Indians Are Hypocritical In Condemning US Anti-Black Racism
Last Monday a white Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into the neck of a black man George Floyd as the latter begged that he could not breathe. The black man ultimately died, and the video of the incident has gone viral on the internet, leading to widespread protests.
There is universal condemnation of this outrageous incident, but the question is: with what face can we Indians condemn it? Does it lie well in our mouths to do so when caste discrimination and atrocities against dalits continue unabated in India even today ?
This spark of hate and discrimination on caste and racial basis is embedded deep in the Indian psyche, and felt day to day. For a dalit, daring to fall in love with a non-dalit is inviting a death sentence, and that too often in a horrendous manner.
Can we stop this infamy in our own country ? Can we eat, play and live equally with every human that we come across in India ? The answer is an obvious ‘no’.
The dark reality of the plight of dalits is given in this link.
In America if a black man marries or has an affair with a white woman today, it may be frowned upon by some racists, but it is unlikely that the couple will be physically attacked. In India if a dalit boy marries or has an affair with a non dalit girl, the likelihood is that both will be killed by the girl’s relatives or her caste members who feel they have been ‘dishonoured’. Articles 15, 16, 17, 23 and 29 of the Constitution, all of which serve as measures against both caste and racial discrimination, remain only on paper. Even after 7 decades of independence, we still are not able to abide by our constitution which ‘guarantees’ equality irrespective of caste, creed, colour and sex.
These racial prejudices that Indians have also take the form of colourism, which the number of “fairness” products available in the market testifies to. In fact, the social stigma created in society to victimize a dalit never really saw a limit. The problem assumes an altogether different dimension when the institutions of law-governed societies themselves become sites of racism.
A few years ago it was unimaginable that an unelected all-male village council in India had ordered that 23-year-old SC girl Meenakshi Kumari and her 15-year-old sister be raped. The ‘sentence’ was handed down as punishment after their brother eloped with a married non-SC woman. The village council had also ordered for the sisters to be paraded naked with blackened faces. Nothing could justify this abhorrent treatment. Last year we have seen the brutal death of 25-year-old Haresh Kumar Solanki, an SC who dared to fall in love with and marry a woman from the ‘upper caste’. Eight family members of his wife Urmila, who was two-months pregnant, killed this boy while a women’s helpline team was trying to negotiate with the father, Dasrath Singh Jhala, to send his daughter back to her husband’s home.
The brutal killing in Varmor village in Gujarat’s Ahmedabad district comes six months after Haresh and Urmila got married against her family’s wishes.Even authorities like the police, which are supposed to be neutral and fair to everyone, can no longer be trusted to enforce the law in a fair and just manner. Because of this special nature of racism which is experienced at every stage from the initial prejudices and attacks to the police and hospital authorities, there is often no choice for the victims and their supporters but to mobilise and pressurize the authorities at every stage to come to a semblance of justice. People have to come and agitate in front of police stations, hospitals and courts.
Rohit Vemula’s death had once again exposed the deep-seated caste discrimination in higher education institutions – both among students and teachers.
Quite simply, discrimination and atrocities against dalits are destroying our nation.
If we cannot change the feudal mindsets of our own people who commit such barbaric deeds against a section of our own countrymen we surely have no face to protest and comment over such incidents of racism that happened in Minneapolis and are happening globally.
Markandey Katju is a former judge of the Supreme Court of India. He was also the Chairman of the Press Council of India.