ever become citizens with full rights, just the way 12,000 Indians have in Uganda? If Indians from the Northeast are not accepted into the mainstream, does that then weaken the case for Arunachal Pradesh being an integral part of India? If indeed mainstream India is unwilling to accept the Northeasterner’s Indianness, why then is the Kashmiri’s position questioned? Is the Indian Kashmiri’s applause for Pakistan at a cricket match as much a betrayal as a resident Indian supporting the Indian team against England in England? The answers probably lie in the larger issue of who is an Indian anyway.”

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