This refers to the reports, “Arunachal student dies after ‘racist attack’ in Delhi” and “Northeast students in Delhi allege discrimination” (Feb. 1 & Feb. 2). What really killed 19-year-old Nido Tania is prejudiced mentalities. It is quite common in Delhi to hear racist, casteist and gender-insensitive words that are very offensive being used in public conversations. Little thought is given to the fact that such words can offend the sensibilities of people. What is missing from Indian public life is a culture of showing respect to an individual. Writers, the media, academia and activists, who are so quick to voice their opinions on almost anything and everything, should now focus their energies on cleansing our poisoned mindsets.
Nehru’s “unity in diversity” is a phrase that remains locked inside the pages his book, The Discovery of India. The sad incident where Nido was beaten up after he reacted following racist comments has only proved Nehru’s ideal to be wrong in a racially stratified society like ours. “Unity in diversity” makes no sense when there is no attempt at acculturation. How long more do northeast Indians in particular have to face this form of ghettoisation?
The death of Nido Tania reasserts the fact that even after tireless efforts over decades, India has still not crossed that stage of nation-building where differences in culture, language and ethnicity are dissolved, diluted or suppressed. To the dismay of every proud Indian, these incidents mar the very idea of “unity in diversity.”
The terms “North Indian,” “South Indian,” “Bihari,” “Bhaiyaji” are indicators of mental boundaries that emanate from disorders like cultural intolerance, regional chauvinism and gratuitous superiority. Though they may be very subtle, these problems, unless settled in time, can surely arouse secessionist voices and possibly lead this country down the path of disintegration. We need to get rid of these mental dispositions. Until we accomplish that, India will remain just a country and not a nation.
The unfortunate incident reveals our collective inability to reach out to others, and our total insensitivity to a fellow-being. Whoever said there is no racism in India!
Who does India belong to? All of us, or a group of lumpen elements? And who does Delhi belong to? India, or just Delhi-ites? For years, northeastern Indians have had to tolerate extreme forms of racism. However, the time has come to stop such forms of intolerance. India needs to wake up and protest against racism and brutal behaviour against our own people. Let’s stop it before it goes beyond repair.
East Champaran, Bihar
It is common knowledge in New Delhi that all “dark complexioned Indians” are immediately labelled and referred to in derogatory terms. Students from northeastern India also are referred to in equally offensive terms that are racist in nature. It is high time the government stepped in and ensured that there are effective measures to end “racial discrimination” — in Delhi in particular. The media too should stop reinforcing such stereotypes in films and television serials.
Sharada H. Poldoss,