Racism: Ignorance or Complex

“Since Hitler emerged from obscurity and became the Fuehrer of harmony, we have heard of a great deal about racialism and the Nazi theory of the herrenvolk. That doctrine has been condemned and is today condemned by the leaders of UN. Biologists tell us that racialism is a myth and there is not such thing as a master race. But, we in India have known racialism in all its forms ever since the commencement of British rule. The whole ideology of this rule was that of the herrenvolk and the master race, and the structure of the government was based upon it; indeed the idea of a master race is inherent in imperialism. There was no subterfuge about it; it was proclaimed in un-ambiguous language by those in authority. More powerful than words was the practice that accompanied these and generation after generation and year after year, India as a nation and Indian as individuals were subjected to insult, humiliation and contemptuous treatment. The English were an imperial race, we were told, with the God-given right to govern us and keep us in subjection. If we protested we were reminded of the “tiger qualities of an imperial race”. (Jawaharlal Nehru The Discovery of India, p.356)

So far, times have changed, years have passed, and the political equations of the world have changed. But, does that mean the mind-set of imperialism and racism has changed too? The recent developments in Australia, UK and some other part of the world have reminded us of the ugly faces of racism. Even though there are silent protest marches, and intellectual discussions on these incidents, we still see regular attacks. The racial attacks in Australia on the students of Asian Origin (mostly Indians) have forced the Indian government too to voice its concern. Yet, racial attacks are still on through violence and/or through discrimination. As a matter of fact, after the racial attacks, the student intake in Australia has decreased. It is not only going to impact the economy of that country, but also is going to impact the relationship of India and Australia in a long run.

Racism in Australia has had its historical facts. It has had a very difficult past where almost a kind of apartheid has been practiced and the aboriginal people lost all their land. These people have been suffering from many prejudices. They are not only facing poverty, but also are subjected to various notorious policies in the past. For example, in June 1998, “One Nation”, an Australian nationalist party in Queensland won 22% of the votes (11 out of 89 seats) – with their main lines as fighting against immigration of non-whites. Even though their “race-basedpopulist measures had created uproar in the mainstream Australia and abroad, they could manage to win 22% of votes as the un-employment was very high. They could also manage to convince the people that “immigrants were taking their jobs”. Hate speeches and hate newspaper writings by their leaders in the past had triggered violence. Their concern “in danger of being swamped” by Asians also had an impact on the election results.

It is to be remembered that racism is not confined to Australia only. Many other parts of the world are also witnessing racism either through violent attacks or social discrimination or social un-acceptance. Coming to the racism in Africa, one can observe the row in many African countries. Since most of the African countries have gained independence from their former colonial countries, apartheid and racism is quite evident there. The policy of brutality by the rulers and slavery had also been practiced in many parts of the world through centuries. In most of the places, the conflicts of resource allocation has also triggered wide spread violence against their colonial rulers. For example, the violence in Zimbabwe against the white farmers is due to the poverty and lack of land ownership by the black farmers. Some argue that it is anti-racism. But, does anti-racism advocate violence? If yes, it too is a problematic concern.

In the Middle East – with its policies, the “West” has created (mostly) many more extremist groups. The “oil politics” of the mighty “West” have created not only extremist factions, but also have turned into a form of racism as well; “West” is either hated by “Middle-East” or Middle-East is despised by the “West”.

With the world trade tower bombings on September 11, 2001, there have been violent, hate relationships between various sections of society in different parts of the world. Many innocent people of Indian origin and or of Middle East/Pakistan origin are killed and abused or side lined in different parts of the world. In fact, many Sikhs were “officially” attacked post-9/11/. Why should innocent people be victimized? Both parties retaliated without realizing the consequences. The retaliation by the minority/majority leads only to violence and destruction of the human kind. Racism along with religious clashes at different parts of the world has complicated the entire system of world histories and geographies.

While saying all these things, we should not forget our own country. We too are not cleaned from racial rows. The manus vs. bhaiya in Maharastra, the Hindi vs. non-Hindi in South and the epithet of “Chinky” to the North-Eastern students have not only been witnessed in violence, but also raised many questions about our stake on racism. If people of one part of India are treated racially in the other part of the country, then how do we expect justice from Australians, or Europeans and Americans? Dividing the country based on language, region, and religion might lead to more racial abuses and cases of violence. Either encroachment by immigrants or a sense of superiority or inferiority of one part of the society, adds fuel to the fire. This not only has created social exclusiveness, but also has divided the entire society. Social exclusiveness or forming clubs/parties of exclusiveness is of course not a major problem. But the problem is in its outcome. The exhibition of superiority and un-approachability of the superior class emerges from such social exclusiveness. It divides people of a rich state or a poor state, a developed state or an under-developed state, etc. In a global context, it is India vs. America or India vs. Europe or Australia; the developing vs. developed.

It is understood that racial superiority or imperial arrogance leads to political and economic division between countries and states. As a matter of fact, the division becomes more serious and becomes the class of affordability vs. the world of millions, the aamjunta. One thing is common between these divided groups – dislike/hate against each other. They are ignorant of each other, leading to hate and dislike. Along with the above divisions, many people also relate racism with the level of intelligence and/or with IQ. This is a myth and is scientifically proved to be wrong.

Along with racism, the plight of caste based systems in India has also complicated the entire scenario. The family to which one was born usually determined one’s social status and discriminatory social, political, economical and educational discrimination. The question arises, is merit earned by the possibility of being inevitably born is a certain caste or by one’s actions and efforts? It appears these days in India that caste decide one’s social status. Don’t we think we need an early solution to this? Are we serious enough to resolve this? I doubt. Short-term political goals should be scrutinized and discouraged. The rising inequality among castes, regions, and religions require through checking. Unless, we control this, we are bound to develop racial bias for scape-goating or advancing xenophobic and isolationist tendencies.

It has been rightly said:

… Once, they demonised the blacks to justify slavery. Then they demonised  the “coloureds” to justify colonialism. Today, they demonise asylum seekers to justify the ways of globalism. And, in the age of the media, of spin, demonisation sets out the parameters of popular culture within which such exclusion finds its own rationale — usually under the guise of xenophobia, the fear of strangers.

A. Sivanandan, Poverty is the new black, The Guardian, August 17, 2001

Racism has been in practice, and no doubt will be there in any other form in future. Social and cultural tolerance and equal share of the natural resources is desired, if we are interested to control racism. This however is not going to be easy for any generation. Rising un-employment, and pathetic mind-set of both ruled and ruler need a brake. Else, more violence may be triggered. The division of the elite and the millions requires to be treated carefully. Restraint is desired from both the aamjunta or the millions and the elite. It is we, who can pacify this, though cannot stop it completely. Only the “common man” has the capability to break away from these political traps that divide a human from another human on the basis of race, caste and creed.

Aamjunta – what is your stake?

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10 Responses

  1. I read your article and liked it very much. You have connected racism to a historical background. Especially, I liked the fact that you have written regarding racism is also practiced within our own country.

  2. Racism is greatly followed in India

  3. i really enjoyed reading your blog thanks for sharing this to us

  4. Nice article. As rightly said, in India itself, there are manus vs bhaiyas, the problem of “chinki” and not so good treatment of northies in south. Without solving these problems, its not ‘just’ to go on worrying about racism attacks in Aus, US etc.

  5. Racism is greatly followed in India;

  6. Agree…. So, what MNS is telling in Mumbai is also Racism? I think yes… If so, then why do the Indians shout against Australians and Europians? Better to clean their own home, before pointing finger at others…

  7. Racism Was,Is and Always be followed in India and other parts of the world until and unless we develop our mindset towards others

  8. Racism is entrenched in our blood, we are all racists in some way or other my friend

  9. If, by any chance, you refer to the recent mishap at Delhi, it does not really depict racism, but an outcome of the unhealthy-abusive Maa-behen culture. Shockingly, we find the promotion of such culture in the main-stream movies as well.

    Have you ever wondered, there still exists a KATAKIA feeling and vice-versa across Orissa? Do you name that as racist feeling?

  10. I feel racism is passed down by families which keep these intolerances alive – children are not born to hate and they do not see color.
    Also the media makes it worse, their campaigns are like propaganda. Especially in the U.S. you will notice propaganda against anyone who “looks Arab” or even “Latino” for illegal immigration.
    I say, what is wrong with illegal immigration, they are also contributing to the community!
    And “Arab” is such a blanket term, there are some people in the US who cannot distinguish between “Arab” and “Indian” – prime example would be what happened to Nina Davuluri.

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