Racism is a constant and cruel reality in India and has been existent since time immemorial. People belonging to every ethnic background make racist comments about each other on a daily basis. Humankind are themselves responsible for the rising of the word ‘racism’ as although all these ethnic groups are from the same species-Homo sapiens they are still discriminated against. The word appeared in the early 20th century but the idea that a certain group of people is superior to others has been enrooted in every society. Racism is based on hatred between groups, therefore it is very difficult to curb their actions and conciliation is very difficult.
The recent George Floyd, incident where a black man was killed by a white police officer for a very petty offense, has awoken citizens around the world to fight racism. Today every country is facing some form of racism and India is no different. Though India is a secular country, where all religions are accepted as equal, the citizens still do not confer with the same idea. There have been multiple incidents where there have been clashes between Dalits and some upper community members, or a person from the northeast has to face difficulties because of his place of origin.
REALITY OF RACISM
Often have we heard the use of racial slur ‘chinki’ in our day to day life to categorize the northeast people of our country. The usage is based on an ideological process to define people who have become the nation’s citizens but do not share similar values of culture and history. People reason the use of such a word as to help identify the place of origin of the people, but this calling of names is often considered as an insult in a public situation. The government had also in the year 2014 appointed the Bezbaruah Committee to look into the concerns of the people of the North-East living in other parts of the country.
The recent arising or coronavirus has made the lives of north-east Indians even more difficult. COVID-19 has affected the entire world and people whose physical features resemble the Chinese have been faced with racial discrimination around the world because of its origin in China. The Mongoloids of our country have been referred to as “corona” or even as “coronavirus”. People have spat on them, or have been forced to stay in quarantine even when there no symptoms of the virus, they have been denied entry into apartment complexes, threatened with eviction, or forced to leave the restaurant so as to make other people comfortable.
Racial discrimination has grown to such a level where the Members of Parliament have had to make comments to prevent racism. Mr. Tapir Gao raised the issue of racial discrimination. He appealed to the center to give directives and advisories to respective state authorities to stop the hate being spread against the North-East Indians. Kiren Rijiju also said that a strict advisory is being issued to all States to take action against racial remarks against people of north-east because of growing incidents of hate remarks against the people of North- East.
Indians further have an obsession with fair skin, and generally, respect people who have whiter skin. Indian racism towards Black people is as worse as white peoples’ racism. Among Indians, even certain shades of brown are anathema. This is a result of the Indian media only portraying and promoting fair skin. Everyone in the Bollywood or advertisement industry, consider it fair skin as a prerequisite to enter the industry. Things turn even worse when it comes to black men from Africa who are targeted because of their even darker skin tone.
There have been multiple incidents of racism in India. In the year 2014, three black students on the metro were attacked by the people around them because, because they were accused of harassing girls on the metro. They were hit with sticks and stones and were seriously injured after the incident occurred. They were looked at suspiciously merely because of their black skin tone. In 2017 Indian guy disappeared 40km away from Delhi, he was found dead because of a drug overdose. A memorial service for the deceased took place, and four Nigerian students who were not very far from the gathering were beaten with sticks, chairs and metal bins. Their guilt was never proven, but the damage was done regardless. These incidents show us that Indians are no different from whites. We discriminate equally and with the same prejudice.
In India racism and casteism go hand in hand, they feed onto one another. India is the country with the second largest population in the world, so it encompasses various physical variations. It ranges from a light-colored skin tone to one of the darkest colors skin tone. but the complex caste system was not a result of differences in colors of skin or physical features. It was mostly done on the basis of the occupation of an individual. The traditional caste system of Hindus divided it into 4 types of people i.e. Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas, and Shudras. The people outside these 4 were considered as ‘untouchables’ or ‘Dalits’. Despite the constitutional abolition of ‘untouchability’, the disabilities of citizens by the reason of birth in a particular caste is still very much existent in society.
According to the 2001 census, scheduled castes in India comprise of 16.2 percent of the total population, and scheduled tribes comprise 8.2 percent of the population. Both together constitute 24.4 percent of the Indian population. In India, Dalits are most exposed to inhumane treatment. They are denied certain basic privileges such as drinking water, entering temples, education from institutions, or eating in the presence of upper-class Hindus. India’s National Crime Records Bureau released a report stating that on average every day 2 Dalit is murdered; 3 Dalit women are raped and 2 Dalit are assaulted. As per NCRB, the crimes against Dalit rose by 25% from 16.3 crimes per 10,000 Dalits in 2006 to 20.3 crimes in 2016. 422,799 crimes were reported against the Dalits from 2006 to 2016.
There have been provisions in the constitution that prevent the practice of untouchability such as Article 17. There is also the Untouchability Offences Act, 1955 that prevents the practice of discrimination. Though there are various provisions enacted that are aimed at preventing any form of discrimination, in reality, the problem still lies in its enforcement. The laws should be enforced with much stricter implementation. Race and ethnicity are often considered as one, but there lies a difference, racism depends mostly on physical features, whereas ethnicity depends on the linguistic background or the caste.
Hate crimes in India are not very new, they happen on a daily basis and many people are subjected to it. Hate crimes are committed against a person not because of the acts of a person but because of their membership with a particular group. Mob Lynching is one of the main categories of hate crimes and is very prevalent in our country. Leaders of our country have played a pivotal role in polarizing the country and further accelerating the hatred and violence between communities. The fairness and credibility of state apparatuses have also been questioned because of its passive nature in cases of hate crime
Since 2014, India has seen a significant increase in the number of hate crimes, among which mob lynching is a pertinent crime. Hate Crime Watch project, launched in October 2018, that has been tracking religion-based hate crimes in India since 2009, has found that 64 percent of cases of religious violence were against Muslims and the rest were Dalits along with the Christians.
India is a well-known country for its achievements in various spheres and its growing economy. It is a country full of opportunities but it is also quite known for its xenophobic and racist activities. The citizens are brought up in a way that they praise the white people and look down on the black people. Though India has been trying to act upon racism, the efforts are not up to the mark, and racism is still not taken very seriously by the citizens.
The large diversity of cultures existing in the country has proved to be a bane while curbing racism. Racism currently exists in each and every corner of our country and it is high time that there are stricter regulations brought to prevent racial discrimination. Further, the enactment of regulation should also be accompanied by strict implementation. Racism is detrimental to society as a whole, when a person is subjected to racial discrimination, he has to suffer a lot of physical and mental agony. It is high time that we act on racism, and as individuals prevent any form of discrimination existing at a personal level.
 Article 17, Constitution of India,1950