Monday, February 3, 2014

Discrimination in Delhi

Delhi the capital of India, is hailed as the city that belongs to everyone.  People from all across India come to Delhi for education, jobs and a better standard of living. The facilities available here are better than the rest of India. However existence in a multilingual, multiracial and multicultural society is a challenge for those who are not trained to celebrate diversity. These irresponsible and indiscreet Indian citizens, who generalize and publicly voice their hatred, are a threat to our society. They need to be educated. The ‘chalta hai’ (It's OK) attitude won’t work anymore. The tolerance level of people is far less now. This is the twenty first century, a majority of people are aware of the existence of at least basic human rights. Not many can tolerate bullying. So we need to reform our education system.  Parents also need to understand that parenting is an art and that they have responsibilities other than financing their child’s existence.

If our system of school education had been designed to train children to be humane human beings, things would have been different. If our parents were a little careful while venting their age old prejudices, in front of their children, things would have been different. If our movies, advertisements, sitcoms, hadn’t sown the seeds of racial, lingual and cultural hatred, under the garb of depicting reality, things would have been different. And if our politicians, hadn’t for their selfish motives, brainwashed weak individuals to spread hatred, things would have been different.

Racial discrimination has prevailed in India since time immemorial.  However, it’s existence hasn’t been widely accepted or understood for that matter. For example -all the people from the southern states of India ( Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu) are seen as one. They are called 'Kaale Madrasi', 'Aiyo Rama', 'Idli Sambaar'. People from the north-eastern regions are called -'chinki', 'chinese army', 'nepali' 'bahadur' etc.The treatment meted out to 'Blacks' in Delhi, is barbaric. They are called 'Kaaloo', 'Negro' etc. Only the 'Whites' of a certain class are treated with some respect. The not so well dressed types are referred to as 'hippies', 'gora saala charsee' etc. They are duped by everyone.

‘Kaala-black’, ‘peela-yellow’, ‘bhoora-brown’ and ‘gora-white’ are skin types and just that.  Character traits aren’t defined by one’s skin colour. When people make an advertisement to sell a fairness crème, they just need to focus on the product, they don’t need to send across a social message that ‘black’ is inferior and ‘white’ is superior.  When eminent lyricists write songs for a movie, they don’t have to propagate that white skin is beautiful. If you are in a position of power and want the people of your country to coexist in harmony, all you have to do is be a bit more sensible and responsible. Since you are successful, people subscribe to your ideas, without thinking.  The ‘goras’, ‘kaalas’ and ‘peelas’ -all made you the star that you are, remember that. 

Class discrimination- If you are wealthy, you can be of any colour, caste, region or religion-people are going to respect you in India. If there is any country in the world, where a wealthy person can live the life of a king or queen of the old times, it is India. He/she can employ any number of servants, perpetrate crimes and get away with it, have an official wife and many mistresses, rent out his many properties and hire people to manage his finances, keep adding on to his luxuries and basically exploit people to any extent. Unless, s/he is a public figure, there is nothing really to prevent him/her from doing whatever, he/ she wants.

Delhiites are big show-offs. The amount of money that even an upper middle class family spends on its ward‘s wedding, can be used to feed at least a 100 people for an year. Due to the unimaginable rise in the property prices in India, some ‘inherited types’, who don’t really deserve to inherit anything, are causing much harm to the tranquility of the society. These people, who walk around with guns and goons, are dangerous, so I won’t venture to describe them any further.

People from the posh regions of Delhi look down upon those hailing from the not so posh regions. The educated high class of South Delhi looks down upon the equally rich business class from the same region.  The ‘inherited’ types look down upon the ‘self-made’ types. Diplomats, politicians, business persons, professors, doctors - no matter how evil they are, will always be considered superior to their servants. Very few can do without employing servants in Delhi. Yet their work is always considered to be inferior. Slavery laws were passed only for the Western world to follow! The way people treat their servants in Delhi, is nerve wracking.

'Respectable’ professionals, would never marry people doing blue collar jobs. One thinks of class even before loving! The class divisions in India are so clearly etched in our minds that they seem natural. 

Gender discrimination – Women are accepted to be inferior beings. Even though women in Delhi are comparatively more emancipated than those living in the rural regions of India, they are discriminated. Eve teasing is pretty common everywhere-be it an educational institution, bus stop, workplace or even a temple.For example women with toned bodies are called - Dhamaka, pataka, phuljhadee, tota, maal etc. Fat women are called - saand, haathi, hidimba, pehelwaan etc. Thin women are called -flat-"kuch dekhney layak hai hi nahi bhaiya, ab kaa karein?". A dilliwalla’s language is essentially patriarchal. There are also a certain category of women, even the educated ones, who perpetrate patriarchy.  

People from the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) community are all considered to be freaks. They don't even have the basic human right to love. And we live in the world's largest Democracy. Rule by the people and all. So these people aren't 'people'?

Discrimination based on caste and religion – Only upper caste Hindus are not discriminated against, based on their caste and religion. Rest all are, in some way or the other.  People from the Scheduled Castes and Tribes, Other Backward Castes (OBC) and people from minority communities are hated not only because they were born into these castes but also because they enjoy certain benefits which people from the General category are deprived of.  I’ll be lying if I say that I was very calm when undeserving candidates were considered over me for admission to, or employment in, government run institutions. I have met with many people who have claimed their right to reservation, when they don’t need any. However, reservation has helped in their upliftment in a big way. The fact remains that these people are not even treated like human beings in most regions of India. Delhi in that way, is a little more tolerant. Here class matters more than caste.

As to religion, Muslims are discriminated against everywhere in India. North Indians cannot forget the partition. They seem to be convinced that a majority of Muslims are violent. No matter how hard the Muslims try to accommodate, Hindus cannot give up their prejudices. They are believed to have many wives and children. Some are terrorists while the others are tantrics (necromancers)! Nonsense! They are referred to as 'Mullaas'. However, in Delhi, even though people say anything to or about the Muslims, compared to the other states, there is no real hatred. And somehow, I feel that the practical and money-minded people of Delhi have accepted that they will have to cooperate with the Muslims. The people of Delhi respect success and there are many successful and famous Muslims in every field now, especially in Bollywood. And young Delhiites aren’t that pig-headed.

Christians and Anglo-Indians are considered to be meat eating alcoholics with little moral fibre. The depiction of Anglo-Indians in Hindi cinema, I think, has played a major role in creating this image.There are very few Christians in Delhi.  I agree that Delhites do have their share of prejudices about this community but there is no hatred for them. Christians have always been law abiding citizens of this country, who rarely, if ever indulge in violence of any kind. They are also known for their social work. Anglo-Indians are fewer still. All Christians are not Anglo-Indians. This is a popular myth. Earlier these people were bullied for their attire and way of life. However, post globalization, our own way of life has changed. So Indians have generally become more tolerant towards mixed race alliances. But the foreign spouses of Indians, always remain 'foreign', even if they spend their whole lives in India. Bullying comes naturally to Delhiites. Rarely do they realize that they are hurting people.

Sikhs, the most courageous, helpful and affectionate people in the country are called stupid-'jhalla'. They are never taken seriously. What percentage of Sikhs live below the poverty line? They must be really very stupid !

Regional discrimination- The most popular question in Delhi is- ‘Aap kahan ke ho’? (Where are you from?). There are popular beliefs about people from every region. No matter how hard you try to shatter these beliefs by proving to be the opposite, people here don’t give up their prejudices easily. Everyone passes comments fairly freely. For example- The people from Bihar and UP are believed to be corrupt and not so refined-they are called UP ka bhaiya and Bihari Babu , the Punjabis are believed to very selfish and dishonest, Sindhis are referred to as 'Saamp'(Snake). Frankly I have never met a single cunning or dishonest Sindhi in my life. Bengali people, the most evolved of the Indians, I think, are derided for their ascent (Hindi), poor eyesight, love for fish. They are often made to suffer for their sincerity and seriousness towards work. 

I would like to conclude by saying that except for the wealthy, everyone in Delhi is bullied in some way or the other. You cannot survive in Delhi, if you are not thick skinned. Learning to ignore is a very important trait that one must acquire before entering Delhi. The second and third generation Delhiites are far more sensitive and modern in their ideas. They have understood that in order to survive in Delhi, one has to be truly cosmopolitan. Besides, their upbringing in Delhi has facilitated their interaction with people of every sort, so they have been able to give up a lot of their prejudices.  The real bullying that happens on the roads, often leading to violence, isn’t ordinarily perpetrated by people raised in Delhi. However, the nature of bullying that the people from the North Eastern regions of India face, is very different. It is often inhuman. This is a very serious issue. These people are very tolerant and reasonable, yet they are discriminated. Something should be done about their protection in Delhi.