The great purge that Narendra Modi has launched all over India looks at filth on the outside. Yet, the idea of cleansing is not very different from cleaning. So this nationwide campaign for hygiene looks a little over the top when incidents like a belligerent mob beating up African nationals at a nodal metro station in the national capital are reported exactly when the Prime Minister takes to the broom to make a sweeping statement. Endless discrimination against anyone who doesn’t fit the beauty bill – be it people from the Northeast, or dark-skinned women – is something an average Indian not only lives with, but aggressively endorses when not at the receiving end of injustice.
Right to Equality, guaranteed by the Constitution, has been left in tatters, as this capital city, much shamed and scarred by horrific incidents of rape and murder, wakes up to a new horror almost everyday. Mostly we behave like a lynchmob: our reactions are never thought out, weighed and acted upon after deliberation. Instead, Indians, particularly Delhiites, behave in the most knee-jerk manner, as evident in the myriad episodes of daily racism, such as the mob, led by AAP leader Somnath Bharti, that harassed African women in Khirki Extension. Or the irate crowd that beat Nido Tania to death in Lajpat Nagar.
It’s extremely unfortunate that despite the Prime Minister’s avid commitment to external hygiene, very little has been said and done to combat ritual bigotry and daily debacles that befall peoples from slightly different ethnic backgrounds or race. Such is the taint associated with being a religious minority that young men and women are often forced to hide their actual identity and forge another to suit majority sentiments. Given that a number African students throng Delhi to avail its cheap college and university-level education, we must formulate legislations to ensure they don’t face the same old prejudices that colour most amongst us. Abusing and harassing African nationals is no show of patriotism: it’s an extremely puerile and jingoistic behaviour that shames the whole country.