Racism- An Unfading Blot on The Indian Society

Racism, xenophobia, and prejudice is prevalent in India. It is an uncanny amalgamation of unconsciousness, prejudices, centurial-old traditions, and discriminatory methods in which communities are nurturing with the additional dining taboos based on the caste. India is always an enigma, a country so large that every state is similar to a different country with its language, culture, customs, and clothes. All these differences made us diverse, but at the same time compelled to be suspicious of those whom they consider aliens.[1]

Racism to some extent is influenced by colonial discourses that have percolated into India, for instance during the 19th-century racist European coalition of Africa with cannibalism. But blaming only colonial inheritance or its neocolonial cultural ramifications is not justifiable as a nation we are yet to deal with the racism and casteism that exist through many diverse narratives.

Before the British brought us African cannibalism, we had our own stories, that ranges from traditional texts down to some current Chitra comics, with dark-skinned ‘non-Aryan’ looking creatures. On the same line, the way we have encountered the aboriginals people only because of their dress codes and social norms is different from the mainstream Indian ones – is simply terrible. Some middle castes people who are accusing the government to give the backward castes an edge for economic and other reasons, tend to forget that worst of the internal prejudices are aimed at dark Dalits and dark-skinned aborigines, and this has not changed till now.[2]

Theorizing Racism In Indian Context

All the current work of literature on the subject of racism is in its budding stage. They have deduced that the problem of caste is different from that of racism. Although they found resemblance, many authors were unsuccessful to adjoin the organic linkage between the caste system and racism in India. The major disadvantage of existing literature is the lacunae of consistent theory to elucidate the detailed social dynamics which are hidden behind the practice of racism.

Indian society is entirely ingrained in the interlacing of hierarchical caste inequalities sanctioned by Hindu Brahmanical texts, where Dalits have to face invincible amount of discrimination from the dominant groups. In this unordered and hierarchical society, racism converts to another form.

Here, the invasion of an outsider in their social structure, where the characters and responsibilities of everyone are already assigned is viewed with mistrust and perceived as a social threat to their hierarchy. Hence, there is a need of taming, allocation, and subjugation of this outsider. So, the inclusion of these people into the local social space can be initiated only with the help of socially correct practices and conceptions. This comprehensive spectrum of contrary social interaction negotiated through a set of these practices can be truly defined as Indian Racism.[3]

Strands Between Racism And Colorism

Our country has a history that most of our rulers were the whites i.e, the Portuguese, the Dutch, French traders, British, and Mughals. They were comparatively fairer than the majority of the Indian population. This succession by the white people left behind the hopeless inclination of looking fair. It left a deep impression on their mind that those who are light-skinned are capable only of attaining power, respect, and dignity and start assuming them as the master race.

Racial prejudice eventually moulded itself to colorism. The general definition of colorism is to differentiate or discriminate against an individual based on skin tone or complexion. The black people are generally considered as a part of the lower layer of society while the fair is virtuous and rational. In our Indian society, the complexion is given way too much importance they believed that fair people have positive impacts which are not with the dark ones – a vague notion which they are nourishing for so many years.

The majority of the Indian population possesses this kind of stereotypical mindset. The black is now hated upon, which is criticized shabbily worldwide. Due to colorism, black people have to face all sorts of difficulties worldwide. It topples their confidence, enthusiasm, self-belief to a great extent. They live in constant fear that their voices will be mummed. They do not get the right amount of appreciation, in lieu, they face hostility and are subjected to cruel treatments.

Black people witnessed persecution in all forms be it either physical, virtual, or in any other manner. They are not allowed to have access to educational institutions, workplaces, social services etc. There is no appropriate address system that protects them from brutal and harsh bullying. The crime rate has increased against them but we all chose to be a mute spectator and not concerned about raising voices against racial violence. If the same crime if occurred to a white then the entire scenario would be quite different.[4]

Factors Promoting Racism

India needed saving from itself and the commencement of an entire ‘civilization mission’ brought a sense of inferiority time and again. The attempt to get the Indians to imbibe the Western culture and ways of living enraged the Indians and compelled them to question their own identity, which was after Independence dealt with strong patriotic identity. This identity led to the elation of Indian culture and traditions and presented these as superior to Western.

It can be noticed that most countries that are racially tolerant are mostly melting pots of varied cultures and nationalities. Most of these nations value individualism over group identity. In India post-colonial rule has not witnessed much influx of nationalities, which automatically made them outsiders and not part of the social fabric. This xenophobia leads to hostility and alienation as they don’t fit in Indian societal norms and framework. Racism as an act of retaliation is undertaken by the Indians because of their stereotypes which taint the image of the country now and then. Racism exists among the communities also as regional diversity is prevalent in India, which leads to ideological conflict and sometimes of resources.

The country is itself very fragmented and for them accepting, hence foreigner seems even more alien, and a common target of all. Children along with adults are not being taught about tolerance or the beauty associated with harmonious living. This issue is not touched upon and their mindset is still the same and the importance of no international help and support were put forth for the masses. Furthermore, the government has not put in place any stringent action plan to deal with foreigners or a particular community. The hour of need is a clear no-tolerance policy for combating racism which is the core responsibility of government, with a loud and clear message.[5]

Conclusion

Racism is prevalent in our country for so many years, but the unfortunate part associated with this is nobody considers it relevant enough to raise their voices and ask for a redressal mechanism. It is also not the case that people are not aware of its ironical existence, but their only solution to deal with this discrimination is to adopt whatever is deeply engraved in the society without asking questions.

They have accepted the fact this is not something which should bother us, and knowingly or unknowingly we all became the participant and harbingers of racism and wait for something big to happen where rights of a black person are violated blatantly and realization of real society hit us. Racism is a disgusting concept where the appearance became such a major determinant that their identity is questioned on this very basis. Its high time that we must come forward and seek the solution right from our home by not discriminating against people on their race, as ultimately we all are human and our skin colour is not decided so seeking privilege on that basis is utterly unjust.


[1] Mari Marcel Thekaekara, There is no escaping racism in India, NEW INTERNATIONALIST, (June 3, 2011), available at https://newint.org/blog/majority/2011/06/03/racism-xenophobia-india-migrants

[2] Tabish Khair, The roots of Indian racism, THE HINDU, (April 16, 2017), available at https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/columns/the-roots-of-indian-racism/article18061795.ece

[3] Dawa Sherpa, Understanding the complexities of  Racism in contemporary India: Challenges and the way ahead, CENTRE OF ECONOMIC STUDIES AND PLANNING, SCHOOL OF SOCIAL SCIENCES, available at https://sheps.princeton.edu/papers/153677.

[4] Joshita Mohanty, Unfolding the Reality of Racism in India”, I-PLEADERS, (June 10, 2020), available at https://blog.ipleaders.in/unfolding-reality-racism-india/

[5] Asees Bhasin, India has been ranked as one of the racist countries in the world, Here’s whats makes us so, YOUTH KI AWAAZ, (September 30, 2014), at available https://www.youth ki awaaz.com/2014/09/racism-in-india.

Anjali Kumari from Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law, Punjab


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Editor: Shailza agarwal

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