Enough criticism has been done, over the Indian obsession for white skin. Many have shared their angst about those fairness products, selling in Indian markets like hot cakes. While this is not a secret that the obsession for fairness, is not only something that relates to a desired physical trait, but a phenomenon, that crosses over into the realm of self-deprecating and self-loathing racism. If you must have got a hang of the topic, then let me take it further. The character ‘Gunga Din’ from Rudyard Kipling’s popular work ‘The Jungle Book’ is very well known. The character encompasses, a servile sycophant, a buffoon and a fit to be slave ‘native’, who’s allegiance and loyalty to the British Empire, is much more than what the Brits would have. This is exactly what is mirrored in the attitudes of present day Indians. Not political allegiance towards any nation, but the knack of treating the white-man with an air of preference.
Unbelievable? Absurd? An antiquity from the past? Not quite yet. Well, the world has moved on, but we Indians haven’t. After being ruled by the so called ‘white man’ for a couple of centuries, we have made ourselves enough determined to commit the act of self-diminution, which we perceive as politeness and welcoming behavior. The days of post-colonial resentment and ‘third world unity’ are long over. India opened up itself to the world and began experiencing prosperity. But as surprising and frustrating that would get, it couldn’t change the mentality of us Indians. By default, it has somehow got into our minds, that we ought treat the white man with an unparalleled dignity and preference and shamelessly cloak it as our ‘welcoming behavior’. Well how could I miss the popular line ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’, roughly translated as ‘your guest is like your God’.
If one is keen on noticing such trends, we can surely find this unacceptably foolish and self-diminishing behavior prevalent amongst many Indians. A popular T.V series on a popular comedy channel on the Indian television, once showcased a series of episodes, where a white girl somehow encounters the characters of the show, the residents of a housing society and that how things move ahead, vis-a-vis they invite her to their events, she learns to speak Hindi, learns our culture and all that. Well why the channel really decided to stoop to such a low level? As obvious it is, they very well knew that having a ‘gori’ in their show would attract large number of audiences to watch the show. They just cashed on the currently existing servility of the desis.
Today, you will find a lot of white expatriates writing about their ‘India experience’ on their blogs. These blogs are frequented by Indians, well educated and cosmopolitan, but suffering from the, justifiably named ‘Gunga Din syndrome’. Whatever, they write and post, as a rule, has to be correct for the Indians. Most of the times, the content gives an air of subtle prejudice and misinformation about the country. Or for that matter, focuses only on the very clichéd topics such as yoga, spirituality, spices, social issues, food, culture, beggars or the very typical ‘how India changed my life’ kind of stuff. But no one ever bothers to correct it or tell the blogger about his/her problem of selective perception and that he/she needs to see India as what it is, rather what it has been for the past few decades. But no! One must always agree, for that the white folks are always right, whatever be their opinion.
When foreign dignitaries arrive in our country on official invitations, they are given a warm welcome, a bit too warm and cozy, by putting a garland of flowers around their necks and then striking the tilak on their foreheads. Not in all the cases though, but why at all should that be done if in any? This was seen when London mayor Boris visited the country recently. Is that your protocol for an official trip by a foreign visitor? Has that ever been done for a black dignitary visiting the country (except if he would be an American). The leaders from both the sides, when shaking hands are photographed, the Indian smiling with all his cheek muscles flexed and worked, while the white man is like ’hmmm ok, lets move it’.
During the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, an incident was reported where a team of Australian athletes threw down a washing machine from their quarters at the games village, only because the Australian cricket team had lost a match against the Indian team, the same day. But they were not even given a slap on the shoulder. A similar example goes on with the man-handling of Sharad Pawar by the Aussie cricket team. There are many such incidents to cite as perfect examples of the ugly mix of the Indian inferiority complex and a racially revered image of the white man.
Just read any news on the internet regarding how a white tourist/visitor was subjected to any crime and the comments below would give you an idea how damn ‘ashamed’ the desis feel to be Indians. Bloody morons don’t even know that Indians are victims of both hard and soft racism abroad. But nobody from these countries ever expresses such self-loathing regret. Instead they just advise us to not to ‘stereotype the whole nation’.
Even in the day to day scenario, it is observable that any white person visiting a mall, a market, a college, a function or any public place is invariably given a special treatment. If not a special one, then at least what we can call as an over-friendly one. They are smiled at, as if they are the ambassadors of god to humanity; they are talked to, way much politely and in a way, as if they come from a very high authority or a special social position. Even if this kind of behavior were to be justified as gestures of traditional hospitality, one can pertinently question, why non-white visitors like South-East Asians and in particularly Blacks not treated with the same ‘warmth’ and ‘friendliness’? The reason is obvious and lies in front of you. A naked truth of inferiority complex of an average Indian coupled with false and idiotic notions of a white person being someone to be treated above par from others.
In no way it is being implied that one must treat white visitors with contemptuous racism. But it would be sane if we just treat them as we would treat any average Indian, without being too much excited, welcoming and too friendly, going beyond our way to help them. It won’t be factually and morally incorrect to say that we Indians tend to accept these white folks too quickly, which is wrong. Some may think that all this aforementioned stuff is too absurd and is an anachronism, a misfit in today’s India, but ignorance is certainly not the right choice.
Have some spine and bloody self respect fellow Indians. You don’t need the white man to tell you if you are right or wrong. You are enough capable and smart to figure out your problems and their solutions. If ‘Atithi’ is like ‘Deva’, then please treat all guests with equal dignity, including your own countrymen.