HT debate: Let’s stop pretending racism doesn’t exist

  • Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Mar 23, 2015 18:28 IST

Locals, outsiders must strive for mutual understanding

Discrimination practiced against people on the ground of skin colour, creed and gender is a harsh reality in every society that cannot be ignored. The best way to address the problem is for people to celebrating functions together. The tricity has drawn students from across the world for over half a century and thus its residents have over the years developed more tolerance and respect for people from other countries. This is not to say the tricity is totally free of racial discrimination but it is gradually moving in the right direction. Its populace is open minded and good hosts. Creating a friendly environment is the joint responsibility of residents and outsiders: the locals should have more understanding while the outsiders should assimilate and adjust to their new surroundings. I propose the UT administration should celebrate October 24 every year as ‘Mutual Understanding Day’ with foreigners being invited to present their folk songs and dances and plays. This will open a new window of mutual understanding.

Discrimination has become deeply entrenched in India

Racism has become so pervasive in much of the world that even the tricity is not free of it. We call Chandigarh the ‘City Beautiful’ but does beauty lies only in outward appearances? Discriminating against people on the basis of ethnicity, colour, sex and creed has increased so much that people nowadays have forgotten how to behave with each other. Distinguishing people and giving preference to them on the basis of their colour seems to have become entrenched in our country. It’s high time people should grow up and eschew an form of racism.
Shikha Pahwa, Panchkula

All tricity residents must pledge to discard prejudice
Any form of racial discrimination is vehemently opposed by most educated people. Despite this fact, its hidden existence even among those who call themselves educated cannot be denied and the tricity, considered to be the abode of affluent and well schooled people, is no exception. We are going to celebrate March 21, as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. On this occasion, residents of Chandigarh, Mohali and Panchkula must pledge to discard any prejudices against others. It is a matter of great shame if some students from northeast states and from Africa are not treated politely because they look different.
Paras R Kalotra, SAS Nagar

Ethnic prejudice, discrimination isn’t acceptable
We live in what we like to call a modern society and profess to treat everyone, regardless of colour, creed, sex and nationality, in the same way but very often behave otherwise. Chandigarh is a cosmopolitan city where everyone should be welcome and respected, then why our treatment towards our fellow citizens from the northeastern states? Isn’t this shameful? How can we push aside anybody just because of he or she looks different? Ethnic prejudice and racial discrimination isn’t acceptable and cannot be condoned at any cost.
Upendra Bhatnagar, Zirakpur

Prejudice has lasting and negative effect on minorities
Racism in one form or the other exists in the tricity just like it does in other parts of the world, but how racism began. This truth is available in history of mankind. Pervasive discrimination and prejudice in all fields of society has the most negative and lasting effect on various minority groups. Hence, in the wake of the latest racial incident in the city marking the International Day for Elimination of Racial Discrimination on March 21 has no meaning.
Manjinder Pal Singh, SAS Nagar

Tricity residents more curious about outsiders than hostile
Calling the attitude of tricity residents towards people from northeastern states staying in the city “racist” is far from the truth. In fact there is always curiosity for something different. We often tend to look at those who look different from ourselves, whether in looks, dress or speech, with suspicion. This is also equally true of foreigners, south Indians and members of minorities and is due to demographic differences. This has more to do with our perception .And once there is greater interaction and intermingling of people coming from different regions and people start relating to each other, whatsoever discomfort and insecurity there was, if at all, will start disappearing slowly. The tricity with its educated residents, openness and modernity, values diversity.
DS Banati, SAS Nagar

We must first examine ourselves to see whether we’re prejudiced
Before celebrating the International Day for the Elimination of the Racial Discrimination on March 21), we should first look within ourselves and ask us if we are in fact “racist”. Though we may not appear to be so, certain actions on our part suggest otherwise. The first question we should ask ourselves is how do we treat foreigners? Do we differentiate between black and white folks? And do we harbour prejudice against our countrymen from the northeastern and southern states? And, do we still have a separate cup/glass for our drivers and domestic helps? If yes, then, we should change our mindsets and try to rid ourselves of our prejudices.
Madhu RD Singh, Ambala Cantt

Concerns over intolerance in city are largely misplaced
Being a resident of Chandigarh for over four decades, I am in a position to strongly dismiss concern being expressed about the subtle existence of racism in the tricity. Like other cosmopolitan cities, a sizeable chunk of the population here belongs to different regions of the country with some from outside as well. People here are generally self-centred and live as detached neighbours. This indifference sometimes smacks of social intolerance, and coupled with mismatched temperaments, gives rise to frequent street brawls. Perhaps we are fast catching up with the social scenario of the West. But it would be a folly to suspect “racist” overtones in stray incidents of discrimination and intolerance occurring here.
JS Jaspal, Chandigarh

People musn’t be judged by the colour of their skin
The tricity is not free of racism and its residents need to tackle this scourge head on. Racism exists through the use of specified designated words related to a particular segment of society, actions of discrimination/differentiation to put across the view that the victim is secondary, judgmental attitude of people who think themselves to be superior than others. Lack of knowledge, understanding and human kindness and erosion of values creates racists and this needs to be corrected immediately. Skin colour, body structure and ethnicity cannot and should not be the yardstick to evaluate an individual. In a growth oriented world with immense possibilities, the best win and the rest stay back. We should mend our ways and eschew intolerance. Educate people on this aspect through media participation, impose penalties and frame tough laws to curb this menace.
Rajeev Kumar, Chandigarh

Racist beliefs kept under wraps
I have yet to come across any noticeable practice of “racism” in the tricity and, if it exists at all, it is under wraps. For elections politicians do select candidates based on various factors, including ethnicity, but there is nothing more than that. It would be better if this retrograde attitude is not instilled in the minds of people by highlighting it in the media.
Tejinder Singh Kalra, SAS Nagar

Unless dealt with, covert and overt discrimination will continue
Racism will continue to exist because it suits both sides. Instead of fighting for social dignity, privileged classes prefer to thrive by encouraging prejudicial attitudes. Moreover, our political leaders exploit their countrymen on such divisive tactics and have further carved out vote banks based on narrow-political advantages.
The Indian constitution grants equal rights to all citizens irrespective of race, colour, creed, sex or sex. In the absence of sincere efforts to eradicate it covert and overt forms of racism will continue to exist in our country, the tricity being no exception.
MPS Chadha, SAS Nagar

City residents should free themselves of racial prejudice
In a democratic country like ours there should be no room for any racism without any exception. I have lived in West Bengal for almost four decades and experienced total harmony and goodwill between the locals and outsiders, and this is as it should be. To make the tricity free from the scourge of racism, even as an occasional aberration, its residents should rise free themselves from prejudice. They should welcome “outsiders” wholeheartedly and be tolerant of their way of life. However, the latter also ought to be extremely sensitive to the customs and rituals of the local populace and not indulge in any untoward provocative activity, which can ensure the well being of every one. Any act of provocation of any kind should be dealt with an iron fist.
Vijay Kumar Soi, Chandigarh

No adequate safeguards against racism provided in city
Racism is a prejudice that makes one who is discriminated against feel alienated in a foreign land. It creates discrimination based on social perception of perceived biological differences between people. Despite so many efforts, the city despite being “modern” has not been able to guarantee total security against racism. Although our society is by and large multicultural and multilingual, still many among us harp on differences based on colour, language and nationality. There have also been several incidents when foreign students are treated derisively. Talking about the evil and debating it is not the solution. Rather than alienating the person who has come from a far off place, we should make him feel comfortable and offer him true hospitality.
Aanchal Tangri, Panchkula

Fight against racism must be carried to the finish
As for racism the tricity cannot be seen as an exception, despite its cosmopolitan character like many other metropolitan areas in the country. It seems the more we are trying to wrestle with the plague of racism, the more prevalent it is becoming with each passing day. There is no denying the fact that incidents of racial attacks have risen in the recent past, if we take a cursory look around. The situation on the ground is graver than meets the eye. Residents of the tricity need to walk the extra mile to prove their mettle to contain the menace by leading a march against racism. The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on March 21 will be a misnomer if we keep procrastinating on fighting the spectre of racism to the finish, thereby paving the way for mutual harmony and brotherhood.
Ramesh K Dhiman, Chandigarh

Only sustained crusade, tough laws can stem the rot
Undoubtedly, the upsurge in racism in the tricity has become a sinister menace. A result of malicious superciliousness, egotism and intolerance, regional chauvinism, jingoism and xenophobia, the malady is taking its toll on the human fabric. Only a vigorous and sustained awareness crusade and tough laws against racial discrimination can stem the rot.
OP Coushik, Zirakpur

Admn must ensure communal harmony is maintained
The recent incidents of attacks on churches and the alleged rape of a Catholic nun are very serious. The cosmopolitan nature of our City Beautiful is very accommodating with people of all faiths living here in a cordial atmosphere, leaving little scope for racial problems here. However, there may be some people or groups of people who may try to disrupt the peaceful atmosphere here. Hence the administration should keep a strict vigil on such people and ensure communal harmony is maintained in the city.
DP Gautam, via email

Racism is not the root problem
Cases of racial discrimination in the tricity are quite rare as the vast majority of the tricity’s residents do not seem to have any such problem. However, some foreign students, particularly those from African countries staying in the city are often discriminated against simply because they are perceived to be engaged in illegal activities like drug pedalling, and not because of their colour or nationality. As such, racism is largely a nonissue in the tricity.
SC Luthra, Manimajra

Incidents of racial attacks in tricity few and far between
When we as doctors start our careers we take the Hippocratic Oath to serve everyone irrespective of his race, creed, sex or nationality. For me a patient is a patient and we doctors stick to the dictum in letter and spirit. As I see it, incidents of racial attacks in the tricity are rare. However, there’s no denying the fact racial discrimination is a scourge and all of us should join hands in efforts to get rid of it.
DK Garg, via email

Tricity not free of racism but only isolated cases reported

Racism has been prevalent in society from time immemorial and many factors, like socioeconomic, are responsible for the phenomenon. It often derives from poverty, illiteracy and job insecurity. Deluding ourselves that the tricity is free of racism is just wishful thinking. The only good thing is that people here are largely liberal and tolerant in their attitudes and most have never exhibited racial bias. Chandigarh and the tricity are not only educational but cultural and social hubs too. However, there have been a few incidents of animosity directed against African students but this is due to their perceived involvement in illegal activities like drug peddling and their “uncooperative” attitude towards their landlords.
Amar Jeet Kumar, SAS Nagar

Residents must adopt tolerant attitude towards all people
In view of the recent incidents motivated by communal hatred in the country residents of the tricity need to tackle racial discrimination head on. Chandigarh could well be described as a true metropolitan city once its residents discarded their prejudices and adopted tolerant attitudes towards all people irrespective of their race, creed, beliefs, sex or nationality.
Sham Lal Khera, Chandigarh

City has a comparatively more liberal and tolerant atmosphere

Residents of Chandigarh have always lived in a liberal atmosphere and have a more tolerant outlook towards outsiders than those in most areas of the country. The city has always welcomed people of varied ethnic features, skin colour and creeds with open arms and is a living proof that love and happiness can exist by transcending the boundaries and borders that have divided mankind along racial lines.
Madhav Bansal, via email

Admn should be vigilant to instances of racial discrimination

We fight racism everywhere, every day, across the country throughout the year. Even before independence Indians faced racial prejudice. Fortunately Chandigarh, with its cosmopolitan character, has not witnessed any major racial attack but we still need to maintain a cautious approach. The UT administration along with various political parties, NGOs and other groups need to have wider consultations and should organize awareness meetings to educate residents about the issue. The administration should also explore ways to redouble efforts to rid the city of all form of racial discrimination.
SK Khosla, Chandigarh

‘Indians are among the most racist people in the world’

Expert Speak

Issues of ethnic diversity are often discussed in academic circles but rarely do we address them in reality. Racism is a big issue with us Indians and, arguably, we are one of the most racist people around — and the problem gets worse as we don’t recognise when we’re being racist. A casual look at the city’s matrimonial ads shows preference for “fair” skins. Just because we haven’t had any incident of racial violence in the city doesn’t mean the attitudes that perpetuate racism don’t exist. Besides, residents of northeastern and southern states regularly face prejudice. Bikramjit S Kohli, president, Campaign for Diversity & Inclusion

Though, we haven’t come across any incident of racism in Chandigarh, the murder of a 19-year-old student from one of the country’s northeastern states last year in Delhi shook the country. We demand tough laws to punish racial attacks in our country. In India almost every person who works in other states faces racism by the local residents. However, in the case of residents of the northeastern states the situation is much worse and they are often treated in a derogatory manner.Karma Gyatso, president, Sikkim Students Welfare Assn of Chandigarh

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