Racism and skin colour, is nothing but the many shades of prejudice. Tarun Vijay of the BJP has apologised after remarks that suggested Indians cannot be considered racist because they are accepting South Indians. I think, he failed to understand the colour of South Indians or he failed to understand that the South Indians too are Indians. This colour racism is curse across the globe, but never knew this is in the mind set of people such deep rooted. If someone from other parties had told Krishna was black, BJP would have reacted aggressively. When we worship Krishna the dark skinned God, how can we have any reservations for colour of people of our country?
He was very confident in saying, if we were racist, why would the entire South — you know the Tamils, you know Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra — why do we live with them? We have black, black people around us. You are denying your own nation, denying your ancestry, your history and you’re denying your culture. Mr. Vijay should know that 80 per cent of Andhra people have white skins, like any other North Indian and many North Indians have black skins like an average South Indian. He was responding to questions about the recent attacks on African students in Greater Noida. Vijay, head of the India-African Parliamentary Friendship Group, blamed the attackers as “mindless, criminalised people” and said such “criminalised behaviour” doesn’t need any logic.
In 2015, Tarun Vijay questioned the logic of being selective in teaching the children more about North India rulers and ignoring the Tamil rulers from the past. Why should we learn only about Vikramaditya and Ashoka? Raja Chozha too was a great king. Do we give him the same importance as we are giving to other historical figures from North India? He is always obsessed with Tamil culture and attacked North culture. He himself is south Indian and stands by them but today he shocked people with his mindless comparison to Africans with South Indians and Lord Krishna.
Discrimination based on skin colour, also known as colourism or shadeism, is a form of prejudice or discrimination in which people are treated differently based on the social meanings attached to skin colour. Colourism, a term coined by Alice Walker in 1982, is not a synonym of racism. “Race” depends on multiple factors (including ancestry); therefore, racial categorization does not solely rely on skin colour. Skin colour is only one mechanism used to assign individuals to a racial category, but race is the set of beliefs and assumptions assigned to that category. Racism is the dependence of social status on the social meaning attached to race. Colourism is the dependence of social status on skin colour alone. In order for a form of discrimination to be considered colourism, differential treatment must not result from racial categorization, but from the social values associated with skin colour.
A 2015 study, for example, finds that among African Americans, skin colour differences are associated with perceptions of discrimination from whites and other African Americans. In attacks last week that were caught on camera, four Nigerians were assaulted by a large group of people who were protesting against the death of a schoolboy of a suspected drug overdose and a Nigerian student was beaten inside a mall by a mob. The Greater Noida residents alleged that African students who live in the area supplied the teen with drugs.
Tarun Vijay is a familiar face in Tamil Nadu, widely accepted as the Dravidian culture, because of his expression of love for Tamil, Thirukkural, and Thiruvalluvar. His controversial comments triggered a backlash, especially on social media. Thiruvalluvar is a celebrated Tamil poet and philosopher whose contribution to Tamil literature is known as the Thirukkural, a literature talking about everyday virtues of an individual. Vijay’s campaign to spread the Tamil language and culture of Tamilians in the north had earned him prestigious Thirukkural Thuthar (Ambassador of Tamil epic class Thirukkural by Thiruvalluvar) award in 2014.
He is also known as the one who brought a statue of Thiruvalluvar from Kanyakumari to the banks of the River Ganga in Haridwar. This former editor of RSS’s weekly organ ‘Panchajanya’ had also been felicitated by Tamil literary personalities in Chennai for his efforts. Vijay has also advocated making the biography of Thiruvalluvar as a part of the school syllabus in every state’s education board. However, his recent comments on Al Jazeera news channel have put the BJP leader in the dock.
Attack on Nigerian students has harmed the India’s international image. At a time, when India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi is up scaling its African diplomacy, the fact that the country has a deep-seated racism problem to confront could complicate New Delhi’s African agenda.
In India, racism is adept in some quarters and by some Indians. Right from Africans land in India, their colour becomes an excuse for Indians to display all their prejudices. An extension of their visas which should not take more than seven days takes at least three months for them. Police verification becomes an excuse for extortion. Policemen keep calling them at odd hours. On the other hand, there is craze for white people, may they be from any part of the planet and people love to get pictures clicked with them.
The Government of India has not condemned the attacks against Africans. The government has to acknowledge that there is a deep-rooted prejudice here. If you accept it, then only you will address the problem otherwise you can’t. However, it seems that the government is in denial mode. Due to the hostility of some Indians, the number of African students coming to India for study may come down.
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