Racism and Prejudice in India
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 the 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 was 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. 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 course in the human evolution. The fair skinned invader 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 white leading man romancing the useless white girl (female gender in the Indian society is considered as nothing more than a tool to reproduce). They break out in to a song and dance in the middle of the road, the leading man fights of a cliche white 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 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 representatives, which extends to even cuisine. The so called Indian food is mostly Persian. Tandoori, was brought over by the Persians, the biryani again is a mix of Perisan cuisine with Dravidian. Almost all the non-vegetarian dishes are of 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 the 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 obsessions with the fairer skin. Movies, TV series, news anchors and every billboards are biased against the Dravidians. There are even advertisements for skin creams that will help people get fairer skin. One of the advertisement even shows how the girl picks a white skinned boy over the dark skinned best friend and the guy retorting, "Switch to a cream which will make your skin fairer!" Here in India there, is a structural nature in the 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, the 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 which get all the critical national awards.
Gay, Transgender, and Beef
The LGBTQ community in India are also victims. They are either forced to hide themselves or are forced to beg on the streets. It is only in the south where they are treated as humans. In Kerala, there was even a public kissing day where gay and lesbians were kissing on the streets as a protest against the north of India’s bigotry. And then we have the cow business. The north of India is predominantly Hindu which make them all cow worshipers. They have an intolerance to 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. While the south is more secular and accepting of the different beliefs.
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 to 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.