What is that hate you make...
As a country, it seems as if we are angrier, more racist and bigoted than ever before. Will our children pay the price?
The year 2019 has begun to peek on the horizon, and the view isn't particularly rosy. As we head into another election, the signs are all in place for months of increased rancour, anger and rabble-rousing, because that is pretty much the new normal in our supposedly incredible country. This isn't a comment about how much hate is being spewed online, because that ship has long sailed; it is more about documented incidents that show how hate-filled we have all become.
Amnesty International - a human rights advocacy group despised by some politicians for doing its job - warned us a while ago that 100 hate crimes had been committed in our peaceful country in the first six months of 2018 alone. These were reported incidents, of course, so I leave you to imagine the crimes that didn't get public attention for reasons known to us rather well. Apparently, these crimes were committed against people from marginalised groups, members of racial or religious minority groups, and transgender people across the country.
The saddest thing about hate crimes is how so many of us brush them off because we assume they have nothing to do with us. If we don't belong to a minority, live in parts of the country where economics allows us to ignore what marginalisation means, or are heterosexual adults, we find it easy to write off these crimes as bad things that simply happen to other people. This ability to sweep things under our gigantic carpet allows us to brush off the casual bigotry that is now rampant around us. We have effectively and wilfully blinded ourselves to this, condemning our children to hate the same people we do in the process.
I urge you, dear reader, to ask yourself a simple question. I also urge you to answer it with as much honesty as you can. The question: Will you have a problem with your child marrying a person of his or her choice? There are two simple answers to this - Yes, or No. If you choose the former, you do what our forefathers hoped we would do, which is be upright citizens of a country that treated all Indians as equals. If you don't, for reasons that may have something or everything to do with caste, religion, language or even politics, you are part of the problem.
There is a certain amount of naivety in expecting us all to say Yes, of course, but this naivety only stems from the fact that history has slowly turned us into a group of people who have ingrained bigotry and racism into all aspects of our lives. It's why we were split into countries by religion, why millions of our countrymen lost their lives, why millions of families were torn apart, why communal riots don't faze us, why ghettos dominate urban as well as rural India, why builders refuse to sell homes to non-vegetarians, why landlords rent out homes to people on the basis of their religious beliefs, and why our politicians successfully use our hate to divide us further in order to come to power.
I find it endlessly amusing when privileged Indians leave the country and travel abroad, putting up self-righteous Facebook posts and angry Instagram messages about the racism they encounter. 'How dare they treat us differently because we are not white?' they ask, exhorting their family and friends to like these posts and share in their outrage. It amuses me because the people who complain about racism abroad never seem to question it at home, where we evaluate our varying shades of brown in order to decide how we must treat fellow Indians. It's why the market for fairness creams continues to generate billions, and why matrimonial ads continue to carry a column dedicated to complexion.
Ask a member of a minority community what it feels like to live in India in 2018. Ask someone from the North East. Ask a gay or lesbian colleague. Ask your relatives. Question your parents. Find out where your attitudes about specific religious groups or communities come from. None of us were born with this, nor were our early relationships in school determined by this, so where did all the bigotry come from? If you do find answers, and they surprise you, ask yourself if you are passing that hate on to your children. They deserve a better India, even if we weren't given one. 2019 can be worse than 2018 for a lot of Indians. It doesn't have to be though.
When he isn't ranting about all things Mumbai, Lindsay Pereira can be almost sweet. He tweets @lindsaypereira Send your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org
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