The hysteria about “Racists attacks against Indians in
The good ole deshpremis have roundly condemned the Oz government for not doing enough to protect Indian students. The liberals heaved a collective sighed and introspected on our own racist tendencies. All that can be said has been said and my views on the matter are not very different from those already expressed.
But one thing that just struck me is that if you pick apart the phrase “racist attack against Indians”, doesn’t it sound somewhat fuzzy? For us Indians are not a race per se.
Technically speaking, Indians from the North-East are not from the Aryan-Dravidian stock that the rest come from. On the other hand, a lot of Pakistanis and Bangladeshis do have the same racial roots as us.
Of course, if you leave technicalities and quibbles aside, the aforementioned phrase sounds perfectly natural because we Indians lack an explicitly racial identity. Indians who travel abroad do acquire a quasi-racial identity when they come in contact with other races. I say quasi-racial because that identity is Indian rather than brown or South Asian.
Why is that? Is it because we’ve never been able to get along with Pakistanis and Bangladeshis? Or is it pure Indian hegemony at work—the tendency to assume that anything or anyone from the subcontinent is Indian unless established otherwise.
I’m going to digress for a bit to narrate a conversation that might or might or not be relevant to this post.
As part of an assignment in journo school, a couple of us went to meet an ageing RSS functionary in his ashram. One would expect to see Hindu zealots to see jumping around, tridents held aloft, crying Death to Muslims etc. etc. Yes, the purport of what this guy was trying to say might have been the same but his arguments were much more refined. The first thing he told us that Hinduism wasn’t a religion but a nationality—anyone who is born in
I found the argument fascinating and ingenuous in a morbid way. With one swift brush stroke all inhabitants of the Indian subcontinent irrespective of the faith they practice can be branded as Hindus. Of course, this shared Hindu nationality doesn’t stop them from butchering Muslims by the hundreds in state-sponsored pogroms.
Can the same argument be extended to Hinduism as a race?
Is there a subtext to the phrase ‘Racist attack on Indians’ which reads ‘racist attack on Hindus’, or is this is a leap of judgement on my part?
But I do believe a majority of Hindus see Hinduism as being a religion, race and nationality all at once. To most Indians, the terms ‘race’, ‘religion’ and ‘nationality’ all mean the same things. The Indian racial identity is a Hindu identity.