OPINION

Those who Live in Glass Houses

October 11, 2010
Indian Liberals

India and Indians have been "offended" once again by a "racial attack". The country is "outraged" by one New Zealand TV anchor's dig at Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit. Paul Henry deliberately mispronounced "Dikshit" as "dick" "shit", not once but over and over again.

A little research on Paul Henry would return all the controversies he was involved in. Clearly, this guy is an attention-seeker and before Sheila Dikshit, those who were at the receiving end included Susan Boyle and Stephanie Mills among others.

But of course, we are Indians and we have to make a big song and dance about anything and everything. We had to create a big drama and we did it very well, Indian ishtyle! Our government summoned the Kiwi high commissioner, gave him an earful, our media made a noise about this incident, we made the kiwis apologize "profusely" and all that crap.

This nauseates me to say the least. There's nothing more shameful than we Indians, the most racist people on the planet, taking offense at some racial slur on a TV show far away from our shores. This incident reminded me of a post I had written last year during the height of the "racist-attacks-in-Australia" incidents and I am duly reproducing them below. Please note that although some of the quoted incidents are dated, the crux of my argument remains the same.

Retrieved from the old post

There has been a lot of anguish and anger in India with respect to the racist attacks on its nationals in Australia. Indian newspapers are full of the horror stories from Australia and apparently one of the victims has urged Indian students not to go to Australia because "there's no life there!"

There's no life in Australia? It comes from the same person who perhaps not too long ago was thinking of settling down in that country for whatever reasons beyond me but definitely not because Australia "didn't have a life"! And it took only a freak knife crime for him to change his opinion so drastically!!

Now I don't mean to be insensitive here. I completely understand his present state of mind and the resultant outrage. But is it decent to judge the entire population of that continent by a few out-of-bounds teenagers? I've been living here in England and not for a minute would disregard the possibility of being a victim of such a crime. Yet, in my brief stay here, I have come across so many welcoming Englishmen and women that one such relatively unlikely event would not change my opinion about the entire country!

I am aware that I might appear to some chauvinistic readers as sympathising with the Australians. Hence, I must clarify that I am not. As the Australian ambassador to India himself accepted, racist elements exist in Australia and that the racist angle to these attacks should not be discounted. And I do condemn all racist behaviour anywhere on this planet.

And therefore, my question here is this. Do Indians really have any right to cry foul over racism, given their own racist mentality? I would like to remind my Indian friends of those several attacks on and resulting deaths of foreigners traveling to India. How many times have you seen any protest by Indians against such crimes in their own country?

In fact, come to think of it, we Indians are the most racist, casteist, xenophobic and hypocrite people in the world (they are also extremely sexiest, to an extent of being misogynist {one of the reasons why sex determination during pregnancy is still illegal in the country!} and homophobic but I could talk about it in a separate blog). Nowhere on this planet would you be discriminated against in your own country on racist grounds than in India. Those northerners who don't agree with me should live in the south for a while and vice versa. I lived in Chennai for nearly two years and it was there that I realised for the first time that I was an 'Aryan' and not 'Dravid'. It is not secret that political parties in India not only exist but also thrive on these racial and caste divides.

Xenophobia takes on an altogether different meaning in India. You don't have to travel from a different country to be a foreigner in India. You could easily get discriminated against or even bashed up if you travel a few hundred kilometres outside your home state. Those Indians who cringe at the 'Paki' slurs thrown at them in the western countries should ask themselves how many times have they themselves referred to their fellow countrymen as 'lungi', 'bhaiyya', 'ghati' or 'baniya' and to foreigners as 'goras' or 'kallus'!

And that's why I think that Indians are the most hypocrites as well. And I'll tell you why. In a very popular "patriotic" Indian movie, aptly titled 'Chak de India', the coach of the Indian women's hockey team that travels to Australia for the world cup proudly points out a 'gora' (a white person) hoisting the Indian flag. And that was supposed to be "patriotic"! If that is not xenophobic and racist, then I wonder what is!

Now consider in that context Amitabh Bachchan, the legendary Indian actor, rejecting an honorary degree offered to him by an Australian university in light of these racist attacks against Indians. Why did he? What was the university's fault? Did the university in any way demonstrate its subscription to such racist ideology? Were the attackers students or employees of that university? The way I look at it, the university's only fault was that it was situated in Australia!

By allowing 'Chak de India' to be released, the Indian movie industry, of which Mr. Bachchan is an icon, actually demonstrated its acceptance of the racist remarks and hence could be considered more felonious than the Australian university. The question that begs to be answered therefore is why didn't Mr. Bachchan reject all the awards conferred upon him by the industry that allowed those racist remarks in 'Chak de India'? Why hasn't he ever publicly or even privately (although I wouldn't know if he did) denounced, let alone criticised, the racial and xenophobic violence in India? I know that the chauvinist readers would be quick to point out that he did denounce the violence on north Indians in Maharashtra but they know as much as I do that he did so only because he himself is a northerner.

The reason is quite clear, at least to me. Hypocrisy comes so naturally to most Indians that they don't even realise it on many occasions.

I can safely assume that Mr. Bachchan didn't see the 'gora' remark in 'Chak de...' as racist (I would be surprised if most Indians did!). That was "patriotism" for most of them and I have no doubts in my mind that Mr. Bacchan was genuinely trying to demonstrate his "patriotism" (once again!) by rejecting the university's offer.

So in a nutshell, if you ever see a racist, xenophobic Indian, he's simply "patriotic" but don't you try to be patriotic in front of an Indian because that would immediately be considered as "racist" behaviour!

So here's my suggestion to all those Indians who are offended by racist activities against them all over the world - instead of demanding the "whites" and "blacks" to treat you with respect, how about you treating each other with respect first? How about rejecting violence against Biharis in Maharashtra first before demanding non-violence against Indians in Australia? How about treating northerners in south and vice versa equally and fairly before demanding equality for yourself in Britain?

Because believe me or not, you are more likely to be treated fairly and respectfully outside your country than you are within your national boundaries.

IndianLiberals is a group for all liberals of India to unite in favour of freedom, liberty, equality, human rights, tolerance and non-violence. This place is a platform to discuss, develop and promote liberal values in India and organize a resistance movement against all communal, socialist and communist forces in our country.
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