By Gaurav Sharma
Throughout the timeline of history, race and ethnicity has been a contentious issue.
The epochs of colonialism encompassing the European subjugation of Americas and conquest of Asia, Africa and Australia, the Transatlantic slave trade, apartheid phenomena in South Africa and the brutal barbarity of the Holocaust resulted in the massacre of scores of innocent people, all due to misconceptions of being birthed in an elitist race.
In India, ethnicity, which is all about embracing one’s culture, ancestry, nationality and a host of other concomitant sub-genres, has taken a turn for the worse.
In January last year, Nido Tania, a nineteen year old student from Arunachal Pradesh was killed in a gruesome racial attack in Lajpat Nagar. This was not an isolated case but a gory ascension of the perennial racial bias which exists in the warped supremacist minds.
Torn apart by separatist conflicts and chronic underdevelopment, people belonging to the seven sister states of North-east India have no option but migrate to other parts of the country in search for a normal, if not better life.
During the sojourn away from their native place, they are meted with derogatory name calling viz Chinki–a remark meant to poke fun at their “Mongolian” looks. Landlords harass them with exorbitant rents, employers award paltry sums as pay and street vendors hoodwink with their assaulting gestures.
After persistent campaigning and bitter complaining from the north-eastern community, the Indian government has finally relented, choosing to now focus upon reducing the growing spate of racial onslaughts.
Any derogatory reference(word, sign or gesture) meant to discriminate against people from different parts of the country will land up an individual in jail for a period of up to 5 years, without the lax availability of a bail.
Talking to NewsGram, Tenzing Bhutia from Sikkim elaborated on his torrid experience in the capital city as follows:
“People call me Momo, China, King Kong and Bahadur. When I confront the guys, they rough me up as they are usually in groups of 3-4. They pinch my cheeks with utmost shamelessness and insensitivity. Is this the Dill Wali Delhi that I visualized before visiting the city? I am heartbroken to witness the discriminatory attitude.”
The punitive measures introduced by the government will do much to halt the rapid escalation of the racial attacks.
However, one wonders how the government plans to nab discrete infringers of the amended law, particularly when a vast majority of the offenders are those who choose to operate through a low, hush voice which is just loud enough for the prospective casualty to hear.
Secondly, the attackers who killed Nido Tania last year were well aware of severe consequences awaiting them. Nonetheless, the brutal assault took place with scary fearlessness.
In this regard, changing the mental outlook of people is the need of the hour. This requires a fundamental transformation in our social upbringing–parental attitude of projecting disparaging views in the young, impressionable minds of the progeny.
For an egalitarian environment to be built around us, change should begin with our homes.