Racism. While not many of us have suffered at the hands of this belief, today, all of us know what it is. India ranks first in the world’s list of least tolerant countries, when it comes to accepting people of different races (which is really not the kind of list where India should want to be first). Yet when Indian students are harassed and assaulted abroad, every countryman and countrywoman is filled with hatred for the ‘firangis’, which was the term coined for foreigners in the colonial period.
And the saddest part is that the world is right. Indians are the most intolerant group of people when it comes to embracing various races. After all, we have our own domestic version of racism: the caste system. The caste system has existed in India for centuries, and even at the dawn of the modern era, it remains, proud and unaffected. Modern day Indians may argue that it no longer exists in urban areas and that equality is being promoted, but the fact is that 68.86% of the Indian population lives in rural areas, compared to the 31.14% that lives in urban areas.
Doesn’t that mean that a country where the IT sector is renowned for its genius, where the second largest pool of scientists and engineers exists, where a mission to Mars could be achieved in such a small time frame and comparatively less resources and a country that has accomplished so many incredible feats, is also the country where (let’s assume) 68.86% of the population is racist and divides its own people on the basis of caste every single day?
While the attacks on Indians abroad may or may not have been provoked, it isn’t fair to say that only the ‘firangis’ are to blame. We too, have played our part in it by making them feel excluded in not only our country, but also in communities where the Indian population is predominant. Physical attacks of any kind, especially those of racial nature, are never right, but too often people forget that even bigotry is a type of attack, granted that it falls under the category of mental and social attacks through exclusion.
What I’m trying to say is this:
What’s done is done, and there is enough blood and hatred on the minds of both those who were attacked, and those who were the attackers. We cannot go back in time and prevent those racial attacks from happening (or attacks that occurred on the basis of an individual’s caste), but we can take steps to try and be a little more understanding of each other. Because as long as astronomers don’t discover another planet for us to move to, we’re all kind of stuck on earth, and we might as well try to make both our own stay and the stay of others’ a bit more comfortable.