We are Indian when we stand up while the National Anthem plays along, we are Indian when we tear up while watching the struggles of our Indian fighters, we are Indian when we proclaim our independence every year by flying kites, but we are also Indian when we judge the indianess of others – on how they look or talk. Small eyes, can’t possibly be an Indian, that’s a Chinese trait, right?
A few days ago, an incident came up, much to the indignation of a few and rant of many. A Manipuri woman has alleged that she was subjected to racial harassment at the international airport here following which an inquiry has been ordered into the incident. Monika Khangembam highlighted that on Saturday an immigration official at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport hurled racist remarks at her when she was on her way to Seoul for a conference. Union Minister Kiren Rijiju said that an inquiry has been instituted into the allegation of racial harassment and action will be taken if anyone is found guilty.
External Affair Minister Sushma Swaraj has also apologized on her Twitter handle for the same, admiting that the problem is much more severe than we would want believe.
Monika Khangembam – I am sorry to know this. Immigration is not with me./1
— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) July 10, 2016
What moral right do we have to claim that racism is black or white, when we treat our fellow Indian nationals like this? Does the concept of nationalism include hurling racist and derogatory comments on the people part of the country, even if it’s the most ignored or the conflicted part?
India is inherently a racist country. Every one of us has faced some form of discrimination when travelling to a part of the country we don’t call native. A South Indian gets labelled as “Mallu” in North India, a Northeasterner as “Chowmein/Momo/Chinky” in mainland India, a North Indian as “Bihari” in the rest of India. While travelling abroad we either pride ourselves or feel embarrassed of being an Indian, yet we carry the tag of an Indian, not a north-eastern, south Indian, or a pahadi; whereas at home, we get highly racist. We would label people from the places they belong, or the places they seem to be from and harass them verbally, when we cannot physically.
Are we patriotic to our country, or to stereotypes?
The regular racial slurs faced by people from the north-east, the alienation felt by the Muslim community, the indifference directed towards the plight of Kashmiris, it all highlights the racism we knowingly, or unknowingly bestow people with, thinking they don’t fit into our idea of India. And our idea of India, is generally, our community, isn’t it?
Did we learn anything from the very latest African attacks, or the death of Nido Tania in 2014? Have we not evolved from the caste system that was gripping our country prior to the onset of modern world? Have we replaced Sudras, Vaisyas, Kshatriyas and Brahmans, with Muslims, the Banias, the Punjabis and the Hindus? The concept remains the same, just the tag differs.
What will end this is a strong precedent that should definitely serve as the ultimate deterrent. For that precedent to be set, the anti-racial law must be enacted. It is the only hope for millions like Monika Khangembam.
Let us be inclusive and learn to live the human way, not a casteist or culturally-biased way. Let us learn to respect people in general, not the culture they seem from.