It is time to accept the the bitter, ugly truth that we are one of the most racist country.It is deplorable that as the world silently allowed the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination pass by, India stands top of the list as the world’s most racist country.
It remains a fact that in spite of India being one of the world’s most diverse country, the country has crawled up (or has it fallen down?) to claim the top position of being one of the most racist counties in the world. According to the reports published by the economic survey group Insider Monkey, the racism has ascended immensely for past two decades across the globe. The people are becoming more and more racially conscious towards other, and not in positive way.
Recently, the racism had been in the front page of the international media thanks to US President Mr Donald Trump and his stubborn policy to build the wall of Mexico (among several other equally racists). Along with Trump many other personalities too came to the limelight for this same undesirable reason as they spewed all kinds of racial remarks. But that is all the international business.
Touching back to our own country, India had been one of the most tolerant country in the world with the people from diverse faith and culture coexisting peacefully with each other. Although India did have the racist history, it was not a gaping and terrifying as it is now. The subtle rift between the religions did exist and was visible in spite of all the smudging of the past carried out by some historians to glorify the Indian history. But the worst racism was always witnessed in terms of the castes.
The life of the lower castes had never been comfortable, let alone liberal in India. From bounded laborers to the night soil carriers, the lower castes had always been treated as inferior to the upper castes. The people from these castes are denied even the basic rights and were forced to live the life of an animal. When India became independent, B.R. Ambedkar along with other constitution architects attempted to ensure that such discrimination would be brought an end to. He along with others dreamed of secular state, only to be utterly disappointed. Dr. Ambedkar himself was so disgusted at the caste discrimination that he changed his faith to Buddhism. Even then, he could never die peacefully knowing that the racism in the name of caste has been obliterated.
Now, after more than 70 years of independence, the racist conflicts between the faith and the culture has only grown worse. The very pride of India – diverse culture and faith, has become a point of skirmish between, as people who are becoming more and more cynical and intolerant of each other’s faith and perception. If anything the inter religious riots of India stands testimony of the religious tension that burst out lethally leaving hundreds of people dead, maimed and scarred for life.
It has become consistently and increasingly more difficult to bring the racism down to at least to a notch during the recent years. If anything, the racism has become a new crutch for the political parties to lean on to buff up their vote banks. The racist attitudes are openly wielded and encouraged during the election times or to move up a political agendas, taking advantage of the people’s narrow and possessives attitude towards their beliefs and playing with their cynical attitude towards other faith and culture.
Whether it is the attacks on the people from the north-eastern states in Bengaluru or the slogans of “Maharashtra for Marathis” or the case of youth from Delhi insulting a Tamil boy for not speaking proper Hindi; speaks of the escalating cultural or lingual racism in India. The cultural diversity is both the matter of pride and conflict in India as the people of the multiple ethnicity, especially the vested groups within them, are enthusiastic to prove their superiority by bashing the other, quite often literally.
The entry of the social media in the circle of routine life seem to have given an all more wide door for the racism in the country with people more than often using the sites such as Facebook and Twitter to spread their racist thoughts and remarks. These social media sites have more than once blown wind to the fire, spreading the spewing of racist remarks every so often causing conflicts between the regional groups.
It is truly discerning if nearly 43.6 people of Indians aired their opinions that they did not want to live next to a person belonging to other race or 64.3 percent of people have actually witness the incidents of racial discrimination or violence. The growing trend among the urban India where the flats being given to rent or perchance to the people belonging to a particular faith or refusing to sell the merchandise to the people of certain region only congeals the above said data.
The involvement of the political parties in further encouraging these racism in one form or other too caused the escalation in the racist sentiments. One of the municipal election candidates I met years ago was heard telling the people that most of the problems of Gujarat could be solved if the south Indians are removed from the high posts, instead distributing those posts to the people of the state itself. He had even gone on to make the said claim as one of the agendas of his election.
The latest assembly elections in the five states have been excellent example of how racism has nearly become the driving force of the political propaganda. The political parties shamelessly catered to the racist sentiments of the prospective voters to win their way to the ballot boxes. The traditional and essential focus of development, infrastructure, taxes etc. were bypassed in the later stages of election frenzy as the parties shamelessly played to the Hindu voters, Muslim voters or Dalit voters.
Law can only act as temporary solution to the racism. What India needs is a comprehensive understanding that the development of the country cannot happen with the racist attitudes. The people have to realize more or less by themselves that racist approach will only take them backward instead of the progress in true sense. The government should act actively to curb the vested groups from spreading the wrong racist remarks, meting out severe punishment to the offenders. The media must be used positively to cultivate the feeling of taking pride in diversity and accepting other people’s faith with great amount of tolerance.
Perhaps it is time to revisit those programs from the 90s that propagates the sentiment of unity in diversity. Like remember the ad – “Ek, Anek Chidiya”?? along with the propagation of the various social issues, conscious efforts should be made by both government and the cognizant groups to encourage and promote inter racial amiability amongst the public. They must be reminded of the beauty, glory and the growth that living in and with diversity brings. After all, it is the variety/diversity that brings out true beauty.