New Internationalist

There’s no escaping racism in India

I just read a Bangalore newspaper headline announcing that the government would take stern action against pubs that discriminate against African nationals. Good for the Chief Minister who said this in no uncertain terms.

Racism, prejudice and xenophobia are rampant in India. It’s a strange mixture of prejudice, ignorance and centuries-old discriminatory practices, when communities kept to themselves and there were dining taboos based on caste. You couldn’t eat with people not of your caste or marry into their communities.

Photo by judepics under a CC licence.

India is always a mystery, a country which is so huge that practices from Kashmir to Kanyakumari  are as different from each other as Scotland is from Greece or Russia. Each state is like a different country with diverse languages, cuisines, clothes, customs, climate. Punjabis are closer in terms of their food and language to Pakistanis than to Tamils.  

All these differences made people fairly suspicious of those who were not like them. And ‘people like us’ closed ranks and bonded. These closed communities are naturally full of prejudices towards the other, the outsider.  Every state considers itself superior. This phenomenon is global, like Polish, Italian jokes in America. Or English, Irish, Welsh, Scottish jokes in the UK. We stereotype each other mercilessly and there are jokes galore about food, clothes and accents (how  residents of each state speak English, actually!).

There’s a huge North-South divide too. Yet, in pre-colonial times, India was a haven for persecuted people. We gave refuge to Jewish people, Parsis from Persia, Armenians and later Chinese who ran away from the Revolution, and Tibetans who fled the Chinese. These people kept their distinct, separate identities but they prospered and loved India.

There’s another side to us though. As migration takes place, across state borders within India, a kind of xenophobia begins. In Mumbai in the 1960s, Maharashtrians were incited by Enoch Powell- like politicians to drive out south Indians, Madrasis, they called them, (somewhat similar to calling people Pakis in the UK), who were stealing their jobs, claimed the rabble rousers.

Sounds familiar? Recently, the same paranoid party called for North Indians to be thrown out. Many poor, migrant Biharis were beaten up, attacked and threatened as they went about their daily grind, often working  for a pittance. In Bangalore there are rumblings of resentment over north Indian techies who have flooded the city with their loud, noisy, in-your-face manners. South Indians are relatively quiet, stand in queues and can’t understand the chaos of a northern railway station, a bit like Sicilians versus North Italians.

In the 1970s, when I used to visit Rome often, I found Italians warm and friendly. In the last decade that has changed. The racism towards Africans shocked me. I also discovered hordes of Bangladeshi flower sellers being rudely shooed away by Italians waiting for the traffic lights to turn green. I wondered how could  things change so quickly, from warm, friendly to hostile  ‘they’re swamping us with their alien culture.’

In Bangalore a bunch of Nigerians were picked up for drug peddling. The hostility is because of this perhaps. But there’s no getting away from Indian racism. In the heart of Mumbai, there’s a Nigerian ghetto. Ghettos are born because a minority feels it can find safety in numbers. The environment outside the ghetto is not warm or welcoming to Africans by and large. Students from North East India are mostly dubbed ‘chinky’. People ask them if they are Japanese, Chinese or Korean. There is total ignorance in most parts of India about the culture, indeed about anything North Eastern.

Men all over India drool over porn at their home computers and in internet cafes around the country. So it could be dangerous for a white, blonde woman to walk alone at night, too many men have been fantasizing about her. They stereotype white women as easy.  

Indians rarely perceive beauty in black or far-eastern women. In fact, most Indians look for pale-skinned brides for their sons. Bridal ads ask for ‘fair skinned’ girls. So skin colour is important and you can’t be beautiful if you are not fair. Prospective bride seekers swarm into the girl’s house to ‘see the bride’. They have no compunction about saying, in front of the bride and her family, ‘she’s too black, we don’t want black grandchildren.’ Sensitivity, tact or even basic good manners are not common among average Indian families. They’d be genuinely astonished if you called them gross or uncouth.

When I see the Africans, Bangladeshis and Punjabis in Italy and Germany, they look miserable and unhappy. They hate the cold. They know they are despised. They are there to escape the poverty of their countries. Who would choose to leave home, family, the security of your own environment to run away illegally to an alien, hostile land?  It’s exactly the same in India with migrant communities who come in thousands now, from Bihar, West Bengal, Jharkhand to the south because wages there are much higher.

In both cases, the solution is to improve conditions in the home country, the home state. But obviously that’s another story.

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  1. #1 Geralton 04 Jun 11

    very good piece

  2. #2 Russian reader 04 Jun 11

    A very good article, something to think about and not just in India.

  3. #3 Rahul 04 Jun 11

    Clearly you do not know any wealthy and educated Indians in Germany or Sweden and UK. In the UK one in 5 doctors , dentists , opticians , pharmacists are of Indian origin , in terms of MPs , Lords , power and influence of Indians in UK is immense , i live in Leicester , the areas with houses worth 1 to 5 million POUNDS are all Indians , and there are hundreds of houses full of our millionaires , and the Rich List again is full of our people in UK. In Germany i have family too , professors , doctors , well respected and i visit every summer , have many weathly German friends, We are not despised , UK and German people know very well about the intelligence and business skills of Indians , and women here like our dark skin - in fact even more in Germany and Sweden even more. Visit Oxford , Cambridge after whites , the next group is Indian , see the guardian newspapers article on this , Blacks in UK there are almost none in Oxbridge. Indians plenty. I travel around Europe , date European women OK , we are not despised , maybe you are. Not me and my Punjabi and Gujarati - wealthy , educated and sought after British Indians, Also the same in USA and Canada. Move to UK or North America. Stop your ignorance.

  4. #4 Rahul 04 Jun 11

    You miss the real problem - The Aryan invasian myth - Harvard University has recently proved it false , along with Cornell Uni and every other IVY LEAGUE school using Genetic data from North and South Indians of all castes. It shows clearly there was NO aryan invasion and the Sanskrit , Prakrit , Tamil classical languages were in fact indigenous. USA and Indian univeristies are working together to end this false progaganda which began via the Germans then the British who could not accept the great cultural and historical achievments by people who were brown to dark brown. Previously there was no North-South divide - Ramanuja and Madhava acharayas though south are revered even in Kashmir as Saints , yet they were dark South Indians. Many south Indians travel and taught in the North in Ancient times , and have a huge influence on India. Many royal princes were very dark. Skin colour was never an issue until racial purity was introduced by Europeans. Lord Krishna is black after all - Syama . millions in the North and around the world pray to him. This racism is an old vestige of imperialism - there are dark bramhins , dark kysatriyas , dark Punjabi billionaires. India has to let go of European theories on India being proven wrong every day by the best school in the world HARVARD - see study on Indian genetics by Harvard.

  5. #5 Angry Italian 04 Jun 11

    Yes! You have identified Italy as racist country , but to compare to Germany is scandalous , look at how they treat our own Mario Balotteli - it is easily one of the most racist places in the world and in Europe it is the leader in mistreatment of women , and Racist Fascism , after all you have Berlusconi and the influence of Mussolini , despite Italy having a huge black population over one million. Ask any embassy it is not a place recommended to visit for those of colour. See treated Jeev Milka singh , Indias number one golfer how his coach was abused at the aiport. Italy is a unique case. Spain also due to Franco's influence. Germany is actually very multicultural , look at its football team , Turkish people are doing better than ever , and even there are Sikhs , Indians in major German cities who are making millions every year. Germany has a good relationship with India's government and actually wants more Indians to come and work in Germany , after seeing that in the UK , they contribute in terms of percent , 5 times that of their population - therefore a great advantage to any country.

  6. #6 vincent g thomas 05 Jun 11

    Mari's observations emphasizes that it is ignorance and lack of education on the part of people around the world who remain prejudiced. Whether in Europe, India, U.S., or Africa those who lack education and adequate income are easily manipulated by those few who wish to maintain their ’superiority’ and envy those who may be better off than they are in terms of income and prestige. Many of the educated and high earning wealthy may have their own prejudices about the behavior of people below them, but they do not seem to practice blatant prejudice. In India and other countries there are those who seek to take advantage of those who are unemployed and those who do the grunge work. Skin color,religion and status (caste) are easy targets. It doesn't take much to develop ’facts’ to prove your argument why others are not as good as you or your people.

  7. #7 Handojin 06 Jun 11

    What a disgustingly stereotypical view of indians! and this person is talkign about racism! is this for real! indian men all over india watching porn and therefore white women are unsafe???? Indians dont see beauty in black or eastern people? i think this article is ridiculous because you are talkign about a country where there is more diversity than any other country in the world and has a population of 1 billion! lets talk about the right wing governments all over europe! the rise of the right wing in europe and the foundation of anotehr nazi resurgence!

  8. #8 mari 06 Jun 11

    I have relatives in Harvard and Oxford U, I was a fellow in Said Business school, Oxford. I have the most wonderful English, German, US friends.People completely without prejudice or intolerance. I have an Afro-American bro in law and an Italian bro in law. I am talking of desperately poor,immigrants and the racism they face. They definitely are despised because when jobs are scarce they are a threat. Even when they are doing jobs the locals dont want to touch. I know all about millionaire Indians, if they wd give some of that wealth to the poor in India rather than obscene spending, that wd impress me a lot more. I suggest you talk to poor people in these countries and see what they feel.

  9. #9 mari 06 Jun 11

    Handojin,You are right about India being a diverse and wonderful country, but unfortunately that doesnt mean that this diversity is always celebrated or respected. MOst of our news papers have a matrimonial section, where the majority of grooms seek brides of similar castes, with fair skin. The obsession with light skin has spawned a humongous fainess industry profiteering from the dislike of dark skin. Just do a quick google search and see for yourself, or heres a couple of link, .

  10. #10 mari 06 Jun 11

    Handojin,You are right about India being a diverse and wonderful country, but unfortunately that doesnt mean that this diversity is always celebrated or respected. MOst of our news papers have a matrimonial section, where the majority of grooms seek brides of similar castes, with fair skin. The obsession with light skin has spawned a humongous fainess industry profiteering from the dislike of dark skin. Just do a quick google search and see for yourself, or heres a quick link, one of many such articles ,

  11. #12 Lalitaditya 18 Jun 11

    You are just another convert who has been trained to hate her own nation's culture, ideology and religion. We Indians are aware of missionaries who aim to divide India on religious, caste and other such lines. I am a South Indian and I care a damn about any South-North divide, I love my South Indian brothers and sisters as much as I love the North Indian brothers and sisters. And no, a Punjabi Sikh or Hindu would think just like a Tamilian that secularism is the best while a Paki Punjabi thinks that he is the purest and most Islamic! Din't your missionaries teach you this? Oh by the way, how much did you take to convert to Christianity? a bicycle, some cash, eh? Easy money eh?

  12. #13 Marei 20 Jun 11

    Great article, minus the few generalizations here and there. Even though India may be a country that has progressed over the years, I almost agree with you on so many depressing levels. I am not Indian but grew to love the stamina and courage of people from the region. I have seen the lives of Indians known as Dalits or untouchables from low castes, and those from Western Nepal wetlands regions. Even though most people who hold on these beliefs are ’old-school’ it still happens on a large scale. I cried for soo many days, and was helpless. So many beautiful children who were orphans, street beggars, and bonded labors...there is no doubt India has a lot of work to do considering its massive pop. which may be a bit of a disadvantage because 400 million living in poverty is screams more loudly than a dozen multi-millionaires who live comfortably and oblivious to the vicious cycle many Indians live in and most average joes don't know.

    Then there is Bollywood which makes me even more angrier. I mean c'mon, India need to stop fueling this vicious, self-hating cycle, and accept yourselves for who you are...and no we cannot blame the white man this time...I enjoy other people's culture and envy Indian women for their beauty...I mean I would trade my blond any day for such long silky hair...

    I do suggest you write extensively on this matter until its abolished completely. I am happy to say though many Dalits are finding new and compelling ways to take advantage and become active citizens of their country and abroad.

    Remember there is no shame in pointing out your own wrongs. My ancestors have done me no justice, yet I have accepted that, and learn from their mistakes. Every country has its own problems, and we should acknowledge them and find solutions instead hiding behind our success stories. Yes everyone is are proud of Indian contribution to the world, but lets not forget Gandhi legacy of unity among Indians...lets fix within, and not polish the outside only.

  13. #14 Leonard Dabydeen 23 Jun 11

    Lost in the Echo of Time

    Yes, I must say
    we all know it
    and we see it
    like back and front
    of naked hands
    smoothed in Aloe cream
    but I remain
    uncertain as rolling pebbles
    in a blistering storm
    and feel the masquerading heat
    like a body
    trapped in heated chamber
    in a crematorium
    as the diaspora swirls
    in caste and colour
    in rituals and antics
    ashrams and mandirs
    mosques and churches
    all burn inside
    with likes and dislikes
    and love blind
    as blackness of night
    or like the hollowness of
    a vaulted chamber
    and trafficking of flesh
    leaves no mortal wound
    free from calluses
    and indentured souls
    stir cluster like potpourri
    scenic in coated slavery
    lost in the echo of Time.

  14. #15 Shiva Shankar 27 Jun 11

    With people like Lalitaditya around, hinduism does not need any 'enemies'! I am a convert from hinduism too, to Buddhism, and those of us who are running away from ’the unparalleled social abuse of untouchability (A.J.Toynbee)’ will soon add up to a raging tide. Hindus, with their pretensions of 'tolerance', cunningly kept untouchability a dark secret from the rest of the world, but today thanks to the internet, to people like Mari, and most of all to Dalits themselves, the entire world is getting to know what this most intolerant religion has done to its own people for a couple of thousand years and more.

  15. #16 Giedre 27 Jun 11


    We are all entitled to have opinions, but that doesn't mean we can run around screaming insults to people we don't even know. And if, for some weird reason, we do, this kind of behaviour only exposes our own insecurities. Yours, in this case.

    Your comment is ugly; it does not contribute to any reasonable discussion; it spreads hate. If you have no hard evidence to support your accusations, you should apologize - out of simple humanity you yourself are talking about.

  16. #17 Pravin2208 28 Jun 11

    Mari you have written an interesting piece, but it suffers from too sweeping generalizations. You begin with the so called discrimination against the African nationals (I believe you want to refer to their colour of skin, i.e. black being discriminated). Several times there is a thin line between discrimination due to particular act of a person and due to the birth identities. It is always convenient to refer to the birth identities rather than the act. I wonder why do we want to mention the birth identity of a criminal for that matter, a criminal is a criminal! (Why refer to the drug peddler’s nationality?)

    Your article could be referred to any country; for that matter discrimination is nothing peculiar to India alone per se! In India it had (and in many subtle ways it has) social sanction, this is certainly not to deny that such social sanctions exists in other places too. This is a universal problem than Indian per se, as your title misleads.

    Your examples of “Men all over India drool over porn at their home computers …. is weird, firstly how many Indian men have computers, of that how many have internet and how many drool over porn to make white women unsafe. I don’t know why suddenly this ‘white’ woman becomes unsafe, as if non whites are spared by the men you have described! It’s not very easy, for a layman like me, to understand your statement.

    I shall just touch two more points and stop. Colour preference is individual choice, in some parts of the world x color may be preferred over y color, so what. The preference does not say that persons without falling into preference category remains bachelor or without spouse or partners or are forced to live single. Since you know the world (especially so called developed world) better than me, I don’t need to elaborate on what happens there too, I wonder why you think its only in India. This is not to be chauvinistic and defend nationality, but to understand the dimensions of these problems that crosses national boundaries.

    Finally to touch upon your solution you say “In both cases, the solution is to improve conditions in the home country, the home state. But obviously that’s another story.” I wonder whether you are saying the economic conditions needs to be improved to find a solution to the problem of discrimination. I wish it was the case, but no that’s not the case, else why would Owner of Harrods cry on top of his voice ‘suspecting discrimination’!.

  17. #18 Karthik 04 Jul 11

    Your article was excellent, and some (not all, ofcourse!) comments made it even better. But what you speak of is nothing new. I am 20 years old and since I was born, things havn't changed much. And the audience this article gets already knows much about this. How will you reason this with the other billion population which is so mindlessly conservative, that it is more or less 'frog in a well'?
    I would like to hear your reply.

  18. #19 Jacob 23 Jul 11

    As long as our decisions are not affected by the colour of the skin, its not a problem. Any number of Indians have been ´randomly´ selected for screening at airports around the world, while other non coloured people go through without a problem. So, if we expect as Indians to be treated differently, we do have go get over our bias for a particular colour.

  19. #20 Sumit 02 Aug 11

    Indians who claim to be a modernised lot,actually are still practising the caste system in full force.I mean look at the pathetic matrimonial ads mostly all of them given by parents in newspapers,matrimonial websites,etc,its like a joke that makes me laugh.Dating should be legalised in India.

  20. #21 Prof.Pradip Brahma 11 Oct 11

    Write up is quite good.It is a global human rights issue.Author discussed the matter from different angles such historical,cultural, social,economic and skin comlextion.The last one give rise to racism between men and women.
    Still I would say racial conflict in Indraia much lesser than many states of the world.
    India is the mother land of Paramount personality like Rabindra Nath Tagor,Vivekanda and Mahatma Gandhi who fought against racism
    through their life.

  21. #24 Sreeja 15 Nov 11

    Very well written,I have had some similar experiences myself.When it comes to matrimonial issues, the issue gets heightened. Please read my post on racism

  22. #25 Anonimy 27 Jan 12

    Your right Sis, I knew whats going on in India, but i never thought about it dat way. You have cleared my mind to some point.

  23. #26 anjali goel 31 Jan 12

    can some one tell me how to prevent racism ?

  24. #27 mona 01 Feb 12

    very nicely u have written this blog...appreciated

  25. #28 Anu 05 Mar 12

    Sorry, Your entire article is riddled with gross generalizations, the worst one is ’ ALL Indian men think blonde-haired white women are sex objects.’

    And also your article is too anecdotal. You read a matrimonial ad, you saw something in Italy hence your finger is on the pulse of the issue!

    It lacks objectivity. Are you speaking for the victims? Are you trying to analyze the socio-political reasons for the racism. What's the point of your article?

    So, if the caste-system is abolished, and the poor were given free handouts, racism would stop?

    There is no caste system in America then why are there still terms like ’trailer trash’ , ’Welfare mom’

    China has no caste system, does it mean they have no sociio-economic problems at all?

    Sorry, a matrinomial ad seeking a fair-skinned bride is NOTHING to cry about. Its a free world, A person can marry anyone he/she wants. People don't have to marry out of their race/religion/class to prove that they are not racist.
    Actually there are decent people and dochebags in every country/race/religion/caste/class. A secular government and a sound legal system is supposed to weed out problems that stem from diversities. Sometimes the system is broken and we see minorites suffering due to the streotypes held by the mainstream and, in some cases empowered minorites abusing the rights of the mainstream! This is a UNIVERSAL issue. Not just an Indian one.

  26. #29 bluecamas 18 Mar 12

    Wonderful, well written article. I like your style woman! I am a blonde white Canadian married to a wonderful Indian man.I know India quite well and apart from my husband. I have many friends there.
    Indian women are beautiful as are women of any color.I have walked freely in Mumbai and Bangkok with my husband without feeling we were looked down upon.
    We married in a Nepal Hindu Temple in Bangkok, Thailand.We received many congratulations from people on the street in Thailand.
    The worst reaction came from the Canada High Commission in Delhi India from an Indian female agent.My husband had a weird sponsorship interview with here. We are now in appeal.
    I can validate about the view of white women seen as easy from online chat rooms.Indian men will offer and want cam.Roughly half the population has what they are wanting to show me.I really do not want to see it!
    I also have had great intellectual talks with both men and women in India. I thank this group for allowing me to join! Mrs. Gail Rao

  27. #30 AngeleenRens 23 Mar 12

    Ok hmmm being an indian I have been here for a period of time , racism use to exist .. Now its lots lesser ... Yes the noisy north indian s and the quiet south was there then now it has changed ... People have mixed up .. Learned to pick and learn habits that suit them better ... I am a learner too on Indian culture , tradition and more,but at this point have found it changed to a better .. Now India aims, has come and focuses on better living and development... There s no time for discriminating , if there s it mere jealousy which eventually would work its way up...

  28. #31 Shiva 28 Mar 12

    This article is bang on the money for the most part.
    I am of Indian origin. A hindu. Indians are extremely racist towards each other. Even in Sri Lanka i have seen the same.
    Fair skin issue is central. But interestingly, i read somewhere that during Chola Dynasty (tamil kingdom) dark skin was revered as beautiful and fair skin was seen as evil and ugly. No idea if this is true though.
    I cant speak on North Indians much. Yes alot of them are racist towards south indians. But my experience is with how racist South Indians are towards each other and how racist Sri Lankans are to each other. For example, Kannadigas are notorious for their dislike of other South Indian states. So much so that they even prevent a river flowing through Tamil Nadu. How pathetic. I wont give more examples. It will turn into an all night rant.

  29. #32 Lawanda 04 Apr 12

    I can not believe that india is in love with Fair skin. Everytime I watch National geo. and Dicovery Ch, and topic is India they are not black african they are Indian brown. I don't see many fair skined people walking around. I think you are trying to lie and say once again beauty is white. Arabians, Africans, and Indians are proud of their coat.

  30. #34 dweetta 16 Jul 12

    Do india women look for fair men to marry when they are looking for a groom , so they can have fair kids too. Do women feel the same way about dark men ,that why we do not need this attitudes in america we do not need a cast system or our parents pick who we will love in america keep those attitudes in india.the indiannn who come over here marry white so their brown and black blood will blen east indian do not kbnow complexion can skip generation two light people can have a dark child and vice versa we do not need that attitude in america keep the old ways in india is that why jendal nikki marry white .beuty is in the eye of the beholder their are so many dark skin beuty male and female , what about other things that make people beutiful like teeth and good bone struturedwrinkle free skin and nice complexions of all shades women want the same treatement as men when it come to being pick.

  31. #35 SORAYA 28 Jul 12

    I love what you have to say about the south Asian. I am Sri lankan and live iin califonia, Indian's hate Sri lankans. Hate that

  32. #36 naveen 29 Jul 12

    Marie. First take my kudos for writing such a frank n excellent article . I always tell my friends that's what's happening in India is much worse than racism . If it's between two races it's called racism . This situation in India needs some other word to aptly express this because casteism doesn't fully expresses the gravity of the situation. I don't know why many Indians don't accept this evil rather they would struggle to prove it otherwise and try very hard to prove people like you wrong may be they don't wanna accept the crime. But India is the only racist bastatds country on this planet where less numbered higher caste fair skinned people screwed the lives of millions of poor illiterate dark skinned lower caste people for at least 2000 yrs. I wanna tell you one thing in India if.the foreigner is fair skinned well they may be cheated for money or something but would never be looked down where as a black skinned foreigner would be treated like a deucsch bag even if he or she is rich and ielligent thats the truth ! Though things arr changing for better it Amy take another 100 yrs for many indians to regain their humanistic values. Alas !

  33. #37 International 08 Aug 12

    Beautiful article, but the only truth I know is that Indians are thr most racist people in the world. There are exceptions and I am happy to see many exceptions around me.

  34. #38 Kolkata-German reader 05 Sep 12

    I have to agree to the points of the article but I've noticed something much more painful than racism of foreigners.
    You have mentioned: ’These closed communities are naturally full of prejudices towards the other, the outsider. Every state considers itself superior.’
    I found that there is prejudice even in families. In no other country that I visited(10 on 3continents) but in India I have seen parents creating problems (socially, financially, educationally etc.) in purpose to their very own children.
    How is society supposed to work when already the smallest unit of society - the family - is not able to live together in please?

  35. #40 Jodi 16 Nov 12

    I moaned..

  36. #43 bhai 23 Feb 13

    what u described is true, ut u are wrong when you say its the majority of indian, majority of indians from different states and religion are tolerant, much more than people of western countries

  37. #44 bhai 23 Feb 13

    @german reader, are u sure, predujice and racism towards non whites are at alarming and disgraceful levels all across europe and the western world,including germany from verbal abuse vandalism of property, physical attacks and murder ,there is also alot discreet or cold racism

  38. #46 Lallong 10 Apr 13

    Wow! Who are u to tell us what we should store in our personal PCs? Maybe ur son does.But whole of India maynot be like ur son.Disgusting.But considering u coming from the same old othodox sitty south Indian society its quite understandable. If u can get upset with when someone suggesting u what to wear n what not ,its same on our part.India has Dalits leaders in almost all states and its easy money. Hate speech brings in lot of money and position in the political system in India.I have had my share of extreme racism in Tamil Nadu too.Tamils are one of the most racist breed of people.And Castesystem is absolutely prominent now within the South Indian Christian Church in Tamil Nadu and Kerela. Goa has the RCB.But No,u wont want people to know u ?

  39. #47 Rahul 10 Apr 13

    I think Mari is a christian convert and its them always indulging themselves in these kind of issues to bring a division within this nation.Look at how she was talking about Rome as if she is a roman instead of an Indian.Maybe a dark Roman.Yes I agree with Lalong,Tamils are Racist to the core.Tamil Nadu itself mean a seperate Tamil Country ( nadu= country).Karnataka is far more welcoming then Tamil Nadu.LTTE is itself a Christian organization and operates under the Catholic Church of Sweden.DMK a dalit political party is now ruling the state sololy on the basis of Its leader Karunanedhi's hate speech towards Hindus and High caste Hindus.I am also aware of the Rascist Christians there. Dalits have no place within the Church run by High caste Tamil converts.St.Thomas Christians dont even allow a non Syrian Christian to even enter its church.Mari and people like her are on a propaganda to ruin India.They take huge sum of money from foreign organizations and operate. If u look at the large scale corrouption in India almost each and everyone is a Tamil and is a dalit eg.Raju whose arrest triggerd Karunadhi himself claiming He has been arrested cause he is a dalit. Interesting are dalits God that they should not be punished ?? These people should be thrown out of India instead they r the ruling elite here.

  40. #48 Karna 11 Apr 13

    An excellent article with some great racist comments! The termites are sure crawling out of the woodwork! Lets not mince words here: India and most Indians are racist to the core, they suffer from a severe case of latent insecurities and cover it up with ignorant arrogance. Incidentally the reason , Science is dead in India, is that Indians cannot change their narrow world views and embrace that which is different - extrapolate that to their society and you have it.

  41. #50 hell 12 May 13

    Not only this happens here but also in Periyar Maniammai University in Thanjavur-Tamil Nadu where they discriminate students from Kerala and other states.The staff treat students as slave because they are from other state and want to study.They don't teach in this university and students just sit free.No proper examination system at all.University is just minting money don't even care about the students. Many students have left Periyar Maniammai university when it was dilisted becauz of the torture they faced for being an other state student in everything.Periyar Maniammai University is worst university.Never should a student from Kerala dare to enter this palce.they don't speak english but tamil and if some speaks engl tey laugh.Total a village where only students from village come and study, never join PERIYAR MANIAMMAI UNIVERSITY and spoil your life as we did in two years MBA department from kerala

  42. #52 edgar 27 Aug 13

    Escapist apologist.

  43. #54 Toni 11 Oct 13

    For the most part I agree with what you're saying. Many Indians(especially the ones over 30yrs old who were raised in India) do seem to be very hostile/racist towards darker toned people of all ethnicties. I think the younger generation of Indians who were not raised in India seem to be much more proud of who they are, from what I've noticed, and are much less racist(if they are even racist at all). I think many Indians raised in India or who strongly follow their parents' teachings have no problem referring to themselves as ugly(since many/most are dark too), there is something more than just prejudice or racism, that is a mental illness, since it's hating one's self.

  44. #55 Sanju 08 Nov 13

    Racism exists in India, it is true that even parents are racist towards their own darker skinned children. That is something you cannot just deny.

    You got to admit the Indian culture is to blame. The culture of staying with your parents all your life, the culture of marrying and having kids as soon as possible. The culture of being extremely selfish and having no genuine goodwill towards anyone else but yourself and your family. In short, a primitive, barbaric and plain evil culture of extreme and utter selfishness, which only gets worse as the population keeps expanding.

    All humaneness and decency is killed at childhood itself, often by the parents themselves, because that's how it was in primitive times.

    It's more than just racism, it's the death of goodwill and free thought at childhood due to the jungle survival of the fittest culture made worse by modern capitalism.

  45. #56 bob 09 Nov 13

    ’Indians rarely perceive beauty in black or far-eastern women. In fact, most Indians look for pale-skinned brides for their sons.’

    contradictory sentences. majority of north east asian women are fair to pale skinned.

  46. #64 Sandeep 16 Dec 13

    Boycott these Indian Movie & Sports Stars and Companies in India spreading Racism through Advertisements that spread discrimination based on skin color!

  47. #65 lenox 23 Dec 13

    Indian people are some of the worst hipocrite known,I grew up in the west indies I nowive in the us ,I think India invent racism, the cast systim in India is for real the terminogy Arian race originatae in India, Indian people descend on Africa like vulture but if people from Africa go to India the Indian act as if they never seen a black man before southern India is all black theyook just like etheolian Somalian and many diffrent African tribe but I pick up a newspaper in ozone park queens new York where a Indian journalist claiming that there is no black people in India,say what ,I think that the journalist is smoking ganjah because tbe drevadians of India the inguinal liple of India id blacknumber about 400 mlion today the evil raist seik people of nothern India originage in Indian fool you cannot fool anybody with your lies

  48. #67 Iqbal 01 Feb 14

    Racism is alive and kicking in India. The author has done a wonderful job in explaining and exposing it. Bravo.

  49. #69 A 05 Mar 14

    SOuth Indian People are quiet...and stand in lines...I believe you have a very wrong observation going there. From my experience, in the otherwise quiet Bangalore as you mentioned, I have known that starting from morning till midnight, south Indians look for an opportunity to take cheap shots at people from different parts of India...Be it the autos, or the buses or the police...
    The wages are higher! And so is the rent if you would notice in Bangalore...and so is the damn road tax...while the roads are in the most miserable state. Cauvery water is treated like an ad banner here !
    Please do your research well before writing a piece...from the jist of your writing, I can make out you either knowingly or ’unconsciously’ missed out on pretty important points.:)

  50. #70 Marathi-Konkani 05 Apr 14

    The only way for Indians to co-exist is to have a kind of set-up where the states/provinces are given more autonomy. The constitution already has many provisions which mirror India's multi-ethnic multi-racial culture. For example it clearly mentions that two states should communicate in English, if one of them doesn't have its official language as Hindi. Further, the Indian government states clearly that India does NOT have a national language. However the rulers of India do not want the public to know of these provisions. They have brain-washed Indians to believe that India=Hindi. Hence the North Indians often use 'Indianization' as a euphemism for 'Hindinization' or 'Punjabization' of India

  51. #71 Not a dumb blone 17 Oct 14

    to #48 comment :
    seriously? ’science is dead in India?’ have you ever wondered to clear that crust of dirt from your eye and see that majority of scientists in NASA are INDIANS?! and it's not just nasa, it's the whole America! it's full of Indian scientists and Indian engineers! i wonder where america would be if Indian scientists weren't there to save their pathetic and true racist country!

    and to the author : ’blond white woman are unsafe’? yeah sure, in your dreams. boy you are a true racist.

    I'm not an Indian but you Americans are dumb and the real racist, or else why would your ’black neighborhood’ be so poor and so dirty (literally) while you ’whites’ lived an uber luxurious life!
    dude seriously GET A LIFE!

  52. #73 Melisa 24 Feb 15

    I don't really think this answered my question.

  53. #74 Sandeep 11 Mar 15

  54. #76 rohit kumar 03 Jun 15

    totally agree majority Punjabis are racist towards other Indians communities, they are to me refugees kicked out of Pakistan so their direction is to steal, rob, degrade other Indians

  55. #77 Blaber Blogger 16 Aug 15

    There is a stereotype that people have in their mind for how an Indian should be and anyone who doesn’t fit in the stereotype, face this problem of weird questions being asked every time andthen the long never ending explanations that one has to give. Sometimes it is just ignorance that people have about India and other times it’s just bigotry, especially when it is coming from a fellow Indian.
    I have written an article titled 'How Do You Define an Indian? – Stereotypes and Identity Ignorance' at the linkhttp://­­/2015/08/­how-do-you-define-ind­ian-stereotypes.html

    with opinions from various people who don't fit the stereotypical indian defination living in different parts of India.It would be great if you would take a look at it

  56. #82 Raj Arya 01 Apr 16

    Good Post for racism, really appreciate your knowledge.

  57. #83 tickertapeguy 14 Apr 16

    Racism in India is extreme & unique. Examples include:
    -India's Caste system. 320 million outcasts live a horrible life.
    -India's 100 million tribal pop.
    -India's movie industry where actors are clones of Hollywood.
    -India's magazines where N.Europeans are models for Indian products
    -India's marriage system to Hinduism's portrayal of white skinned Gods. The book ’India Shattering the Illusion. Birth of New Nations. Kashmir to Elam’ by Columbus Falco goes into depth on this subject and modern day India. the only book that exposes the real India.

  58. #84 Vikram 10 Jul 16

    Britain excercised its right to democracy ,and got out of the European union and took ,”the country back”. Tamil Nadu should exercise its right to take its country back – flooded with immigrants from north indian states

  59. #85 Vikram 10 Jul 16

    Britain excercised its right to democracy ,and got out of the European union and took ,”the country back”. Tamil Nadu should exercise its right to take its country back – flooded with immigrants from north indian states

  60. #86 call me anything 20 Jul 16

    yes, totally agreed to what all has been said...i myself an indian been travelling since last few years have come to a conclusion that all such things the question i want to ask is i felt bad in some country , i purely consider it a surprise to me that things change when ur perception and attitude changes for ur visit to that far as i have seen people travel and see other people travelling a huge crowd of people everywhere, and we by our unconcious urge try to see only one thing and that is people...if u change the baseline fact u no longer feel the disdain
    second question is about xenophobia present in indians i think it is prevalent everywhere no one is immune to it no not a single person in this world though it greatly depends on the alien exposure in respective environments,,we indian are mostly less exposed and poor in comparison to an average westener thus we lack identification...
    famous saying like meets like or u can say

  61. #87 JD Manas 31 Jul 16

    Fairly concise article but this type of prejudice isn't 'racism' it's more regionalism - The ethnic differences between a Rajput and a Tamil aren't vast, it's the cultural mannerisms which are such as eating dal and rice with hands.

    Also asking whether a North East Indian person is from another country isn't 'racism' either - It is understandable ignorance. To throw White women into the equation is absolutely preposterous - Indian society treats White people like demi-gods and they are given extreme adulation how could this on any conceivable level be considered 'prejudice'?

  62. #89 Whack 08 Dec 16

    The author is correct to some extent. The aryan invasion is also true. There is a lot of racism in India. When you meet a stranger they will ask you your name, but then they will ask you your family name as they want to figure out what your caste is. This then becomes their basis to decide if they want to act good to you or bad to you. The politicians utilise the same behavior of people and use them for their gain by inciting them. The aryan invasion is the truth of the crux. Many Indians deny it but it is true. The south is largely peaceful and the north and western parts have been mulled by numerous riots. No wonder the aryan were cruel people and they are doing the same until today. The ones who were fed up of all this discrimination left for greener pastures like Germany, France, UK, USA etc to save their future and got settled there.For those Indians who have settled abroad, if they really had loved their motherland, they would not have gone and settled far far away leaving the motherland in shambles. But they know their mentalities. They know their ilks. They will not change and so they all ran away.

  63. #91 G 08 Feb 17

    Well written article. To the person who posted below, take your arrogance, wealth and self-conceited attitude somewhere else. All that wealth or education will never make you special or extraordinary in the eyes of others. What it comes down to is the heart and love. Money can't buy respect or love and neither can it but acceptance or love from others. Perhaps, the same applies to other economic migrants and economic refugees who leave their homeland on the pretext to make money and to find wealth. You will only find resentment and hatred from others who came a long time before you. To understand the secrets of happiness and acceptance, you need to first have knowledge of why the early people moved, arrived and how they settled and their motivations.

  64. #92 G 08 Feb 17

    All that talk about how your family members are professionals and wealthy means nothing in the eyes of people in the countries you mentioned in your post. Stop the lies and take a good look around you and you will see that wealth, education and status has no value in the eyes of people in these countries that have long understood that wealth or education is not a marker of 'acceptance'. To be 'accepted' you first need knowledge and that comes from the heart and not from books. It can't be bought with money and neither does it come with titles. If you read the early history of early settlers, you'll have a glimpse into the secrets of happiness and contentment that defined the lives of these early settlers.

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About the author

Mari Marcel Thekaekara a New Internationalist contributor

Mari is a writer based in Gudalur, in the Nilgiri hills of Tamil Nadu. She writes on human rights issues with a focus on dalits, adivasis, women, children, the environment, and poverty. Mari's book Endless Filth, published in 1999, on balmikis, is to be followed by a second book on campaigns within India to abolish manual scavenging work. She co-founded Accord in 1985 to work with Adivasi people. Mari has been a contributor to New Internationalist since 1991.

About the blog I travel around India a lot, covering dalit and adivasi issues. I often find myself really moved by stories that never make it to the mainstream media. My son Tarsh suggested I start blogging. And the New Internationalist collective are the nicest bunch of editors I’ve worked with. So here goes.

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