The Color of Hate

Monday, June 1, 2009

The attacks in Australia show us the ugly face of racism
It was high time that they reacted. With India toppling Aussies to gain the epithet of being the next team to beat in the world of cricket, the Aussies, it seems, have taken to a different route to settle scores. After allegations of racial abuse against Harbhajan Singh were quashed, the Aussies have decided to come hard at us with the same R-force that they pretend to abhor! Jokes aside, these are disturbing times.
When I saw the horrific images of a few teens bashing up an Indian being flashed on the television screen, I didn’t know how to react. The contempt was evident on the face of those guys as they drew pleasure in beating up a hapless guy black and blue. Racism is back to haunt us or should I say, is out of the closet to show its ugly face. Turning one’s head the other way does not mean that there are no problem areas. Discrimination based on the color of skin is like that Hit Me toy that springs back even after being punched in the face. The need is not to hit it hard but to deflate it. Such crimes need very stringent actions. Sadly, no one’s taking that.
I have stayed in the New York City, a place that is the most liberal if I may call it, for sometime. I might never have been subjected to any discrimination based on my color of skin upfront but I could sense the effort put in by many people I came to know to sound more genuine than they actually were. I couldn’t understand the need to proclaim one’s racial neutrality because if it actually was the case; there was no need to even talk about it. On deeper thinking, I felt that even we are to blame for the discrimination against us. I don’t think a lot of Indians carry themselves as equals in front of a ‘fair’ skinned man. If we ourselves are fascinated by the color of someone’s skin, we are bound to be treated in a different way.

Shravan Kumar battling for his life. The image raises the question - What is a developed country after all?

So, can we brand Australia as being racist because of the recent spate of attacks on Indians? I am not too sure. There has been growing resentment against Asians in particular after the rise of terrorism in the last decade or so. With people from Asian origin being involved in major terrorist attacks around the globe, the people of the countries under attack developed a wrong impression about the entire region. The only thing that the World knows about Afghanistan for example is that it was the safe haven for Al-Qaeda until the US dismantled the set up there. That is not a good introduction. There is a cultural divide too that adds to the woes. Remember the monkey-gate episode between Bhajji and Symonds? It turned out that the judge was okay with Bhajji abusing Symonds with a Maa Ki but not with the supposed monkey taunt. It would have been the other way round in India! The ignorance and the cultural divide might also have led to the increase in the levels of intolerance and thus in the number of attacks against Asians.

It is not as if there is a sudden surge in such incidents. A lot of what is happening may also be attributed to the media attention. It is not that Indians were not beaten in Australia earlier. It’s just that the situation is in the limelight now. Having said that, I would be foolish to rule out the unfounded feeling of racial superiority that’s entrenched in the minds of a lot of people from countries like England, Australia and France. It is very much there and too evident to be missed out. It is important to raise a strong protest against the discrimination and the inhuman acts of violence that has the whole Indian community living under the clouds of fear. It is not that they have moved to these countries illegally. We have Indian students in Australia on full time scholarships, doctors, engineers and other people who are contributing proactively to Australian economy and growth. There has to be a more just way to handle this than with a simple admittance of lapses. Australia must show its real intent before the situation gets murkier.

The New Year eve incident of Mumbai. The culprits, if caught, faced imprisonment for just one year. Is that the right compensation for the scar that the girl would carry forever?

However, an action by the Australian Government is not where the buck stops. In the entire furor created over the recent attacks, we have forgotten how we have been treating foreigners in our own land. True, it’s not of the racial kind but equally heinous. There have been umpteen cases of foreign tourists being befriended and then raped, robbed or murdered and we thought that predation was not a part of a civilized society? If we are demanding swift actions against the brutality committed on our kith and kin living abroad, where do we stand on handling such matters in our own land? The athiti dewo bhava motto that’s termed a tradition in India seems nothing more than a farce in real terms. Leave aside the foreigners, what has been done about the MNS hitting out at the North Indians and the Assam-Bihar tussle and acts of violence in recent times? Isn’t it imperative on the Government to come down heavily on the perpetrators of such crimes in India to send out a strong message? Discrimination in any form is highly objectionable. Action and not words is the call of the hour.

As I squirm seeing the images of battered young men being flashed on the TV screens, there is a larger question that pricks me – Is this evolution after all?


Anonymous said...

The Australian police is blaming the community for commuting late in the nights and carrying ipods and such items. What is the role of Police then?

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