India is not a racist country, no, it is not!

The niftiest thing about racism in India is that in the mind of its practitioners, it doesn’t exist. Racism in India, that is. Communalism, communism, vegetarianism, hooliganism, casteism, crony capitalism and Mughal-e-Ism, yes. But racism? Not in this country.

How can it, since we have, since the dawn of pre-post-colonialism and other malapropisms, been the victims, and, as far as nationalism goes, been glorious ‘tryst with destiny’ victors against it.

For Indians, who at least don’t ‘look Chinese’, it is that horrid thing that gets Indians beaten up in Australia, Sikhs mistaken for West Asian Islamists in the US, construction workers and maids in the Gulf leading miserable lives, and the Mahatma thrown off the train at Pietermaritzburg.

And in those rare cases when the Indian is actually not the victim, racism is what US President Donald Trump supporters ‘do’ against Mexicans, swathes of the US practised before Jay ‘Success is the Biggest Revenge’ Z became one of America’s B R Ambedkars, and why Nelson Mandela became famous for being the Indian Gandhi. (More on the Mahatma a bit later.)

Last Monday, four Nigerians — Nigerians being from a country in Africa, the way Srinivas Kuchibhotla, who was shot dead in a racist attack in Kansas in February, was from the Asian country of India — were brutally attacked in Greater Noida by a mob. The mob had morphed from a reported group of angry protesters who believed that a Class 12 (Indian) boy died of a drug overdose from drugs allegedly supplied by his Nigerian neighbours.

It is important to note that the four Nigerians beaten up on Monday — or the fifth Nigerian attacked in another part of Greater Noida on Wednesday —and a fifth were detained but released after the police found no evidence against them. Perhaps the mob and the cops can be forgiven, since it is really, really hard for Brown people to differentiate between Black Africans going about their own business and Black Africans peddling drugs. After all, when did another kind of -ism stop enough people from believing that Pakistan actor Fawad Khan also had a hand in the attack on the Indian Army headquarters in Uri, Kashmir?

Since last week’s racist attacks, much has been aired about the traditional Indian prejudice against dark skin, with the usual examples of marriage adverts putting a premium on fair skin and ‘whitening’ creams trotted out. That is, indeed, a prejudice, and a deeply embarrassing one. But not fundamentally different from the ‘traditional aesthetic’ bias for large breasts or — among the ‘hipster’ crowd — big beards.

Racism is both more toxic and, ironically, easier to stamp out. It is more toxic because it not only harbours a prejudice that is cooked in vats of noxious stereotypes, but it’s also regularly acted upon. Racist action can take the form of, as cited by Monday’s victims, name-calling and taunts, restricted entry and inflated prices to more violent forms.

South African social scientist Ashwin Desai and historian Goolam Vahed in their 2015 book, The South African Gandhi: Stretcher-Bearer of Empire, extensively collate Gandhiji’s own writing in the period in which the future Father of Another Nation lived in South Africa between 1893 and 1914.

In this startling work of scholarship, the writers quote passages where Gandhi had described Black Africans as “savage”, “raw” and living a life of “indolence and nakedness” and making a case through campaigns of being “treated differently” from the indigenous Black population.

So, the bull must be caught by the horns if racism in India is to be tackled with a little more seriousness than via parliamentary condemnation and tut-tuts about creating a bump in India-Africa trade, happy post-colonial ties and other pleasant things between the people of the ‘Great Continent’ and of the ‘Great Subcontinent’. Or rather, the bull must be caught by the horns and put before the cart: by cracking down on racist crime when it takes place in Mother India.

As Monday’s attacks — and countless other anecdotal evidence that goes beyond ‘Africans’ and includes fellow Indians from the northeastern part of the country — point to once again, the functionaries of law and order find these ‘crimes’ to be nothing but ‘incidents’ in a country where you don’t either have to be ‘kaalu’ or a ‘chinky’ to face a lynch mob. And ‘incidents’, as we all know, get taken as seriously as a prospective paying guest with a name that can be so hard to pronounce.
Courtesy: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/sports

Source: http://blogs.economictimes.indiatimes.com/Undertheinfluence/india-is-not-a-racist-country-no-it-is-not/?utm_source=Popup&utm_medium=Old&utm_campaign=TOIHP

Indenture system ended a century ago, but Indians still face racism in British colonies

The Indian indentured labour system enforced by the British empire, in the mid nineteenth century led to the displacement of close to 3.5 million Indians to other colonies of the British for meeting with labour requirements there. (Wikimedia Commons) The Indian indentured labour system enforced by the British empire, in the mid nineteenth century led to the displacement of close to 3.5 million Indians to other colonies of the British for meeting with labour requirements there. (Wikimedia Commons)

“Growing up, my connection with India was fairly abstract. It was only through Bollywood and religion and the fact that there were segregated housing and schooling for Indians,” says Brij Maharaj, a third generation immigrant to South Africa. Maharaj’s grandfather had moved to Tongaat, South Africa at the age of 16, to work as an indentured labourer on sugar estates there. His family started prospering when the indentured labour system of the British regime was banned by the beginning of the 20th century and his grandfather procured some land. His father and uncle later moved to Dublin where he along with his siblings were brought up in an atmosphere that marked them apart from the whites and the indigenous population.

Maharaj is currently engaged in conducting research on the nature of the Indian indentured labour system enforced by the British empire, in the mid nineteenth century that led to the displacement of close to 3.5 million Indians to other colonies of the British for meeting with labour requirements there. The hardships and discrimination faced by the Indian community in places like South Africa, Trinidad, Mauritius, Fiji and several others have been documented by several historians, sociologists and writers of popular literature such as Amitav Gosh and Nathacha Appanah.

In March 2017, India completed 100 years of the end of the indentured labour system. (Wikimedia Commons) In March 2017, India completed 100 years of the end of the indentured labour system. (Wikimedia Commons)

Last month, India celebrated 100 years of end of the Indentured labour system that took place in March 1917. As part of the commemoration, the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library in collaboration with the “Becoming coolies” project organised a two-days conference to dwell upon the nature of the Indian indentured system. Attended by prominent scholars on the subject like Dr. Andrea Major, Dr. Crispin Bates and Dr. Satnarine Balkaransingh among others, the conference discussed issues of racial discrimination and identity formation faced by Indians and the struggle for ending the institutionalised form of labour dispensation, that a large number of scholars have equated to slavery.

The system that started soon after slavery was abolished in 1833, required Indians to sign a legal agreement stating the consent to move abroad for a minimum of five years to work mainly on sugar estates. Incidentally, the nature of the recruitment was such that only those from the lowest castes and poor economic backgrounds were approached for the practice and the famines that had taken place in the recent past were ideal justifications framed by the British to persuade Indians to look for opportunity abroad. However, the miserable conditions in the sugar estates and the conflicts with both the white community there and the indigenous population soon led to widescale protests against the colonial government.

The system that started soon after slavery was abolished in 1833, required Indians to sign a legal agreement stating the consent to move abroad for a minimum of five years to work mainly on sugar estates. (Pinterest/ Romola Lucas) The system that started soon after slavery was abolished in 1833, required Indians to sign a legal agreement stating the consent to move abroad for a minimum of five years to work mainly on sugar estates. (Pinterest/ Romola Lucas)

The nationalist battle to end indenture

The origins of the movement to end the indenture labour system lay in fact, not in the concern for the labourers, but rather for the discrimination faced by wealthier Indians, particularly from Gujarat, Bombay and Madras who moved to these colonies later to make a fortune as traders. The biggest proponent in this regard was Mahatma Gandhi whose 1906 satyagraha campaign in South Africa marked the beginning of the struggle against British rule in India.

However, when Gandhi started his campaign, his priority was to fight against the Natal Assembly Bill passed to disenfranchise Indians. As penned down by professor Aushutosh Kumar, “though Gandhi’s campaign against such acts of the South African government was indirectly related to indenture as well but it was not until 1913 that he showed his concern towards indentured Indians.” In fact as pointed out by Kumar, Gandhi’s speeches showed that he himself had a derogatory attitude towards the indentured labourers, who were colloquially often referred to as coolies.

Gandhi in South Africa (Wikimedia Commons) Gandhi in South Africa (Wikimedia Commons)

In 1901, while Gandhi addressed the issue of racism faced by Indians in South Africa, he came up with the following argument: “I may tell you that all the Indians, no matter who they may be, are classes as a coolie. If our worthy president [D.E.Wacha] were to go to South Africa, I am afraid; he too will class as

a ‘coolie’.”

It was only when Gandhi and the Congress realised that their efforts were not resulting in equal treatment of free Indians that they decided to attack the indenture system, which they believed would be a drain out on the colonial economy.

Accompanying Gandhi’s call against racism were a large number of movements against the labour system that propped in India by the second decade of the 20th century. Kumar noted that the formation of the anti-indenture emigration league in Bengal, Bihar and UP “made colonial officials anxious as the league was analogous of ánti-slavery society’ of Britain, which was responsible for the abolition of slavery from British empire.” The pamphlets written by members of the league along with first person accounts of labourers stationed in sugar estates abroad were freely circulated around India by the 20th century, that resulted in bringing public notice to the plight of the immigrants. A pamphlet produced by an anti-indenture leader in Muzaffarpur read the following and had been reproduced by Kumar in his work:

“ESCAPE FROM DECEIVERS.

ESCAPE FROM THE DEPOT PEOPLE

BEWARE ! BEWARE ! BEWARE !

It is not service. It is woe.

Don’t fall in to their snare. They will ruin you.

You will weep your life along.

Instead of rupees, rubbish will fall (on you).

They are taking you across the sea!

To Mauritius, to Demerara, to Fiji, to Jamaica, to Trinidad,

to Honduras.

They are not islands; they are hell.”

Finally on March 20, 1916 Madan Mohan Malviya moved a resolution in the Indian Legislative Council for the abolition of the indenture system. While the British government accepted the resolution and formally banned the system in 1917, migration for indentured labour went on till at least the third decade of the 20th century. The last ship carrying indentured labourers arrived in Mauritius in 1924.

The indentured labour community in present times

Ironically, despite the fact that it was the indian indentured labour system that initiated the nationalist uprising against the British, it was not until the 1990s that the Indian government tried to regain its contact with the succeeding generation of Indian Indentured labourers in order to attract investments. According to Brij Maharaj, “the history of Indian indentureship reminds India of a less sophisticated past.” “Until 1990s, the Indian community in South Africa did not know what paneer was,” says Maharaj as he explains that the descendants of the labourers have a very abstract connection with India.

“whenever we talk about indenture, we talk about loss. But it is also a discourse of a new and changed identity.” (Wikimedia Commons) “whenever we talk about indenture, we talk about loss. But it is also a discourse of a new and changed identity.” (Wikimedia Commons)

While on one hand the connection with their native country is patchy, on the other hand the relation with the indigenous population in these countries have been equally strenuous. In 2002, a song written by Zulu playwright, Mbongeni Ngema, called AmaNdiya (the Indians) came under attack for spreading hatred towards Indians in South Africa. In 2014, a similar song was composed by the African rap group, AmaCde, urging Indians to go back to their own country. The same year in Dublin, the government had decided to tear down the Warwick market that was the workplace of a large number of Indian traders. When Indians protested against the decision, politicians came out with speeches declaring alarmingly anti-Indian sentiments. In Fiji as well Anti-Indian sentiments have been forming a contentious issue in elections held in the recent past.

On a brighter note though, one has to acknowledge the creation of a multi-cultural identity among the descendants who are a product of the cultural integration of the Indians, British and the natives of their host country. As noted by economist and playwright, Dr. Satnarine Balkaransingh, “whenever we talk about indenture, we talk about loss. But it is also a discourse of a new and changed identity.”

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Courtesy: http://indianexpress.com

Source: http://indianexpress.com/article/research/indenture-system-ended-a-century-ago-but-indians-still-face-racism-in-british-colonies-4596378/

This Man’s Honest Post On Racism In India Shows How Disrespectful We Really Are Toward Africans

A few days ago, locals in Greater Noida had beat up Nigerians for their alleged involvement in the death of a 17-year-old boy. Because racism comes as an easy offence for most of us, the assault on the Africans didn’t create an uproar that it deserved.

Nana Kofi Yalley/FB

This is probably why this man decided to pen a thought piece on the subject. Nana Kofi Yalley writes,

“Must we also start ganging up on your fellow citizens who have gone to stay in our countries? You say who cares just because you don’t have a relative there to be attacked but if you were to be attacked yourself will you dare to live to be attacked in another man’s country where you are vulnerable? That’s the choice you leave us. But we are too civilized to do unto you what you do unto us.”

Association of African Students in India / Facebook

He goes on to explain how Africans are contributing to the Indian economy but are not getting the respect they deserve.

“We renting your flats at high prices, paying huge amount of dollars for fees, and spending the monies we bring in here and not saving them outside India but in the same Indian banks. Please give us some respect. The recent attack in Noida is something I can’t really understand where innocent people will have to be hospitalised for a crime they didn’t commit.”

You can read his entire post here.

It’s high time we, as Indian citizens, learn to respect foreign nationals staying in our country and stop seeing them as a threat just because they belong to a different colour or community.
Courtesy: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/sports

Source: http://www.indiatimes.com/news/world/this-man-s-honest-post-on-racism-in-india-shows-how-disrespectful-we-really-are-toward-africans-274443.html

Seven Racial Attacks In The Last Two Years, Here’s What The African Community Has Suffered

Monday’s attack on an African man by a mob at Greater Noida’s Ansal Plaza Mall has once again sparked a debate on the general attitude of Indian towards Africans, which conspicuously points towards racism. A video of the man being beaten up with metal dustbins for no apparent reason was shared on social media by the Association of African Students in India.

Also read: Hate Crimes Against Africans Continue As Another Man Thrashed Badly By A Mob In Greater Noida

Racial attacks weighed by misconceptions and prejudice against the African community isn’t a first in India. Nationals of African countries have been at the receiving end of violence laced with racism for years now.

Here Indiatimes gives you a timeline of all the recent racial violations against Africans in India:

1. On Sunday, a large group of African students gathered at Kasna Police Station in Greater Noida to protest murder charges. The parents of a deceased Class 12 student, who died of a drug overdose, suspect that the drugs were supplied by Africans who live in their vicinity.

2. A Congolese national in Delhi died on May 20, 2016, after being violently beaten to death by three men in Vasant Kunj. All of them ran into an altercation over hiring an auto-rickshaw.

Twitter/ANI

3. Following this incident, seven Africans including four women were attacked physically and with verbal racial slurs by a mob in South Delhi’s Mehrauli area.

Also read: This Man’s Honest Post On Racism In India Shows How Disrespectful We Really Are Toward Africans

4. Local residents of Hyderabad’s Banjra Hills beat a 23-year-old Nigerian student with an iron rod in May 2016 over an argument.

ANI

5. A Tanzanian woman living in Bengaluru was stripped and assaulted by a mob after a Sudanese national killed a 35-year-old woman in a car accident.

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6. In another incident in Bengaluru, a 23-year-old Congolese national was tied to a pole and beaten up in September 2015. Local residents of Kammanahalli objected to him playing loud music in his car. A mob gathered, he tried to flee, was chased, and beaten up.

7. In March 2015, three Cote D’Ivoire nationals were beaten up in Bengaluru’s Kothanur after locals apparently got irritated by a speeding driver, who was from Africa.

Puclmanglore

Despite strong and historical relations between India and African countries, there exist deep stereotypes about the African community in India. An estimated number of 40,000 Africans live in India, of which around 25,000 are students.
Courtesy: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/sports

Source: http://www.indiatimes.com/news/india/seven-racial-attacks-in-the-last-two-years-here-s-what-the-african-community-has-suffered-274454.html

Stop this racism: Zero-tolerance policy needed towards attacks on African students in India

In what has become a recurring problem, racial attacks against Africans have now taken place in Greater Noida, UP. In the first instance, four Africans were brutally assaulted after a protest march by local residents over the death of a 16-year-old boy, allegedly from a drug overdose, targeted them. This assault was followed by a Kenyan student being dragged out of her taxi and beaten up. A tense situation prevails in Greater Noida, posing the first big law and order test for the Yogi Adityanath government in UP.

There’s no ignoring the fact that violent attacks against African students studying in Indian universities have been rising. Last year a series of such attacks had led to a strong protest from African diplomatic missions in India. Back then, the ministry of external affairs had assured full protection to African guests. It’s promising the same again in the wake of the Greater Noida attacks. True, the police have filed cases against nearly 600 people for rioting and booked 44 people for attempt to murder over the recent assaults. But African students continue to feel vulnerable and complain of daily racism.

At a time when the Union government has initiated a major diplomatic outreach to Africa as exemplified by its hosting of the India-Africa Forum Summit in 2015, such racial attacks on Africans jeopardise government efforts. African students come to India dreaming of obtaining quality education in a diverse country. However, many end up bitterly disappointed when they face abuse and harassment. Not only is this bad for India’s international image, if India cannot control racist outbreaks at home it reduces New Delhi’s moral and diplomatic space to protest when racist attacks are perpetrated against Indians abroad.

While it goes without saying that a zero-tolerance policy must be adopted towards racial attacks, there’s also a need to address derogatory perceptions prevalent among people about Africans. Widespread ignorance exists about African culture and history as exemplified by the usage of terms such as ‘Nigerian’ and ‘habshi’ for all African visitors. For such racism to exist in the 21st century is unconscionable. Hence, community-level programmes need to be initiated to bring locals and Africans together and foster greater understanding. Perhaps Prime Minister Narendra Modi ought to broach the topic of irrational mob attacks on Africans and how such attacks harm India for his next ‘Mann ki Baat’.
Courtesy: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/sports

Source: http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/toi-editorials/stop-this-racism-zero-tolerance-policy-needed-towards-attacks-on-african-students-in-india/?utm_source=Popup&utm_medium=Old&utm_campaign=TOIHP