Thursday, January 18, 2007


Are we all inherently racist? Probably not, biased? mostly yes. It is how evolution has come through. Why do animals move in groups? Because a group automatically shares responsiblity and increases possibilities. Even similar plants grow together (wierd logic, got to be verified). So we have an inherent bias to identify ourselves with a group. The group could be anything, religion, technology, professional, afflicition(alchoholism) etc. But the thread is the same, the need to connect to someone who is similar to you. Are internet based groups any different, no? The need is always similar. The manifestation might be virtual, but still an outsider there would remain one.

The present storm over Shilpa Shetty being abused(breaking news-courtesy IBN) in a reality show is hilarious at times, raises questions and becomes pathetic at worst. She was called names and made to feel like an outsider. C'mon mate, the show is reality T.V. In the Australian version you had a woman held down and a man rub his crotch against her face (by mutual agreement of contestants), you could have them acting ( ala WWF) or saying things that would grab eyeballs. The channel could of course have edited what they said ( it runs 24/7 and only a part is telecast) but they need the publicity. Thats why its run in the first place and the contestants are paid big money (and the final prize). Of course our news guys need space too, so her 'gandhigiri'(thats becoming an abuse) is played up and our 'poor beti' gets loads of sympathetic comments.

The government of India takes notice and says: "Racism and discrimination have been long eliminated in India and we cannot tolerate this" (What about the atrocities on dalits?) . Prince Charles once remarked on a seeing an improper light fitting- "was that changed by an Indian?"
Racism is always going to be there somewhere underneath and will find its way of expression sooner or later and when people are put in a prison it would get nasty (put your family in a room for just 10 days and lets see how well your nerves hold out, these guys are competing).

In the larger context, racist violence is something which needs to be taken care off. The kind of racials slurs ("Asians" etc) will be gone in sometime because of economic reasons(or reverse could lead to further xenophobia...loss of jobs/threat of national integrity-France) . Understanding of cultures is important, anyone who is in business would know that, but most others will not spend the time and they will see the presence of someone different as a infringement of personal space. There are instances of a positive bias too, gora in India, tam-bram group(not for style of course :) ) gujju-madu (again not always). But these instances are rare. Most of the time it is just a response to the loss of a certain way of life. Racism is always a sign of systemic weakness. A lack of firmness in dealing with it would lead to long term fissures in the way a society is framed.

The African American categorization and perception in America is a racism of class and color. The Dalit subjugation is a kind of persecution to maintain power structures. Asian groups, Muslim groups in western world face culture issues. The west wants globalization, but they are not yet ready for it at the people level.

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