What’s going on? The brutal murder of George Floyd that took place on the 25th of May 2020 gave a boost to the Black Lives Matter movement that has taken the world by storm. Numerous Indian celebrities and citizens have stood up in solidarity with this movement that aims to abolish institutionalized racism. Through promoting petitions that demand justice for George Floyd on their Instagram accounts and spreading awareness about the importance of the movement on Twitter, they’ve been open with expressing their outrage towards this heinous act of racism. While this fervent outburst of support by Indians towards #BLM is commendable, their sheer ignorance towards minority violence within India itself is saddening.
Who are these minorities and why are they discriminated against? India’s systematic discrimination towards minorities including Dalits, Muslims, and Adivasis is deeply rooted in Indian culture, however it has become even more evident in recent times. The Dalits belong to the ‘lowest’ rank of the Hindu caste system and have been unjustly subjected to untouchability while the Adivasis are the tribes of indigenous people in India who have been severely marginalized because of their low socio-economic status. Both of these minorities along with the Muslims have been at the receiving end of extreme hostility from the Hindus in India particularly because of the nation’s Hindu nationalist political parties and its longstanding caste system.
From the recent killing of a young Dalit boy by ‘upper caste’ men due to a minor dispute regarding permission to participate in a puja, to Delhi policemen joining Hindutva supporters in lynching the city’s Muslims. History is littered with countless stories like these although it is possibly the first time that you’re hearing about them. Indians have grown complacent with their undue support towards issues across the pond and have conveniently turned a blind eye on the persecuted and oppressed sects in our own backyards while rapidly tweeting away in support while assuming that this makes us progressive.
Are some celebrities enraged about this hypocrisy? Bollywood actor Abhay Deol took to Instagram to call out Indian netizens for this blatant hypocrisy and disregard towards injustices within our own country by saying – “Now that ‘woke’* Indian celebrities and the middle class stand in solidarity with fighting systemic racism in America, perhaps they’d see how it manifests in their own backyard?’’ Similarly, politician Omar Abdullah noticed the undercurrents of western infatuation within India and tweeted “So much respect for all the celebrities tweeting #BLACK_LIVES_MATTER. It takes courage to bring your cowardice to the fore when you tweet for American lives but can’t tweet for Indian lives.’’
What can be done to make a change? It is time that we yank this caste and class system out from its roots in order to make any effective change. Discrimination against minorities deserves the same recognition and importance the black lives matter movement received as no society can truly progresses if it keeps a vast percentage of its population suppressed, stifled and poor. In order to start a revolutionary movement, we will need Indian celebrities to use their platform for good and spread awareness and outrage with the same passion that they did for #BLM.
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Maybe it’s time for these now? Now that “woke” indian celebrities and the middle class stand in solidarity with fighting systemic racism in America, perhaps they’d see how it manifests in their own backyard? America has exported violence to the world, they have made it a more dangerous place, it was but inevitable that it would come back karmically. I’m not saying they deserve it, I’m saying look at the picture in it’s totality. I’m saying support them by calling out the systemic problems in your own country, because they turn out to be one and the same thing. I’m saying follow their lead but not their actions. Create your own actions, your own movement, relevant to your own country. That is what the black lives matter movement is all about! In the larger picture, there is no “us” and “them”. There is not a country that’s real. But a planet in peril. #blacklivesmatter. In addendum : What I mean when I say the US “exported violence”, and “made the world a more dangerous place” is in reference to their continued development of dangerous weapons, which are then exported to countries around the world as a solution to their problems. Even their own people do not support endless wars. And I’m not letting the other players in the war theater off either, that’s why I have said a “more dangerous” place. That mentality has led them to militarize their own police, and that’s where the “karma” comes. Karma means action, and their action of always fighting fire with fire has lead to a mentality which they then repeat on home ground. How many more decades must pass before we see the need for a different approach? A dialogue is what is needed, communication, not intimidation, whether on home soil or another country! An eye for an eye will make the world go blind and ironically it is only the US who is in the best position to lead us towards peace.
*woke – this is a slang term used to describe awareness about social issues and injustices including racism, classism and sexism
Zara Shroff is a 17 year old who loves writing and singing. She enjoys writing and is a student at the Ecole Mondiale World School.