The race for superiority

What will it take to accept people for who they are? Image Courtesy:

Have you ever noticed how we Indians tend to accuse everyone else of being racist while conveniently ignoring our very own narrow-mindedness? As a true-blue Kannadiga, the most obvious form of racism that I see, is in the insult, “Ay, AK nan magane!”, where AK is short for ‘Adi-Kannadiga’. Adi-Kannadigas, for those of you not in the know, are the original inhabitants of this state. Thanks to the urbanisation of the other castes, they are considered less sophisticated. Hence, the insult.

We begin with the TV ads about fairness creams. I really don’t think it’s fair to judge people by how fair they are (see what I did there?). The thing is, these products appear to fare pretty well in the market. Going solely by number of ads for fairness creams, I think a fair number of Indians who buying them. I think this is just hilarious. I mean, over in the US, people are trying to acquire tans… And here we are doing our best to appear hyper-light skinned! Well, I suppose the skin is always fairer on the other side.

Then there is the caste system, which is basically just a less overt, probably more dangerous variant of racism. I know you’re all about to cry, “Old hat!” because of the 300 trillion or so articles already out there about the caste system, but bear with me for a bit. My first introduction to the Karnataka Caste System (we ought to copyright this or something!) was in my school Kannada textbook, an utterly unmemorable book by the name of Nammurina Rasikaru. It has references to the ‘Dasaiyagalu’, who are yet another feature on the seemingly unending list of castes, along with the aforesaid Adi-Kannadigas.

Racism doesn’t just exist in the pages of books, however. Like air and bad drivers, it exists in various forms all around us. For instance, my grandmother, an otherwise fairly liberal and sensible person, refuses to allow non-brahmins to cook food in the house, on the grounds that they are unclean. People may be unclean, but branding an entire group of people as unclean just because they were born to certain parents? That doesn’t seem fair (I’m sorry, I’ll stop now. It’s not fair to you).

The other group of people who face serious persecution for no fault of their own is the northeasterners. From the ubiquitous ‘chinky‘ upwards, they have insults thrown at them which would cause high blood pressure in your average rock. In my own basketball club, there is a Chinese kid who, I think, ought to be given the Nobel Peace prize, if only because he hasn’t murdered everyone else for the way they abuse him.

Before all you Hindus out there begin yelling at me for whining only about Hinduism, let me make it clear that racism is alive and kicking in other religions as well. Indian Christians still make a distinction between Mallu churches and Tamil churches. The Shia and Sunni fight that’s been gripping the known world is really just racism, too. Even Wikipedia identifies 104 different castes in Karnataka alone (choice selection: Roman Catholic Brahmins, Roman Catholic Kshatriyas). 

The trouble with us humans is that we seem to be bent on identifying ourselves with smaller and smaller groups. I think the best way to eliminate racism is to simply accept that different people are different, and move on with our lives. Also, when a baby is born, please, in the name of all that is holy, I beg you, STOP ASKING WHETHER OR NOT IT IS FAIR!

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My colour, my choice


  1. Sriram Narayanaswamy says:

    As a culture, we have a long way to go before we overcome such faults…

  2. M Ramachandran says:

    How many more children are in your Class X. Don’t you think it is time for a group discussion how human beings are sorted out by color,caste,religion,geographical,and finally the career they chose. We are making more kinds of people “Techies”,”Traders” “brokers” “pimps” “house maids” and in AD2999 we will have an e-way to find the parentage ten generations before.

  3. Shuba Kope says:

    A very fair assessment of the fairness mania πŸ™‚ We learnt some of these as children and are habituated as adults. Thanks for being different!

  4. Make it Right says:

    Good article.

    The reasons are a bit deeper. It’s our language. Not Kannada, all Indian languages.

    I’ll explain.

    In English we don’t have the concept of neenu, neevu or say dodda sahibru. This type of giving respect to unknown people causes a language feudalistic system.

    After marriage one gets the entire gamut of one’s spouses relatives who we’re told deserve respect. Hence in Hindi – aayi, badi deedhi, chachi (not yours, your spouse side) and many more are now in your vocabulary.

    It’s not so in English. Even your father in law is called say Bill or George. He won’t feel upset that you didn’t refer to him as George-ji or Bill-ji.

    It’s the language. Keep your regional languages inside your homes (I speak 5 Indian languages + English).

    Let everyone speak English.

    Caste, religious differences and all imaginary differences will just fade away.

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