Saturday February 24, 2018
Home Opinion The fault wit...

The fault with us: How we give birth to racism & why it’s wrong to blame Sharad Yadav alone

1
//
130
Republish
Reprint

1

By Harshmeet Singh

While the Parliament was busy discussing the critical insurance bill last week, JDU chief Sharad Yadav had this to say – “Your God is dark like Ravi Shankar Prasad, but your matrimonial ads insist on white-skinned brides. The women of the south are dusky but they are as beautiful as their bodies. We don’t see it here. They know (how to) dance.” For reasons only known to him, he further went on to include the case of BBC documentary in his speech and remarked about Leslee Udwin “For her, every door must have opened easily. She must have got permissions easily because she is white,”

As expected, his remarks didn’t go well with a number of people, including men and women, leading to sharp reactions from different quarters inside and outside the Parliament. While many have gone to the extreme of terming his remarks as appalling and racist in nature, it would be worth asking if pointing him out alone is justified in a country that is obsessed with fair skin.

India’s fixation with lighter skin

An ideal matrimonial advertisement template in India begins with ‘Seeking a fair, slim and educated girl’. If the innumerable TV ads of fairness creams on television are to be believed, a girl must become fair to get married, to get a promotion, to be a good speaker on stage and what not! And these ads don’t just stop here. They are quick to point out that it is your skin colour that is the leading cause of your failure in life! Not your talent, not your abilities, not your qualifications, but just your skin colour.

A market research revealed that the size of whitening cream market in India was over $600 million, implying that India’s yearly consumption of skin whitening products was over 250 tonnes! And if you are wondering why the girls fell for it, well, ask the boys too! These numbers also included the skin whitening agents used by the macho boys!

“Please make it a couple of shades brighter” is a common request made by girls before sending / uploading their photos. The fear of going unnoticed and unimpressive if found dusky plays majorly on the minds.

Who is to blame then?

The thriving business of skin whitening creams in India is a classic example to creating a demand out of nowhere and then making a product to satisfy it. From giving our blood to get rid of the ‘gori chamdi’, to becoming obsessed with ‘gori chamdi’, India has come a long way.

But putting the entire blame on girls for falling into this ‘trap’ would be extremely unfair. In India, marriages are a much bigger deal than many other countries. A topic of household discussions and debates, marriage is certainly the most pressurizing thing in the Indian community. So when Sharad Yadav’s daughter defended him by saying that “I feel there is nothing wrong in this. I think this has been wrongly propagated. I would also not have got the right kind of husband had I been dark-skinned,” she wasn’t entirely incorrect. In a country where arrange marriages still contribute a majority of marriages, it is the fairness of the girls that determines their future in most cases.

The colour bias in our society extends much beyond marriages. A number of professions including aviation and films are known to heavily favour light skinned candidates. In 2008, the Maharashtra Government came up with a plan to train 100 tribal girls as air hostesses and ensure that they get placed in well settled airlines. After spending about Rs 1 lakh on each candidate’s training, the Government had to scrap the plan after only 8 out of these 100 girls were recruited by Private Airlines, and that too as the ground staff.

Unless such obsession for fair skin is curbed among businesses and men, the current scenario doesn’t stand a chance of an overhaul.

Fairness creams

An array of frontline Bollywood stars campaigning for these skin whitening products is a clear indication of the huge sums of money these product make from the Indian market. From glorifying fair skin to tagging dark skin as the sole reason behind your failure, these ads go to all limits to depress a perfectly normal girl possessing a perfectly normal skin colour. These ads can easily dent the confidence of youngsters who are trying hard to hone their skills and make it big. Contrarily, what these ads tell them is – “forget about working hard, just make your skin fairer!”

In 2012, Clean and Dry launched an ad campaign claiming that a vaginal wash using their product would ensure fairer private parts and, in turn, bring back the happiness in their life. The tagline of the ad was “Life for women will now be fresher, cleaner and more importantly fairer and more intimate.” The campaign drew sharp reactions from all around the country. Many women termed it as an insult and an attack on their privacy. The director of the ad, Alyque Padamsee defended the ad saying that “It is hard to deny that fairness creams often get social commentators and activists all worked up. Lipstick is used to make your lips redder, fairness cream is used to make you fairer – so what’s the problem?”

The problem lied in projecting that the fault lies with the dark coloured women. Despite protests on this particular ad, the skin whitening products in India continue to sell like hot cakes, with their market expected to grow at close to 20% every year!

Dark is beautiful

The “Dark is Beautiful” campaign launched by ‘Women of Worth’ (WOW), has found support in the form of Nandita Das. Tired of listening to makeup artists who tell her that they would easily lighten her skin shade before she faces the camera, Nandita says “I want people to be comfortable in their own skin and realise that there is more to life than skin colour. Indians are very racist. It’s deeply ingrained. But there is so much pressure by peer groups, magazines, billboards and TV adverts that perpetuate this idea that fair is the ideal,”. WOW also hopes to rope in a number of celebrities behind these ads and convince them on withdrawing themselves so as to send a strong message to the youngsters.

In 2012, Shekhar Kapur, the noted Bollywood director, started a hashtag on twitter ‘adswedontbuy’ to launch a campaign against imprudent ads. These also included the ads made by skin whitening products. The discussion gained much traction and lakhs of people joined in within 24 hours.

There is no denying the fact that colour bias is deeply ingrained with our society. Making Sharad Yadav explain or apologize would hardly solve the issue, but loving yourself the way you are just might!

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2015 NewsGram

  • Well thought and smartly written.

Next Story

15 Facts To Know About Arnab Goswami and Republic TV

. Since last year, Arnab has been running his own TV channel by the name of Republic TV which was much awaited by the viewers.

0
//
169
Arnab Goswami started his career in 1994 with ‘The Telegraph’ as a journalist. Wikimedia Commons
Arnab Goswami started his career in 1994 with ‘The Telegraph’ as a journalist. Wikimedia Commons

NEW DELHI: Arnab Goswami is a well-known name, who has revolutionized the way Indian media practices journalism. Many people call him as a grammar Nazis and for some, he stands out to be an intellectual person. Arnab Goswami is a person, who is isolated and loved at the same time.

For past many years, Arnab was the front face of Times Now and was handling the role of an anchor in a live debate show. It was the time when people started following him due to his blunt questions and courageous approach. Now, since last year, Arnab has been running his own TV channel by the name of Republic TV and was much awaited by the viewers.

Let’s take a look at some of the interesting facts related to Arnab Goswami and Republic TV:

1. Arnab Goswami started his career in 1994 with ‘The Telegraph’ as a journalist. He worked there for less than a year then shifted to Delhi and joined NDTV 24X7 in TV News Broadcast. Later down the lane, Arnab joined NDTV’s core team as a news editor.

Arnab Goswami is a person, who is isolated and loved at the same time. Wikimedia Commons
Arnab Goswami is a person, who is isolated and loved at the same time. Wikimedia Commons

2. Arnab Goswami has the distinction of having a degree from Oxford University. After completing his schooling, Arnab took up BA (Hons.) in Sociology from the Hindu College of Delhi University. Then in 1994, he concluded his Masters in Social Anthropology from St. Antony’s College, Oxford University. Due to his outstanding intellect, he was granted as a Felix Scholar in Oxford. Arnab was also honored with the position of Visiting D C Pavate Fellow at the International Studies Department at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge University.

3. Soon after the September 11 attacks in 2001, Arnab came up with his first book, “Combating Terrorism: The Legal Challenge.” Here he summed up all the legal issues in framing laws against terrorists and terrorism. Other aspects included the legal solution for terrorism. Arnab also compared India’s anti-terrorism laws with those in the West, specifically the United Kingdom.

4. Arnab Goswami belongs to a political family. His father, Manoranjan Goswami is a retired army officer and a BJP member. Manoranjan has contested as a BJP candidate in the Indian general election, from Guwahati. His Paternal Grandfather, Rajani Kanta Goswami was a lawyer and Congress leader.  And his Maternal Grandfather, Gauri Sankar Bhattacharya was a communist and leader of the opposition for many years in Assam. So, we can count his attributes of political knowledge well.

Republic TV becomes the first Indian news channel to Livestream Star India’s Hotstar. Wikimedia Commons
Republic TV becomes the first Indian news channel to Livestream Star India’s Hotstar. Wikimedia Commons

5. Being a journalist, Arnab’s First Ever TV Interview was with Congress leader, Sonia Gandhi. His this interview got him accolades for bringing the otherwise reticent Sonia Gandhi for an interview on TV.

6. Arnab’s role model is a famed musician, Shri Bhupen Hazarika. He is a legend in Assam and is known for his multicultural identity. Arnab was very much fond of Hazarika songs. Once, Arnab himself went to Calcutta, just to just to experience a thrill of the singer’s deep-throated voice.

7. Arnab Goswami has posed for the cover of Good Times magazine in September 2012 edition.  Good Times is a lifestyle magazine from the Northeast and covers the lifestyle taste of different regions.

8. Arnab was always a big fan of BBC and CNN. He wanted to run in the footsteps of these renowned channels. Once, he even quoted in an interview with Good Times, “I do dream that at some time in the future, our country will have a channel like BBC or CNN which is going to be broadcast to the world and if such an opportunity arises, I would certainly like to play a role in it.”

9. According to IndiaToday’s report, Arnab Goswami has Ranked 46th in the Mighty Power List. He was chosen on the basis of his debate topics on social causes like corruption, misgovernance, and terror. On the list, he ranked ahead of Arvind Kejriwal and many others.

10. After working at Times Now for 10 years, he resigned in 2016 and started his own TV channel, Republic TV.

11. Arnab himself is the managing director and co-founder of the Republic TV which was launched in 2017. The channel’s website (republicworld.com) also went live on the same day.

Arnab is the managing director and co-founder of the Republic TV. Republic TV
Arnab is the managing director and co-founder of the Republic TV. Republic TV

12. Republic TV became the first Indian news channel to Livestream Star India’s Hotstar.

13. S. Sundaram is the CFO of Republic TV. He was the former CFO of Times Now and joined Arnab after he released the channel.

14. Interestingly, Republic TV is a FREE TO AIR channel. It means that the channel is covered in the basic channel package and cable operators have to air it for free.

15. Arnab Goswami received the Ramnath Goenka Award for Journalist of the Year in 2010.

 

In the span of almost two decades, Arnab Goswami has already added a lot of feathers to his hat. But many a time, he has also been at the receiving end of People, who criticize him for his adamant way of speaking and not letting others speak on his debate shows. Also, he is been known for passing out his personal judgments in many cases, which is certainly not a healthy journalist practice.