Recent news is full of a New Zealander TV show host making fun of the surname of Delhi CM ‘Sheila Dixit’ pronunciating it as ‘Dick Shit’ (Link). Earlier, the same host was making fun of their Governor General of Indian origin, following which he was summarily suspended for a fortnight. (Link).
Now, it is not for the first or second or even third time that such a thing has happened. We have had incidents in which TIME, an erstwhile leading magazine, published an article by Joel Stein here leading to the entire furor; ultimately leading to TIME publishing an apology. We have had an Indian actress win a Big Brother season sailing on the popularity generated by such racial comments when she was called racist names by Jade Goody (Link).
But this post is not supposed to be an outrage against such incidents. I do not intend this post as a rant against how the world is not giving India the respect that is due to it. This post is intended to question us alleging anyone else is being racially prejudiced when we Indians are the biggest racists ever.
A conventional racial system of Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya, and Shudras has been prevalent in Indian society for quite some time now. This distinction was based on the kind of work that people were doing and often ended up creating a divide between the different factions of the society.
Modern India follows a more culturally-based racism between ‘The North India’ and ‘The South India’; between ‘The Punjabis’ and ‘The Gujjus’; between ‘The Bengalis’ and ‘The Mallus’. Usage of Chinki in common parlance is very frequent. An average Indian will still stop and gawk at any ‘firang’ male or female they come across, even while buying sweets at a shop. Any Caucasian would be addressed as being ‘amerikan’ while any dark-skinned, non-Asian person would be deemed as ‘negro’ or ‘afrikan’. And anyone showing traits of being in foren is promptly robbed blind, not by thieves, but by people who are no better; the kulis at the station, auto wallahs etc.
And then there are distinctions on the basis of religion. Not getting into specifics, it is not entirely uncommon for people to be denied flats to rent sorely because they do not (or for that matter do) belong to a specific religion. (Link)
Some time back, I received a mail forward as to how an average Delhite looks at the rest of the country and the neighborhood. I am sure an avid observer of human traits would be able to construct a similar map from the viewpoint of all parts of the country.
After all this, I ask, are we really qualified to call someone else a racist?