The Indian electronic media it appears, is doing its best to convince its audiences that ‘Indians’ in Australia are becoming the target of ‘racist attacks’. In this attempt, it has been highlighting episodes, a number from the city of
Go beyond the hype that prevents a rational analysis of the events and one realizes that the ‘racist attacks’ in
When one does not know the identity (racial or otherwise) or motivations of these attackers, or the larger context within which these attacks occur, it seems a little premature to brand these attacks racist. However, if one knows the psyche of Indian nationalists, one begins to gain a glimmer into what exactly is going on.
Let us preface this attempt to figure out what is going on by referring to an observation of the rather noted postcolonial theorist Dipesh Chakrabarthy. Chakarbarthy observes that, “Within India, …racism is thought of as something that the white people do to us”. With this observation before us we begin to see the various components of the equation. There are two actors in this equation, the white person, and the Indian. Read history into this equation and more is revealed. The Indian obsession with the white person and their racist behaviour towards ‘us’ stems from the colonial experience when the British-Indian elite desperately desired (as they were entitled to) Imperial citizen status. Unfortunately for them, this status was denied them, reducing them to equality with other Imperial subjects like the black African. Realizing at some point that they would never achieve this coveted status, they began the demand for independence. As should be clear for any keen observer of international affairs however, this desire for recognition by the ‘white’ person did not go away with
Even in the reporting on the Australian incidents, what is interesting to note is that all of the episodes involve Indian nationals or those with Indian origin. What of the others with South Asian origins in
To cast the Australian episodes as racist attacks on Indians reduces
By casting the Australian episodes as ‘racist attacks’ on Indians, and through their shrill reporting and demands, the electronic media is forcing the Indian government to react and respond. While it is only natural that a Government should be concerned if its nationals are the butt of attacks in a foreign country, the media seems to be demanding more than this. They are demanding action. This form of action is one that has been made familiar by superpowers, notably
One could perhaps justify action and response by a State if its nationals are being attacked, but what the media is demanding and laying the groundwork for goes beyond this. With this creation of the Indian ‘race’, and some sort of legal framework for this, though the constitution of the Person of Indian Origin (PIO) status, and Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI), what is being prepared is for an Indian state response whenever the interests from this racial category are threatened or challenged. This kind of global leadership based on championing an essentially racially based, and exclusive cause, seems terribly regressive, if not downright scary!
The ‘Indian’ seems congenitally blinded to its own racism and the Australian episodes are a perfect example of this racism. This is not to suggest that
(Scheduled for publication in the Gomantak Times, 27 Jan 2010)