Off late Indian media or I must say Indian electronic media has gone berserk over the recent spate of attacks on Indian students Down Under. Switch to any 24*7 news channel, be it Hindi or English, the only thing you are going to hear is big debate with gentlemen with their protruded stomach and ladies with their glossy flimsy apparels flaunting the great Indian tradition and lashing out at everything that is Australian (even kangaroo, an animal, is not spared).
Among the three channels which I follow regularly, each of them has had their prime time discussion shows centering on this issue throughout this week. Through these panel discussions, the channels made a wholehearted attempt to paint Australia as a country of barbarious and uncivilized racist brutes. On the other hand, Indian virtues, traditions, Vedic principles, cultural values were all bragged about. The ugly part of these debates was the parochial partisan stands taken up by the anchors. Whenever someone made an attempt to bring a bit of neutrality in the discussion, the verbose moderators quelled the voice with their foolishly thrown arguments.
What do all these signify? Are news persons, conceived off as upholder of objectivity and neutrality, supposed to take political stands? What do we want to prove by calling the whole of Australia racist? Have we ever looked within and made an attempt to see where we, as a country, stand?
No doubt the spree of attacks on Indian students Down Under is a condemnable act, as violence in any form is, irrespective of its geographical location and the people who are subjected to. But to say, that because of these attacks the whole of Australia is a racist society simply does not hold water. Quite similar to what is happening with Indian students Down Under, students, professionals and laborers from Bihar have undergone in recent times in Maharashtra. Now going by the standard we are setting with paint-Australia-as-bloody racist-community-campaign, the whole of Maharashtra ought to be declared race-prone area? By the same token, the screening of Bollywood films ought to be banned in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh (as one of the panelists during a debate show on a reputed English channel vouched for the ban on Australian brands in India apart from not allowing any Australian cricket player to set his feet ashore on Indian soil).
Racism, infact, is a pan-world or pan-human phenomenon. Right from the early days of human civilization, denizens indigenous to a specific place have disliked those visitors from outside who made an effort to get settled there. The innumerable number of wars fought over different periods across the world to assert ethnic superiority clearly establishes it. The recent spate of attacks on Indians down under and the violence Biharis faced in Maharashtra or non-Asamese underwent in Assom couple of years back, they all are simply a hangover of this extremely vicious hate-others-from-other-land phenomenon.
Now let’s do a bit of soul searching. How often an Indian is racially abused in his/her county itself? No news channel has so far taken up this issue. Walk around the streets of any part of the country and you can witness in situ the prevalent trend of an outsider (not necessarily a foreigner but even those Indians belonging to other parts of the nation) being relentlessly abused or taunted by the locals. And I must add it’s a pan-Indian phenomenon. If students of north-east are referred to as chinkeys (a pejorative term for someone with small and inwardly compressed face and eyes) on the streets of Delhi, people from north India are ridiculed for their accent in south India and vice versa. A foreigner is often a subject to debunking comments everywhere in India. People of low castes are not allowed to step their feet inside a temple (can’t it be seen as an indicator of god being racist?)
For all these ubiquitous regional, racial and religious prejudices, not even in our wildest dream we can accept being called racist. Why? Couple of days back, one foreign girl was reported to have been raped by a certain state minister in Goa. Similar unfortunate incidents take place everyday. Still, they never occupy more than a minute’s attention on national television. Why?
It’s high time we, as a nation, did a bit of honest introspection and some looking back as well. Only this will help us discover how racist we have been atavistically and are still in our day to day practices. Media, too need this exercise earnestly. Remember the old Indian adage which says that the process of changing world begins with the attempt to change oneself first.