Are We So Different?

With the entry of a black man in the White House, there are many who would like to believe that racism is a thing of the past. But is it really? In the times of Barrack Obama, the first black President of the US, for the first time the black people has someone to look up to. But what most of us don’t know is that, the opposition tried to play against his color – pre, during and post the election period.

Standing in 2010, the world faces the million dollar question with a billion question marks – Are we or are we not free from racism? Have we managed to rid ourselves of this tyrannical institution involving the color of humans? Even after centuries of its inception, why are we still fighting over color? Based on what I see and hear around me – I think that bias continues to exist. Though not as strong as they used to be, vibes of racism and apartheid are still looming over us. Even the growing terrorism all over the world is evidence of it.

We are well into the 21st century and problems of racism continue even in countries such as Italy, in fact, the whole of Europe. Some time back, there were a series of violent attacks on African farm workers in Southern Italy which left some 70 people injured. The workers were easy targets as they were being exploited for being fruit vendors living in difficult conditions.

Around May-June 2009, we heard of some Indian students being harassed, attacked, discriminated against and finally killed in Australia. What we didn’t know was that there were hundreds more to follow them. Being victims of some absolutely insane, illogical fatal attacks in a place far away from home, most Indians fled from there, clutching on to dear life. After 6 months of news flashes about those incidents, we moved a month into a new decade – but nothing changed for the better, things only got worse. The number of people dying per day increased and gradually it was not just students, it was anybody Indian. Reason?  Nobody knows exactly. Everybody’s guess is the growing insecurity among Australians because of the overpowering excellence of Indians in any and every field imaginable. So is mine. End result is that the Indian Government had to issue an advisory warning about the dangers of traveling to Australia.

Closer home, India is no stranger to racism either. An example to which we as DU-ites can easily relate – don’t we nonchalantly go around referring to friends from the North East as “Chinkies”? At some point in our college lives we all have; or at least we’ve seen it happening. We just don’t realize that it counts as being racial. Not only us as classmates, everyone from shopkeepers to auto wallas to street vendors, they all take advantage of their distinctive features and make all sorts of efforts to charge higher fares from them. This is why Universities all over India have high dropout rates from North Eastern students.

A south Indian spotted in a North Indian city? He’ll be called all sorts of names (Mallu, Ille – to name a few); he’ll be the target of jokes all around him and be treated as someone inferior when he totally isn’t. Also, going by the rule ‘What goes around, comes around’, North Indians in a few cities of Southern India are not treated any better either. They’re denied accommodations for rent, given strange glares. In addition, language problems are always there. In circumstances such as these, tall claims like that of “unity in diversity” lose their meaning.

There is unquestioningly still a divide between the various religions/cultures/ ethnic groups in our country itself. And we’re the ones to blame for it. Its up to us to bridge the gap, to wield India into a nation because only then can we do something about the world. Such narrow mindedness must cease or the future looks no different from the past. And that’s when the question comes into play – Are we really so different from each other?


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