Racism is a kind of hatred behaviour, exhibited in written, verbal or physical form against the ethnicity or physical appearance of a group or an individual. Around the world, problematic behavioural incidents occur and in India, media often interpret it as towards people of colour or blacks. There was a lot of discussion about these incidents both online and offline, some groups consider that India is not free from racism and others view it as misinformation processing. Therefore, there is a requirement for a system to evaluate and determine the possible scenarios towards racism in India.
A person is being racist when he displays the emotions of hatred, prejudice, biases, and intolerance against another person solely due to his skin color, structure of his lips, language, place of origin, or any other attribute which he might have gained biologically. We live in a country where racism is deeply rooted, especially in the Northeast parts. The north-eastern people are subjected to daily humiliation and passing of comments such as by calling them “Chinese”. With the ongoing spread of the COVID-19, there has been an increase in hate crimes against Northeast Asian people due to their facial features.
The constant insult, “Chinki” has been invariably used by the Indians to identify any East Asian person which depicts racism. We live in a society where people are highly obsessed with one’s skin tone. Indians have varying degrees of skin complexion and they are categorized as fair, dusky, dark, etc. Indians believe that fair-skinned people are of much more worth and value than those who are dark-skinned. The fair is considered the intellectual and gets respect, dignity, and social status while the dark is left behind struggling for their rights and status. We face color hatred and prejudice and somehow still choose to remain silent about it.
People need to understand that a person’s worth or status is not determined by his or her color. There are numerous cosmetic brands promoting skin lightening creams and lotions. Advertisements are promoting the desperate need of looking fair. The question is why? No one has the right to question or judge one’s complexion. Racial discrimination brings down the morale and the enthusiasm of the dark, they do not get a chance to stand up and speak up or fight for themselves. The mindset of the Indian society should realize the fact that no matter what the skin tone is, what caste or origin a person belongs to, irrespective of all the other physical traits, a person is entitled to equality before the law and has every right to deserve the same respect and honor a fair person gets.
Ancient India and Racism
India is known as one of the most mega-diverse nations in the world. It is indeed a diverse country and a home for people belonging to different castes, religions, colors, creeds, cultures, and traditions. Indians are known for their varying degrees of skin complexion termed as fair-skinned and dark-skinned. Skin color has always remained an important factor in determining a person’s value and worth. Fair skin people are considered to be of superior status to the people with a dark sin. Racism has been prevailing in India since the Rig Veda Period, followed by the Mughal era and the British rule.
Factors promoting Racism
Social media and advertising agencies contribute to a great extent in favoring the notion of colorism. It is well known that people would prefer a lighter skin tone than a deeper one and they would try their level best to reduce the tone of their skin color using any artificial means. People tend to follow social media, their role models, and hence in despair to look fair. There are numerous cosmetic brands and skin lightening industries which came up as a solution to their consumer’s needs. In 1975, the “Fair and Lovely” cream was launched by Hindustan Unilever. This brand added a lot to the theory of colorism. It had become an indispensable requirement in the life of young girls. In the advertisement, it was depicted that the father of the girl was disappointed due to her dark skin color and he wished upon if he had a son. Then, the mother gives the famous cream to the girl which would lighten up her skin tone. Thus, eventually, the girl underwent the transition from dark to fair. This finally made her father proud and she was successful in life. It gained immense response as it was a skin-lightening cream. Similarly, in 2005, the “Fair and Handsome” cream was launched by Emami, whose brand ambassador was Shahrukh Khan.
This clearly shows how an advertising agency can brainwash the minds of people. It denoted that the deep complexion was not acceptable by the society anymore and how the dark people prove to be a disappointment. Only fair people could achieve success and lead a happy life. Such fairness cream commercials promote the concept that how fairness is the only means of achieving success, dignity, honor, and respect. Such products created an obstacle in society by differentiating people on their skin tone. There was no actual appreciation of natural beauty and color anymore. It leads to the formation of biasness on the preference on the skin tone and color. In 2014, the Advertising Standard Council of India laid down guidelines that there should be no advertisements that demonstrate negative conventions on skin color or depict deeper skin tone people unsuccessful in life. Thus, colorism brings down the level of self-esteem and confidence in the life of the people which in turn creates a confined status.
I would like to conclude this article by saying that yes, racial prejudice does exist in our country. India is such a complex and diverse nation that is bound to have some differences between the people, be it the facial features, the skin color, the language, the caste, or the religion. But these mere differences do not serve as a ground for discrimination. India is widely known for having varied cultures, traditions, ethics, religions, languages, communities, etc.
On one hand, we say that we are proud of living in a country so beautiful and diverse that it embraces people belonging to different cultures and traditions, and on the other hand, we go freely discriminating and spreading racial prejudice against the people just because they belong to a different community or ethnic group, for instance, the North East Indians who belong to the Tibet Mongoloid ethnicity. How ironic is that? Our Indian society has a pre-determined assumption that skin tone preferences have to exist no matter what. They are reluctant in accepting the fact that being dark is beautiful and that the dark is entitled to the same amount of dignity and respect that a fair would receive.
The person will a lighter skin tone will always be preferred over a person with a deeper skin tone. This leads to the elimination of opportunities for black people in every field, be it education or employment. They are a constant subject to hate crime due to their skin color, which makes them feel unsafe and threatened in their very own country. It’s high time that the spread of racial prejudice and hatred against blacks should be stopped, stricter laws should be implemented and enforced.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
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