Casteists are racial

ChandraBhan Prasad

Was Samuel Johnson, a white, racist? One of the greatest literary figures of 18th century England, Johnson commented on white Americans: "I am prepared to love all mankind, except an American."

Was Oscar Wilde, a white, racist? One of the greatest playwrights of the late Victorian era, the Irish-born Wilde commented on white America: "America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilisation in between."

Was the German philosopher Immanuel Kant, again a white, racist? Author of the highly acclaimed The Critique of Pure Reason, Kant held that: "Americans were too weak for hard work incapable of all cultures."

Samuel Johnson, Oscar Wilde, Immanuel Kant, or a host of other Europeans, could all be racist vis a vis the coloured. While bad mouthing about Americans, they were not being racist. Their views could reflect class biases as most Europeans who immigrated to the US were often low class people. Or, it could be reflective of their nation to nation prejudices. People bad mouth, but not necessarily propelled by racist thoughts.

So, when Jade Goody called Shilpa Shetty a 'Paki' - meaning from Pakistan - in what way that is a racial slur. If she intended to hurt Shilpa on the basis of her origin, she could have called her an Indian. The term Indian hasn't as yet graduated into an abuse. But the way Indians settled in UK reacted and the way they behave elsewhere in Europe and the North America, the term Indian too will earn that cherished distinction equalling Paki very soon.

As a matter of fact, the term Paki has acquired a negative point of reference in many parts of Europe. The reasons could be many, but racialism is not one of them. Jade used that word to hurt Shilpa. But it can't be construed as a racial slur?

Jade allegedly called Shilpa a dog. Is calling someone a dog a racist slur? Don't whites during fights use words like dog or bitch?" Don't Indians irrespective of caste, abuse their co-ethnics by calling dog? Had Jade called Shilpa - brown skinned or bloody Indian that would have been a racial slur. Jade did none of the above.

Incredibly, Indians settled in UK are unsettled by Jade's comment. Millions of Indians back home aspiring to settle in UK too are feeling unsettled. To the middle class India, the Big Brother episode is no less than a national-culture-crisis. Thousands in England have filed complaints with Channel-4. Within India, many sent SMS to news channels. Some even took to street protests.

Assuming that while making her comments, Jade had Shilpa's brown skin in her mind, and she was also conscious of her own white-self, the Dalit Diary stands in solidarity with the hurt Indians.

At the height of the Big Brother trauma, a Hindi news channel ran a story for hours about an episode of Jaipur. A Dalit boy coming from a prosperous family had eloped with a non-Dalit woman.

Deeply in love, both had married in a city court, the casteist trauma followed. The parents, relatives and friends of the woman were crying for the youth's blood. The issue became was out of control. News channels stepped in to feature the newly married couple.

Did any non-Dalit felt hurt by the plight of the Dalit youth? Did any one from those hurt by Shilpa's plight send SMS in solidarity with the young couple? Untouchability is rampant in India. Has a non-Dalit ever approached a court or a police station saying that people around him practice untouchability?

Within England, Dalits have their separate Gurudwara. Has ever any non-Dalit NRI approached the British Government that those practicing untouchability in England must be deported back to India?

What a caste society that India is. Those crying foul over Shilpa's plight are themselves compulsive casteists. To them, racism hurts, casteism heals. Casteism accords a sense of pride to its practitioners. By practicing untouchability, the non-Dalits get a sense of superiority. Don't the Browns consider White societies as morally fallen, culturally decadent? The casteists can be terribly racists as well.

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