When India gives its dalits a fair shake, maybe we can take its racism complaints more seriously

Dalit street sweeper.

So Paul Henry is a bloody big dipstick.

Yep, we know that.

And he is popular with TVNZ viewers.

Yep, we know that, too, which presumably means TVNZ is watched by lots of dipsticks.

And yep, he has an overwhelming urge to express his racist thoughts on air when they flit into his head, which seems to be quite often.

He will even share them with the PM.

Our Governor-General has had the great good sense not to make a fuss about racist remarks to which he was subjected by the irrepresslble Henry (irrepressible until his bosses suspended the bugger, that is).

The GG knew that commenting would dignify the remarks.

It’s a pity the pooh-bahs of India did not take the same common-sense approach.

But no, Alf learns from Radio NZ that –

India has summoned New Zealand’s High Commissioner to protest against what it says were “racist remarks” made by Television New Zealand presenter Paul Henry.

“India” has done what???

Turned Henry’s fat mouth into the stuff of a diplomatic incident???

Yes, indeed.

India says Henry deliberately mispronounced and ridiculed the surname of Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit while presenting the Breakfast programme last week.

Ms Dikshit has been in the news after being asked in September to take charge of the floundering Commonwealth Games preparations.

High Commissioner Rupert Holborow was called in by the Indian foreign ministry and handed a demarche, or formal protest, on Thursday.

“It was conveyed to him that the government strongly and unequivocally denounces the racist remarks of the journalist in question. These remarks are totally unacceptable to India,” a statement from the foreign ministry said.

Alf could not suppress his laughter, on hearing that such remarks are totally unacceptable to India.

He knows better.

Holborrow should have laughed, too.

He didn’t. He grovelled.

In a statement, Mr Holborow says he expressed “deep regret” at the comments which were “culturally insensitive, inappropriate and vulgar”.

But hold on a mo’.

Here’s a black bloke’s account of racism in India –

Racism in India is systematic and independent of the presence of foreigners of any hue. This climate permits and promotes this lawlessness and disdain for dark skin. Most Indian pop icons have light-damn-near-white skin. Several stars even promote skin-bleaching creams that promise to improve one’s popularity and career success. Matrimonial ads boast of fair, v. fair and v. very fair skin alongside foreign visas and advanced university degrees. Moreover, each time I visit one of Delhi’s clubhouses, I notice that I am the darkest person not wearing a work uniform. It’s unfair and ugly.

Discrimination in Delhi surpasses the denial of courtesy. I have been denied visas, apartments, entrance to discos, attentiveness, kindness and the benefit of doubt. Further, the lack of neighbourliness exceeds what locals describe as normal for a capital already known for its coldness.

My partner is white and I am black, facts of which the Indian public reminds us daily. Bank associates have denied me chai, while falling over to please my white friend. Mall shop attendants have denied me attentiveness, while mobbing my partner. Who knows what else is more quietly denied?

And here’s an opinion from an Indian-born woman –

The reason i wrote this was because i saw so many comments here saying Americans are racist. Hell no. We Indians are the most racist people in the world, we dont realize it. In US there are laws against racism. In India there is not one single law that will protect a dark skinned girl from being ridiculed.

Don’t forget that, earlier this year, India was at odds with the Brits over Westminster’s new Equality Bill which outlaws caste discrimination as a form of racism.

The bill, which had been passed in the House of Lords, was welcomed by campaigners for India’s “dalits” or “untouchables”, a caste which suffers extreme violence and persecution, but was rejected by the Indian government.

The Telegraph reported at the time –

There are more than 250 million dalits in India, many of whom are denied water, access to schools, and in some cases the right to pass through villages by upper caste Hindus who believe their presence, or even their shadow, pollutes them. Some dalits in India still work as “night soil carriers” – transporting human waste from latrines.

One prominent dalit campaigner had his arms and legs amputated because he refused to withdraw a police complaint against higher caste men who had raped his daughter.

Ministers in London have become increasingly concerned about discrimination and persecution against lower caste Indians in Britain following a report last year which claimed thousands had been ill-treated because of their caste.

The report, by the Anti-Caste Discrimination Alliance, surveyed 300 British Asians and cited cases of children being bullied at school, bus inspectors refusing to work with lower caste drivers, and employees being sacked after their bosses discovered their caste status.

More Indian pooh-bahs got in on the act at that time – they’ve probably got a few million of them – and the Indian government made its views known to British delegations at the UN’s Human Rights Council in Geneva and at a European Union-India Human Rights Dialogue.

It seems they draw a distinction between caste and race.

This distinction matters not a bit to Alf.

When India starts to clean up its act in this department of discrimination, he might become a tad more sympathetic to Indian views of the pathetic Paul Henry laughing hysterically at himself as he pronounces Dikshit.

One Response to When India gives its dalits a fair shake, maybe we can take its racism complaints more seriously

  1. Oswald Bastable says:

    very good point!

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