Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Fifty shades of brown ... but one gets targeted all the time

It was one of those rarest of rare days.  I guest-lectured, on campus.  Really.  There is at least one faculty colleague/friend who thinks I am worth her class time. The talk/discussions were about the caste system in India, in the context of Carnatic music, about which one can go on and all I had was fifty minutes!

India is a strange (sub)continent with all kinds of discriminatory practices.  The poor engage in it and so do the rich.  The educated and the illiterate alike are avid practitioners.  And, of course, they extend this "courtesy" to visitors too, especially if they are darker skinned--yes, from sub-Saharan Africa.  The latest happened in Bangalore, which is the hometown of the long-time commenter/debater:
An African woman was reportedly brutally assaulted by an angry mob in India’s Silicon Valley, Bengaluru
What happened?
A 21-YEAR-OLD Tanzanian student has lodged a police complaint accusing a mob of stripping her and forcing her to walk “without her top” on the street in Bengaluru on the night of January 31.
The alleged incident took place following a road accident earlier in the day, when a car driven by a Sudanese medical student hit a local resident, 35-year-old Sabeen Taj, who died in the accident, while her husband Sanuallah sustained injuries.
According to the woman’s complaint, a mob gathered that night and set on fire the Sudanese student’s car, as well as a car in which the Tanzanian student was travelling.
Perhaps you are thinking, hey, a mob might treat anybody that way--the crazy mob didn't care to be racist.  The mob "pummelled a chivalrous Indian man who’d given the woman his own shirt to cover herself."
The two were targeted for their race: by the mob’s logic, an African had killed someone so Africans should pay the price. Officers of the Bangalore police stood by as the mob thrashed the Africans, and passengers ejected the victims from a passing bus they’d attempted to board to save themselves. Later, police refused to register the Tanzanian’s complaint until she produced the hit-and-run driver. (A cop told her, “You all look alike.”)
 Racism (and racist violence) is only one of many forms of intolerance in which India specialises. But it’s the most modern of India’s evils. Particularly sickening is the casual racism shown by Indians toward Africans in their midst.
I just don't get it!  How awful!!!

Wait, there's more:
Source
On the morning of Feb. 06, a few hundred African students gathered on the steps of Bengaluru’s Town Hall ... It was a heartfelt outcry over violence against Africans that is becoming all too commonplace in India. But there was also a strange air of amusement and bewilderment at the protest site. The policemen sniggered, speaking among themselves. Some passersby openly laughed, entertained by the sight of a group of agitating African students.
But, it is not merely the accident and the mob.  According to one student, Janeth:
Her experience with fellow students was problematic, and she did face racism, especially from the general public. “They think Africans are into fraud and prostitution,” she said.
Even landlords, who sometimes speak with potential tenants on phone, often deny apartments on realising that they were speaking to an African. “I don’t want Africans,” the typical landlord would say, Janeth recalled. 
It is just bizarre :(

Source

2 comments:

Ramesh said...

Oh there is rampant racism here. We've debated it in the past - Africans, even Indians from the North East, all face blatant discrimination.

But to present a balance picture - after this incident happened, the government came down on the police like a ton of bricks. The External Affairs Minister, I think, came to Bangalore and read the riot act to the local government. Ambassadors from various African countries came to Bangalore and met with the expat community here. Local people organised support rallies. Now its become a high profile case. There was much soul searching in the press. It may all last just for a little while and everybody will move on, with biases and prejudices intact, alas.

Sriram Khé said...

"everybody will move on, with biases and prejudices intact, alas"
That's a shame ... but, that has also been the story of India for the longest time. In this case, the "mistake" was that the bigotry was made explicit, as opposed to how otherwise people have learnt to operate with all that carefully hidden ...

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