Is India the most racist country ever?

This experience by Dave Adali, an African-American, is being reproduced from a blog where he writes about his experience in India and claims India is the most racist country he has ever traveled to in his big list of places he’s gone. The post is an absorbing read bringing out the subtle and overt racist tendencies of Indians as seen by a dark-skinned foreigner. We need to ask ourselves - are we very racist? Why do we discriminate so much based on skin color, caste, and culture?

I am an African-American in the IT field, and I have thus far had the good fortune to live and travel extensively throughout Western and parts of Eastern Europe and many countries in Asia. I have lived or traveled in the UK and most of the EU countries as well as Taiwan, Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia and several other Asian countries including India.

Of all the countries I have been to, India ranks way up there among the most ‘racist’, IMHO. Indians aren’t so much ‘racist’ as they are intolerant. Indians discriminate against fellow citizens to a degree that I have NEVER encountered in ANY other country. Without a doubt, Indians are the the most color obsessed people I have ever encountered anywhere in the world. No doubt because of all that saturation advertisements for ‘Fair and Lovely’, ‘Fair and Handsome’ and all manners of skin-whitening creams, lotions, soaps etc. Even if you are 100% Indian, your fellow Indians might still discriminate against you on the basis of the color of your skin, which region of India you come from, what language you speak, your religion, your caste etc, etc.

If you are of obvious African ancestry, including African-American, you can find life really, really tough in India if you are going to be in India for a while. Indians can be such unabashed, in your face racists. In the interest of fairness, I should point out that oftentimes, lighter-skinned Indians despise darker-skinned Indians every bit as much as much as they despise us people of African ancestry. Apart from that, there is also considerable antipathy between North Indians and South Indians

Indians outside of India endlessly complain about the intolerance and racism they have to put up with in places like Europe, the US, Canada, Australia, the Middle East and even Africa. These very same Indians conveniently choose to ignore the fact that Indians themselves can be such pathological bigots against their fellow Indians, other Asians and especially people of African ancestry. `. In Amritsar, one of my best friends was Gyan, a Nepali whom I initially mistook for a Chinese. Indians disdainfully call him “Chinki” or “Bahadur”, which Gyan hated. As a matter of fact, Indian citizens from India’s North-Eastern states, who often have Chinese facial features are routinely referred to, usually disparagingly as ‘Chinkis’.

I have a very good friend ‘Terrence’, also an African-American in the IT field. His wife ‘Rekha’ is the the assertive and independent-minded daughter of Gujarati Jains who arrived in the US when ‘Rekha’ was 7 years old. She and her husband met in graduate school and have been married more than ten years now. They have got 3 kids, all of them with dark complexion and curly hair, physical traits which her relatives back in Gujarat hated. When ‘Rekha’ took her kids to Gujarat for the first time, her Gujarati relatives took to calling them, usually disparagingly, ‘Africans’ and ‘Blackies’. ‘Rekha’ finally had enough, especially since the older kids were now old enough to understand what was being said about them. So ‘Rekha’ gave the offending relatives the following ultimatum,’ ‘Treat my kids right. or get out of my life - and stay out of my life!’

India is a great country to visit briefly, because the country itself is endlessly fascinating. An American journalist once described India as “a land of jarring incongruities”. That is what makes India such a worthwhile tourist destination.

Some African-Americans have sought my advice about going to Indian for hands-on IT training. My stock advice to them is. be prepared to deal with unabashed in-your-bigotry because Indians hate dark-skinned people, including fellow-Indians. You can expect to have things even worse if you are somebody of African ancestry. As for housing, be prepared to live long term in a hotel. Available housing can be hard to get even if you are an Indian. Because Indian landlords routinely discriminate even against fellow Indians who happen to be from the ‘wrong’ part of India, speak the ‘wrong’ language, belong to the ‘wrong’ religion or caste etc. As somebody of African ancestry, you face a double whammy in a culture that hates dark skin. If you are Caucasian or White, you should be alright, since the people automatically show respect for white-skinned people. Heck, I have seen Indians discriminating against fellow Indians in favor of White foreigners.

This is NOT an anti-Indian rant, just my experiences and observations.

My apologies in advance for any toes I might step upon

This is a Post Script to my answer:

When I originally posted my answer, I was bracing myself to get ‘flamed’ and abused by a lot of very angry Indians. Such has not been the case however, which I find very gratifying. We should be able to voice dissenting opinions without resorting to abuse and name-calling.

Some of the Indians here expressed the hope or belief that the caste system and Indians’ obsession with fair skin will soon go away. As a realist, I have to face the fact that these types of things do not disappear overnight. India’s caste system is here to stay for the foreseeable future, and a lot of the blame for that IMHO lies with Indian politicians and their ‘Vote Banks’. These ‘Vote Banks’ are so rampant, and they appeal to constituents along communal, religious or caste etc, etc (often artificial) lines. So instead of uniting people and communities, these politicians simply drive communities even further apart with all sorts of politically convenient wedge issues. And these ‘Vote Banks’ aren’t going away anytime soon.

Obviously, Winston Churchill was a racist who is on record for saying, “I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion”. Churchill hated the Indian politicians of his time with an even greater passion. To quote Churchill verbatim, Indian politicians are “charlatans, rascals, ruffians and scalawags of every stripe you can think of”. Furthermore, so claims Churchill, every election cycle these politicians would make their constituents “every promise under the sun” to get their votes. Once the elections are over however, all these promises will be conveniently forgotten until the next elections. Looks to me these old-time Indian politicians are still very much around -or are they?

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After reading this, I am ashamed and saddened by the social structure. You cannot call him a liar or of manipulation in any of his points. We see all these happening more often than not in our daily life.

Here is a hoping that people will learn to lead a better life helping others.

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Yes, there’s always hope, and real life stories like these make us think, do some soul searching and better ourselves with human values first before color, caste or country. We need to really appreciate the author for coming out with this post explaining very clearly why he thinks India is very racist.

Well, can a Nation ever be racist? What about Pakistan, Palestine, Iraq and such places where no other race is even allowed. And they create the most unrest that affects entire world? India is the only country in the world to have so many different cultures, religions, castes, and creeds. Still the nation stands united. Yes if the acts created by those who don’t like this union of Nation and think that they alone are right create such hype about India being racist… haha. In that case, our top sports person, film actors, political heads and all would have only had any particular race or religion. Not a rainbow of all faiths is showing that this is only possible in India.

I believe you can call a nation racist if many of its people have racist tendencies. Either against foreigners or themselves. Racism need not be limited to acts of hate based on race or skin color alone. We can add religious intolerance, caste-based discrimination, language based oppression and such other acts under the definition.

In the case of India, as you have pointed out, we have many different religions, races, castes and creeds. But as you think, it is not the only country to have many different races, religions and ethnicities. Most developed countries in the west have embraced immigration for a long time, and these countries are multi-racial and multi-ethnic too. The USA can be argued to be as diverse as India given most of our Indian races and cultures have settled there and also people from all around the world have made it their home.

I would say we need first to acknowledge the racism, casteism, religious fundamentalism ingrained in our society. There’s no reason to compare ourselves with countries that may be doing worse in intolerance like Pakistan or Iraq. Here the author being an African-American man in India has written about his experience in India and feels this is the country that has treated him the most poorly. We should acknowledge his pain instead of challenging it and giving excuses in the name of being so diverse or pointing out worse countries. Only then we can change.

Your answer is the EXACT same answer almost every Indian I have seen confronted with India’s “shames” spout… What about other countries… Instead of acknowledging that the problem exists…just the blanket statement…“we are at least better than”… Please…please… we all should collectively look in the mirror. We know there is a huge problem… and we, as a society, have to come to grips with it. Make racism, color preference something to look down on… and though we may not make such thoughts disappear…we will make them rarer.

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