India is an inherently racist country. There I said it. Every one of us has faced some form of discrimination when travelling to a part of the country we don’t call native. A South Indian gets labelled as “Mallu” in North India, a Northeasterner as “Chowmein/Momo/Chinky” in mainland India, a North Indian as “Bihari” in the rest of India. I believed the lack of awareness and sensitisation about various ethno-cultural groups in a diverse country such as ours is the main reason for such discrimination.
However the recent case of verbal abuse reported by Tailin Lyngdoh, who was wearing a Jainsem, a dress worn by the indigenous Khasi women in her state, was told by club officials that she needed to vacate the place as she looked a like a “dustbin”.
Such malignant thinking is the pivot and a reminder of the prejudice that exists at the capital. If such are the unfortunate set of circumstances at the capital, one can only imagine the amplification of such ordeals at the national level.
Our constant ignorance towards our north eastern citizens is one of the main reasons why people like Tailin feel alienated in their own country. Incidents like sexual harassment, discrimination, and verbal abuse are nearly an everyday occurrence, so much so that we have become numb and tend to shrug off such incidents as minor unless somebody suffers grievous assault like murder or rape.
A lack of awareness among the masses is of the main reasons for such an incident to happen on a recurring basis. There is a problem of principle in our country. An overriding sense of futility fuelled by a society that has been the architect in the genesis of such thinking. In order to eradicate this societal taboo of people being indifferent towards other people solely on the basis of what they choose to wear; certain bold steps need to be taken by the government. Furthermore, we, as citizens of this country which is a vibrant cocktail of ethnicities, must take the onus upon ourselves and solemnly pledge to never let anyone feel afraid just because of the way they appear to the rest.
Sreemay Rath, part of Safecity’s Writers’ Movement, is a writer based out of Mumbai, currently a student of Humanities in the Navy Children School, Mumbai. He has written and published a short length novel and two books of poems compiled by him. His poems have been recently selected for publication by Blue Rose Publishers. He received a regional award from Kartikey Sarabhai (Son of Vikram Sarabhai) for his presentation on the sustainable development of the ecosystem.
Views are that of the author