What do you mean, Racism?

Indians are racist. Or let me rephrase that, most Indians are racist. Whether they know it or acknowledge it, they (or rather we, as I’m an Indian) are. As the dictionary definition goes, most Indians perpetrate acts which would be considered racist when looked from a neutral point of view.

Here is the definition of racism:

1:  a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race
2:  racial prejudice or discrimination, based on such a belief

There are so many types of racism prevalent in India and among Indians, it is hard to nail them all down!

A very common example: Most Hindus still wouldn’t want their children to marry a Muslim, and vice-versa. They would in fact launch a staunch opposition if their children brought this up. Why? Because they know the other religion to be ‘very different’ (read ‘inferior’) to their own religion. This is religion based racism.

Another – rarely talked about, but ever-present – prejudice, is caste-ism. This is where people from the same religion discriminate against people in their religion but lower social standing; these ‘standings’ based on centuries old traditions and the work that their ancestors once did.

The plethora of ‘whitening’ creams and lotions and magic formula out in the Indian market is proof of colour based racism, where the white skin considered to be a sign of some higher kind of the human species. Looking down at darker skinned people, whether Indians or people from other countries, is still very much in practice.

The inter-state based cultural racism that you see between the Marathi ‘Manoos’ and the Bihari immigrants. The Telengana dispute. Already 3 new states have been formed based on the purported cultural division of the people of the same freaking state!

And then you have the racist behaviour shown against white people, where they are perceived to be ‘culturally deficient’, morally hollow and good-to-have-as-friends-but-never-as-family type mentality. This isn’t just practiced by people living in India, but also Indians living abroad amidst white people.

Most Indians still hold on to some or other type of the prejudices mentioned above, or a mix of them. And here is the best/worst part: most won’t even acknowledge the fact that they are being racists! The racist behaviour is ingrained as ‘fact’ or ‘reality’ and these notions won’t ever be up for any kind of consideration. God forbid if you point out to someone who is clearly being a racist – you’ll be labeled as someone who’s going ‘against values and tradition’ or ‘bringing shame to the family’!

On the other hand, charging more for a bottle of soda or entry to a national monument to white people (in India) are NOT examples of racism. This act is simply because the dollar/euro/pound are valued much higher than the Indian Rupee. Forty, 50, 60 times in value. And a white person, unarguably in the eyes of the common person in India, is not indigenous to India and coming from a place where there is presumed to be greater riches, as their income in dollar/euro/pound makes them rake in more money than a common Indian. Does this make this act justifiable? Of course NOT. But this doesn’t make it a racist act.

[This post developed from a comment I left here.]

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Categories: Culture, Demystify | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “What do you mean, Racism?

  1. Vinny

    So true…and to some extent I was conditioned to think the same before I realized from personal experience to understand, people fundamentally as individual or human beings and not markers of race, gender, color or social standing. It takes a while to stand up from the crowd.

  2. Steve Barrera

    Just realize Man by nature is racist. It was beneficial from an evolution-of-civilization standpoint but mostly unnecesary now. Not to worry though as the problem will rectify itself in few more thousands of years.

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