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Racism and Prejudice in India

The world is too big and I am just a small human that is fascinated by its endless wonder. I write about my experiences here!

My home town in the state of Kerala.

My home town in the state of Kerala.

There Is More Than One India

The world sees India as this one big country with uniformity in culture and ideology. What they fail to realize is that from region to region, there is no similarity. The biggest divide would be between the North of India and the South of India. But there are more divisions, even though the aforementioned ones are the main blocks. Another division can also be seen with regard to skin color; with the north mostly being populated by more fair-skinned people and the south, along with the east, being predominantly populated by people with darker skin. Let's start off this article by exploring a bit of Indian history.

One of the first and most advanced civilizations in the world lived in the Northern Indus valley region of India and what is now Pakistan. This civilization was so advanced that it had a sewer system even before western civilization. Their main source of wealth came from farming and the usual divisions of labor did exist. This civilization thrived for centuries before being either wiped out or pushed down south. Massive flooding is one of the theories as to why this civilization had been wiped from history. Upon examining the ancient city of Mohenjo-Daro, experts concluded that the city had sustained extensive water damage. Another factor was the invasion of the Aryan race. The white-skinned people came from what is now Iran and the former USSR. They invaded the northern plains and they either killed or enslaved most of the Indus Valley people, who are now known as the Dravidians.

The North/South Divide

After the invasion, one should just assume that nature had taken its course in human evolution. The fair-skinned invaders proclaimed to be superior to their darker-skinned counterparts. This historically proven racism is the backbone of the many Indias people are unaware of.

When people talk about India, they generally use Bollywood as a reference. The fair-skinned leading man romances the useless fair-skinned girl (the female gender in Indian society is considered nothing more than a tool to reproduce). They break out into a song and dance in the middle of the road, the leading man fights a cliche fair-skinned villain and the movie is over. This theme is universal in Bollywood and almost to the point of incessant repetition.

When people think about traveling to India, they think about all the places they have seen these actors sing and dance and wish to visit only those places. Bollywood is essentially just a big tourism advertisement for the northern region of India. But I digress. This one-sided characterization of a country with a huge cultural divide is one of the reasons why the south hates the north and vice versa. The north always believes itself to be India and its only representative, which extends to even cuisine. So-called Indian food is mostly Persian. Tandoori was brought over by the Persians, and biryani is a mix of Persian cuisine with Dravidian. Almost all the non-vegetarian dishes are Persian or western-influenced because India before the invasion was purely vegetarian. But all these facts are forgotten or even unheard of.

The south on the other hand is richer and more educated. It is more diverse and accepting of different ethnicities. There is less violence against women and female infanticide. In fact, Kerala which is a south Indian state has more females in the population and is number 1 in literacy, Human Development Index and per capita income.

Racism in India

Despite what people think, India is a very racist country. Just recently there were news reports that some African students who were studying in India were beaten up by drunk Indians. Unfortunately, some of the attacks did happen in the South. This issue of racism is compounded by the media’s obsession with the fairer skin. Movies, TV series, news anchors and every billboard are biased against Dravidians. There are even advertisements for skin creams that will help people get fairer skin. One of the advertisements even shows how the girl picks a fair-skinned boy over a darker-skinned best friend and the guy retorts "Switch to a cream which will make your skin fairer!" Here in India, there is a structural nature to racism. In a society where marriages are arranged, a darker-skinned groom or bride will always be at the bottom of the list. Even when it comes to cinema, south Indian movies are never chosen for an international accolade because the Indian film control board is in the North. All the while, it is the south Indian movies that get all the critical national awards.

Gay, Transgender, and Beef

The LGBTQ community in India is also victimized by discrimination. They are either forced to hide their identities or to beg on the streets. It is only in the south that they are treated as humans. In Kerala, there was even a public kissing day for the LGBTQ community as a protest against north India’s bigotry.

And then we have the cow business. The north of India is predominantly Hindu, some of whom are very intolerant of the slaughter of cows for beef. This intolerance has gotten so bad that just accusing someone of eating beef is enough to get them jailed or even lynched. The burden of proof doesn’t exist. However, the south is more secular and accepting of different beliefs.

India Is a Diverse Nation

People who travel to India think of it as a paradise. But they only see the country for a day, a week or a month. They are not aware of the deep-seated anger and resentment which is coming to a boiling point. India is not a paradise. The media doesn’t show its true nature. It is a country which has a huge gender balance issue, especially in the north. It is a country where the cows are safer than the women in the street. It is a country of invaders discriminating against the natives. It is a country which is intolerant of any idea which it deems radical.

There are many Indias’. If you ever do visit, open your eyes and look. Don’t just glance. Look.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2017 Colin Sydney