You may have heard of a recent incident at Paris airport, where a group of Indian passengers filed a racism complaint against Air France. The reason? Apparently, non-Indian passengers were put up in hotels following a long flight delay, while Indian passengers were not. They had to wait in the airport lounge without food and water for quite a while.
Of course, it’s unacceptable that people should be treated differently because of their ethnic background and skin colour.
However, in a recent column of the Hindustan Times Cafe newspaper, Anoushka Shankar (daughter of acclaimed musician Ravi) raised the issue of racist behaviour by Indians themselves. She stated that she considered Indians to be, on the whole, a fairly racist group of people.
Some of her reasons, which were mostly centred around skin colour, were as follows:
- In the event of an Indian falling in love with a foreigner, the Indian parents would prefer the foreigner to be white rather than black.
- Where else in the world do matrimonial ads place so much importance on skin colour?
- Foreigners have to pay a higher ticket price to enter monuments and other places of interest in India.
- The Indian media constantly propagates the concept of white women being easy or loose. Female tourists, especially blondes, are constantly bothered by Indian men who assume that they can take advantage of them because they’re white.
- So many people in northern India constantly make fun of people in the south, and have little understanding of their culture, language and customs.
- The use of fairness creams is rampant amongst Indians, desperate to make their skin colour lighter because it’s perceived as being more attractive.
According to Anoushka, it’s well and good that Indians stand up for their own rights of equality. However, they also need to open their eyes to the fact that they don’t always offer the same equality to everyone else.
What do you think? I feel she raises some very good points.
As a white person living in India, I’m all too well aware of the impact of the colour of my skin, as I alluded to in my post The Difficulty of Being Married to an Indian.
I’m very fair, and I’m often commenting to Indian people that I would like my skin to be browner. Their reply is invariably, “no, we want skin like yours!”. Even my husband, who’s arms have gone a darker shade of brown in the summer sun, is concerned that I might not find him as attractive. He’s not adverse to using fairness cream either!
As for racism, in my experience, Indians from the south are just as racist towards other Indians as their northern counterparts.
My husband and I lived in Varkala (a small beach tourist town in Kerala) for 8 months. He soon discovered that it was like living in a whole different country, rather than a state. The locals didn’t look favorably on any Indians who didn’t speak Malayalam (the local language). In fact, my husband was once asked by a shopkeeper if he spoke Malayalam. When he said no, only Hindi, the shopkeeper refused to serve him. This may sound unbelievable, but it was true!
Are Indians really like that only?