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Covid-19 and racism: How did the Indians react?

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Sufal Bepari
Sufal Bepari
Sufal Bepari is pursuing his PhD in Political Science at Vidyasagar University, Midnapore, West Bengal, India. He is interested in reading and writting.

The whole world is now under the blessings of Covid-19! Yes, it is a blessing for all of us, because this pandemic has given us the leisure to rediscover how racist we are! The ‘Coronavirus’ has spread around the world from the city of Wuhan in China. US President Donald Trump has repeatedly called the Coronavirus as ‘Chinese virus.’ The ‘Anti-Asian Racism’ grows rapidly, and the Coronavirus gradually becomes a ‘Racist virus.’ Asians and people of Asian descent are facing racial attacks in many countries around the world. America is currently burning in the poison of ‘Anti-Black Racism.’ On May 25, George Floyd, an African-American man, died of police brutality. Immediately after this incident, protests and riots broke out in various parts of the USA. Not only Americans but also people from different parts of the world have strongly protested against such anti-black racism and raised the slogan ‘Black Lives Matter.’ Indians have also strongly condemned the incident. But surprisingly, Indians are utterly silent about ‘Indian Racism.’ In this case, why the response of Indians is so one-sided?

What is ‘Indian-Racism’?

Covid-19 has once again shown the ‘Racist Face of India.’ Both ‘Skin Colour-based racism’ and ‘ethnicity-based racism’ exist in Indian society. But no one has the time or desire to discuss the issue in detail or protest against it. Even the Indian Media is not so worried about this. At present, India has 28 states and 8 Union Territories. The victims of ‘ethnicity-based racism’ are people from the North-East states of India. The main reason behind such racism is that they do not look like ‘Indians’! Even after 73 years of independence, India does not know the history of its North-East. As always, the North-East could not become a part of the so-called ‘Real India.’ This ‘Real India’ is made up of ‘Gandhi-India,’ ‘Hindi-India,’ and ‘Bollywood-India.’ Then who are the North-East Indians? According to the representatives of ‘Real India,’ they are ‘Chinese or Nepalese Indians’! This is the foundation stone of ‘ethnicity-based racism’ in India.

‘Ethnicity-based racism’ in India during Covid-19

During this pandemic North-East people were renamed as ‘Corona’! In different parts of the country, they have been beaten, harassed, and abused. Their crime was that they were spreading the Coronavirus! A nation-wide lockdown has been going on in India as a way to fight with the Covid-19. In such a situation, North Easterners are facing both intolerance and non-cooperation. The door to everything from workplace and accommodation to grocery stores has been closed for them due to the panic. In many cases, they have been forced to stay in quarantine even though they have no symptoms of Covid-19. Many separatist movements had occurred in North-East Indian states like Tripura, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Manipur, Assam, and Nagaland. India has managed to suppress these insurgencies rigorously and ensure its geographical integrity. But India has failed to stop racist activities against North-Easterners or to make them understand that they are an integral part of India. Therefore, the ‘Real India’ can be asked, how long these kinds of racism will continue.

‘Skin Colour-based racism’ in India

Now we can turn the focus of our discussion from ‘ethnicity-based racism’ to ‘Skin Colour-based racism.’ Indians have sharply criticized discrimination against Black people in America. The slogan ‘Black Lives Matter’ has been widely shouted in every corner of Indian mass media and social media. But when will we Indians protest against racism in India based on skin colour? Even in the 21st century, an Indian has to face social stigma for his black complexion. From an early age, they are taught how to brighten and whiten their skin. Most of the Indian girls with dark skin have to be humiliated at every step of her life. Both Indian boys and girls with dark skin get various racist nicknames. Their skin colour became one of their identities. That is the reason why the commercial markets of fairness creams, soaps, and other related products have increased so much in India. In many cases, skin colour determines a person’s education, choice of livelihood, marriage, and many other spheres of life. But the person has no opportunity to complain about such discrimination. The matter is accepted as a part of daily life. This has also led many people to choose the path of mental depression and even suicide. From this, it can be understood how deeply ‘Skin Colour-based racism’ is rooted in Indian society.

What could be the assessment?

The so-called modern society needs reform and greater awareness to prevent the growing spread of racism. This assessment applies not only to India but to all countries of the world. Sometimes racist ideas are being promoted around the world to sell a commercial product or to make a cheap joke. The internet and mass media have proved to be very helpful in this regard. Racist content is gaining popularity through the commercial advertisements of broadcast media and social media ‘memes’. The matter is worrying enough. There is also a lack of social, academic, and administrative initiatives around the world, including India, to fight against racism. The poison of racism needs to be eradicated from the whole world because even if we win the war with Covid-19, human civilization will be destroyed by the blows of racism. In this way, India, in a real sense, will become ‘Incredible India,’ and the world will become ‘Incredible World.’

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Sufal Bepari
Sufal Bepari
Sufal Bepari is pursuing his PhD in Political Science at Vidyasagar University, Midnapore, West Bengal, India. He is interested in reading and writting.
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