India, born from the Indus Valley Civilization, is the second most populous country in the world. She is rich in diverse cultures with 29 states, and 7 Union Territories, with 22 known languages. India, being Secular, is home to all religions viz Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Christianity, Islam, Zoroastrianism and Judaism.We are supposed to live by the rule of Unity in Diversity. We have always believed in the policy of Live and Let Live.
However, it can be seen that in India, Racism does exist and it pertains to the attitude of Indians towards citizens belonging to other ethnicities. South India is divided into Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, with each state having its own distinctive features, language and culture. However, for every Indian who does not belong down South, every South Indian is a Madrasi. The South Indian languages and food habits are made fun of. In the present day and age, it really does not speak well of a person who behaves in the said manner.
Biharis have been victims of racial attack for a very long time now. The state has always been neglected and because of the slow economic growth and the rampant corruption in the State, Biharis started migrating to other states in search of a livelihood. However, they faced prejudice, discrimination based on their ethnicity and Xenophobia (Unreasonable fear of what is perceived to be foreign). The Biharis have faced racial discrimination in Maharashtra and Punjab, with the Dal Khalsa in Punjab demanding the return of migrant Biharis to their own land. In fact, there have been violent attacks on the large Bihari community in the North Eastern states too. The most recent one was on 18th January, 2014, when four youths from Bihar were shot dead after being pulled out from a bus by NDFB militants in Assam’s Kokrajhar district. Three others, also from Bihar, were injured in the incident. Apart from these attacks, the Biharis are also ridiculed in mostly all parts of India for their accent and looked down upon.
North Easterners in India, because of their Mongoloid phenotype, are treated with such discrimination based upon their looks that it is no wonder that most of the North Easterners have an identity crisis, with many of them asking a pertinent question as to which country they belong to – India or China. In fact, many of the residents of North East India consider themselves to be citizens of China. It is indeed shameful for the people of India that at a time when borders all around the globe are disappearing, we are alienating our own fellow countrymen.
In recent times, the spate of attack on the North Easterners has increased. The government of India introduced the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, wherein, any individual committing an act of atrocity based on racial discrimination would be sentenced to jail for a period of 5 years. However, it seems that attempt to safeguard the interests of people of North East India has failed as in the beginning of the year 2014 Nido Taniam, a young boy from North East India, lost his life in Lajpat Nagar area of Delhi because of ethnic racism. In October, 2014, 3 people from North East India were beaten in Bangalore because they could not speak in Kannada. And on 16th October, 2014, 2 boys from Nagaland were beaten up in Gurgaon, and all the North Eastern residents of the area ordered to vacate the premises.
Increasing Racial Attacks
When one sees these racial discriminations within the country, the question does come to mind that when we are all citizens of the same country, then why is it happening. The reasons are multitude. In many cases, it can be seen that the young of a particular region feel that these migrants are snatching away their job opportunities or admission to educational institutions. Reservation for backward castes bites into a major portion of seats in Schools, Colleges and Government Jobs. This does cause a feeling of resentment and animosity among those who lose out to the migrants belonging to SC and ST and OBC.
It can also be seen that many of these migrants refuse to adopt the culture and way of life of the state they are migrating to, which does cause friction. These is also the aspect of politics, where we really do not know how much of these episodes are incited by the politicians for their own advantage. Of course in many cases it may just be total non-acceptance of a migrant without any valid reasons. We should not get carried away and every aspect needs to be considered and addressed, for an optimum and positive outcome.
Stopping the Atrocities
In a country, where people of other religions head towards Velankani Church to pray, or where even Muslims visit the Hindu shrine of Sabarimalai or where Hindus can be seen visiting Muslim dargahs, discrimination based on religion is unacceptable. We are all civilised people, and civilisation means the stage of human social development and organization which is considered most advanced. It is time to educate the uneducated and stop the atrocities based on ethnic and regional discrimination. It is time to remember that when we succeeded in Mars Mission, we succeeded as Indians, without reference to any particular ethnicity, or when an Indian succeeds abroad, he/she is just an Indian. It is time to remember that we belong to the same country, India, and be proud of it.
It’s time to change for a better tomorrow.