Thursday, May 16, 2013

World Values Survey Finds Indians Most Racist

43.5% of Indians, the highest percentage in the world, say they do not want to have a neighbor of a different race, according to a Washington Post report based on World's Values Survey.

About Pakistan, the report says that  "although the country has a number of factors that coincide with racial intolerance – sectarian violence, its location in the least-tolerant region of the world, low economic and human development indices – only 6.5 percent of Pakistanis objected to a neighbor of a different race. This would appear to suggest Pakistanis are more racially tolerant than even the Germans or the Dutch".

Housing Discrimination: 

It appears that there is a small but militant minority in Pakistan that is highly intolerant, but the vast majority of people are tolerant. My own experience as a  former Karachi-ite  is that there is little or no race or religion based housing segregation, the kind that is rampant in India where Muslims are not welcome in most Hindu-dominated neighborhoods. There have been many reports of top Muslim Bollywood stars having difficulty finding housing in Mumbai's upscale neighborhoods. A common excuse used to exclude them is the ostensible requirement to be vegetarian to live there.

Source: World Values Survey and Washington Post

Hate Against Indian Muslims:

The idea of racial purity is central to Hindu nationalists in India who have a long history of admiration for Adolf Hitler, the Nazi leader, including his "Final Solution".

In his book "We" (1939), Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar, the leader of the Hindu Nationalist RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) wrote, "To keep up the purity of the Race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic races -- the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well-nigh impossible it is for races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindusthan to learn and profit by."

Caste-based Apartheid:

While Golwalar's principal target in the above paragraph were Indian Muslims, the treatment of lower caste Hindus in India also falls in the category of racism. The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) now includes discrimination based on caste. Dating back to 1969, the ICERD convention has been ratified by 173 countries, including India. Despite this, and despite the United Nations Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights reiterating that discrimination based on work and descent is a form of racial discrimination, the Indian government's stand on this issue has remained the same: caste is not race.

Over 250 million people are victims of caste-based discrimination and segregation in India. They live miserable lives, shunned by much of society because of their ranks as untouchables or Dalits at the bottom of a rigid caste system in Hindu India. Dalits are discriminated against, denied access to land, forced to work in slave-like conditions, and routinely abused, even killed, at the hands of the police and of higher-caste groups that enjoy the state's protection, according to Human Rights Watch.

Gandhi's Disdain for Black Africans:

It's not just the Hindu Nationalists who are racists. Even Mohandas K. Gandhi, Mahatma or the Great Soul, was not immune to Indians' racist tendencies. In 1908, recording his first experience in a South African prison, Gandhi referred to black South Africans as "kaffirs". According Joseph Lelyveld, the author of "Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle With India", Gandhi wrote: "We were then marched off to prison intended for kaffirs. ..we could understand not being classed with the whites, but to be placed with the Natives seemed too much to put up with. It is indubitably right that Indians should have separate cells."


The findings of World's Values Survey on India are well-supported by other evidence such as the Hindutva ideology as spelled out by RSS leader Golwalkar, the existence of widespread caste-based discrimination classified as racism by the United Nations and lots of other anecdotal evidence. Just this month, Indian racism was on full display at a lavish Indian wedding in South Africa where guests flown in from India refused to be served by black waiters and drivers.

Let me conclude this post with a video interview of Professor Ahmad Hasan Dani who attended Banaras Hindu University (BHU) and studied archaeology, and said that he was ostracized and treated as a pariah by Hindu students and faculty at BHU. He was not allowed to sit and eat with his fellow students, he was asked to keep his plates and dishes separate in his room, and required to stand outside the dining hall to be served his meal and then wash the dishes himself. Later, when he graduated at the top of the archaeology class, he was offered a faculty position, but the University head and former president of India Radhakrishnan told him that he would be paid a salary but he would not be allowed to teach. Here is a video clip of late Prof Dani talking about it with Farah Husain on Morning with Farah TV show:

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Indians Admire Israel and Hitler

Caste Apartheid in India

Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle With India

Who Killed Karkare?

Procrastinating on Hindutva Terror

India's Guantanamos and Abu Ghraibs

Hindutva Government in Israeli Exile?

Growing US-India Military Ties Worry Pakistan

The 21st Century Challenges For Resurgent India


Mike Z. said...

This is actually true.
It is only when we come to the United States of America, is when we cling to our own clan.
How cute!!

Mayraj said...

No not highest! Bangladesh and Jordan had higher percentage and Hong Kong . How come Bangladesh has such a high percentage and Jordan?
Given institutional racism in US (UK may be a few other western countries(, I think it is too low and what critics have said about studies flaw is right.

Riaz Haq said...

Mayraj: "No not highest! Bangladesh and Jordan had higher percentage and Hong Kong">

Look at the underlying final data on World Values Survey and carefully read the color coded map. Both show India as the most racist.

Here's the excerpt in Washington Post report that refers to it:

Unfortunately, the Swedish economists did not include all of the World Values Survey data in their final research paper. So I went back to the source, compiled the original data and mapped it out on the infographic above. In the bluer countries, fewer people said they would not want neighbors of a different race; in red countries, more people did.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BBC story on harassment of Africans in India:

Africans staying in and around India's commercial capital, Mumbai (Bombay), complain of indiscriminate racism and constant police harassment, reports the BBC's Zubair Ahmed.

Nigerian Sambo Davis is married to an Indian woman and lives in Mumbai.

All his documents are valid, but he was arrested by the police recently on suspicion of being a drug dealer.

He and 30 other black Africans were detained for hours before they were let off with an apology.

But the following day, Mr Davis said that he was shocked to read in local newspapers that they were "arrested for drug peddling".

"The police treat us Africans like dogs," he says.

Mr Davis claims he often faces discrimination when he goes to restaurants or when he tries to rent an apartment in gated middle-class communities.

Continue reading the main story

Start Quote

If Africans don't have papers, then deport them, don't put them in jail”

Ikeorah Junior
Nigerian cafe owner in Mumbai
But he is nevertheless one of the lucky ones. He found a decent flat to rent, thanks to his Indian wife.

But his fellow countrymen, he says, still face discrimination: "When they go to rent flats in a normal building they are told - 'you are a black man, you are Nigerian, and you are not wanted'. This is racism."

'Hide and seek'
There is no official data on how many Africans live in Mumbai, but since India's economic progress gathered momentum in recent years, many have come to work in and around the city. Unofficial estimates put their numbers at more than 5,000.

Most of them are engaged in exporting garments to Nigeria and other African countries....
Against such a backdrop of pronounced prejudice, Sheeba Rani married Sambo Davis four years ago and the couple have two children.

Mrs Davis says her parents are enlightened Christians and they blessed them because they thought the marriage was God's wish.

But, she says, she has been ostracised by many friends, relatives and society since her marriage.

Mrs Davis is "embarrassed and ashamed" by the behaviour of the Indian people towards black Africans.
"When I used to go to a mall or if I walked with him, I always wanted him to hold my hand. But when people saw me with him, they thought I was from a bad family or even a prostitute."

Earlier, she did not understand why black people were being looked down upon, but now she says she does.

"Because our society is obsessed with white skin. If I had married a white man, I would have gained more friends and society's approval too."

Mr Davis believes that the discrimination is solely "because I am a black man".

"It's because I am from Africa, I am a Nigerian. I think Indians see us as inferior."

Yet despite the discrimination they face, nearly all Africans the BBC interviewed said they had a soft spot for their adopted country.

They say the relations between India and Africa are "rock solid". Many argued that Indians and Africans are brothers.

"We look after Indians in our countries. They have become rich there. All we want here is for Indians to understand we are not drug dealers. We are not violent. We are just like them."

Riaz Haq said...

Here's TOI report on UK's decision to recognize caste-ism as racism:

British parliament's decision to recognize the existence of caste alongside race as a form of discrimination could hurt India's long-held argument that the two sources of bias could not be equated.

Worse, it may give a strong push to portray caste as a global phenomenon like race, undercutting India's claim that caste prejudice was indigenous to Indian society and it could not be a subject of policy at international fora like the United Nations.

As the law in the UK became a reality earlier this week, experts said it would trigger lobbying for similar legal protection in the United States, Canada, South Africa and Australia - countries that are more sensitive to human rights issues and have a strong presence of Indian diaspora, but have little awareness of caste.

The presence of Hindu/Indian diaspora and a good chunk of dalits is the pre-requisite for such laws to come into effect. Officials and the civil society said a reluctant House of Commons could be persuaded because of the presence of around four lakh SCs in the UK.

While the development has led to glee among civil rights groups, the government is worried. Senior government sources said the UK law would pile pressure on India aided by noises from international bodies and greater scrutiny.

A laxity by Indian states in dealing with caste issues, as are routinely reported, could find mention in reports of Western countries and institutions. In the long-term, it could render India vulnerable as child labour and gender bias did earlier.

India has till now rebuffed pressure by arguing that caste was an Indian problem that stood proscribed by law with legal mechanisms to address it, including the affirmative action to help dalits. The official Indian stance on caste was unveiled at the 2000 Durban conference on racism.

Vivek Kumar, a sociologist with the Jawaharlal Nehru University, said, "The studies on diaspora will have to acknowledge that caste exists outside India. The new law in the UK has strengthened claims of academics that caste is not a local problem, but is part of diaspora."

According to Anand Kumar Bolimera, country director of Christian Aid, "India should take the leadership position to deal with caste globally. India need not be defensive about it. Indian constitution barred caste discrimination half a century ago and it has the best laws to deal with the issue."

Globalization has been sending Indians across the world, but in future, experts say, their movement would be seen as not just of biological entities but also of a cultural baggage that includes decadent practices.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a TOI story on religious discrimination in India:

For India, international recognition of its free and pluralistic society has always been hard to come by and while things are changing, they are clearly changing slowly. A study carried out by Washington-based Pew Research Centre, the highly respected US thinktank, said India is next only to Iraq when it comes to social hostility and religious discrimination perpetrated by individuals and groups.

The study titled `Global Restrictions on Religion' took into account the situation in as many as 198 countries, North Korea being the only notable exception, to derive the conclusion. India was just below Iraq and well above countries like Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan when it came to social hostility in the country. Pakistan is at the third place right below India.

The study, which claims to cover 99.5% of the world population, deals with restrictions imposed on religion not just by social groups and individuals but also by the government. Even in the case of government induced restrictions, India fares badly with its position in the top 40 countries out of the 198 mentioned.

Even though the report says that "the highest overall levels of restrictions are found in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Iran, where both the government and society at large impose numerous limits on religious beliefs and practices'' India is ranked well above them in the social hostility index.

While India has fared badly on both, China has done remarkably well when it comes to social hostility even though it has done badly in the government imposed restrictions section. "Vietnam and China, for instance, have high government restrictions on religion but are in the moderate or low range when it comes to social hostilities. Nigeria and Bangladesh follow the opposite pattern: high in social hostilities but moderate in terms of government actions,'' it says.

The report clubs India with Sri Lanka, Ethiopia and Bangladesh as countries where large segments of the population want to protect the special place of one particular religion. This is how it explains the high social hostility index for these countries. "Many of the restrictions imposed in these countries are driven by groups pressing for the enshrinement of their interpretation of the majority faith, including through Shariah law in Muslim societies and Hindutva movement in India which seeks to define India as a Hindu nation,'' says the report....

Raman said...

I am not sure why you pull up old data to present your points or even paint a worse picture about India compared to Pakistan. Even in US, western countries, etc there were racial discrimination in the past. Communities fight and come out of it. I am 100% sure that India has moved on from past and it may not be 0% discrimination now, but still better than past.

Pakistan's tolerance for other religions is known fact. Please pull the data of Hindu, Christian vs whole population from 1947 in Pakistan and India. It will clear up things for you.

Please discuss some things that could be used to improve condition instead of showcasing just bad things.

It is a pity that with your education, living in most modern community and still want to showcase another neighboring country as worse. Either you do justice by bringing peace/improvement or stop doing things to make the relationship more volatile. With your age/experience/visibility, you should be able to do more good things than you believe.

Rashid M. said...

Story about Dr. Dani

I remember staying at his house in Peshawar when I was about 10 or 11.
He was a Prof at Univ of Peshawar.
Somehow he was a family friend - perhaps a Nagpur connection.
My family lived in Pindi and were going to Landi Kotal for a shopping trip.
We stayed overnight at his house. It was in a compound for the teaching staff. It was close to the air force base.
This air base was connected to the Gary Powers incident. A US plane - the U-2 took off from Peshawar.
Was shot down over USSR and Gary Powers, the pilot, was captured. Egg on the face for Pakistan.

The Prof had already visited Machu Pichu somewhere in South America. He liked the name.
My memory fails me at the wrong moment now - but he named either his pet dogs or his two daughters Machu and Pichu.

Riaz Haq said...

Rashid: "Story about Dr. Dani"

Fahim Dani, a nephew of Prof Dani, is a good friend of mine here in California. Danis are originally Kashmiris but many of them settled in Karachi after partition. Fahim attended Dawood Engg College in Karachi.

Roland said...

i don't understand why the indians hate persons of other religions on racial grounds as the vast majority of persons of other religions are originally hindus (some possibly of lower castes).

for instance, my forbears in goa were hindus until around 500 years ago when they were converted to christianity (generally by intimidation and economic pressure) by the portuguese, who believed that it was their duty to convert the 'heathen'. i believe the situation is similar with most other residents of the indian subcontinent. that is why the hindu 'caste' system' is so deeply ingrained in all of us, even though islam and christianity hold that alll men are equal!

all of us from this subcontinent have three 'layers' of religion:
- hinduism is the most embedded and most basic layer (over thousands of years)
- other religions to whcih we have been converted form a thin over-layer (over the past few hundreds of years)
- the most important, amazing and dominating religion of all: money (escalating over the past few decades)

high levels of animosity seem to exist between groups of the same original/previous religion, where one group has been converted over the last millenium: india, balkans, etc.

Riaz Haq said...

Roland: "i don't understand why the indians hate persons of other religions on racial grounds as the vast majority of persons of other religions are originally hindus (some possibly of lower castes)."

This survey I shared with you is called World Values Survey.

When people convert from one set of beliefs to another, they embrace a new value system at least partially if not entirely.

Christians and Muslims who converted from Hinduism have some some baggage but not all of the baggage of caste-ism and racism that are at the core of daily Hindu life in India. And the revival of Hindutva
has only reinforced some of these old Hindu "values" of hierarchy based on the accident of birth. Even in California, there was an organized effort by Hindutva groups to change history textbooks and distort and whitewash Indian history to suit their false narrative which denies foreign origins of Aryans and evils of the caste system and misogyny that still characterize life in India.

Let me share with you a video interview of Professor Ahmad Hasan Dani who attended Banaras Hindu University (BHU) and studied archaeology, and said that he was ostracized and treated as a pariah by Hindu students and faculty at BHU. He was not allowed to sit and eat with his fellow students, he was asked to keep his plates and dishes separate in his room, and required to stand outside the dining hall to be served his meal and then wash the dishes himself. Later, when he graduated at the top of the archaeology class, he was offered a faculty position, but the University head and former president of India Radhakrishnan told him that he would be paid a salary but he would not be allowed to teach. Here is a video clip of late Prof Dani talking about it:

Roland said...

do you know that waht happened to ahmed hussain dani happens to many people in the islamic republic of pakistan everyday?

Riaz Haq said...

Roland: "do you know that waht happened to ahmed hussain dani happens to many people in the islamic republic of pakistan everyday?"

I know there is discrimination in Pakistan but I have never seen people of the same socioeconomic status, regardless of religion or ethnicity, going to the same college or university treating each other as Ahmad Hasan Dani was treated at BHU.

I have never heard of a Hindu or a Christian at a college or university being forced to eat alone in his or her dorm room in separate dishes which he or she must wash and keep within their own room.

I have never seen a Hindu or Christian teacher hired and paid but denied the opportunity to teach.

Please enlighten me if you can.

Anonymous said...

i agree. Pakistanis will love the neighbors much more than Indians, as long as they belong to the race of Hindus, Ahmedias and SHias. I don't say this, but the most respected Pakistani says it

vishesh said...

Haha, A muslim accusing Indians of not being tolerant! What a joke!!

Let us count the number of incidents in the muslim world where temples have been destroyed, the bamiyan statue burnt, the muslim invaders who converted and killed your ancestors and Hindus who have for generations taken the nonsense of you minoritites to the extent of giving you a part of our land!

Some stupid survey based on 500 doesnt tell you about a whole country of 1.2 billion and we do not even know which community they interviewed, for all you know it might even be the muslims since they're anyways intolerant by nature. The clashes and burning of christian colonies, the forced conversions of Hindus are not done by a small set of people it is the general society.

As they say action speak louder than words, We know what pakis do, no matter how much you want to water it down, the fact of the matter is shias are targetted, your bloody constitution says only a muslim can be a prime minister, Ahmedis can only vote for non muslims and you are talking about intolerance amongst hindus, which has had christian, muslim, sikh minister of top level ministries.

What you show is a thorough sign of inferiority in your blogs.

As for your claim that Hindus did not accomodate muslims, it is not only hindus but the whole world finds muslims a pain, be it the jews or europeans!

You are very lucky that tolerant hindus gave you a piece of land otherwise had hindus been like muslims, forget giving you a piece of land, there wouldnt have been a single muslim in the Indian subcontinent mush like Hindu population has steadily declined in pak whereas muslim population has steadily increased in India. We have cases of Hindus fleeing pak and coming to India not muslims fleeing India and going to pak due to racism! SHEESH! you have got to be the dumbest person on this planet and along with that you harbor like most pakis a massive inferiority complex which i kind of understand because you are inferior to Indians.

Live in your delusional world mr haq! India is a much more tolerant society than most societies and is much much more diverse country than any other country! On top of tha, we have managed to live in harmony!

By showing one video of some guy who probably hasn't lived in India for 40 years doesnt change anything! he would have been ostracized because he didnt try and mix with anyone as is taught to him by his faith to be intolerant and not because of Hindus making fun of him as is the case with minorities in pak!

I study in a unversity in India and have muslim friends themselves who called pakistan a failed state and a pest to the world!

Riaz Haq said...

Vishesh: "Haha, A muslim accusing Indians of not being tolerant! What a joke!!"

I know it's hard for you to understand it, given Indians' low scores on basic comprehension tests as reported by TIMSS and PISA. But still, let me try and help you comprehend what this post is about.

It's not about a "muslim accusing Indians of not being tolerant!"

It's in fact the result of a survey done by Swedish researchers who are not Muslim.

Anonymous said...

Riaz Sb,
The results from Pakistan are not surprising (neither are the ones from our eastern neighbor) anyone with an IQ in three digits and little bit knowledge can see that. What is surprising is Bangladesh, just wondering if this racism existed fifty years ago too and if it was manipulated for the events of 1971.


vishesh said...

Oh here is another survey!


This should be the topic of your next blog!

Riaz Haq said...

vishesh: "PAKIS the 2nd MOST HATED COUNTRY in the WORLD"

It is just a coincidence that the two nations least liked in the BBC survey are both Islamic Republics? The only two Islamic Republics in the world? Is it not Islamophobia?

It's the haters, not the hated, who are either racists or the unwitting victims of the unrelenting propaganda of the powerful US media and entertainment industry which has long kept a running list of "bad guys".

The current list includes Iran, Pakistan and North Korea at the top of the villains list....and it's easy to see why.

What is surprising is that 15% of the respondents still rate Pakistan's contribution as positive in the BBC poll in spite of the extremely negative western media portrayal of Pakistan in both the news coverage and movies. And India is just 4 places ahead of Pakistan with 34% rating its contribution as positive.

This changing list of "bad guys" in the past has included Japan, Germany (now most liked in the BBC survey), Russia, Iraq, Vietnam, China, etc. etc. who dared to cross Uncle Sam.

Their image improved as the US made peace with them and the US media and entertainment bosses took its cue from the American establishment and replaced these names with others chosen by US policymakers.

vishesh said...

"It is just a coincidence that the two nations least liked in the BBC survey are both Islamic Republics? The only two Islamic Republics in the world? Is it not Islamophobia?"

Wah re wah! Excuses and more excuses!
North korea comes third. Is that a muslim country?
Anyways, it isn't coincidence, it is the truth of how people around the world feel about the failure ie pak.

The weirdest thing is for the value survey, you take it at face value and spew lies with your low IQ'd logical explanations and not go into any details and examples of how minorities are being attacked in pak by your intolerant society vis a vis India where people live in much greater peace having a much more diverse nation, but for this survey you have you whacked theory ,like your whacked articles, of islamophobia.

"What is surprising is that 15% of the respondents still rate Pakistan's contribution as positive in the BBC poll in spite of the extremely negative western media portrayal of Pakistan in both the news coverage and movies. And India is just 4 places ahead of Pakistan with 34% rating its contribution as positive."

Look at the number of negative views to (55%)! or did you conveniently leave that. India is at number 12 in the list while pak is 2nd from behind FYI. Well if movies potray the truth about pak, why is it such a wrong thing to do, after all, pak is a terrorist nation.The sad part is that moviemakers know more about the truth of pak than deluded pakis!

By the way,How did uncle sam come into the picture, BBC is British Broadcasting Corporation! and then you talk of India and its people's ability to comprehend!

Live in your world of lies haq, it hasn't helped you change any perception about pak or its inferior citizens, rather, it has just solidified the base for people to realise just how stupid pakis are.

Riaz Haq said...

vishesh: "The weirdest thing is for the value survey, you take it at face value and spew lies.."

The values survey is based on Indians's own responses, not on how others view Indians. This BBC survey is based on others' views.

vishes: "By the way,How did uncle sam come into the picture, BBC is British Broadcasting Corporation! and then you talk of India and its people's ability to comprehend!"

If you believe that the Brits, the Aussies and the Canadians and the rest of their cousins whose ancestors originated from the British Isles differ from Uncle Sam's basic world view, then you must also believe in Santa Claus and Tooth Fairy.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an African-American student's sharing his experience of racism in India:

In spite of friendship and love in private spaces, the Delhi public literally stops and stares. It is harrowing to constantly have children and adults tease, taunt, pick, poke and peer at you from the corner of their eyes, denying their own humanity as well as mine. Their aggressive, crude curiosity threatens to dominate unless disarmed by kindness, or met with equal aggression.
Once I stood gazing at the giraffes at the Lucknow Zoo only to turn and see 50-odd families gawking at me rather than the exhibit. Parents abruptly withdrew infants that inquisitively wandered towards me. I felt like an exotic African creature-cum-spectacle, stirring fear and awe. Even my attempts to beguile the public through simple greetings or smiles are often not reciprocated. Instead, the look of wonder swells as if this were all part of the act and we were all playing our parts.

Racism is never a personal experience. Racism in India is systematic and independent of the presence of foreigners of any hue. This climate permits and promotes this lawlessness and disdain for dark skin. Most Indian pop icons have light-damn-near-white skin. Several stars even promote skin-bleaching creams that promise to improve one’s popularity and career success. Matrimonial ads boast of fair, v. fair and v. very fair skin alongside foreign visas and advanced university degrees. Moreover, each time I visit one of Delhi’s clubhouses, I notice that I am the darkest person not wearing a work uniform. It’s unfair and ugly.

Discrimination in Delhi surpasses the denial of courtesy. I have been denied visas, apartments, entrance to discos, attentiveness, kindness and the benefit of doubt. Further, the lack of neighbourliness exceeds what locals describe as normal for a capital already known for its coldness.

My partner is white and I am black, facts of which the Indian public reminds us daily. Bank associates have denied me chai, while falling over to please my white friend. Mall shop attendants have denied me attentiveness, while mobbing my partner. Who knows what else is more quietly denied?

"An African has come," a guard announced over the intercom as I showed up. Whites are afforded the luxury of their own names, but this careful attention to my presence was not new. ATM guards stand and salute my white friend, while one guard actually asked me why I had come to the bank machine as if I might have said that I was taking over his shift.

It is shocking that people wear liberalism as a sign of modernity, yet revert to ultraconservatism when actually faced with difference. Cyberbullies have threatened my life on my YouTube videos that capture local gawking and eve-teasing. I was even fired from an international school for talking about homosociality in Africa on YouTube, and addressing a class about homophobia against kids after a student called me a ‘fag’.

Outside of specific anchors of discourse such as Reservations, there is no consensus that discrimination is a redeemable social ill. This is the real issue with discrimination in India: her own citizens suffer and we are only encouraged to ignore situations that make us all feel powerless. Be it the mute-witnesses seeing racial difference for the first time, kids learning racism from their folks, or the blacks and northeasterners who feel victimised by the public, few operate from a position that believes in change.

Living in India was a childhood dream that deepened with my growing understanding of India and America’s unique, shared history of non-violent revolution. Yet, in most nations, the path of ending gender, race and class discrimination is unpaved. In India, this path is still rural and rocky as if this nation has not decided the road even worthy. It is a footpath that we are left to tread individually.

Anonymous said...

In a nutshell, what Indians are saying (many openly and some with chagrin) is that Davuluri is too dark, too dusky, for the conventional standards of Indian beauty. In India a light skin—“fair” is the word most Indians deploy in the vocabulary of beauty—is prized in women, and lightness of skin is elevated above all other facial features as a signifier of beauty. It matters not one whit that Davuluri’s physiognomy is immensely pleasing to the eye, that her smile could light up a small cricket stadium, that her lustrous hair is a thing to marvel at, because her epidermis is far too many shades removed from “fairness” for her to be considered beautiful. This matter is, in the Indian dialectic of beauty, nonnegotiable. In matters of pigment, Indians can be as dogmatic as party chieftains once were in Stalin’s Moscow.

Riaz Haq said...

That gorgeous chocolate (skin tone of Ms USA Nina Davuluri) may play as exotic in the West, but in India, we prefer our beauty queens strictly vanilla — preferably accessorised with blue contact lenses....God forbid, we compromise our cultural biases just to win an international beauty contest.

Riaz Haq said...

Is "Waar" anti-India? How about #Pakistan-bashing in #Bollywood films "Border", "Gadar", "Maa Tujhe Salaam", etc

Here's NY Times piece on how #India's #Bollywood negatively stereotypes #Pakistan

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Indian Express report on racism against North Eastern people living in Delhi:

Various groups representing the people from the Northeast protested the death of 19-year-old Nido Taniam who was beaten to death allegedly by shopkeepers in Lajpat Nagar.
Members of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the students’ wing of the Bharatiya Janata Party, held protests outside the Lajpat Nagar police station, demanding arrest of the accused persons who allegedly beat the student and made comments about his appearance.
ABVP spokesperson Saket Bahuguna said, “We stopped the DCP’s car outside the Lajpat Nagar police station. We demand the immediate arrest of the accused persons.”
Lok Sabha member from Arunachal Pradesh, Takam Sanjoy, also demanded the immediate arrest and trial of the accused persons.
Calling for strong action against the perpetrators, the Northeast Forum for International Solidarity (NEFIS) in their official release said, “Such incidents reflect a dangerous trend of racism and also growing vigilantism in the city that targets vulnerable minority groups.”
The death evoked strong reactions from other groups in his home state as well as across the Northeastern region.
“It is yet another proof of how people from some other regions of the country look at those from the Northeastern region. Our people are looked down upon, given second-class treatment and discriminated against, especially in North India,” Pritam Sonam, advisor of the All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union (AAPSU) from Itanagar, alleged.
In Guwahati, advisor to North East Students’ Organisation (NESO), Samujjal Bhattacharyya, blamed the Centre as well as the Delhi administration for the murder of the student.
“Not a single accused has been booked even after days of the attack on Nido Taniam. We demand a speedy investigation and fast-track trial of the crime leading to the death of a student in the national capital,” he said.
Bhattacharyya also recalled that the Prime Minister had given a written assurance to NESO regarding protection of students who came to the capital from the Northeast.
“This incident has happened despite a personal and written commitment made by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh two years ago to NESO that steps would be taken to ensure protection of students and youth of the Northeast. We have not seen any proactive measure taken by the government despite the Prime Minister’s commitment,” Bhattacharyya said.

Riaz Haq said...

Gandhi forced his great-grand daughter and the wife of his great-grand son to sleep with him naked. If alive today, Gandhi would most likely be considered guilty of child molestation and misogyny...very serious charges indeed...

Riaz Haq said...

The film Gandhi was essentially a "paid political advertisement by the government of India", says commentator Richard Grenier in a piece titled "The Gandhi Nobody Knows". Here is an excerpt from it:

As it happens, the government of India openly admits to having provided one-third of the financing of Gandhi out of state funds, straight out of the national treasury—and after close study of the finished product I would not be a bit surprised to hear that it was 100 percent. If Pandit Nehru is portrayed flatteringly in the film, one must remember that Nehru himself took part in the initial story conferences (he originally wanted Gandhi to be played by Alec Guinness) and that his daughter Indira Gandhi is, after all, Prime Minister of India (though no relation to Mohandas Gandhi). The screenplay was checked and rechecked by Indian officials at every stage, often by the Prime Minister herself, with close consultations on plot and even casting. If the movie contains a particularly poisonous portrait of Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, the Indian reply, I suppose, would be that if the Pakistanis want an attractive portrayal of Jinnah let them pay for their own movie. A friend of mine, highly sophisticated in political matters but innocent about film-making, declared that Gandhi should be preceded by the legend: The following film is a paid political advertisement by the government of India.

Gandhi, then, is a large, pious, historical morality tale centered on a saintly, sanitized Mahatma Gandhi cleansed of anything too embarrassingly Hindu (the word “caste” is not mentioned from one end of the film to the other) and, indeed, of most of the rest of Gandhi’s life, much of which would drastically diminish his saintliness in Western eyes. There is little to indicate that the India of today has followed Gandhi’s precepts in almost nothing. There is little, in fact, to indicate that India is even India. The spectator realizes the scene is the Indian subcontinent because there are thousands of extras dressed in dhotis and saris. The characters go about talking in these quaint Peter Sellers accents. We have occasional shots of India’s holy poverty, holy hovels, some landscapes, many of them photographed quite beautifully, for those who like travelogues. We have a character called Lord Mountbatten (India’s last Viceroy); a composite American journalist (assembled from Vincent Sheehan, William L. Shirer, Louis Fischer, and straight fiction); a character called simply “Viceroy” (presumably another composite); an assemblage of Gandhi’s Indian followers under the name of one of them (Patel); and of course Nehru.

Shaafi S. said...

Agreed. Born and raised in India. I was the only Muslin student in the class. First day of under grad school and rest of the class refused to eat lunch along with me, just because I'm Muslim

Riaz Haq said...

In his Presidential address to the 19th session of the Hindu Mahasabha in Karnavati (Ahmedabad) in 1937, Savarkar said, .India cannot be assumed today to be a unitarian and homogenous nation, but on the contrary there are two nations in the main; the Hindus and the Moslems, in India.. What did he exactly mean by this statement?

Misunderstanding was created after Savarkar made the above utterances. Hence, Savarkar clarified his statement to journalists on 15 August 1943 in the office of the Marathi weekly Aadesh published from Nagpur. He also clarified his position in an interview given in Mumbai on 23 August 1943. The interview was published in the Aadesh dated 28 August 1943. Given below is an English translation of Savarkar.s clarification as published in the Marathi weekly Aadesh dated 23 August 1943. The clarification includes questions asked by the journalist:
.I have denied that I stated that there are two nations in Hindusthan. I said that journalists conveniently published a brief and out-of-context report; this they did so as per their convenience. But I had to issue a clarification in an interview to newspaper correspondents at the Aadesh office on 15 August 1943 so that my opinion does not create misunderstanding..
Mahasabha President Veer Savarkar gave the above clarification when asked about the statement issued by some journalists in Nagpur.
.You always say that in Hindusthan, Hindus are a nation and that the Mussalmans and others are communities. How does one reconcile this statement and the statement that there are two nations in Hindusthan?. When asked this question, Veer Savarkar replied, .I had clarified this in my Nagpur interview. But instead of reporting this, journalists simply reported that I accept the two-nation theory. This has resulted in the whole misunderstanding. I am surprised that a storm has been raised now on this issue. Because I have always been referring to the two-nation theory right from my Ahmedabad speech.
It is a historic truth that the Mussulmans are a .nation.. I had clarified the historical and racial background of this theory in Nagpur. Islam is a theocratic nation based on the Koran right from its inception. This nation never had geographical boundaries. Wherever the Mussulmans went, they went as a nation. They also came to Hindusthan as a .nation.. Wherever they go, Mussulmans shall either remain foreigners or rulers. As per the Koran, those who are not Mussulmans are kafirs, enemies of Islam. Even today, after praying in the mosque, Mussulmans ask for atonement for committing the sin of living in a kafir-ruled state. As per the principle of Mussulmans, the earth is divided into two nations . Dar-ul Islam (land of Islam) and Dar-ul Harb where Islam does not rule (enemy land). As per their religious command, their campaign on Hindusthan was as a separate nation. They conquered the Hindu Nation as a enemy nation, not as One Nation. The Hindu Nation arose again and having defeated the Mussulmans at various places, saved the whole of Hindusthan to establish Hindu Padpadshahi also as a separate Hindu Nation opposed to the Muslim nations. This history certainly cannot be denied. In

Riaz Haq said...

Are most terrorists in India Muslims? I have to chance to look at this following yet another avoidable incident this week.

Nigeria's ambassador to India has responded to a comment made by a Union minister.
The comment was made Giriraj Singh, who said: "If Rajiv Gandhi had married a Nigerian lady and not a white-skinned woman, would the Congress have accepted her leadership?" The remark revealed the casual racism that is so commonplace in India. Nigeria's ambassador OB Okongor was upset enough to say "I believe the prime ninister will do right thing on this. I am not going to lodge protest." The prime minister ignored it, once again as those who have observed his conduct on such things will have noticed, though the media was naturally outraged.

The website ran a commentary headlined '5 reasons why Giriraj Singh should shut up.' It included this statement of his from last year: "Isn't it true that all people caught in terrorist activities belong to one community? I am not trying to blame any one particular community. Why are all so-called secular parties silent on this?"

Presumably he means Muslims. He is of course not right in assuming that all people caught for terrorism are Muslims, but are Muslims responsible for most of the terrorism in India? Let's look at the data. The South Asian Terrorism Portal lists fatalities and incidents across India. Quite helpfully, it also does lists them by conflict theatre.

In 2014, there were 976 deaths from terrorism (or extremism, whatever name one wants to use for it) in India. Of these, the most (465) came in the North East. The second most (314) came from Left wing extremism, by a group of people called Maoists. Deaths in Jammu & Kashmir, assuming we want to attribute the whole lot to terrorism, stood at 193. Outside of these conflict theatres, Islamist extremism claimed four lives.

In 2013, the figure was most for Maoists (421), the second most for the North East (252) and the Kashmir plus Islamist violence outside the state again third (206). In 2012, we had a similar situation: Maoists (367), followed by the North East (326), followed by Kashmir (117). The total number of victims to Islamist terrorism outside these three areas, across India, was 1.

In 2011, Maoist violence claimed 602, the North East 246 and Kashmir plus Islamist violence outside the state stood at 225. This year, again the sequence is the same, though violence levels across India have dropped, as they have been doing for the past decade.As is obvious, most terrorists in India are Hindus, the ones whom we have conveniently labelled 'Maoist' instead of 'Hindu'. The second largest group of terrorists are the tribals, animists and perhaps some Christians, of the Northeast. Muslims are third. If one looks outside the separatism of Kashmir, their violence and terrorism levels are among the lowest in the world and they appear to be lest susceptible to terrorism not just by the standards of the world's Muslims but also India's Hindus.


The reason is that 'terrorism' is today accepted only that which is Islamist. And the reason for this is the narrative in the media, which has neatly conflated terrorism with Islam and Pakistan. News channels like Times Now run many more programmes firing middle class and Anglicised Indians up against 'terrorism' (ie Islamist/Pakistan) than they run shows on the North East and on Maoism, which claim a far greater number of lives as the figures show.

It is of course unfortunate that this should be the case, but we can explain away the common man using such arguments. For a Union minister to hold them as Gospel is frightening and shows how wrong headed the members of this government are....

Riaz Haq said...

Thenmozhi Soundararajan: fighting the #Dalit women's fight with, activism #dalitwomenfight #India #racism #caste With fists in the air and placards in hand, women who have been raped, burned, stripped naked and set on fire have gathered around India to demand that their government acknowledge the crimes committed against them and work to stop other women from facing the same fate.

They are also fighting for their ancestors, who were deemed untouchable before the government abolished the use of the term in 1949.

Many of these Dalit women lack the resources for efficient telecommunication, so they gather in districts near the statue of BR Ambedkar, a legendary Indian politician and former Dalit leader. Police are often nearby, including officers who the women believe are ignoring their rape accusations and sometimes abetting them.

With these women – taking their photo, supporting their stories and spreading their message to the rest of the world – is Dalit-American artist Thenmozhi Soundararajan. She is a transmedia artist, which means she creates and translates stories across platforms. It also means that for her, everything about the #Dalitwomenfight movement – from social media posts to professional photography to security training for its participants – is an art form. .........................

Soundararajan believes the sexual violence inflicted on Dalit women underlies a systemic issue with how women in the country are treated. “If you have 80 million to 100 million women whose bodies are porous to this violence, then what is going to be expected to the rest of the status of women in the nation?” she said.

India’s reluctance to address its issues with sexual violence was made clear to an international audience in recent weeks when the country banned the documentary India’s Daughter – which examines the gang rape of an Indian national in Delhi . Soundararajan’s work is meant to extend the conversation beyond the rare case that attracts international attention and show how caste-based rape impacts the entire country’s attitude towards sexual violence.

“There is this aimless conversation about rape in India and somehow Indian men are just more sexist and patriarchal, and it’s not about individual cases and individual localities and perpetrators that are out of control,” she said. “What we’re looking at actually is a system where the rule of law is not being implemented for all.”

Riaz Haq said...

This letter is an excerpt from a collection of Gandhi’s letters which have been compiled into a book titled “Mahatma Gandhi’s Letters on Brahmacharya, Sexuality and Love” by Girja Kumar (Vitasta Publishing, 2011). More detailed citations and references on the chapter on Gandhi in Rita Banerji’s book “Sex and Power: Defining History, Shaping Societies,” [pages 265-281, Penguin Books, 2009].What do you think?

It is a fact. Gandhi had young women in his ashram, some of them still teenagers, one of them his own grand-niece [Manu Gandhi], sleep naked with him in his bed at night. This was an aspect of Gandhi that I had not read about before, and it surprised me at first. I was researching for my book ‘Sex and Power’ which looks at the history of sex and sexuality in India, and it was important for me to investigate this further.

My initial tendency was to regard this as “gossip,” but then some of the biographies confirmed it as fact, but also hurriedly dismissed it as something that we all apparently should accept as the eccentricities of “great” men! That’s not a logical argument for me and so I began to dig into archives for more information till a complete picture emerged. And that picture upset me. I saw Gandhi as a classic example of a sexual predator — a man who uses his position of power to manipulate and sexually exploit the people he directly controls.What do you think?

Most angering for me was reading about the psychological and emotional trauma of the girls and women who he used for his “experiments,” which is what he called these incidents. The word ‘psychotic’ repeatedly came up in various documents with regards to these women’s mental state. The women, most of who were in their late teens or early twenties [not surprisingly, given he could have ‘experimented’ with the older women or even his own wife!] were repeatedly described as depressed and weeping, and seemed to be completely in his control. Besides this, some of the archival references lead me to believe that Gandhi may well have been practicing the traditional, historic form of Indian celibacy which hinges on one thing only — and that is control of ejaculation. Everything else is permitted.What do you think?

What I could not understand is why school texts and biographies have selectively edited out this information because it was a big and explosive aspect of the inner dynamics of the Gandhi ashram and its inmates for the last 10 years of Gandhi’s life. It eventually led to the partial break-up of his inner-core circle.8

But Gandhi is long dead. So why should the naked girls in Gandhi’s bed matter today?What do you think?

Well, because the issue goes way beyond Gandhi. What really matters now, and it matters deeply, is how we respond to what Gandhi did!3

Today we like to believe that we are far more progressive in terms of recognizing and condemning the abuse of power by men for sexual exploitation and abuse. And yet, I repeatedly find every time I bring this up [for eg. in this article Gandhi to Asharam: Who Empowers the Sex-Crimes of Gurus?] most people’s responses are defensive and regressive!What do you think?

But this is what surprised me most! Compared to our reactions and responses today, the people in Gandhi’s time seemed to be far more progressive! They not only recognized that he was abusing his position and power in a way that was unethical and depraved, but they outright condemned it, confronted it, and eventually forced him to stop!1

Riaz Haq said...

1 January, 1947
SrirampurWhat do you think?

Revered Bapu,What do you think?

I write these lines in sorrow and pain…You know how shy and unforward I have been these two years. You must imagine to what depths I must have been agitated then to overcome my shyness and become bold and that too with a man who is considered by many to be the greatest man living…What do you think?

You must also ponder over the fact as to what it is that has made me bold and say things so boldly. It is because I feel I am so clearly in the right and you so clearly in the wrong. It is the cause that gives me the courage.2

It is not that I did not know these before. I knew and kept quiet. I thought “Why should I bring these to him?” There are men like Kanu [Gandhi], Kishorilal-bhai [Mashruwala], etc., experienced men and men knowing you fully. And then I had not the courage. I have come over my shyness with you…What do you think?

When first I came to the ashram I came with high respect for the ashram and its inmates and its way of life. All that was knocked off in 24 hours…After coming here I must confess to having lost a portion of the respect I had for you….You are the Father of our Nation…You have taken us so far along the path of freedom and independence…You must see the hand of God…in the fact that I have overcome my shyness.What do you think?

I object to your sleeping in the same bed with members of the opposite sex. In February 1945 or so I was given the draft of a statement to type. I was shocked by the contents…I must tell you that even before I know of this. One day Amin-bhai came and told me that he was shocked to see Manu [Manu Gandhi — Gandhi’s own grand niece] getting into your bed.What do you think?

In those days I was more shy than I am now. My only friend in the ashram was Amin. Even then I came to know of the discussions about this affair because the ashram people are so careless and can’t keep their mouth shut. Everybody objected to your doing this…What do you think?

Apart from the question of any affect on you what about the effect on girls?What do you think?

There is something of other wrong with them [the women who sleep naked with Gandhi]. [The] Punjabi girl who lived opposite my room in Matunga…She used to weep unrestrainedly and that not caring whether others saw her or not. She laughed also unrestrainedly…And then here is Dr. Sushila-behn [The 24-year-old in-house physician at the ashram who Gandhi also used for his ‘experiments’]. How many are the days when she has not wept? She is a doctor and yet she is always a patient, always is ill. Who has heard of a doctor who cries out at night?2

Riaz Haq said...

This troubling (caste) divide has its roots both in the development of the modern Indian state and in the nature of Hinduism and Hindu society. Before political independence and self-determination were on anyone’s agenda, Indian thinkers and public figures were already considering what social democratization would look like in a nation so fundamentally shaped by social hierarchy. And the 19th and 20th centuries saw numerous attempts to bring Indian tradition, especially Hinduism, in line with a vision of a modern liberal—and sometimes explicitly egalitarian—society.

Bhimrao Ambedkar, the chief architect of the Indian constitution and the nation’s first law minister, anticipated the problems that inequality would pose to the development of independent India as a modern democratic state.

Ambedkar’s experience as a Dalit, or “untouchable,” as well as his remarkably rigorous and international education, led him to advocate for social reform, broader access to education and the abolition of the caste system. And when much of that activism proved unsuccessful, he rejected Hinduism altogether.

For those who dreamed of social democratization, the Hindu tradition, so deeply hierarchical, seemed ill suited to modern egalitarian and democratic society. Could Hindu social practices be adapted to a modern democratic world? Or, as Ambedkar finally concluded, was that an impossible task?

The caste system denounced

Like earlier movements that sought to break with orthodox Hinduism (most notably Buddhism and Jainism), reform efforts in the 19th century emphasized direct, unmediated interaction between individuals and the gods—undermining the power of the Brahmins (the highest, priestly caste).

Two major reform movements, the Brahmo Samaj and the Arya Samaj, went further, offering critiques of religious, caste and gender hierarchy and promoting a vision of a more egalitarian and communal faith.

The Brahmo Samaj, founded in 1828, embraced a version of Millian liberalism while seeking to reform Hinduism for modern times. It established a canon of Hindu scripture and denounced many Hindu practices, including the caste system.

The Arya Samaj was heavily influenced by the work of the Brahmo Samaj; in 1875, it translated the Vedas, Hinduism’s ancient Sanskrit holy texts, into vernacular languages and pushed for literacy as a way of building an inclusive religious community. The Arya Samaj favored merit-based castes and social welfare as the vehicles of its egalitarian, pluralistic vision and emphasized the importance of individual religious morality and an attendant social mobility.

The Brahmo and Arya Samaj laid a foundation later built upon by Hindu leaders Swami Vivekananda and Mahatma Gandhi.

Vivekananda, a much-beloved nineteenth-century Hindu monk and philosopher, saw the potential for divinity in every individual and preached the importance of mass education and material improvement to the development of a vibrant, modern Hindu society. Gandhi sought to shift the focus of Hinduism away from the ideal of spiritual renunciation towards a practical commitment to improving society.

Ultimately, the prominence of upper-caste leaders in social reform efforts tempered the movements’ critiques of Hinduism. The more radical movements were led by lower-caste leaders. Most notable among these was the “non-Brahmin” movement in western India during the 1870s and 1880s.

Jotirao Govindrao Phule and his Satyashodhak Samaj (“truth-seeking society”) were the most radical incarnation of this movement, with an emphasis on the lower castes as a moral and historical community that transcended conventional religion. Phule’s rejection of the upper castes and their traditionalist Hinduism placed him in opposition to the Brahmin-led Indian National Congress, which was founded in 1885 as a pro-independence political organization and later came to dominate the political scene.

Riaz Haq said...

BENGALURU: A young Tanzanian woman was beaten up and stripped on a road in Bengaluru, prompting the Tanzanian embassy to ask the government to take action against her attackers.

Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj described the attack as "shameful" and said four men have been arrested.

Police Commissioner NS Megharikh, however, told NDTV that no arrest has been made yet. Some people are being detained and questioned."

The 21-year-old victim is a college student. On Sunday night, the Wagon-R she was traveling in was stopped by a mob of at least 200 people. Half an hour earlier, another car had run over a woman walking on the road. The seething crowd then turned its anger on the newly-arrived Wagon-R.

The student was dragged out of the Wagon-R and then allegedly paraded naked. When she tried to board a bus to escape, the passengers pushed her out, said the All African Students Union in Bengaluru.

Riaz Haq said...

Try renting an apartment using a #Muslim name (In #India ), Shashi Tharoor to Anupam Kher. #Modi #BJP #Islamophobia …

Indian Congress leader Shashi Tharoor while defending his Twitter argument with veteran actor Anupam Kher, said if the actor is scared to openly call himself Hindu in India, he should try renting an apartment with a Muslim name.

During an interview Kher confessed that he fears “saying I’m a Hindu”. “In this country, I’m scared to say that if I wear a tilak (mark worn by a Hindu on the forehead to indicate caste, sect) and a gerua (saffron colored clothes), then I will be branded as an RSS (right-wing party) guy or a BJP fanatic,” said Kher.

Today, I’m scared to say I’m Hindu: Anupam Kher

A spat broke out as Tharoor tweeted against Kher’s comment, stating that though India has people from various religions, the country is recognised by Hindus at large. Kher in reply to the comment called Tharoor a ‘Congi Chamcha’.

Stating that minorities in India are the ones who have to struggle much harder than Hindus to be accepted by society, Tharoor in a column on NDTV said, “Try renting an apartment, for instance, while using a Muslim name: there are many parts of many towns where you will be turned away with one specious excuse or another. And yet Muslims are expected to grin and bear it, and move on. ”

Blind Muslim teacher barred from renting flat in India

“So when I said, truthfully, that I openly, and without self-consciousness, say I am Hindu, I am acknowledging that it’s far easier for me to do so than it is for an Indian Muslim or Christian to wear his faith on his sleeve without being typecast for doing so. And when I added that I am not the Sangh’s kind of Hindu, I meant that I am not belligerent about my Hinduism,” he wrote.

Riaz Haq said...

Anti-Muslim housing discrimination Apartment Rental Ad in #Mumbai, #India: "All communities allowed EXCEPT #Muslims"

Such intolerance exists at all price points. In a TV interview, Shabana Azmi, one of India’s most celebrated actresses and a former member of Parliament, described how she and her equally famous screenwriter husband couldn’t buy the flat they wanted because they were Muslim.

More alarming to me, though, is how the inter-communal mix of my formative years has been lost. As the writer Naresh Fernandes describes in his book, “City Adrift: A Short Biography of Bombay,” some suburban areas are acquiring the feel of religious ghettos. Mumbra, one of the largest, is over 90 percent Muslim. It suffers daily power failures much worse than those in neighboring Hindu localities. To the west, the clearly demarcated Muslim parts of Jogeshwari are snidely called “mini Pakistan” by Hindus across the “border.”

It is not difficult to find Internet listings specifying whether a property lies in the Hindu or Muslim area of an outer suburb, or even, in the case of a half-million dollar flat in the closer-in suburb Andheri, saying explicitly, “All communities allowed EXCEPT Muslims.”

Riaz Haq said...

#African-American Business Traveler's View: #India ranks way up there among the most ‘#racist’ … via @bodahub

In 2013, the Washington Post released a map based on a study by two Swedish economists that colour coded the map of the earth based on racist attitudes.

The study was simple: they asked people whether they would have a problem with a neighbour of another race. Only two nations – India at 43.5% and Jordan at 51.4% – scored over 40% in racial intolerance.

The question has since become increasingly relevant. As we have written about earlier, Bollywood actors have launched movements that aimed at extolling the beauty of dark skin, politicians have repeatedly made the point. There have been horrific race-motivated attacks on Africans just within the last year even!

Recently, the question was posed on Quora as to which was the most racist country in the world, and Dave Adali, an American, had a poignant and saddening answer to it.

“I am an African-American in the IT field and I have thus far had the good fortune to live and travel extensively throughout Western and parts of Eastern Europe and many countries in Asia. I have lived or traveled in the UK and most of the EU countries as well as Taiwan, Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia and several other Asian countries including India.

Of all the countries I have been to, India ranks way up there among the most ‘racist’, IMHO. Indians aren’t so much ‘racist’ as they are intolerant. Indians discriminate against fellow citizens to a degree that I have NEVER encountered in ANY other country. Without a doubt, Indians are the the most color obsessed people I have ever encountered anywhere in the world. No doubt because of all that saturation advertisements for ‘Fair and Lovely’, ‘Fair and Handsome’ and all manners of skin-whitening creams, lotions, soaps etc. Even if you are 100% Indian, your fellow Indians might still discriminate against you on the basis of the color of your skin, which region of India you come from, what language you speak, your religion, your caste etc, etc.

If you are of obvious African ancestry, including African-American, you can find life really, really tough in India if you are going to be in India for a while. Indians can be such unabashed, in your face racists. In the interest of fairness, I should point out that oftentimes, lighter-skinned Indians despise darker-skinned Indians every bit as much as much as they despise us people of African ancestry. Apart from that, there is also considerable antipathy between North Indians and South Indians

Indians outside of India endlessly complain about the intolerance and racism they have to put up with in places like Europe, the US, Canada, Australia, the Middle East and even Africa. These very same Indians conveniently choose to ignore the fact that Indians themselves can be such pathological bigots against their fellow Indians, other Asians and especially people of African ancestry. `. In Amritsar, one of my best friends was Gyan, a Nepali whom I initially mistook for a Chinese. Indians disdainfully call him “Chinki” or “Bahadur”, which Gyan hated. As a matter of fact, Indian citizens from India’s North-Eastern states, who often have Chinese facial features are routinely referred to, usually disparagingly as ‘Chinkis’.

Riaz Haq said...

BBC News - BBC Pop Up: Blacks in #India face racism and #bigotry everywhere in #Indian society. #BJP #Modi

What is it like being black in India?
That's what BBC Pop Up wanted to find out after Benjamin Pratt, a student from Sierra Leone now living in India, told us that many African immigrants are victims of racism and prejudice.
BBC journalists Christian Parkinson and Vikas Pandey joined Benjamin on the streets of Delhi to find out more but ended up in a small village in the western state of Gujarat.
There they discovered a surprising and little-known culture alive and well.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistani Observes from #India Side of #Wagah Border Amid #Indians' Bigoted Screams “Attack!” “rape their sisters!”

“I was not allowed to sit in the foreigner’s section, given that I didn’t look foreign, and I didn’t want to tell them that I was,” Saim Saeed writes in The New York Times. “This was ironic, given that — as a Pakistani sitting on the Indian side of the border — they would consider me to be even more foreign than most foreigners.”

“The spectacle that my friends and I had come to see was the border ceremony at Wagah that takes place between Pakistan and India every day at sundown,” Mr. Saeed writes. “The ceremony is as colorful, loud and grotesque an exhibition of nationalism that you will ever see.”

The soldiers — massive, seven-foot men brought in to out-measure their counterparts in a region where the average male height is 5 feet, 5 inches — shout, stomp and strut before a frenzied crowd as they lower the flags and shut the gate. The crowds do their part as massive speakers blare jingoistic anthems meant to drown out the noise from the other side. People dance, sing, flex their muscles and deride the soldiers across the border.

The Pakistani side has a novel spectacle — an old man wearing green robes runs from behind a pillar, stands right in front of the gate and waves a massive flag. The jeering crowd around me was shouting, “Attack!” and “Let’s rape their sisters!”

Completely by accident, I happened to be wearing a green shirt (the color of Pakistan and Islam), and I feared I would be found out. I ended up crying at the hatred shown by the people under the veneer of celebration.


The ceremony that I was now witnessing is more indicative of the similarities between Indians and Pakistanis than their differences. The people that were chanting “Pakistan Zindabad! Hindustan murdabad!” (Long live Pakistan! Death to India!) shared the same physical characteristics, language and clothing as the ones hurling their own imprecations on the other side of the line. They even insulted each other’s mothers and sisters using the same expletives. It seemed like they were shouting in a mirror.

So what is it that divides us so? Why do we hate each other so much that we’ve fought three declared wars, a fourth that was undeclared, and might even fight another?

The easy and perhaps most convenient answer is religion, but that is wrong. Pakistanis believe that being Muslim sets them apart from India, and so we create an identity for India, too; they are non-Muslim, or more specifically, Hindu. India is not, and has never been a completely Hindu country. The fact is that we don’t have any distinguishing characteristic on which to hang separate national identities. There is nothing to distinguish us from one another, save our passports, and those were given to us.

Each evening, at the end of the flag-lowering ceremony, the crowds of Indians and Pakistanis go back to the same homes, eat the same loaves of naan and sleep on the same charpoys. In the morning they drink the same yoghurt drink called lassi.

My friends and I are not any different.

Riaz Haq said...

In #India, #Black #Africans feel hounded by prejudice. #racism via @timesofindia

f you are black , you are either a drug peddler or a prostitute. This is the reality that Africans live with in Delhi every day. A racist undertone in all interactions with people from Africa living and working in Delhi can often cloud perceptions about them. Aam Aadmi Party's Somnath Bharti was accused of racism last year after a midnight raid on an alleged drug and prostitution racket in Khirki village. Now, racism is one of the angles that the police are investigating in the killing of Oliver, a youth from Congo , in Vasant Kunj on Friday.
After last year's raid in Khirki, a large number of Africans relocated to other areas such as Sangam Vihar, Aya Nagar and Chhattarpur. Those left behind are confined to a few narrow alleys in Hauz Rani. Their businesses may be straddling a grey area, but the Africans continue to face discrimination due to the colour of their skin and the distorted presumptions about them.
Enjona from Nigeria runs a beauty salon called Marris Exotic Creations in Khirki. "Indians are racist," she says bluntly. "Someday we may face the same fate as the Congolese man. When I call home in Nigeria, I tell my family to treat Indians badly. They don't deserve to do business and live freely in Africa."
Antonia from Angola isn't quite so vehement and says she has some good Indian friends. But she still won't step out of the house after 9 pm "because men always think we are prostitutes".
Rohit Kochchar, who runs a grocery store near the salon, sums it for the locals: "We don't know what the African men do. Many probably deal in drugs. The women don't work either. Most of their visas have expired. They are still allowed to stay because they can pay higher rent."
The tension between the two sides is obvious. "The locals think Africans are evil because they are black," says Pooja Sood, director, Khoj International Artists Association, who adds that most Africans in the city are refugees. "The residents have strange ideas that Africans eat their own babies. It is a lack of education and I think it stems from a casteist approach to everything," explains Sood. "This is not to say that there are no bad people in their community. But that's there in every community. I think such discrimination only comes from the fear of the other." Several Somalian girls and boys work with Khoj, taking hip hop classes or taking up other projects, including an India-Africa project.

Riaz Haq said...

Protests by #African diplomats is another reminder of #India’s deep-seated #racism via @qzindia

African diplomats in India have had enough.
The heads of mission of 42 African countries have threatened to boycott Africa Day celebrations in New Delhi to protest against the ceaseless racist attacks on their citizens in India.
A week-long celebration was planned to showcase Africa and build on the newfound bonhomie following last October’s India-Africa Forum Summit in New Delhi. But African diplomats may not attend.
The immediate trigger was the death of 29-year-old Masonda Ketada Olivier, a Congolese national. A French language teacher in New Delhi, Oliver was allegedly killed by three drunk men following an argument over hiring an auto-rickshaw. The police have so far arrested two suspects, and are on the lookout for the third.

This isn’t the first time an African national has been attacked in India. In February, a 21-year-old Tanzanian woman was allegedly stripped and beaten up by a mob in Bengaluru after a Sudanese man ran over a local. A few months before that, three African men were beaten up by a mob in New Delhi after they objected to locals taking their pictures. In Jan. 2015, a minister of the Delhi government even raided a neighbourhood inhabited by African nationals, alleging that they were peddling drugs and ran a prostitution ring.
Olivier’s death, though, seems to have been the final straw. Eschewing diplomatic channels, the heads of African embassies in New Delhi have written a strongly-worded letter to the Indian government to take “concrete steps” to ensure the safety of Africans.
“Given the pervading climate of fear and insecurity in Delhi,” Alem Tsehage Woldemariam, ambassador of Eritrea and dean of the African Group Head of Mission, said, “the African heads of mission are left with little option than to consider recommending to their governments not to send new students to India, unless and until their safety can be guaranteed.”
Image management

Shortly after the statements were made public, India’s ministry of external affairs, led by foreign minister Sushma Swaraj, swung into damage control mode.


For Modi and the Indian government, the open rebuke by African nations couldn’t have come at a worse time.
The Indian prime minister is all set to travel to Africa in the next two months, as part of his plan to broaden engagements with the continent. While trade between India and African countries has risen in recent years, there’s much left to be done.
Last October, New Delhi announced a doubling of India’s assistance to African nations, with $10 billion in concessional loans over the next five years. India also offered $600 million in grant assistance to African countries for focused spending on key areas such as healthcare, education, and technology.
Although some of the big spending is with an eye on China’s growing influence in the region, the Modi government is also aware of the massive investment opportunities in the continent.

Riaz Haq said...

#Africans in #India face constant battles with #racism | Fox News |

The daily indignities Africans suffer usually go undocumented both by the police and local media.

That changed on May 20, when Congolese student Masunda Kitada Oliver was fatally attacked in a dispute over hiring an autorickshaw in New Delhi. Three men who insisted they had hired the vehicle beat him up and hit him on the head with a rock, killing him, according to police.

The death made the city's African students, diplomats and business owners rally together demanding quick justice. The African Heads of Mission in New Delhi issued a statement asking the government to address "racism and Afro-phobia" in the country.

"Given the pervading climate of fear and insecurity in Delhi, the African Heads of Mission are left with little option than to consider recommending to their governments not to send new students to India, unless and until their safety can be guaranteed," the statement said.

The killing and the outrage it sparked drew an unusually prompt reaction from local police and India's foreign ministry. Two men suspected in the attack were arrested within a day, while a third remains at large.

Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted that her ministry asked for "stringent action against the culprits." But the ministry also said all criminal acts involving Africans should not be seen as racial in nature.

The bad press the country got as a result of the killing prompted India's glacial government machinery to move quickly to try to address the issue.

An India-Africa art exhibition was cobbled together at government expense and on short notice. A protest planned by African students in the Indian capital was put off after government officials reached out to African student groups.

The police and government began holding workshops in neighborhoods across the city to try to sensitize local residents about their African neighbors.

There were other well publicized examples of anti-African prejudice in India before Oliver's death.

In February, a Tanzanian woman was beaten and stripped naked by a mob in the southern city of Bangalore after a Sudanese student's car hit an Indian woman. In September 2014, a video of three African men being beaten inside a security booth at a New Delhi Metro station went viral. For several minutes a large mob beat the men with bare hands and sticks and shoes as they climbed up the walls of the glass booth in terror. The police were absent.

These incidents made it to the local newspapers. Hundreds more do not.

Prejudice is open in India. The matrimonial columns of the newspaper are strictly segregated along caste lines. Landlords in cities like Delhi and Mumbai deny homes to people based on race and religion.

Indians from northeastern India, who look different because of their Asian features, are routinely harassed and have to endure being called names on the streets.

But the worst kind of discrimination is reserved for the Africans. In a country obsessed with fair skin and skin lightening beauty treatments, their dark skin draws a mixture of fear and ridicule.

Landlords shun Africans in all but the poorest neighborhoods, and in those they are charged unusually high rent. African students in the New Delhi neighborhood of Chhatarapur reported paying 15,000 rupees ($225) a month for a single room and bathroom that would normally rent for 6,000 to 7,000 rupees.

Strangers point at them and laugh — or gang up and assault them.

Riaz Haq said...

From #Modi's Guru Golwalkar to #GOP's #Trump: #India's #Hindu Nationalists Cheer & Pray for #Trump. #Islamophobia

INDIA’S Hindu right is desperately seeking a role in the American elections even if it’s a walk-on appearance in a crowd scene. It asks if its right-wing friends from Israel can tip the balance in a keen American contest, why can’t the Hindu right be at least a cheerleader. After being rapped on the knuckles by Barack Obama a few times — following the cordial talks with Prime Minister Modi in Delhi, for example — the Hindu right wants a less censorious incumbent in the White House. Public prayers and weird voodoo rituals have been invoked to boost the chances of Donald Trump.

The two have much in common. Mr Trump claims to speak for core American values, passing off contrived fear for nationalist fervour. In India, the Hindu right has laid claim to defining — rather, it has been allowed by a somnolent opposition to prescribe — what is nationalist and what isn’t. Someone’s stand on the Kashmiri uprising is the signal for praise or rebuke. They both hate Muslims. And, as Mr Trump’s aversion of Latinos expands his arena of nurtured prejudices the Hindu right targets the tribal communities of the northeast.

Hindtuva goons, raised on political patronage, periodically bludgeon Manipuri and other people from the northeast in Delhi and elsewhere. Mr Trump’s veiled fear of African Americans mutates in India into physical assaults on students and visitors of dark complexion. As with Muslims and Dalits, African residents find it difficult to rent a house in Delhi.

Mr Trump and the Hindu right have a common ancestor too: Adolf Hitler. As such, they are joined at the hip in their biases. About Muslims, Trump says: “They’re not coming to this country if I’m president. And if Obama has brought some to this country they are leaving, they’re going, they’re gone.”

Trump and the Hindu right have a common ancestor: Adolf Hitler. As such, they are joined at the hip in their biases.
As his wife plagiarised from Michelle Obama’s speech, Trump borrowed without attribution from Guru Golwakar’s book We or Our Nationhood Defined. The early pioneer of the Hindu right wrote: “The non-Hindu people of Hindustan must either adopt Hindu culture and language, must learn and respect and hold in reverence the Hindu religion, must entertain no idea but of those of glorification of the Hindu race and culture ... In a word, they must cease to be foreigners, or may stay in the country, wholly subordinated to the Hindu nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment — not even citizens’ rights.”

There was a notable difference though. Golwalkar’s reference to non-Hindu people included Indian Christians. This should not deter any alliance of two utterly right-wing demagogues. After all, Golwakar’s praise of Germany’s treatment of Jews didn’t deter his followers from bonding with right-wing leaders in Israel.

“To keep up the purity of the race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic Races — the Jews,” Golwalkar wrote with approval. “Race pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well nigh impossible it is for Races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindustan to learn and profit by. Ever since that evil day, when Moslems first landed in Hindustan, right up to the present moment, the Hindu Nation has been gallantly fighting on to take on these despoilers. The Race Spirit has been awakening.”

Riaz Haq said...

BBC News - #Ghana's problem with 'racist' Gandhi. #racism

Nelson Mandela said that the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi had helped to topple apartheid in South Africa. Emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie I, was also an admirer. "Mahatma Gandhi will always be remembered as long as free men and those who love freedom and justice live," he said. Yet not all African leaders are inspired by the man known as the "Father of India".
An online petition, which has been signed by more than 1,000 people, has been started by professors at the University of Ghana. They call for the removal of a statue of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi from the campus grounds in Accra. The academics say that Gandhi, who has been praised by public figures for leading India's non-violent movement to freedom from British colonial rule during the mid 20th century, had a "racist identity".
The petition lists quotes from the writings of the Indian leader, in which he described Africans as "savages or the Natives of Africa" and "kaffirs" (an insulting racial slur for a black African).
One example comes from a letter written by Gandhi to the Natal parliament of South Africa in 1893, saying that a "general belief seems to prevail in the Colony that the Indians are a little better, if at all, than savages or the Natives of Africa."

All quotations are from Gandhi Serve, an online resource that has collated the collected works of Mahatma Gandhi.
"How will the historian teach and explain that Gandhi was uncharitable in his attitude towards the Black race and see that we're glorifying him by erecting a statue on our campus?" the petition goes on to say.
The statue is a gift to the Ghanaian government from the Indian President Pranab Mukherjee, unveiled when he visited Accra in June.

It drew criticism almost immediately. Some Ghanaians used hashtags such as #GandhiMustComeDown to echo the sentiments expressed by the professors.
Daniel Osei Tuffuor, a former student of the University of Ghana, has signed the petition. He told BBC Trending that "Ghanaians should be confident in themselves and seek to project our own heroes and heroines. There is nothing peaceful about the activities of Gandhi. Anyone who claims to uphold peace and tranquillity but promotes racism is a hypocrite."
The issue of Gandhi's attitudes to black Africans is not a new topic.
His biographer and grandson, Rajmohan Gandhi, said that his grandfather had first travelled to Africa at the age of 24 to practice law. He was undoubtedly "at times ignorant and prejudiced about South Africa's blacks," says Rajmohan Gandhi.
He adds that, while "Gandhi too was an imperfect human being... the imperfect Gandhi was more radical and progressive than most contemporary compatriots."

Dr Obadele Kambon, who is one of creators of the petition, agrees. He told BBC Trending that "ideally, in its place or elsewhere, statues of classical, traditional and modern African heroes could be erected to enhance levels of self-knowledge, self-respect and self-love.
"In the long term, however, we would like to be part of the global movement towards self-respect and pride that we see in the removal of the Rhodes statue in Umzantsi (South Africa), Colin Kaepernick's protest against the National Anthem in the US, and the Black Lives Matter protests.
"At the end of the day, we need images of ourselves for our own psychosocial well-being and not images of those who called us savages... May Gandhi fall that Africa may rise!"

Riaz Haq said...

‘Respect Gandhi If You Will, Don’t Sentimentalise Him’The distinguished professor of history now trains his lens on modern Indian history, discussing his book at lengthPRAFUL BIDWAI INTERVIEWS PERRY ANDERSON

Gandhi was gripped by regressive personal phobias, had limited intellectual formation, was impervious to rational argument...

You could say that, very roughly, it advances five main arguments that run counter to conventional wisdom in India today. Firstly, that the idea of a subcontinental unity stretching back six thousand years is a myth. Secondly, that Gandhi’s injection of religion into the national movement was ultimately a disaster for it. Thirdly, that primary responsibility for Partition lay not with the Raj, but Congress. Fourthly, that Nehru’s legacy to Republic was far more ambiguous than his admirers will admit. Lastly, that Indian democracy is not contradicted by caste inequality, but rather enabled by it. This is a crude summary. Obviously, in each case, much more is said than this.

You’ve explained that one of the reasons why, instead of writing simply about contemporary India, you start by looking at the struggle for independence, was your shock at the reception of Kathryn Tidrick’s work on Gandhi, so thoroughly blanketed by silence that most Indians are unaware of its existence. Tidrick concentrates on the relationship between Gandhi’s self-perception as a world-saviour— his religious beliefs— and his politics. She doesn’t really explore his role as a mass leader and tactician of the independence struggle. How far is your own account of Gandhi, which many in India would regard as a savage criticism, based on hers?
Tidrick’s biography of Gandhi is an extraordinarily careful, calm and courageous work. Not just I, but any serious student of this historical figure, would have more to learn about his outlook from her work than from any other extant study of him —the vast majority of Gandhiana being, to one degree or another, hagiographic. The silence covering it in India is an intellectual scandal which reflects poorly on local opinion. The problem here is not, of course, confined to her work. More recently, the reception of Joseph Lelyveld’s much more superficial and not very political, but extremely respectful, book about Gandhi—it’s even entitled Great Soul—tells the same story. Because it dismantles some of the legends Gandhi propagated about his time in South Africa, we have his grandson complaining that it ‘belittles’ him. It’s only in this climate of deference that my treatment of Gandhi could be regarded as sacrilege. Actually, I single out not only his remarkable gifts as a leader, and his achievement in making Congress a mass party, but also his personal sincerity and selflessness—he did not want power for himself, as most politicians do. In his own way he was a great man.

The principal catastrophe of 1947 lay in the Congress folly of not realising that it was, in composition and outlook, a Hindu party.
But that does not exempt him from criticism. He was gripped by a set of regressive personal fixations and phobias, had a very limited intellectual formation, was impervious to rational argument, and entirely unaware of the damage he was doing to the national movement by suffusing it with Hindu pietism as he reconceived it. He is to be respected, with all his blindness. But there is no need to sentimentalize him. The complete latitude he gave himself to declare as truth whatever he happened to say at any time, and then change it from one day to the next, still as the word of God shining through him, set a disastrous example for his followers and admirers.

Riaz Haq said...

India’s Eternal Inequality
NY Times Contributing Op-Ed Writer

I was in Varanasi, India’s most sacred city, conducting research for a book about Brahmins, the priestly caste at the top of the Hindu hierarchy. I was speaking at length to a young student who, like his Brahmin ancestors, was steeped in the study of Sanskrit and the Veda. One day, we drove together to the village where he came from. Our driver on this five-hour journey was a voluble man from the neighboring state of Bihar. Along the way, the driver, the student and I chatted amicably, but as we neared the Brahmin village, our dynamics swiftly changed.

My father was Muslim, and since religion in India is patrilineal, my presence in the Brahmin household should have been an unspeakable defilement. But it wasn’t. I belong to India’s English-speaking upper class and, in the eyes of my host, I was exempt from the rules of caste. As we approached the village, he did make one small adjustment: He stopped calling me by my conspicuously Muslim name, and rechristened me Nitish, a Hindu name.

The visit was going well. But, as evening fell, and we finished dinner with my Brahmin host and his parents, a terrific tension came over the household. Unbeknown to me, the family had made an extraordinary exception: They had allowed the driver, who was of a peasant caste called Yadav, lower in the hierarchy, to eat with us, in their house, using their plates. But now there was something they absolutely could not do.


Caste is a religious notion of spiritual purity that defines one’s function on earth. It comes alongside strict restrictions on how a person can live and what a person can eat and whom they can marry. Caste, or jati, as it is known in Hindi, is a bio-spiritual identity, which has nothing to do with money or power, and offers no escape save for death or renunciation. As Octavio Paz, the Mexican writer and onetime ambassador to India, wrote caste is “the first and last reality.”

India’s last caste census was conducted in the early 1930s, when the country was still part of the British Empire. It found that while Brahmins constituted only some 6 percent of the population, the other lower castes, even without Dalits and the tribal people, who are not part of the caste system, came to as much as 40 percent.

In 2010, Vinod K. Jose, writing in The Caravan, conjectured that the shape of society was roughly the same, and “as a block, the Shudras and untouchables could reach 70 percent of the Indian population.” In 2011, the government conducted a “socio-economic census,” but its findings on caste were never released, in part because the issue is so explosive.

The modern Indian state has tried to correct the imbalances that caste creates. The Constitution bans discrimination based on caste, and the government has instituted quotas for low-caste people in government jobs and at universities. But the wound is so deep that even when this form of affirmative action throws up the odd success story, tragedy can quickly ensue.

The same week that my driver in Varanasi was forced to wash his own plate, the issue of caste roared back to the forefront of Indian political life.

Rohith Vemula, 26, was a Ph.D. student at the University of Hyderabad, in southern India.....


The contradiction presented by caste and nationalism was never clearer than in the searing images that emerged from Mr. Modi’s own home state, Gujarat, in July. They showed Dalit boys being stripped and beaten with iron rods. They were accused of killing a sacred Indian cow. But they claimed they were only skinning a cow that was already dead, work that is typically reserved for people of low caste. The irony could not have been more stark: It was caste on one hand that had forced this occupation upon them, and it was caste that was degrading them further.

Riaz Haq said...

The Gandhi Nobody Knows
I had the singular honor of attending an early private screening of Gandhi with an audience of invited guests from…



As it happens, the government of India openly admits to having provided one-third of the financing of Gandhi out of state funds, straight out of the national treasury—and after close study of the finished product I would not be a bit surprised to hear that it was 100 percent. If Pandit Nehru is portrayed flatteringly in the film, one must remember that Nehru himself took part in the initial story conferences (he originally wanted Gandhi to be played by Alec Guinness) and that his daughter Indira Gandhi is, after all, Prime Minister of India (though no relation to Mohandas Gandhi). The screenplay was checked and rechecked by Indian officials at every stage, often by the Prime Minister herself, with close consultations on plot and even casting. If the movie contains a particularly poisonous portrait of Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, the Indian reply, I suppose, would be that if the Pakistanis want an attractive portrayal of Jinnah let them pay for their own movie. A friend of mine, highly sophisticated in political matters but innocent about film-making, declared that Gandhi should be preceded by the legend: The following film is a paid political advertisement by the government of India.

Gandhi, then, is a large, pious, historical morality tale centered on a saintly, sanitized Mahatma Gandhi cleansed of anything too embarrassingly Hindu (the word “caste” is not mentioned from one end of the film to the other) and, indeed, of most of the rest of Gandhi’s life, much of which would drastically diminish his saintliness in Western eyes. There is little to indicate that the India of today has followed Gandhi’s precepts in almost nothing. There is little, in fact, to indicate that India is even India. The spectator realizes the scene is the Indian subcontinent because there are thousands of extras dressed in dhotis and saris. The characters go about talking in these quaint Peter Sellers accents. We have occasional shots of India’s holy poverty, holy hovels, some landscapes, many of them photographed quite beautifully, for those who like travelogues. We have a character called Lord Mountbatten (India’s last Viceroy); a composite American journalist (assembled from Vincent Sheehan, William L. Shirer, Louis Fischer, and straight fiction); a character called simply “Viceroy” (presumably another composite); an assemblage of Gandhi’s Indian followers under the name of one of them (Patel); and of course Nehru.

Ahmed F. said...

Well, that film was largely based on the book, "Freedom at Midnight."

And it may well be that the Indian government paid for it.

The Pakistanis also produced a movie on Jinnah. It was a big flop.

Riaz Haq said...

Ahmad: "Well, that film was largely based on the book, "Freedom at Midnight." And it may well be that the Indian government paid for it.
The Pakistanis also produced a movie on Jinnah. It was a big flop."

The big difference between the films "Jinnah" and Gandhi" was the choice of the director.

Sir Richard Attenborough was an established name and a big draw; Jamil Dehalvi was an unknown.

The other difference: Nehru and Indira were personally involved in the making of Gandhi to make themselves good and put H=Jinnah in a very poor light.

Here's more from the Grenier review:

Gandhi, therefore, the film, this paid political advertisement for the government of India, is organized around three axes: (1) Anti-racism—all men are equal regardless of race, color, creed, etc.; (2) anti-colonialism, which in present terms translates as support for the Third World, including, most eminently, India; (3) nonviolence, presented as an absolutist pacifism. There are other, secondary precepts and subheadings. Gandhi is portrayed as the quintessence of tolerance (“I am a Hindu and a Muslim and a Christian and a Jew”), of basic friendliness to Britain (“The British have been with us for a long time and when they leave we want them to leave as friends”), of devotion to his wife and family. His vow of chastity is represented as something selfless and holy, rather like the celibacy of the Catholic clergy. But, above all, Gandhi’s life and teachings are presented as having great import for us today. We must learn from Gandhi.

I propose to demonstrate that the film grotesquely distorts both Gandhi’s life and character to the point that it is nothing more than a pious fraud, and a fraud of the most egregious kind. Hackneyed Indian falsehoods such as that “the British keep trying to break India up” (as if Britain didn’t give India a unity it had never enjoyed in history), or that the British created Indian poverty (a poverty which had not only existed since time immemorial but had been considered holy), almost pass unnoticed in the tide of adulation for our fictional saint. Gandhi, admittedly, being a devout Hindu, was far more self-contradictory than most public men. Sanskrit scholars tell me that flat self-contradiction is even considered an element of “Sanskrit rhetoric.” Perhaps it is thought to show profundity.


Gandhi rose early, usually at three-thirty, and before his first bowel movement (during which he received visitors, although possibly not Margaret Bourke-White) he spent two hours in meditation, listening to his “inner voice.” Now Gandhi was an extremely vocal individual, and in addition to spending an hour each day in vigorous walking, another hour spinning at his primitive spinning wheel, another hour at further prayers, another hour being massaged nude by teenage girls, and many hours deciding such things as affairs of state, he produced a quite unconscionable number of articles and speeches and wrote an average of sixty letters a day. All considered, it is not really surprising that his inner voice said different things to him at different times. Despising consistency and never checking his earlier statements, and yet inhumanly obstinate about his position at any given moment, Gandhi is thought by some Indians today (according to V.S. Naipaul) to have been so erratic and unpredictable that he may have delayed Indian independence for twenty-five years.

Riaz Haq said...

Permitting Exclusive #Brahmin-Only Housing Development in #Bangalore, #India Reinforces #Hindu #Caste #Apartheid

A township strictly meant for Brahmins claims to revive the “lost traditions” of the Brahmin community. The architecture, the lifestyle and culture will ensure a “Brahmanic way of life.”
Welcome to The Vedic Village- Shankar Agraharam, a ‘Brahmin only’ housing project that was planned in the outskirts of Bengaluru in 2013.
With the launch of the township, national and international media picked up the story and reported the disturbing trend of ‘segregated housing’ and ‘housing apartheid’ in India. A group of activist lawyers wrote to the state government and human rights commission to immediately scrap the project because it promoted caste-discrimination.

Three years down the lane, Vedic Village is nearing completion and has received the ‘proud’ approval of the Department of Town and Country planning in Karnataka. Project managers even claim to have sold 900 units of the planned 1800 in the integrated township.

The Sanathana Dharma Parirakshana Trust that is funding and developing the project is backed by the Brahmin community. The trust believes in:
emancipation of the living conditions of the Brahmin community and to closely work towards creating a liveable environment, and assets for the future generation of the community. Source:
The housing project is not open to non-brahmins, but that isn’t the only problem with the project. The website and the brochures repeatedly emphasise that it is a township for the ‘superior’.
Our plots are clearly earmarked for Brahmins only…Our motto, to give the highest to the highest in all respects. Source:

Riaz Haq said...

Hinduism and Terror

Paul Marshall

In the past decade, extremist Hindus have increased their attacks on Christians, until there are now several hundred per year. But this did not make news in the U.S. until a foreigner was attacked. In 1999, Graham Staines, an Australian missionary who had worked with leprosy patients for three decades, was burned alive in Orissa along with his two young sons. The brutal violence visited on Muslims in Gujarat in February 2002 also brought the dangers of Hindu extremism to world attention. Between one and two thousand Muslims were massacred after Muslims reportedly set fire to a train carrying Hindu nationalists, killing several dozen people.

These attacks were not inchoate mob violence, triggered by real or rumored insult; rather, they involved careful planning by organized Hindu extremists with an explicit program and a developed religious-nationalist ideology. Like the ideology of al-Qaeda and other radical Islamists, this ideology began to take shape in the 1920s as a response to European colonialism. It rejected the usually secular outlook of other independence movements; in place of secularism, it synthesized a reactionary form of religion with elements of European millenarian political thought, especially fascism.


Twentieth-century agitation against the British led to the rise not only of the secular and socialist Congress movement but also of the rival Hindu nationalist movement collectively known as the Sangh Parivar (“family of organizations”). The Parivar proclaims an ideology of “Hindutva,” aimed at ensuring the predominance of Hinduism in Indian society, politics, and culture, which it promotes through tactics that include violence and terror. Its agenda includes subjugating or driving out Muslims and Christians, who total some 17 percent of the population. It castigates them as foreign faiths, imposed by foreign conquerors—even though Christians trace their origins in India to the Apostle Thomas in the first century and Islam came to India in the seventh and eighth centuries.

The Sangh Parivar’s central organization is the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), founded by Keshav Hedgewar in 1925. Hedgewar was influenced by V. D. Savarkar, who believed that Hindus were the descendants of the ancient Aryans and properly formed a nation with a unified geography, race, and culture. Savarkar’s 1923 book Hindutva—Who is a Hindu? declared that those who did not consider India as both fatherland and holy land were not true Indians—and that the love of Indian Christians and Muslims for India was “divided” because each group had its own holy land in the Middle East.

M. S. Golwalkar, the RSS’s sarsangchalak (supreme director) from 1940 to 1973, sharpened these themes. In 1938, commenting on the Nuremberg racial laws, he declared: “Germany has also shown how well-nigh impossible it is for races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us … to learn and profit by.” In an address to RSS members the same year, he also asserted: “If we Hindus grow stronger, in time Muslim friends … will have to play the part of German Jews.” He insisted that “the non-Hindu … must either adopt the Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and revere Hindu religion… Or [they] may stay in the country wholly subordinated to the Hindu nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges.” On March 25, 1939, the Hindu nationalist Mahasabha Party, an RSS ally, likewise proclaimed: “Germany’s solemn idea of the revival of the Aryan culture, the glorification of the swastika, her patronage of Vedic learning, and the ardent championship of Indo-Germanic civilization are welcomed by the religious and sensible Hindus of India with a jubilant hope.”

Riaz Haq said...

BBC News - #African envoys: #India attacks on #Nigerians 'xenophobic' and 'racial'. #racism

Envoys from African nations in the Indian capital, Delhi, have condemned the handling of recent attacks on Nigerian students in the city.
In a statement, the African Heads of Mission said the attacks were "xenophobic and racial".
Indian authorities had failed to "sufficiently condemn" the attacks or take "visible deterring measures", the envoys added.
The students were attacked last month in Greater Noida, close to Delhi.
Five Nigerian students were attacked by crowds, while another was beaten by a mob inside a shopping mall.
The violence was prompted by the death of a local teenager due to a drug overdose. His parents blame Nigerian students for giving him the drugs.
Police say five people have been arrested over the violence and India's Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj has promised an "impartial" inquiry.
But the African Heads of Mission said that the response was inadequate, and called for an investigation by the UN Human Rights Council.
They also called for "strong condemnation from the highest political level (both nationally and locally) of the government of India, as well as expediting legal actions against the perpetrators".

The attack on one student inside the shopping mall was recorded on mobile phone cameras by other shoppers and widely circulated on social media.
The victim told Indian reporters he had been beaten with rods, bricks and knives. He said that no one had helped or even called the police.
Many Indians have reacted with shame online. But there have been a number of incidents in recent years in which people from African nations living in India have faced apparent discrimination or violence.
In May 2016 a Congolese man was beaten to death in Delhi after an argument over an auto-rickshaw. Three months before that, a Tanzanian student was assaulted and partially stripped by a mob in the southern city of Bangalore.

Riaz Haq said...

Overcoming the Arab-Persian divide: On bigotry and racism
Persian and Arab bourgeois nationalism has paved the way for racism and disregard of a rich and diverse common past.

byHamid Dabashi

The history of both Persian and Arab bourgeois nationalism is solidly predicated on a sustained genealogy of racist bigotry, partaking in its European prototype. Today the legitimate criticism of the Islamic republic easily degenerates into a nasty Islamophobia among a wide spectrum of Iranian bourgeois liberalism that fancies itself "secular". There is a very brittle and porous line between that Islamophobia and a rabid anti-Arab racism, astonishingly shared by a significant portion of the selfsame constituency for whom a delusional notion of "Cyrus the Great" is the ahistorical panacea of an entire history of imperial nostalgia.

This racism is not limited to the history of Islamic republic and extends well into the Pahlavi period and before it to the Qajar dynasty, when leading Iranian intellectuals ranging from Mirza Aqa Khan Kermani coming down to Sadeq Hedayat, harboured the most pernicious anti-Arab racism. They categorically attributed what they thought was Iranian backwardness to Islam, Islam to Arabs, Arabs to fanaticism and stupidity and thus began ludicrously to celebrate a lopsided reading of the pre-Islamic Iranian history that was informed mostly by the figment of their perturbed imagination.

Hamid Dabashi is the Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University.

"An Arab-Iranian poet and human rights activist, Hashem Shaabani," according to a report published on Al Jazeera, "has been executed for being an 'enemy of God' and threatening national security". The report further added that, "The Islamic Revolutionary Tribunal [had] found Shaabani and 13 other people guilty of 'waging war on God' and spreading 'corruption on earth'."

These are standard, now almost cliche, charges based on Shia jurisprudence that the judiciary branch of the Islamic Republic has regularly brought against people they consider a threat to their state security. In this particular case, Hashem Shaabani and his fellow defendants were charged with "separatist terrorism". In a follow-up report, Huffington Post identified Shaabani as "a member of the Arabic-speaking Ahvazis ethnic minority".

Labour migration and cosmopolitanism

Much confusion and disinformation cloud the circumstances in which such atrocious violations of civil liberties are perpetrated in Iran and much of its violent neighbourhood. I was born and raised in the city of Ahvaz. The term "Arabic-speaking Ahvazi ethnic minority" is a misnomer.

Ahvaz is a major cosmopolitan city in southern Iran, the capital of the oil-rich Khuzestan province, which has attracted labour migrants from all over the country. The nature of urbanisation and labour migration in Ahvaz and other major Iranian cities has created a mosaic of ethnicised communities brought together by the force and necessity of labour and not by the delusional fantasies of bourgeois nationalism of one sort or another.

My own father came to Ahvaz from Bushehr as a labourer for the Iranian national railroad and my mother's family from Dezful. Neither of them were Arabs. From Azerbaijan and Khorasan in the north to Isfahan and Yazd in the centre and down to the coastal regions of the Gulf, labour migrants regularly come to Ahvaz in search of work. As the capital of Khuzestan, Ahvaz belongs to all of them, and as such the term "Arabic-speaking Ahvazis ethnic minority" is categorically flawed.

Riaz Haq said...

Hatred of Arabs deeply rooted in Persians, says Iranian intellectual

The relationship between Arabs and Persians has always been a source of controversy, not only owing to the contemporary power struggle in the region, but also because of a long history of rivalry that formed an integral part of the national psyche of both people. Iranian intellectual Sadek Zibakalam provides deep insight into the different levels of this enduring animosity.

“I think the majority of Iranians of all types hate Arabs, and I believe they hate us, too,” Sadek Zibakalam, who is also a professor at the University of Tehran, said in an interview with the Iranian weekly Sobh Azade.

Zibakalam said there is a link between racism and a lack of education, and pointed out that this is the case in Europe, where people who express hatred against Jews or Muslims or foreigners are mostly uneducated. However, the situation tends to be different in Iran.

“The phenomenon of hating Arabs is very common among intellectuals in Iran,” he said.

He added that religious people also frequently express their resentment of Arabs, which usually comes in the form of curses directed at Sunnis.

“As a matter of fact, Iranians’ constant attacks on Sunnis stem from their hatred of Arabs.”

This hatred, Zibakalam argued, is not the product of the current hegemony conflict in the region, as many people might suspect, but has its roots in history.

“Persians will never forget their defeat at the hands of Arabs in the Battle of Qadisiya 1,400 years ago. It is as if a fire keeps seething under the ashes and is waiting for the right moment to explode,” he said.

Iran’s attempts to gain supremacy in the region are not triggered by political ambition as much as by a racist drive that pushes Iranians to prove they are superior, the professor said.

“Whenever Iran issues any fiery statement about our neighbors in the U.A.E, Qatar, or Kuwait, you can easily detect that they revolve around a belief that Persians are superior. Listen to our foreign minister, parliament speaker, or even mosque imams, and you will notice that derogatory tone they use and which focuses on the racial and not the political superiority of Persians.”

He cited the example of the U.A.E., which many Iranians, politicians and clergy derides in their statements.

“They would say that if Iranians just blow some air across the Persian Gulf, they would wipe the U.A.E off the map,” he said.

When asked whether the stance of the people is similar to that of the government as far as hatred of Arabs is concerned, Zibakalam replied in the affirmative.

“Yes, people are like the government, and may be even more racist and intolerant.”

For example, he said, when a couple of years ago the U.A.E said it was not going to drop its opposition to Iran’s occupation of three disputed Islands in the Gulf and referring to the “Persian Gulf,” large numbers of people rallied in front of the U.A.E embassy in Tehran with a cake that had 35 candles: they were making fun of the U.A.E’s 35-year history, compared to Iran’s 2,500.”

He added that Iranians also criticize their compatriots who travel to Arab countries. For example, they always ask why they would go and spend their money in Arab countries, while they never do the same with Turkey, where huge numbers of Iranians go.

“This even applies to religious trips to the Arab world, while if Mecca or Karbala were in Turkey or Malaysia, Iranians would not have a problem with people going there,” Zibakalam said.

He added that Persian racism against Arabs becomes very clear in language, and that the establishment of the Persian Language Institute was intended to carry out a plan to remove Arabic words from the Persian language.

“Arabic words that have been in the Persian language for more than 1,00 years would be removed even though they are mentioned in great literary works like The Shahnameh and the poetry of Rumi, all of which are parts of our history.”

Riaz Haq said...

#India should confront its racial, xenophobic prejudices. #racism #Hindutva

Last week in India's Parliament, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj rose to rebut a statement by the 54 African heads of mission in New Delhi who laid out their complaints about a series of attacks on African students around the national capital region.

Noting that the violence was not sufficiently condemned by the Indian authorities, the envoys had threatened to take the matter to international human rights bodies, saying the attacks had been "xenophobic and racial in nature".

Her voice quivering with anger, Mrs Swaraj slammed the statement issued by the ambassadors as "unfortunate, painful and surprising". India, she insisted, was committed to the security of all foreigners in the country.

Around the same time, Mr Tarun Vijay, a former MP from her Bharatiya Janata Party, went on international television to defend India's record on racism. After questioning the patriotism of a fellow panellist, Mr Vijay, who edited the official mouthpiece of the Hindu nationalist RSS organisation for nearly a quarter-century, offered this disjointed explanation: "If we were racist, why would we have all the entire South…Tamil (Nadu), Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra (Pradesh) …Why do we live with them? We have black people around us."

Mr Vijay, known for his deep interest in Tamil literature, quickly apologised for his remarks after running into a volley of criticism from across India. For one thing, except in the vale of Kashmir, it would perhaps be factually inaccurate to characterise particular regions on the basis of skin colour. Pitiably though, he seemed unaware of the casual prejudices that his words revealed. Nor did he seem to realise that his remarks subliminally assumed that people of the populous North had first call on Indian nationhood.

Indians can take pride that theirs is a nation that includes every racial group on earth. From the Proto-Negroid to Mongoloid and Caucasoid, Indians come in a variety of shapes and skins. This remarkable mix, combined with the ancient social stratification system based on caste, has however created a nation where multiple prejudices unfortunately do exist in parallel.

Colour prejudice remains even as the flintier edges of the caste system - such as restrictions on physical contact - are being dulled as every passing generation shares workplaces, schools, canteens and play areas. Indians - men included - lap up skin-lightening creams, evidence of aspirations for a fairer tone. In some states such as Tamil Nadu, lighter-skinned girls get better treatment within households although this too is easing, thanks to shrinking family size.

In northern India, a popular lullaby has the Hindu god Krishna, known for his roguish playfulness, lamenting he was born dark-skinned even as Radha, his consort, was fair. Some years ago, the visiting Australian cricket team was outraged after a section of the crowd in Vadodara, in Gujarat state, made monkey-like chirrups at the all-rounder Andrew Symonds, who is of mixed-race parentage. Symonds responded by smashing the Indian bowling attack all over the ground.

Riaz Haq said...

#India is world's 4th worst for religious violence after #Syria (1) , #Nigeria (2), #Iraq (3). #Pakistan at no 10.
India historically touts itself as a secular state, one where all religions are recognized and can peacefully co-exist. Well, at least in theory, it is. Unfortunately, the reality is much different.
An April 11 Pew Research Center analysis of 198 countries ranked India as fourth worst in the world for religious intolerance. In the country of 1.3 billion, the incidence of hostility related to religion trailed only Syria, Nigeria and Iraq, all places where sectarian violence is widespread.
India is not alone in seeing more religious unrest. Globally, Pew says, government restrictions on religion and social hostilities involving religion increased in 2015 for the first time in three years.
Pew analyzed cases that involved hate crimes, mob violence, communal violence, religion-related terror, the use of force to prevent religious practice, the harassment of women for not conforming to religious dress codes, and violence over conversion or proselytizing.
Tensions between religious groups—especially Hindus and Muslims—has long divided India, but the rifts have intensified. “[In 2015,] Muslims in India at times experienced attacks by Hindus because of alleged cow slaughter, while Hindus were also sometimes the targets of hostilities by Muslims as well,” Katayoun Kishi, the study’s lead author, told Quartz. “In addition, there were multiple incidents of rioting and mob violence involving the two groups.”
Lynchings of beef-eating Muslims have compromised India’s status as a secular country. But a re-burgeoning Hindutva nationalist agenda has not made even the majority Hindus immune to discrimination, in India or elsewhere. Around the world, Hindus were harassed in 18 countries, fewer places than some other groups. “But the vast majority of the world’s Hindus—95%—live in India, where harassment of Hindus by both government and social groups was reported in 2015,” the study’s authors note. Dalits, the lowest-caste Hindus, were especially ill-treated in society. (Dalits are often secluded from basic government institutions and services, such as education and health care, too.)
National crime statistics in India also indicated that, compared with other caste affiliations, assailants most often perpetrated rape against Dalit women, according to the US State Department’s human-rights country report. Many of the assailants are not prosecuted. On June 24, 2015, attackers beheaded Dalit engineer V. Gokulraj in Pallipallayam, Tamil Nadu, reportedly because of a romantic relationship with an upper-caste Hindu classmate. The primary suspect, local caste leader S. Yuvaraj, absconded for months after the incident. (He later surrendered.)

Riaz Haq said...

#Caste Battles Threaten #India’s Grand #Hindu Coalition. #BJP #Modi #UP #Dalit #Rajput

The violence erupted after one April afternoon, when the Dalits in Shabirpur, a village in Uttar Pradesh, about 115 miles from New Delhi, were celebrating the birth anniversary of Bhim Rao Ambedkar, their greatest leader and an architect of the Indian Constitution.

Mr. Ambedkar was instrumental in abolishing untouchability, criminalizing caste discrimination and violence in independent India, and enshrining a system of affirmative action in the Indian laws.

On Mr. Ambedkar’s anniversary millions of Dalits honor him by garlanding his statues, which reproduce an iconic image of the bookish messiah: Mr. Ambedkar wearing a pair of rectangular glasses over a blue three-piece suit, a copy of the Indian Constitution in his left hand, the index finger of his right hand pointing at a distant horizon. For centuries before independence, the Dalits could barely clothe themselves. Mr. Ambedkar’s suit became a negation of that oppression, a symbol of dignity and aspiration.

The upper castes resent the defiant and proud Ambedkar imagery. As the Dalits celebrated in Shabirpur, the Uttar Pradesh village, their upper-caste Rajput neighbors stopped them from installing a statue of Mr. Ambedkar in their temple. They objected that the outstretched index finger of the statue would point toward upper-caste women who would walk past it.

In recent years, to counterbalance the Ambedkar celebrations, the upper castes, especially the Rajputs, began celebrating Rana Pratap, a medieval Hindu Rajput king, who fought several battles against the Mughal Empire, as an ideal Rajput and Hindu nationalistic icon.

Indian festival celebrations often come with processions of believers through public spaces. In polarized regions, they often become occasions for violence between different religious or caste groups.

A few weeks after the Rajputs in Shabirpur village objected to Mr. Ambedkar’s statue, they set out in a procession to celebrate the Rajput king Rana Pratap’s anniversary in an adjacent village. The Rajputs played overtly loud music. The Dalits objected. An argument turned into a violent clash. One Rajput man was killed and more than 20 Dalits and Rajputs were injured. More than 25 Dalit homes were set on fire.

Such violence spells trouble for the Hindu nationalist project. Leaders of India’s Hindu nationalist movement had figured early on that caste antagonism prevented a grand Hindu consolidation. They campaigned for social reforms and for allowing Dalits entry to temples, and promoted shared meals between the upper castes and lower castes, but caste prejudice was deeply entrenched among their followers and change remained superficial. Despite their efforts, the Bharatiya Janata Party and its affiliate groups were always identified with the upper castes.

Marginalized communities in India have their own internal hierarchies. Over the past decade and a half, the B.J.P. developed a new strategy of playing on their internal differences and fragmenting Dalits and other lower castes into smaller, political groups and enlisting the breakaway units into their ambit.


Large sections of Dalits voted for Mr. Modi in 2014 and again for his party in March 2017 state elections in Uttar Pradesh because of the absence of a pan-Indian Dalit political identity. But if upper castes continue violent attacks on Dalits irrespective of their sub-castes, it will force consolidation among them.

Recent caste violence has shown that India’s Hindu nationalists are struggling with the challenges of caste. And it will be the eventual hurdle to permanent Hindu consolidation and their continued electoral dominance.

Riaz Haq said...

BBC suspends #British #Indian host Tommy Sandhu & starts major inquiry into his racist, sexist, anti-#Pakistan slurs

LONDON: The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has suspended a star of its Asian Network, in a row over online messages littered with lewd comments and racist slurs – including racist attacks on Pakistanis and the BBC’s British Pakistani staff members.

Indian origin DJ and BBC host Tommy Sandhu, 40, is amongst at least four colleagues allegedly part of WhatsApp groups sharing sexist comments as well as homophobic remarks and a derogatory terms for Pakistanis.

One of the men in the group suggested that they refuse to play any music by Pakistanis on the breakfast show, even though the network was set up to cater to all Asian groups.

This is not the first time that BBC's asian network has been accused of anti-Pakistani bias, on several occasions it has emerged that BBC Asian Network’s hosts and DJs have refused to give due coverage to Pakistan's arts and culture.

Allegations have been made by insiders that the broadcaster's asian network has an intolerant policy towards Pakistani music and musicians.

Another message shared on the group referred to BBC’s British Pakistani entertainment reporter Haroon Rashid as a ‘Paki’ – a derogatory term used to attack Pakistani origin individuals.

It was also discussed in the group that one of the DJs who worked with British Pakistani presenter Noreen Khan had been converted by ‘Pakis’.

When one of the men did an assignment with Noreen Khan, another BBC Asian Network DJ, they were asked on the messaging group “have them Pakis converted you?”, according to sources who revealed evidence to British media.

Vile sexist comments were also made about female staff working with the network, including young assistant producer Amanpreet Kaur.

These messages, said media reports, were accidentally linked to a BBC laptop where Kaur stumbled across them, forming the basis for the BBC to open a major investigation, including disciplinary action against some of those involved.

It is not clear how many people were part of the secret messaging groups but they included Asheesh Sharma and Kejal Kamani, two radio producers who routinely join Sandhu on air, and a disc jockey known as DJ Sachy.

Sharma has been given a final written warning and Kamani has been fired. DJ Sachy, who has worked at the station as a freelance for years, has been told he will not get any more shifts, insiders claimed.

Sources close to Sandhu claimed he did not make derogatory comments himself and was simply part of WhatsApp groups where some of the remarks were made. It is understood that he did not object to comments and did not raise complaints, but was an active member of the group.

BBC Asian Network staff also used the messaging groups to make vile homophobic slurs, calling one colleague a ‘batty boy’ and used highly offensive terms for homosexuals – using an Urdu/Hindi expression used by Pakistanis and Indians.

They also accused a fellow radio host of being gay, even though he is married.

“We never comment on matters concerning any individuals working with the BBC. Any allegations of inappropriate behaviour would always be taken extremely seriously and would be dealt with swiftly and appropriately,” said a BBC spokesman.

The BBC Asian Network costs around £7.5 million a year to run and is listened to by nearly 650,000 people a week, according to latest figures available.

It was nearly shut in 2010 when it was pulling in just 477,000 listeners a week.

Riaz Haq said...

#India at 70: #Lynchistan #racist #fascist #xenophobic #Hindu #Supremacist #Modi #BJP

"Mr. Modi’s rule represents the most devastating, and perhaps final, defeat of India’s noble postcolonial ambition to create a moral world order. It turns out that the racist imperialism Du Bois despised can resurrect itself even among its former victims: There can be English rule without the Englishman. India’s claims to exceptionalism appear to have been as unfounded as America’s own." --- Pankaj Mishra

India at 70, and the Passing of Another Illusion

AUG. 11, 2017

August 15, 1947, deserved to be remembered, the African-American writer W.E.B. Du Bois argued, “as the greatest historical date” of modern history. It was the day India became independent from British rule, and Du Bois believed the event was of “greater significance” than even the establishment of democracy in Britain, the emancipation of slaves in the United States or the Russian Revolution. The time “when the white man, by reason of the color of his skin, can lord it over colored people” was finally drawing to a close.

It is barely remembered today that India’s freedom heralded the liberation, from Tuskegee to Jakarta, of a majority of the world’s population from the degradations of racist imperialism. India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, claimed that there had been nothing “more horrible” in human history than the days when millions of Africans “were carried away in galleys as slaves to America and elsewhere.” As he said in a resonant speech on Aug. 15, 1947, long ago India had made a “tryst with destiny,” and now, by opening up a broad horizon of human emancipation, “we shall redeem our pledge.”

But India, which turns 70 next week, seems to have missed its appointment with history. A country inaugurated by secular freedom fighters is presently ruled by religious-racial supremacists. More disturbing still than this mutation are the continuities between those early embodiments of postcolonial virtue and their apparent betrayers today.

Du Bois would have been heartbroken to read the joint statement that more than 40 African governments released in April, denouncing “xenophobic and racial” attacks on Africans in India and asking the United Nations Human Rights Council to investigate. The rise in hate crimes against Africans is part of a sinister trend that has accelerated since the Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi came to power in 2014.

Another of its bloodcurdling manifestations is the lynching of Muslims suspected of eating or storing beef. Others include assaults on couples who publicly display affection and threats of rape against women on social media by the Hindu supremacists’ troll army. Mob frenzy in India today is drummed up by jingoistic television anchors and vindicated, often on Twitter, by senior politicians, businessmen, army generals and Bollywood stars.

Hindu nationalists have also come together to justify India’s intensified military occupation of Muslim-majority Kashmir, as well as a nationwide hunt for enemies: an ever-shifting and growing category that includes writers, liberal intellectuals, filmmakers who work with Pakistani actors and ordinary citizens who don’t stand up when the national anthem is played in cinemas. The new world order — just, peaceful, equal — that India’s leaders promised at independence as they denounced their former Western masters’ violence, greed and hypocrisy is nowhere in sight.

Riaz Haq said...

#Indian #Americans blind to #racism within their own community | POV | OZY

Given their higher education and earning capacity, Indian-Americans frequently perceive themselves to be “good,” “successful” and “safe” immigrants — language they’ve adopted to distance themselves from what is often portrayed as “undesirable” or “unsafe” Black and Latino communities of color. Admittedly, I have heard friends and community members in the privacy of their homes use derogatory Hindi words such as kalu — in place of the N-word — to describe some Blacks as lazy, uneducated and disposed to violence and criminality.

And yet the paradox is that while these Indian immigrants readily acknowledge experiencing racism when they arrived in this country, they are fearful, ambivalent and reluctant to talk about the latent — and at times blatant — racism within our own communities.

Model minority thinking is based on a colorblind racism. Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, a sociologist, explains that colorblind racism is an ideology in which racial inequality and discrimination are explained in nonracial terms. The most common example of colorblind racism is reflected in the statement, “I don’t see any color, just people.” Such a statement assumes that a person’s race or ethnic background does not play a role in their experiences with racism or discrimination.

In my ethnographic research, I found that the Indian-American study participants used three specific strategies to maintain their colorblind racism and thus their model minority status.

First: The model behavior of the Indian-American community rests on refuting their racial identity and presenting themselves primarily through their professional status as doctors or engineers.

My research shows that when skin color, bindi, sari, food, gods and goddesses, and accents of Indian migrants invite racial attacks, they deflect these racist incidents by insisting, “Every culture discriminates,” or “It is human nature to marginalize others,” and “Europe is even worse.” Neeta, a 43-year-old woman who studied in Delhi and has lived in the U.S. for 30 years, said, “I have come to realize that no matter what nationality you are, what color skin you are, we all have the same principles. That’s the bottom line.”

Second: The professional Indian-American community I studied fully embraced the idea of American meritocracy, a system that rewards an individual based on his or her intelligence, ability and effort. Raju, a professor of biology, stated, “I firmly believe that being of Indian origin or looking different has nothing to do with the way you go about your life, your professional life, career development.” Like many of the study participants, Raju was aware of his difference, but he genuinely believed individual effort, talent, hard work and merit are the foundations of the American dream.

Third: An important feature of colorblind racism is to frame one’s individual or group identity through a cultural rather than a racial lens. By extolling their culture’s 5,000-year-old history, Aryan ancestry, Bollywood movies and religious rituals, many Indian-Americans feel freed not to engage in discussions of race and to see racism as a dilemma facing other racial communities.

When study participants were told of the psychological, immoral and societal cost of failing to confront racism, they responded by referring to “our society back home in India,” where the caste system is far more oppressive. Perhaps, but the recent upsurge in hate crimes against Indian-Americans is a clear sign that model minority status does not immunize us from racist acts.

Riaz Haq said...

Savitri Devi: The mystical fascist being resurrected by the alt-right

Savitri Devi, a mystical admirer of Hitler and a cat-loving devotee of the Aryan myth, seemed destined to fade into obscurity after her death 25 years ago. But thanks to the rise of the extreme right, her name and her image now crop up online more and more, writes Maria Margaronis.
In 2012, browsing the website of Greece's Golden Dawn party for an article I was writing, I stumbled on a picture of a woman in a blue silk sari gazing at a bust of Hitler against a blazing sunset sky.
What was this apparently Hindu woman doing on the site of an openly racist party devoted to expelling all foreigners from Greece? I filed her as a curiosity at the back of my mind, until the rising tide of extreme-right politics in Europe and America threw up the name "Savitri Devi" once again.
It isn't hard these days to find discussions of Savitri Devi's books on neo-Nazi web forums, especially The Lightning and the Sun, which expounds the theory that Hitler was an avatar - an incarnation - of the Hindu god Vishnu, and Gold in the Furnace, which urges true believers to trust that National Socialism will rise again. The American extreme-right website Counter-Currents hosts an extensive online archive of her life and work.
Her views are reaching a wider public, too, thanks to American alt-right leaders such as Richard Spencer and Steve Bannon, former Trump chief strategist and chair of Breitbart News, who have taken up her account of history as a cyclical battle between good and evil — a theory she shared with other 20th Century mystical fascists.

Dark metal bands and American right-wing radio stations also roar about the Kali Yuga, the Dark Age of Hindu mythology, which Savitri Devi believed that Hitler was once destined to bring to an end.
Who was Savitri Devi, and why are her ideas being resurrected now? Despite the sari and the name she was a European, born Maximiani Portas to an English mother and Greek-Italian father in Lyon in 1905.
She learned Indian languages, married a Brahmin, and forged an elaborate synthesis of Nazism and Hindu myth
From an early age, she despised all forms of egalitarianism. "A beautiful girl is not equal to an ugly girl," she told an interviewer sent by the Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel in 1978.

Riaz Haq said...

Study: One in two #Indian #Muslims fears being falsely accused in #terrorism cases. #Modi #Hindutva #Islamophobia

A survey by NGO Common Cause and Lokniti shows Adivasis are most afraid of being framed for Maoist activities, while Dalits are afraid of being falsely accused of petty thefts.

New Delhi: The sense of being discriminated against by police is strongest among Muslims, especially those in Bihar, said a study that seeks to analyse the perception about police along state and community lines.

The survey was carried out by NGO Common Cause and Lokniti, a research initiative of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), among 15,563 respondents across 22 states in June and July 2017.

“Among the total number of respondents, 26 per cent of Muslims were of the view that police discriminated on the basis of religion, while less than 18 per cent of Hindus and 16 per cent of Sikhs thought the same,” the report added.

The researchers also discovered that as many as 44 per cent of Indians were fearful of being beaten up by police, a finding reported by ThePrint Monday in the first of its series of reports on the study.

According to the survey, over 47 per cent of Muslims across the country said they feared being falsely accused of terrorist activities. Trying to explain the perception, the researchers cited the “large proportion” of Muslims in the country’s jails. This sentiment was said to be most widely prevalent in Telangana.

The percentage of Muslims in jails is higher than the community’s share in the population of India, a fact, critics said, that stems from an alleged “systemic bias” against them.

The 2011 census pegged the Muslim population at 14.23 per cent; and, in 2014, the government told Rajya Sabha that people from the community comprised 16.68 per cent of convicts and 21.05 per cent of undertrials.

What Adivasis and Dalits fear
The report suggested a similar fear among the Scheduled Tribes (Adivasis) and the Scheduled Castes (Dalits). According to the survey, 27 per cent of the Adivasis said they feared being framed for anti-state Maoist activities, while 35 per cent of Dalits held a similar fear regarding petty thefts.

“Nearly two in every five… respondents said police falsely implicated members of backward castes such as Dalits in petty crimes including theft, robbery, dacoity,” the report said.

“One in four… was of the opinion that such a false implication of Adivasis and Muslims did occur,” it added.

The results of the survey also suggested a perception that caste-based discrimination among police personnel was most prevalent in Bihar, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh.

It said people were more likely to report class-based discriminatory attitudes of police, followed by gender- and caste-based discrimination.

Riaz Haq said...

Statue of '#racist' #Gandhi removed from #Ghana university campus. A petition for the statue's removal cited Gandhi's writings calling #Indians 'infinitely superior' to black #Africans. @AJENews

A statue of Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi has been removed from Ghana's most prestigious university following complaints that he was racist against the black Africans.

The statue, installed at the University of Ghana in capital Accra, was removed in the middle of the night earlier this week after protests from students and faculty.

India's former president Pranab Mukherjee had unveiled the statue two years ago as a symbol of ties between the two nations.

But professors at the university soon began a petition calling for its removal. They cited passages written by Gandhi depicting Indians as "infinitely superior" to black Africans and using the racist pejorative "kaffirs" to describe them.

One of Gandhi's writings cited in the petition read: "Ours is one continual struggle against a degradation sought to be inflicted upon us by the Europeans, who desire to degrade us to the level of the raw Kaffir whose occupation is hunting, and whose sole ambition is to collect a certain number of cattle to buy a wife with and, then, pass his life in indolence and nakedness."

The online protest was one of a number on university campuses in Africa and beyond about the enduring symbols of the continent's colonial past.

'Victory for black dignity'
The Gandhi statue on the university's Legon campus in Accra appeared to have been removed overnight on Tuesday, students and lecturers told AFP news agency.

The head of language, literature and drama at the Institute of African Studies, Obadele Kambon, said the removal was an issue of "self-respect".

"If we show that we have no respect for ourselves and look down on our own heroes and praise others who had no respect for us, then there is an issue," he said.

Gandhi: 125 years since whites-only train incident
"If we indeed don't show any self-respect for our heroes, how can the world respect us? This is a victory for black dignity and self-respect. The campaign has paid off."

Adelaide Twum, a student, said the move was "long overdue".

"I'm so excited. This has nothing to do with diplomatic ties," she added.

Another student, Benjamin Mensah, said, "It's a massive win for all Ghanaians because it was constantly reminding us of how inferior we are."

The university authorities refused to comment. An official at Ghana's foreign affairs ministry said it was "an internal decision by the university".

Ghana's former government had said the statue would be relocated "to avoid the controversy ... becoming a distraction from our strong ties of friendship" with India.

Campaigners in Malawi are currently trying to stop a statue of Gandhi going up in the capital, Blantyre, arguing that he used racial slurs against black people.

Though Gandhi is more commonly remembered for his non-violent resistance to British colonial rule in his native India, his legacy in Africa is mixed.

Born in 1869, Gandhi lived and worked as a lawyer in South Africa from 1893 to 1915 before he left for India to continue his anti-colonialism struggle.

Riaz Haq said...

#Bollywood Actress Esha Gupta exposes everyday #racism in #India by sharing conversation with her 3.4m Instagram followers mocking #Nigerian #soccer star, Alex Iwobi, as a "gorilla" and "Neanderthal" who "evolution had stopped for".

Up until Monday, Esha Gupta was just a Bollywood actress with a passion for Arsenal football club.

That changed after the actress decided to share a screengrab of a WhatsApp conversation in which a friend mocked the team's Nigerian star, Alex Iwobi, as a "gorilla" and "Neanderthal" who "evolution had stopped for".

"Hahaha," wrote the actress, who helped Arsenal unveil its 2017 away kit, as she shared the screengrab with her 3.4m Instagram followers.

The racist slurs - and the fact she thought it was funny - horrified many, and the backlash was unsurprisingly swift. How dare she call herself an Arsenal supporter, her fellow fans demanded.

Gupta apologised quickly, but the post hints at a long-known - but little acknowledged - problem of racism towards people of African descent in Indian society.

"Of course I'm not surprised by the post," Ezeugo Nnamdi told the BBC from Delhi, his home of five years.

In fact, the secretary-general of the Association of African Students in India (AASI) added that, as racial slurs go, her words were no worse than what fellow African students experienced on a daily basis - to their faces.

"Racism is not something which is very hidden here. It is something very open," he said. "People just look at you.

"They call you 'habshi' [a derogatory term], and a lot of other words and racial slurs.

"Here, you are regarded as a cannibal."

You don't have to look far to see examples of prejudice towards people of African descent in India: just look at how Bollywood treats its black characters.

Take, for example, the award-winning 2008 film Fashion, which told the tale of an aspiring model - played by Quantico actress Priyanka Chopra - who is caught in a downward spiral of drink and drugs.

But the moment she realises she has truly hit rock bottom is when she wakes up beside a black man. According to Dhruva Balram, the racial undertones of her realisation were clear.

"For Bollywood, as an aspiring model, the worst thing you can do is position yourself sexually next to a black person," he argued in an article for Media Diversified.

The article immediately resonated with Kadisha Phillips, an African-American New Yorker who spent a month in Bollywood during her degree. The racism she experienced left its mark - whether being ignored in a restaurant, or blocked from entering the school's campus by one of the guards.

"I could tell it was because of the colour of our skin," she recalled. "It was just easy to notice."

So were Gupta's messages just another example of the everyday racism experienced by black people in India?

It is fair to say the furore which surrounded the Instagram post failed to make as big a splash in India as it did in other parts of the world.

But why? That could be down to the fact it takes a more shocking incident to become a talking point.

It was one such incident back in 2016 - when a young Tanzanian woman was beaten and stripped by an angry mob - which inspired photographer Mahesh Shantaram to take a fresh look at his own country.

Endurance Amalawa was attacked by an angry mob in 2017
What he found, after spending months travelling around his own city, and then the country, meeting, speaking with and photographing black Africans, left him shocked.

"I was hearing things for the first time," he said. "Imagine someone telling you stories about your country that you think you know very well, but they tell you a very different story."

Riaz Haq said...

The politics of biography: Ram Guha’s concluding Gandhi bio is a familiar exercise in deifying him, reinforcing inequality—a review

The celebrity Indian historian’s refusal to triangulate Gandhi’s own recollections and memoirs and the sources contemporaneous to his times with more recent scholarship leaves us with a biography intellectually thin and long on anecdote. Gandhi’s uncritical internalization of the separation between the political and the social on which the book rests impoverishes Guha’s analysis of both Gandhi and his foremost intellectual and political adversaries like Jinnah and Ambedkar. In the end, an adroit strategy of guilt-by-association clears the space for Guha the moderate biographer to consolidate Gandhi’s towering place in history.


On 22 September 1932, the Dalit leader B. R. Ambedkar met Mohandas Gandhi in Yerwada Jail in Pune, Maharashtra. Gandhi was into the third day of his fast unto death against the British colonial administration’s Communal Award that created separate electorates for Muslims, Sikhs, and the “Depressed Classes” (as Dalits were then termed). Gandhi’s objection was not to the awarding of separate electorates to Muslims and Sikhs but to Dalits. Since the Depressed Classes totaled about 50 million or approximately 20 percent of India’s population at this time, their recognition as a distinct or separate category would severely compromise Gandhi’s, and the Congress Party’s, claim to speak for all, or at least the vast majority of, Indians. While the separate electorate would greatly strengthen Dalits in their effort to redress their horrendous socio-economic status, one that had endured for centuries if not millennia, Gandhi was against such a political solution to what he regarded as a social or even a moral problem. He considered Dalits to be Hindu and his preference was for ‘Harijan uplift’ or social reform—changing the minds and hearts of Caste Hindus about untouchability. According to the media at the time, the nation was in a frenzy as Gandhi’s health was deteriorating fast. The pressure on Ambedkar to “save the life of the Mahatma” by giving up the separate electorate the Dalits had been awarded, and to settle for a diluted version of it, can only be imagined.

At one point in their negotiations in Yerwada, Gandhi said to Ambedkar, “You are born an untouchable but I am an untouchable by adoption. And as a new convert, I feel more for the welfare of the community than those who are already there.”3 Picture, if you will, President Lyndon Johnson telling Martin Luther King Jr. during the mid-1960s that though he was not black, as someone successfully chaperoning the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act through the US Congress at that very moment, he (Johnson) felt more for the welfare of African-Americans than King possibly could, for after all the latter’s blackness was merely an accident of birth.


Gandhi’s views about indentured laborers were identical to caste Indian views of Dalits back home that, similarly, blamed the victim. The only group even further down the ladder of inferiority in Gandhi’s view was native Africans whom he referred to as “kaffirs” throughout his time in South Africa.

Riaz Haq said...

#Indians not #racist, we accept South Indians, says #BJP's Tarun Vijay. In a debate on Al Jazeera TV over the issue of attack on some #Nigerians in Greater Noida #Delhi, Tarun Vijay said it was wrong to say that Indians are racist. #Tamil via @indiatoday

Former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Rajya Sabha MP has come out with an apology for hurting sentiments after making a bizarre statement hinting that Indians can not be considered racist as they live with 'black' South Indians.

Participating in a debate on Al Jazeera TV over the issue of attack on some Nigerians in Greater Noida, Vijay said it was wrong to say that Indians are racist.

"If we were racist, why would we have the entire south (India)? Why do we live with them (if we are racist)? We hae blacks, black people around us," Vijay said.

The BJP leader, however, apologised for his statement while admitting that his choice of words may have been wrong.

"I feel the entire statement sas this - we have fought racism and we have people with different colour and culture still never had any racism," Vijay said.

"My words perhaps were not enough to convey this. Feel bad,really feel sorry, my apologies to those who feel I said different than what I meant," he added.

I feel the entire statement sas this- we have fought racism and we have people with different colour and culture still never had any racism.

Riaz Haq said...

#India Debates Skin-Tone Bias as Beauty Companies Alter Ads Facing Charge of Promoting #Racist Attitudes. For centuries, discrimination over skin tones has been a feature of #Indian society. It was greatly intensified by #British Raj, #caste & #Bollywood

America’s intense discussion of race, in the wake of George Floyd’s death, seems to be having some impact here.

This past week, Unilever and other major international consumer brands, facing accusations that they were promoting racist attitudes, said they would remove labels such as “fair” “white” and “light” from their products, including the skin-lightening creams that are wildly popular in India.

At the same time, a big Indian matchmaking website,, decided to remove a filter that allowed people to select partners based on skin tone after facing a backlash from users that began in North America.

Ms. Jennifer and several other Indians said these were moves in the right direction.

“This is a fantastic news — a stepping stone toward ending colorism,” Ms. Jennifer said. “Now young people won’t feel ashamed of how they look while growing up with dark-tone skin.”

Preferences for light-toned skin over dark — when it comes to marriages and some jobs — are still upending the lives of hundreds of thousands of Indians.

In some families, daughters-in-law with darker skin are called derogatory names, sometimes branded with the same words used for thieves. Students with dark-toned skin are more frequently bullied in schools.

Such attitudes have spawned a huge demand in India for whiteners and bleaching products. Shop shelves are crammed with creams, oils, soaps and serums promising to lighten skin, and some are manufactured by the world’s biggest cosmetic companies. The king of the market is Unilever’s Fair & Lovely cream, a fixture in many Indian households for decades.

But even before this past week, the culture had been changing.

Earlier this year, India’s government proposed a law that would make it illegal to market products that make false health claims, including those that promise to lighten skin.

Kavitha Emmanuel, the director of Women of Worth, an organization in Chennai, started a campaign in 2019 called “Dark Is Beautiful.” Many young men and women, she said, have complained to her that their skin tone is an impediment to social mobility.

She welcomed the moves by Unilever and the matchmaking website, but said India was still slow in confronting such discrimination.

Riaz Haq said...

Netflix series "Indian matchmaking": Episodes show people with darker skin tones are subjected to harsh discrimination and prejudice while fairness is revered and associated with beauty, wealth and power. #India #racism #colorism #caste #Hindutva #Modi

This cultural bias is engrained from an early age, with women bearing more of the societal pressure to have lighter skin. If you're a woman, darker skin can be a deal-breaker for families seeking the perfect wife for their son. For men, fair skin is seen as a bonus but not as much of a requirement.

Colorism and the desirability of "fairness" is drilled into young girls. In my own case, it started when I was in middle school in India, when my classmates taunted me for having darker skin. Older women would also make unsolicited comments about my complexion, veiled as genuine concern for me and my future marriage prospects.
In India, the beauty standard is further perpetuated by pop culture and a booming cosmetic industry.

Skin lightening products are heavily marketed. Actors with glowing, pale complexions are the stars of Bollywood movies while their dark-skinned counterparts play poor, disenfranchised characters. Some dating apps even include skin tone filters.
Unspoken rules
"Indian Matchmaking" itself offers a window into the lifestyles of an elite class of Indians who can enlist the service of a top-tier matchmaker, and in some cases, fly them to the other side of the world. This is not something regular families do, so status is already built into the narrative.

Perhaps this makes it easier for families to avoid explicitly specifying fair skin as part of their match criteria. Taparia assumes it goes without saying, and constantly describes women as a "good person" or match because they are "fair and good looking." Some of the families rely on this -- it allows them to be politically correct and vague in their search for someone "good looking" without explicitly saying "fair."

Yet, they get exactly the kind of complexion they want to see. It's the equivalent of writing "caste no bar" in a matrimonial ad -- a suggestion that the person who placed the ad is willing to consider candidates regardless of social hierarchy -- but in reality only going on dates with people from the "community," which becomes a euphemistic catch-all term for people from the same religion, caste or class.

Take the young Mumbai-based Pradhyuman Maloo, who features prominently in the show, as an example. His well-to-do parents desperately want him to settle down and find a wife, but he seems mostly uninterested in the women presented to him, until he's shown a photo of Rushali Rai, a beautiful model from Delhi. His eyes light up at the sight of her. Taparia describes her as "fair and good-looking, but also, she's smart."

When Maloo first sees her photo, he is elated. "Ahh, she's so cute!"
"I'll tell you that from her dressing style to her look and everything, how she carries herself, that I can meet her," he said. "It's going to be exciting. It's going to be fun."

Riaz Haq said...

As for the third metric, the majorities in all the religious groups were, hypothetically, willing to accept members of other religious groups as neighbours, but a significant number had reservations. Among Hindus, most were willing to live near a member of a religious minority, such as Muslim (57%), a Christian (59%), or a Jain (59%). But altogether 36% of Hindus said they would not be willing to live near a Muslim, with 31% saying the same for Christians. Jains were even more likely to express such views, with 54% saying they would not accept a Muslim neighbour, and 47% saying the same about Christians.

In contrast, Buddhists were most likely to voice acceptance of other religious groups as neighbours, with roughly 80% of them wiling to accept a Muslim, Christian, Sikh or Jain as a neighbour, and even more (89%) ready to accept a Hindu neighbour. About 78% of Muslims said they would be willing to have a Hindu as a neighbour.

Interestingly, the survey found that Hindus who voted for the BJP in the 2019 elections tended to be less accepting of religious minorities in their neighbourhood. Only about half of the Hindus who voted for the BJP said they would accept a Muslim (51%) or a Christian (53%) as neighbours, compared with higher shares of those who voted for other parties (64% and 67% respectively).

Geography was a key factor in determining attitudes, with people in the south of India more religiously integrated and less opposed to inter-religious marriages. People in the South “are less likely than those in other regions to say all their close friends share their religion (29%),” noted the report. Among Hindus in the South, 31% said that all their close friends were Hindu, compared to 47% of Hindus nationally. An even lower number of Muslims in the South (19%) said that all their friends were Muslim, while 45% of Muslims across the country said all their close friends were fellow Muslims.

Religious identity and nationalism
The survey also found that Hindus tend to see their religious identity and Indian national identity as closely intertwined, with 64% saying that it was ‘very important’ to be Hindu to be “truly” Indian. Most Hindus (59%) also linked Indian identity with being able to speak Hindi. And among Hindus who believed it was very important to be Hindu in order to be truly Indian, a full 80% also believed it was very important to speak Hindi to be truly Indian. About 60% of Hindu voters who linked Indian identity to being Hindu and speaking in Hindi voted for the BJP, compared with only a third among Hindu voters for whom these aspects did not matter for national identity.

Riaz Haq said...

#Congolese man’s death in police custody sparks protest in #India. #African expats accuse Indian police of #racism & harassment. Many claim they are routinely detained over fabricated charges of drug peddling and face daily discrimination. via @AJEnglish

At least six nationals of African countries have been injured during a scuffle with police in India’s southern city of Bengaluru over an alleged custodial death of a Congolese student, an official says.

Joel Shindani Malu, 27, was detained by police on Sunday over charges of possessing a small cache of banned psychotropic ecstasy pills but died in custody early on Monday after suffering cardiac arrest, an officer said on Monday.

“He was diagnosed with Bradycardia and was administered with several rounds of CPR [Cardiopulmonary resuscitation] and other life-saving interventions but died due to a suspected cardiac arrest,” the officer said.

Following his death, several nationals of African countries staged a demonstration outside the police station and scuffled with policemen, which led to the assault of an officer.

The Hindu newspaper said they were members of the “Pan African Federation”, a group set up to protect the rights of African students and professionals in the city.

The demonstrators refuted the police claim that Malu had died of cardiac arrest and accused them of falsely detaining him before police used batons to push back the protesters and arrested a dozen demonstrators.

Police said they have opened an investigation into the death amid claims that the deceased student was “illegally” living in India after his passport and visa expired in 2017.

“Investigation into the death is being conducted as per NHRC (National Human Rights Commission) guidelines including inquest by a judicial magistrate. The investigation has been transferred to CID (Crime Investigation Department),” Bengaluru Police Commissioner Kamal Pant tweeted.

Nationals of African countries often accuse Indian police of racial bias and harassment.

Many claim that they are routinely detained over fabricated charges of drug peddling and face daily discrimination.