Picture and name say it all. To be precise, I tried this one of the nicer places in a mall next to my home. When I spoke to the owner about saloon’s name and asked for reasons to select the controversial name, she simply dismissed all racial reservations. She said it was her dream to open a saloon and she did not intend to hurt anyone. Rather interesting was the fact that she did not perceive racism as the west does. It seemed as though she did not understand racism as a social evil, perhaps having political and economic implications. Indeed she simply thought of it as hurting someone individually for they don’t have a fair skin, hence reinforcing the premise that Indians simply don’t understand racism.
In United States of America racism has had a long history. In fact racism still plays a central role in shaping the political dynamics of the American society. It is not to say that US has not moved a long way as a society. Right from the days of pre-independence cases such as Johnson v. McIntosh (1823) that sponsored racism, to the latest case involving University of Texas, Austin. In the latter case, with a majority of 4 is to 3, Supreme Court declared that affirmative action undertaken by university in order to make student community more inclusive is constitutional and does not violate the original plaintiff’s constitutional right to equal protection under the law. My research also revealed an interesting aspect of racism involving Indians in the United States. It was in United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind that Bhagat Singh Thind, an Indian Sikh man who identified himself as a “high caste Hindu, of full Indian blood,” was racially ineligible for naturalized citizenship in the United States. In 1919, Thind filed a petition for naturalization under the Naturalization Act of 1906 which allowed only “free white persons” and “aliens of African nativity and persons of African descent” to become United States citizens by naturalization. He was denied American citizenship!
On the other hand India does not have any specific anti-racial law. Further, the same has not been deliberated upon in detail by any of the courts. The constitution provides for right to equality for all citizens and bars any form of discrimination on the grounds of race under part three i.e. fundamental rights. However, these provisions have not been implemented in substance and procedurally by express statutes; and has not backed any penal sanctions. It is only now that the central government plans to amend Indian Penal Code in order to include racial offences under the statute. Further government also plans to outlaw racist remarks and gestures.
Despite all efforts by the government it appears as though Indian society neither understands racism nor perceives it the way west does. There are multiple reasons for the same. Primary reason could be that race has never affected political and economic dynamics in the Indian society. A more appealing explanation is that caste is far more powerful social force inclusive of all other evils such as racism. This explanation is also backed by the Aryan theory which states that while fair skinned Aryans constitute the higher castes, it is the dark skinned Dravidians that constitute the lower castes.
Deliberations are limitless. All criticism apart, I recommend the saloon. They have a wonderful staff, great ambiance, remarkable service and an ambitious owner you would not want to miss out on!
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