India is a racist country in every sense of the term. We discriminate not only against foreigners (god help those who have darker skin tones) but even our own. Ask a woman from the North-East about the reception she gets when she negotiates the streets of Delhi — supposedly a cosmopolitan city — and you will know that Article 14 of the Constitution, which deals with the Right to Equality, doesn’t exist in many parts of the Capital. The latest example of such uncouth and parochial behaviour was on full public display in the Delhi Metro recently: Three African men were thrashed by an angry mob inside the Rajiv Chowk metro station, one of the busiest in the urban transport network, after a woman allegedly complained that the trio had passed some lewd remarks at her. However, she did not register a complaint with the police.
In any civilised nation, such an allegation would have led to only one reaction: The accused would have been taken to the police, a complaint would have been registered and then the law would have been allowed to take its own course. In Delhi, of course, the rules of the game are different, as the mobile camera footage of the incident clearly shows: The three men were cornered (just like it is done when a wild animal strays into a city) and attacked with whatever the mob could lay their hands on. In the mobile footage, which is available on YouTube, the hooligans could be seen jeering at the defenceless trio, who were inside a Delhi Police booth. People were egging on the attackers and shouting ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’. However, no Delhi Police or Central Industrial Security Force personnel, who are in charge of the Delhi Metro’s security, were available to save the three. By attacking the foreigners and not allowing the police to do their duty, the self-styled custodians of the law have only shamed the ‘Bharat’ they are so keen to represent and defend against ‘outsiders’.
However, when Indians are at the receiving end of aggressive racism outside the country, we are the first ones to cry hoarse about such ugly behaviour being meted out to our citizens. When actor Shah Rukh Khan was frisked by the US immigration authorities, we called it racial profiling, and the incident almost led to a diplomatic crisis. A couple of years ago, when Indian students were beaten up in Australia, we went ballistic about how cruel Australian society is. There were several calls for diplomatic ostracism and a boycott of Australian universities. But do we really have any moral authority to demand such behaviour from others when we are so unabashedly racist?
Watch: African men get beaten up at a metro station in Delhi