But first, tom-ta-tom-ta-tom many thanks to Mister Saket Vaidya, but where is the trophy?
Yet, I must say that there are a lot of very good blogs by Indians out there and I do make an attempt to read as many as possible. Anyway, I doubt I am hardly mysterious anymore, yet I kinda like 'K' so I'll stick with my rather unimaginative nom de plume for the time being. Anyway, Saket you got yourself a beer. And I still want a trophy.
Anyway, now that my long, rambling and pointless first para has been dispensed with, lets get to the crux of the matter shall we (I should really try and be more concise). I was reading an article in the ToI which made me think. (Note : This does not mean that I am an intellectually challenged person who starts thinking when he reads the Times, but rather means that in the morass that is the ToI there is occasionally a good article alongside the idiotic 'sting' operations they mount on bloggers - the reaction to which I think has been needlessly over the top - but for a more balanced counter-argument read this by Saket)
The article in the Times was Rashmee Roshan Lall, their UK correspondent and points out a question facing the South Asian community after the recent Birmingham riots - Is the Brown Man a racist?
I met noted UK advocate and 'eminent' (so to speak) UK-Indian Sarosh Zaiwalla earlier today and during the course of my interview with him (The Bachchan libel case, the corruption allegations surrounding him and Keith Vaz, blah, blah, blah) I asked him this question. And he told me something rather pertinent, "Haven't we been racist for ages?"
As anyone who has met me would testify, I'm not Mister Fair-Boy. In fact, I'm rather dark, OK so people might say a lot of that is because of the fact that I haven't had a bath in three years (I'm really not THAT unhygenic), I really don't give a flying eff about my skin colour. I will never use any Fairness cream, and find the concept rather funny - though I must appauld the person (from a totally capitalistic point of view) who dreamt up the idea of marketing fairness creams in India. In fact, the recent launch of a fairness cream for men my Emami is just taking advantage of the demographic skew in the usage of 'Fair and Lovely' (more men use it than women).
However, it is true that Indians treat darker skinned people with a degree of contempt. I know for a fact that my certain family members of mine are extremely happy that Friendgirl is extremely fair, and I wouldn't hesitate to label my family (despite its occasional escapades in the realm of dysfunctionality) as 'progressive'.
Of course, jokes about skin colour are rather common in North Indian schools, less now than before though - I never got picked on for being dark, oh no siree, I was worse - I was a Bengali (but that is another story altogether). And while fairer Indians might diss out their darker brethren for nothing apart from the fact of being 'fair', there is still a rather weird bonding between Aryan and Dravidian stock desis.
But this is not about the way Indians treat Indians, or to be more precise the way Aryan/Dravidian Indians treat Indians, it is about the way we treat other communities. For example, while the average fat-horny-old-desi man would want to bed a Mongoloid girl from the North-East, there is an extremely high chance that he would consider that person beneath his community. Just ask yourself, how many North-Easterners do you see in managerial jobs or senior positions? Even though there has been a relative improvement lately, Indians are treating other Indians as second-class citizens for no fault other than their ethnicity. Little wonder that half those states want to secede.
Indians would treat East Asian people equally badly too, if it weren't for the fact that those chaps are equally racist too. A very senior Indian manager working in a large East Asian company firm once told me that all three Chinese, Japanese and Korean managers are equally racist, "They come here to screw the women and talk down the men. They treat workers like shit. The ones that do well are the ones who barely manage to look Indians in the eye. The ones that fail can't even do that." I was once told a very interesting story by a Delhi-based adman which went on the lines of the fact that some these companies have a formal 'whoring allowance' for their managers. Tip to people from the North-eas+t : Start acting like East-Asians and give people back the same shit they give you!
But we aren't talking about the East Asians here, but the way we act with the White Man and Black Man. Are we racist with White people? Damn, we are. We insult them at every oppurtunity, have secret desires of bedding them and think of them as big bags of money. But the way most Indians act around Black people sometimes startles me. By most Indians I mean average middle-class Indians. Take a Black person to a middle class neighbourhood and not only will the kids make fun of him, inside the daughter will be hidden and people will not look him in the face. Most people will think that either he is a criminal, rapist or a drug dealer (something that is not helped by the fact that almost every single cocaine runner in Bombay does happen to be from West Africa). I don't think I am over-generalising things here, because (and I must clarify this again and again and again) us bloggers are not a regular demographic, we would fit into what statisticians would call SEC A++ or SEC A+++. Even many Indians who have moved to the West (UK and the US in particular) have more misgiving about the Black community than most White people (save Neo-Nazi outfits) - this may not be the guy working at an i-Bank in Manhattan or London or the coder in Palo Alto, but the Middle-Class Indian drives a cab or runs a store.
I am writing from observations that I have made. I might be totally off the mark, I would like it if some of you wrote in with your own observations on the issue.
EDIT : Trying out a new look and feel, please let me know how it looks.