It’s Racism

The recent episode of attack   on African students in the Greater Noida region, adjacent to Delhi, shameful as it is, should not make one forget that such events have happened in the racent past, and the Modi government maintained a curious silence. A few months ago, an African Day was observed at the initiative of the Government of India (GoI), but representatives of 54 African states boycotted the ceremony in protest against the humiliation of Africans in India and the lukewarm attitude of the ruling party and government of India. But that boycott did not succeed in changing the attitude of the government. The latest episode of attack on Africans and the beating up of four innocent Nigerian students after the death of a 17-year-old Indian boy due to suspected drug overdose was so horrible that it drove the heads of African missions in India as far as to seek an investigation by the Human Rights Commission of the United Nations. A press release issued by them called the incidents 'reprehensible' and 'racial', and accused the Government of India of taking " no known, sufficient and visible deterring measures". It may be pointed out here that the government's attitude was decried not only by the African Missions, but by one section of the domestic press as usual. The largest circulating daily in India, incidentally a Bengali daily, accused the Prime Minister and his cabinet of maintaining silence in the face of such continuous attacks and insinuated that they had implicit support behind such attacks. It went on to say further that narrow nationalism has made Modi and his colleagues forget about the impact such incidents may have on India's image abroad. Beleagured by such condemnations and afraid of international repercussions, the government has at last issued a statement denying the accusation of racialism and promising action against the culprits. The entire episode is, however, a poignant pointer to a cultural outlook that is deeply ingrained in the Indian society. Its intensity varies according to circumstances. This outlook is embodied in the attitude towards Blacks.

Even in India’s 'enlightened society' it is found that fair-complexioned girls are generally preferred over dark ones as brides, and parents of fair girls habitually parade the beauty of their daughters in order to obtain better bridegrooms. And about African nations and people, all sorts of beliefs about their lack of civility continue to linger. Such sort of racialism is still a force to reckon with in the Indian society. With the gradual domination of the ideology of Hindutva, this force has been getting stronger, which is by no means a good augury for the future of the society.

Vol. 49, No.41, April 16 - 22, 2017