Are We Indians Racists?

36 thoughts on “Are We Indians Racists?”

  1. We are in varying degrees. We also follow caste-ism. Yes nothing has been or is being done to remedy the situation.

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    1. I agree with you. However, recent scholarship suggests that the discussion of varna as well as untouchable outcastes in Vedas does not resemble the modern era caste system in India. Varna is one of the most misunderstood and misused concepts in Hinduism, and as a result it has a lot of stigma attached to it. Varna actually refers to the classification of people based on their qualities. Birth does not give anyone superiority or inferiority. This is called the caste system, which has been plaguing society, and wrongly tarnished the Vedas and our Indian system and heritage in the eyes of those who are not familiar with the proper classification.

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  2. Very well written as usual, Indro. I have a few things to say….
    1. You cannot ignore the fact that Bharat/ Hindustan/ India is essentially a Hindu thought which promotes inclusiveness and tolerance. We accept all religious thoughts as true and never question path of achieving the Moksha.
    2. India is country like no other in the whole world. Here not only languages change every few hundred kilometers but the culture as well. The lifestyle of Northeastern states are widely different from say Maharashtra or Gujarat but still it is one nation. I come from the North and have been living in one of the Southern City for last 1.5 years and find that what I could take as granted in Delhi is not so here in Hyderabad.
    3. However much we talk about India as One Nation, we will never be till we first identify ourselves as Bengali, Marathi, Gujarati, Tamil, Telugu etc. If you see the Matrimonial columns of any newspaper, it is But highly racial. We, as a current generation parents have to take the initiative to ensure our children are not bound to their regional cages but find their life partner from across the nation (or overseas) to create the oneness of this great country called India.
    Jai Hind.

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    1. Thanks, Aro. That is the diversity of India. It’s not a melting pot like the USA , India is like a salad, where each item adds its individual look and taste but collectively blends a unique, delicious taste: our culture. India’s “Indian-ness” is not the uniformity, it’s the diversity and the blend. This is the difference from the definition of the West. We are proud of our heritage and we shouldn’t let it be killed by some petty interests. Jai Hind!

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  3. This is indeed very annoying and I had even written a post on the subject. But I did not publish it fearing backlash. My heartfelt wishes to you for showing concern and courage to highlight and discuss this important issue.

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  4. We are worse than racists. We discriminate against people in the name of all sorts of things like caste, gender, religion, and so on. Tolerance is a myth that has been preached from pulpits only. The present central government has deepened the divides in the country more than ever.

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    1. The world is full of diversity, and that is the beauty of our universe. If there had not been any diversity, the world would appear boring and unattractive, and without any variety. You see the nature. Respecting diversity isn’t discrimination. Tolerance is needed in all spheres of life, and at every level and in every stage because it plays a vital role in establishing peace and love in all the units of society, from the smallest up to the highest. Being tolerant of each other and caring for each other is what makes us human. By teaching tolerance, we allow individuality and diversity while promoting peace and society. Our success depends on the effort we make to educate ourselves and our children. Tolerance is not concession, condescension or indulgence. Tolerance is to be exercised by individuals, groups, and not just States. Let’s accept our responsibility and do our job, rest will follow automatically.

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  5. Very well written piece on racism, casteism, regional and ethnic identities in India. Instead of placing the blame on extraneous factors, the corrective effort, as rightly pointed out by another commentator, must start with each individual and family as a social unit. Liberate the young minds from dogmas of religion and partisan considerations. Instil indianness while concurrently glorifying the salience of one’s own culture and its distinct contribution to the national fabric. Let the divide be only based on gender and let the aspiration be only for excellence in one’s endeavour and how it can enrich the country. Such a social engineering is bound to create generations of proud Indians who will carry the country forward.

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    1. Absolutely agree with you sir. And education is the solution, both formal and informal. We need to teach our children not just how to live together but how to act together as global citizens.

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    1. Thanks, Rakhi. We are living through a period of global transition. Technology is connecting us ever more closely, and cross-cultural exchanges are deepening every day — but this does not mean there is more understanding. Societies are more diverse but intolerance is on the rise in too many places. We need to teach our children not just how to live together but how to act together as global citizens. We need to nurture tolerance by promoting cultural understanding and respect — from parliaments to the playground.

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  6. Very nicely written, and true. Let’s hope the past can positively influence the present and future.
    Greetings from Holland .

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  7. Extremely complex subject I think. Firstly, I think the need to segregate and make classifications is a human need, and helps us process large amounts of information. We know from experience that a person with the surname Jain is highly likely to be a vegetarian while a person with the surname Chatterjee is highly unlikely to be one. Is it incorrect for a Chatterjee to seek a matrimonial alliance from another Chatterjee knowing the two are likely to be a lot more similar in tastes than a Jain? One cannot do each transaction from first principles upwards. The challenge, of course, is, how do we ensure that these do not become derogatory or hindrances to human exploration and striving. We fret and fume when we see the sign ‘Indians and dogs not allowed’ hung outside a club in the British times, but we do not think twice before hanging a ‘Maids and dogs please use the other lift’ outside lifts in Gurgaon highrises. Nobody is a saint. Let us not exonerate ourselves by finding a few nice speeches and using them as examples of our greatness and fairness. We are as guilty as anyone else of being racist when it suits us.

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    1. Absolutely sir, nobody is a saint in this world. Discrimination and exploitation of weak has unfortunately become a common social practice. We love to abuse, misuse our power rather than using it. We are still feudalistic in our thoughts. Proper education is the answer according to me and I agree the problem is very complex and it doesn’t have a quick or simple solution. Apart from caste divide, religion divide, racial divide, we also have class divide. These divides give the privileged a sense of superiority even if it may be ill-gotten and hence we see ‘Maids and dogs please use the other lift’. We should more discuss and debate on these issues rather than shying away if we really want to get a solution. I am not talking of a revolution, a small change can be good if it’s repeated, replicated elsewhere. We can’t act unless we think and talk on the issue.

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        1. Right sir, as the proverb goes: Charity begins at home.

          I also quote from “To Sir, With Love” by ER Braithwaite —

          “It is your duty to change the world, if you can. Not by violence, peacefully, individually, not as a mob.”

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