Friday, October 11, 2013

No racism from outside, please

We brown folk are a lucky lot. (Lucky doesn't quite cover it. I know.) I mean, how often have you heard white people accusing someone of racism?*

But what are we talking about? We have our own version of 'racism' inside our country that we aren't keen on taking any from outside at the moment.

For example. Keralites dislike Tamilians and like to think of them as illiterate. ('Pandi' is a very common term of endearment.) They also accuse them of stealing water from their favourite local dam. If a Malayali girl gets married to a Tamilian, people send condolences. Kannadigas dislike Tamilians, even apart from the issue over river water sharing. I don't know what Tamilians think of Kannadigas and Keralites, but I am sure the feeling is reciprocated. Kannadigas and Keralites keep a respectful and wary distance of each other, things are decent as long as no one says 'Kasargode'. In some places, being called Telugu is like an insult. The whole world knows what some Mumbaikars think of non-Mumbaikars, that feeling buds and blossoms once in a while, sending a chill through hearts of the guest-residents of the city. North Indians believe that all South Indians are sambar-eating Madrasis, and South Indians despise North Indians for thinking so, among other things. The rest of India does not know of the existence of the North East, and people from Assam are easily referred to as Chinese. (I wonder what the Chinese think of that.) And I have not even ventured into religion-based bias yet. Yeah, we have our own little racism in our hands. As in every other bias, these rules do not apply to all the people in the groups involved, but it exists nonetheless.

When we want a little foreign racism in the mix, we reach out to visitors from Africa, Sri Lanka or Male for the same. In bazaars, prices are different for desis and foreigners, especially white-skinned folks. Sometimes our racism goes official and we put up boards outside tourist spots that say, "Ticket price: Indians: Rs.10, Foreigners: Rs.50". (Apparently there is a tax-paying-national reason behind this, as I learnt recently. Whether it is right or wrong is a different matter.)

So, who are we kidding with all that cry about racism as though we are the poor innocent victims all the time? We run our own show down here, folks. We sure do.

* Disclaimer: Racism exists, and it is ugly. This post is not intended to belittle or mock people who have endured the dirtiest faces of racism. This is just to show that when we scream of racism elsewhere, a bit of it exists in us too.


  1. Its the same across the world. Tourists always have to pay more. There isn't any place in the world where racism doesn't exist. It existed in ancient times and now as well and even in the future. We live by it! Sadly!

  2. I think you have hit the nail at the right place. There is lot of backbiting within our people especially related to different States.