Monday, June 1, 2009
Colors of Racism
These days everyone is talking about the attack on Indian students down under. Indians feel enraged, agonized, hurt, insulted, everything but ashamed.
Why should we feel ashamed?
Well because what is going on down under is nothing but an inter-national version of what goes on in our country every day in every city and in some or the other way each one of us contributes to that.
If what happened in Australia is height of racism, what would you call the incident where students from Bihar appearing in the railway recruitment exam were beaten up in Mumbai? Recently, Raj Thakeray launched a full fledged anti-Bihar campaign and came up with slogans like "Ek Bihari Sau Bimari" which published openly and no strict action was ever taken against him. What was it when Shiv Sena had launched the "Pungi Bajao, Lungi Bhagao" campaign against the Tamils?
In fact, we don't even need to delve into these political issues in order to gather examples of racism in our country. Be it words like "Chinki", "Sardar", "Bahadur", "Bhaiya" or be it the treatment meted out to certain North Indians in South India and vice versa, we practise racism on a daily basis.
I myself have been both, the victim as well as the perpetuator of racist practices at different points in my life. I have made fun of people of my own country based on their origins and toay I do feel ashamed. And although I have neever been a part of any instance involving physical harm, I do think I have seen the different colors of racism.
'Bihari'- something that I am and quite proud to be so has often been used as a derogatory term in this country. I have seen a few people treat me differently and ask me strange questions once they come to know about my roots. And of course I can recount several occasions when people would have preferred me speaking to them in a language other than Hindi.
'Northie' was a tag that I had never even heard of till I took admission in Sathyabama University, Chennai. I am sure the north-south drift doesn't manifest itself in a worse manner as it did in the mess of Sathyabama. Believe me, nothing can be more insulting than treating people differently while serving them food.
Perhaps what all Indians need now is not only to fight against their rights in other countries but also introspect and realize that may be we are no different. May be there is a bigger battle we need to fight within. The Aussie miscreants must be taught a lesson but I think these incidents leave a few lessons to be learnt for us too.