Sunday, April 01, 2007

Divide and Rule

Recently, a friend of mine messaged me at night asking for help. He had been out for dinner with his friends when they were approached by a friendly Afghani man who was in Delhi for his father’s treatment. They chatted with him for quite some time, and before leaving he asked them for their phone numbers. Silence. Nobody said a word. Perhaps feeling the awkwardness of the situation, or perhaps without any thought, my friend gave him his number. Later, all his friends kept telling him that he shouldn’t have. Now, a little disturbed, he asked me for my views. Did he do the right thing?

My first reaction – What??! Are you crazy????
After a few minutes – Well….you shouldn’t give your number to any stranger, let alone an afghani man.
And then – Oh relax, he can’t do much with your number you know. He probably just meant well.
Followed by a few Taliban and terrorist related jokes.

Later, I couldn’t help but imagine myself in that man’s shoes. Here he was in an unknown country, probably because he didn’t have a choice but to get his father here. Yet, everywhere he went instead of finding help or friends, he ended up getting suspicious looks and cold stares. What was his fault? He was from Afghanistan.

What struck me was that this was the condition in India – a country where Shilpa Shetty became a national hero for facing the so called racial discrimination at the hands of Jade Goody. My views? The comments weren’t even meant to be racist and were simply said because Shilpa was acting like a pompous bitch. But coming back to the point of this article, what right do we have of accusing others of discrimination, when we ourselves are no better? Be it the roadside Romeos hitting on the “Gori chhokri”, or the recent quota for OBCs, discrimination on the basis of race or caste, we are as much a party to it, if not more, than any other country.

No, you’re not a road side Romeo, nor did you implement the quota, so obviously you have nothing to do with discrimination, right? Think again. How many times have you used the term ‘Chinks’ for all the students prevailing from the East? Whether they’re from Assam, Nepal, China or Japan, they’re all Chinks. When I pointed this out, one of my friends said that he didn’t mean it in a derogatory way…in fact it was rather cute. Agreed. But I doubt if they find it cute. How is it any different from being called a Black? Its discrimination, pure and simple.

I’m not saying that I’m perfect and don’t engage in discriminating activities, the very beginning of this post shows that. But maybe, we do need to think a little more into ourselves, before pointing at others.