The opinion that India is a highly racist country does not sit well with all Indians. Just this last week, while I was in my office, I met this man, at least two or three decades my senior who told me India is as racist a country as any other, that someone who is different from the majority in any way is made to realize that they are different in all parts of the world. He told me that we Indians make fun of each other and not with the intention to hurt anybody’s feelings, but just because that’s the way we choose to socialize with those similar to us and that taking offense for such small instances cannot be justified. I realized I couldn’t argue with the man, because he firmly believed him what he was saying, and that’s commendable. But our generation is different from theirs. We made friends over the internet, in chat rooms, on Facebook, on Twitter, and on Tumblr among various other sources, and the idea that we would make fun of our friends who differ from us with those who resemble us more is blasphemous. I’m a millennial and I firmly believe that our individual choices define us, that we don’t have to hold the same opinions as our elders in order to respect them, that if we don’t let the opinions of our elders hold us down, we could really be the change, not just in this country but in the whole world. People keep criticizing the millennial, for not having a work ethic, for not respecting their elders enough, and for getting everything in life without much effort. While we may spend too much time on the internet, we are working hard, we have to make ourselves successful in an economy as rigid as it has been ever been and we get rejected from our dream colleges when we have a 95%. Even after all that we realize the importance of cultural relativity, we realize why someone from a certain community gets help in the way of affirmative action, and even if we don’t understand, we try, instead of deeming everything foreign as suspicious. We are friends with people who aren’t from the same place or even country as us; we try to see things from the perspectives of others.
I grew up in a middle-class family like the majority of India, my parents had different notions and assumptions about people from different places, not all good, but not all bad either, and like any other pair of caring parents they told us all that they believed to be true about the world, and about the different kinds of people in the world. If I was to take their word at par, I wouldn’t have half the friends I do, I’m sure a lot of people can relate to this. Their concern and their views definitely come from a good and positive place, but in this post-modern world, we require cultural relativism to understand the other. Racism is a genuine problem in this country, and those of us who understand that socializing can be done without making fun of those different from us cannot keep ignoring it. What one may take in good spirit could be offensive to the other. The thin line between having fun and making fun should be stayed away from, and in order to do so, we need to stop talking about the other as if they are alien beings. How much longer can we keep doing this and being this ignorant, all the while realizing that what we say while socializing with our friends about the other would really hurt them if they could hear it? It’s time for a change and I genuinely believe our generation is capable of bringing it.
Also Read: The Politicisation of Consumption Practices