chapter  14
19 Pages

Racism in India1 1

WithAnia Loomba

On September 30, 2014, the New York Times carried a story with the heading "Beating of African Students by Mob in India Prompts Soul-Searching on Race." It described a horrific incident in which three men from Gabon and Burkina Faso were practically lynched in a New Delhi metro station by men who shouted "Bharat Mata Ki Jai," or "Victory for Mother India." This chapter addresses some key points of resonance, as well as disjuncture, between colonial and pre-colonial ideologies that are necessary to understand contemporary ideas about race in South Asia. The historian Nicholas Dirks argued that they systemized Indian ideologies of caste and tried to use these as the basis for understanding and controlling the heterogeneous population of the region. Paternalism as well as racism marked the official relations between India and African countries. Similar attitudes have also shaped the mentalities of Indians in the United States, at least from the early twentieth century onwards.