RASHMI OBEROI | 29 OCTOBER, 2014
Gentle Mizoram Washes Away The Rabid Intolerant Racism of 'Mainland' India
I’ve just returned from a week’s holiday in Aizawl, Mizoram. The amazing and magnificent ‘Land of the Hill People’ is situated in the northeast and shares borders with three of the ‘seven sister states’, including sharing borders with Myanmar and Bangladesh. Being the second least populous state and third highest in the literacy rate, it sets the state and its beautiful people apart.
This was a special trip for me...made specifically to attend a wedding of dear friends...keeping my word...and a promise that I had made to them a year or so back that I would be there in person, along with my family, to attend their wedding. There is so much for me to write about and I will do so in the coming weeks on diverse topics...what I felt... what I saw...what I perceived.
But firstly, I shall write about the most important one that needs to be touched upon and spoken of. This one topic had been niggling me throughout the trip and the issue evoked a lot of emotions within me. All the communal flare ups, racial discrimination, ethnic relations going sour in our country have been a lot on my mind lately. It troubles me a lot...it pains me even more.
Since when have we Indians become so racist? And so intolerant and prejudiced? Such a preposterous thought if you ask me. We always point fingers at other nations and accuse them of being racist but sadly, a large part of our population is guilty of being racist within our very own country and with our very own countrymen and looks and colour do matter to them. People are labelled according to their skin colour, their looks and features, their food habits, their language and place of birth rather as being seen as an ‘Indian’ first and foremost.
We were the ‘outsiders’ in Aizawl but at no time did we feel uncomfortable or threatened or were looked down upon. We walked through the markets, lanes and bi-lanes, sightseeing at various touristy places, and eating the local food in restaurants. People were helpful, friendly and went out of their way to make us comfortable. They were intrigued by what we thought about their place, their food, their local customs, their rituals and they took pains to explain things that were new to us. In turn, there was only awe and appreciation for the people here and respect. It was a privilege to know the folks here and imbibe what they had to offer.
So why can we not reciprocate the same way when they are in our part of the town so to speak? Unfortunately, our local crowd here is parochial, narrow minded and uncouth and dealing with them on a daily basis is traumatising. Why must the people of the north east be tortured...made fun of...looked down upon...called names etc. It makes my blood boil and I really think it calls for harsher laws to punish and tackle issues that involve any form of racial slurring. It needs to be shunned by one and all and stringent laws need to be put in place. When we travel abroad and face any form of racism, whether small or big, it makes us angry and we take no time in raising a hue and cry...then how is it that we are unwilling to see that people within this country are being racist too and that their attitudes and thinking needs to change desperately.
We need to educate, we need to accept, and we need to understand that we are being racist towards our very own people. How unfortunate and sad is that! The bottom line is that any form of racism is unacceptable of course.