Discrimination in India on the basis of caste, religion and gender has long been in public focus. Though mentioned now and then, racial discrimination had not received as much attention until two very unfortunate incidents in Delhi in the last couple of weeks. In our last Saturday Poll, we had asked you to tell us if you thought that Indians were racist. Almost 90% of the 41 of you who took the poll here on Facebook opined that Indians were indeed racist. Just 10 % of the poll takers felt that Indians were not racist while another 2% felt that Indians were racist occasionally.
Technically, until the cause of an offensive action can be traced back to inimical notions the offender held of the victim’s race, we cannot call that action racial discrimination. So we cannot be certain that the two incidents in Delhi that brought back public focus on the issue were racist. However there is no dearth of anecdotal evidence that people from certain countries and even certain states face discrimination in cities like Delhi. This, despite, the right to freedom of movement that the constitution guarantees to the citizens of India. It cannot be denied that the issue is also due to poor work ethic of officials in-charge of implementing the laws. But it is also true that legislations do not automatically change people’s attitudes.
In a modern, civilised society, there is no place for racism. We need to change. For that change to happen, at the very least, we have to consciously not ignore when we see racial behaviour. Till then, the idea that India is a synthesis of different cultures and ethnicities will remain just that- an idea.
The poll referred to in the first paragraph is the Saturday Poll posted on our social media on 1st February,2014.