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This week, India chose to tweet about #BlackLivesMatter. In fact, the hashtag was a trending topic on our Twitter Thursday. That same day the decomposed body of Mohan Lal Sharma, a jobless labourer, was found in Lucknow’s railway station. Just a day earlier, a video of another labourer, Arvina Khatun, went viral — it was of her child nudging her dead body at a railway station in Muzaffarpur. Last Saturday, India saw two policemen brutally beat a man unconscious in Madhya Pradesh’s Chhindwara.

And yet, some Indians seem to have answered the clarion call of ‘Black Lives Matter’ much faster. The hashtag was used in India by virulently Right-wing social media accounts, clueless teenagers looking to gain some woke credits, and Bollywood celebrities, such as Kareena Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra, who have previously remained silent on atrocities in their own country. An important US movement was thus reduced to a desi farce.

‘Black Lives Matter’ is a movement that tackles institutional racism in the US, especially the systemic violence against Black men by the largely White police force. When 46-year-old George Floyd died Monday after being pinned down by White policeman Derek Chauvin, the entire state of Minneapolis rose in violent opposition. That fire is still burning.

But for many Indians, this became another opportunity for low-stake solidarity on Twitter and Instagram. Let’s be clear, George Floyd deserves our support. But to do justice to him, we must fix our own house first.


Also read: Police celebrating birthdays of rich kids in a pandemic isn’t cute, they have bigger duties


From ‘goli maaro’ to Black Lives Matter

So, who are these people who have woken up to the racism in the US?

Let’s start with the people whose support is almost a tragicomedy — Indian Right-wingers on Twitter. Twitter user Vishwajeet Singh Chauhan was so incensed by Floyd’s death that he went as far as to say “the world’s richest democracy is a cruel joke”. He also noted, “Police lynching is not just in India”. But if one scrolls down his account, there are various retweets calling the Tablighi Jamaat event a ‘jihad’, and even BJP leader Kapil Mishra’s tweet attacking “biryani waale” and “azaadi waale”. To refresh everyone’s memory, Mishra was the one who proudly declared“goli maaro saalon ko” in December.

Another Twitter account by the name of ‘Sherlock Holmes’ (no kidding), who is a self-proclaimed Right-winger, appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar to call out the violence in America. There are no posts asking the Prime Minister to help send the labourers home. But there are several anti-Christian tweets and news retweeted from Republic TV. ‘Holmes’ also supports Kapil Mishra and includes him in his list of “brilliant set of orators, hard workers and achievers”.

With rarely any knowledge of the history and experiences behind the Black Lives Matter movement, for most Indians, it is just about jumping on an online bandwagon, pointing a finger at the US, or appearing up-to-date. It is also far less risky on social media to call out racism in America than casteism or Islamophobia in India. And some, don’t even see the similarities.

Only the Indian Right-wing, masculine, upper-caste individuals, who often promote violent narratives themselves, will not find it hypocritical to condemn a killing like George Floyd’s, which had it happened in India, would have never been defended by the likes of them.


Also read: Pinjra Tod arrests, Delhi police witch hunt against students show Covid is not a top priority


Performative wokeness of Kareena and Priyanka

Then comes the ivory tower lot.

Actor Kareena Kapoor’s latest Instagram post was the latest cover of Time magazine, which highlighted how racism is a continuing problem in the US. Khan very eloquently put a heartbreak emoji next to #BlackLivesMatter. A cursory glance at her Instagram account, which is quite sparse by the site’s standards, shows that she has never posted about the workers’ crisis after the sudden lockdown, anti-CAA protests or rampant anti-Muslim atrocities.

Although to be fair, you cannot expect much from someone who refers to herself as KKK.

Hollywood/Bollywood actor Priyanka Chopra also dropped a solidarity message for George Floyd, but that begs the question, where was (or rather is) her solidarity for millions of Indians walking home on foot after the Narendra Modi government abandoned them? Granted, she lives in the US, but she keeps harping on her Indian identity. But she did clap from her US balcony though.

Ranvir Shorey joined the solidarity train, and tweeted: “How and why do human beings in uniform turn so vicious to their fellow human beings? Power corrupts. Power kills.” A commenter soon pointed out to the actor that he hadn’t said anything when the Delhi Police beat Muslim men and forced them to sing the national anthem while lying injured on the ground.

All of this boils down to performative wokeness and pretence. It seems like Bollywood is only concerned with what is fashionable.

Everyone is used to the film industry’s silence, and at this point, no one expects much out of them. But with such selective activism only to get some brownie points or to just appear intellectual, it is infuriating. Especially when the likes of Sonu Sood, and now Amitabh Bachchan, belatedly, prove that their privilege and resources can actually help in tangible ways.


Also read: Sonu Sood is the new Sushma Swaraj, helping stranded Indians one Twitter request at a time


Police brutality in India

Now that policeman Derek Chauvin has been charged with manslaughter and third-degree murder, who kneed and kneeled on Floyd’s neck as he struggled to breathe, will Indians trending Black Lives Matter protest against encounter killings and police brutality in India too?

We live in a country where extrajudicial killings by the police have been nothing short of norm, especially in places like Kashmir, and where the police have actively engaged in violence against students and minorities — as seen by incidents in Jamia Milia Islamia, Aligarh Muslim University, Jawaharlal Nehru University just last year.

During protests against the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act all over the country last year, over 31 people lost their lives. But to us, the pictures from Minneapolis pasted across worthy newspapers look more striking, more heartbreaking.

It is important to note that silence equals complicity. And performance is not equal to solidarity.


Also read: Police fails test of law every time Chandrashekhar Azad or an anti-CAA protester is detained


Racism in India 

The biggest irony in all of this is that Indians are racists themselves. Anything short of milky, White skin needs to be scrubbed to oblivion.

People from the northeast are treated like foreigners, and not in a white memsahab way. And Africans are called all sorts of names like ‘kaalu’, ‘kaloteall some variation of ‘black’.

Unlike White foreigners who are nothing short of worshipped here, Black students and tourists are often viewed suspiciously, are dealt with rudely and vilified.

This has taken violent turns more than once. A Nigerian national was killed in 2013 in Goa, reportedly due to a drug war. The following year, the infamous ‘raids’ on African women was conducted by AAP leader Somnath Bharti for allegedly running a prostitution racket. In February 2016, a Tanzanian female student was beaten and stripped by a violent mob in Bengaluru. In March 2017, Africans in Greater Noida lived in fear for their lives after rumours spread that they were drug dealers.

The narrative is the same. You are the other and you will never be one of us. Newsflash: that is exactly what Black Lives Matter stands against.

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46 Comments Share Your Views

46 COMMENTS

  1. This is one of the most powerful articles I have read in a long time, every word true. Rachel John hits the nail on the head and her expose of the double standards of Indian society ring absolutely true.

  2. If your views are personal, Smt John, so are the views of those you write against. Are they not entitled to their opinions? That is why Fareed Zakaria said a couple of years ago on CNN, that liberals are are the most intolerant of all. They only think that their views are the correct ones.

  3. A very desperate try to spread your jihadi and left propaganda! Don’t know how these people even become journalist. Shame to to writer.

  4. Hypocrits, marauders and murderers are here to stay. The chauvinism of these self proclaimed nationalists and their outspokenness has taken the Indian mainstream by a storm and they seem to be basking in their new found glory and ignominy. Fraternity, social justice, equality, social harmony, religious tolerance, national integrity and unity have all been outcast and they have become pariah concepts. Nationalistic mainstream seems to have become the hegemony of the chosen ones of the saffron brigade while others, especially from the minority stream have suddenly become derogatory worthy of reprisals, reprimand and collective disdain. These are very trying times both for the majority and the minority community of India. While the former tries to flaunt its assertiveness and bargaining capacity without any hitch or glitch, the latter struggles to protect and preserve its identity as had been solemnized by the constitution. Indians are squandering their freedom and liberty at the behest of a dogmatic behemoth that has the least concern for the positivity that had been intrinsically woven into the democratic polity and pluralistic diversity of this great land. India awaits to take a plunge headlong into an abysmal abyss of economic stagnation, civil unrest and social disharmony. And yet we fail to see the writings on the wall. We enjoy a pandemic as if we are on a holiday, we feel badly about atrocities meted out to the blacks in America but we turn blue and black when confronted with similar situations on the Indian soil, facts and objective analysis now no more worry us for we seem to have become comfortable with emotional appeals, half truths and myths, the aggressive demon within us Indians is becoming all the more restless and it fails to see reason or compassion or harmony. With its head down in crass submission it is following a predetermined trail and it won’t nudge an inch from its predetermined course, come what may. It will not question the administrative lapses, it will overlook all unholy overhauling of the constitutional setup, it will lovingly appreciate the sabotage of the constitutional and democratic institutions of the land. We have descended so low, that we are virtually on the verge of an apocalypse where we have seemingly developed a taste and liking for all sorts of apocryphal and unsavoury declarations, statements and announcements. In short hypocrisy has become a necessary feature of our everyday existentialism. Time to take a break from this demagogic turnaround and realize our true worth. Jai Bharat.
    (Md. Israil)

  5. I don’t think blacks in US wants to divide US, I don’t think they asking for “jinha wali azadi”, I don’t think that while living in US they are doing anti- US activities. Second, you are very conveniently write “Views are personal”, than what about someone’s social media accounts? It’s their personal and you have personal choice to follow them or not. According to you, if you want to condenm black men’s murder, you must first condenm “atrocities to muslims in India”, which is nothing but work of your imagination.

  6. I don’t understand some of the things this author is going on about.

    Calling a Black person ‘Kalu’ which means Black is the truth, there is no malice in it or does she have a probem with people calling white people ‘Firang’ as well? In an attempt to police what everyone is saying they’re attempting to stifle speech itself.

    Secondly, I do not know if Indians ‘worship’ whites when they think they are a decadent promiscuous people (which is again the truth considering cultural relativism), white people tend to have a overly sexual and promiscuous culture but I do agree with her on the absurdity of Indians aligning with American cultural problems as if they have any relevance here.

    • Whatever this reporter is saying is actually true whether you like it or not. Most Asians are racist and think high of themselves.

  7. It is okay to be against police violence, and be against arson and violent protests at the same time. This one-sided presentation of facts above is the reason why it is becoming hard to vote liberal now-a-days. Nobody denies police brutality, but there is no mention of the consequent violence in the above article, as if it just didnt happen. Similar with the mention of JNU, Jamia Milia cases! And to talk about Kashmir, without any nuance, really makes you wonder if the author has any understanding or knowledge about the facts! The article would have been better had it involved an honest reflection of whats happened!

    • Indians are the most racist people on earth? Yeah the KKK and colonialism originated in India right? At least maintain some intellectual honesty brah

      • Go visit the matrimonial ad page in any Indian newspaper, English or Regional. You will meet the racist Indians there. Also watch out for the sales curve of Fairness creams in India.

  8. Indians are the worst hypocrites. Netas will say “gareeb bhai-behan” and then leave the same gareeb bhai behan to die on the streets. Hyper religious people will make huge noise on cow slaughter but when humans are slaughtered by rioteers of their favourite party – they have nothing to say. Desi Indians are willing to say “black life matters” but in India they will support parties which say minority lives don’t matter. Soon these hypocrites will be driven out of America by white supremacists and suffer a fate which they richly deserve.

    • Migrate are only minority?
      Idk why the hell Muslims are even minorities ?30 percent ?
      Secondly please stop crying over every thing and give it an angle of harassment and discrimination.
      Discrimination is huge word in itself take instant from Pakistan and China.They have set perfect example of discrimination and harassment.
      If one person in thousands get discriminate it doesn’t make India anti-muslim or Islamophobic.
      All other minorities in India living so peacefully but only Muslims have problem with every second thing.
      I’m sorry but you people never be or will a nation lover first and than a religion one. And only because of this we need to keep a check on you.We can’t see our land becoming a place like hell for hindus, and every other minorities just like Pakistan.
      Jai Hind.

  9. One wonders how much time this person has to go and snoop into everyone’s twitter accounts for past tweets. Taking sarcastic digs at people, this is not journalism. Does it matter what is the history of black lives matter campaign when history is repeating itself?
    The selective reporting of Print is also not a lesser know fact
    You talk about police brutality? Why didn’t you report when thousands of peace loving people where throwing stones at security personnel at police and police didn’t retaliate even though they had guns with them? Have you seen what the police is doing during this coronavirus era and what is happening to them?
    Islami phobia is more of a bigger problem in US than India. You will only report the outrage against CAA AND NRC and conveniently ignore the massive support it has gained since very beginning because it won’t help your cause.
    The person writing g this long piece of dog shit should follow her own suggestions. Clean up your own mess before pointing fingers at others

  10. By your name, you appear to be either American or from some western country.
    You are so naive and ignorant, that I wonder that how come you wrote and appear on print. Or, yes, you could have appeared on the Print only.
    One line sjould suffice.
    Kapil Mishra never said: Desh ke gaddaron ko, Goli maaro salon ko..
    Your, mention of Kashmir situation, without even mentioning even once, terrorists and theiratrocities on Kashmiri populace is breath taking.
    Your totally one sided criticism makes it clear that you can not be taken seriously, paid writers and such propaganda, seldome does.

    • Are you kidding me?! She’s an Indian – born, raised and generations from here! Christians can’t be Indians now or what? Lmao bro don’t be so blatantly dumb.

  11. So you mean vandalising or looting CNN HQ was a great act. At no point tolerable inconvenience to others and right to protest or vent become right to loot and scoot or reverse race war in claiming and occupying locatities by force. In democracy protests when go out of hand misfire…. we may see that soon again despite better justificstion in US.

  12. The comparison between the Hindus of India and whites and America is the most laughable concept ever. If anything, the Hindus in India are like the Blacks in South Africa and the Muslims of India are comparable to the whites of SA. For centuries, it is the muslim rulers who used state power to impose their bigoted Islamic ideas on India, all the while colonially subjugating India. Slavery and Jim Crow laws find parallel in the multiple genocides carried out by people like Taimur and Aurangzeb and subsequent policies like Jaziya which were imposed by the Muslims on Hindus. Yet, this silly American makes the ridiculous attempt of trying to guilt trip Hindus, who are enjoying political power in their own land after centuries of colonial subjugation. Ok Karen. She seems to be upset that the Indians commenting on the issue don’t know every little detail of American history while we in India have had to face ignorant whites like her commenting on our domestic policies, with a lot more political and economic power, without knowing anything about the history of India. Indian publications should stop running after these brain dead people just because of their white skin colour. Especially those who try to teach us how to look at India through the American lens.

  13. Rachel John has no business to teach Indian what to hashtag and what not to. To see everything from Liberal lense and to demean others who dislike the outdated thoughts, is single point agenda of this Print group.

  14. One last thing regarding the tweets about Christianity that the article referred to. It is one thing the claim that these are not factual. If so please present the facts. Your own newspaper carried articles that said, Mr. Reddy is engaging in certain policies that are to appease Christian minorities. Outright calling something Anti-Christian is like what you accuse the Right Wingers doing. Calling you Anti-National. How are you okay? with Proseltyzing? It is tantamount to Cultural Genocide, Yeah there is such a thing.

  15. It is a bit thick to look in the mirror all the time. The criticism of fellow Indians for showing solidarity with African Americans is misplaced and wrongly timed. I think India should call out American Hypocrisy. When American Congress can call sessions on Article 370, Violence on Minorities in India, and all the ills everywhere in the world. It is only right for the rest of the world to hold that mirror back at the US.

    Why is it wrong to point a finger at the US for the ills of Racism? 160 years after the so called war of emancipation, African Americans still fear for their lives when they encounter Cops. This should really be taken up by the governments across the world. Instead of asking for your government to intervene you are asking for a mirror?

    This is exactly why Journalists get a bad name. They really lack the maturity and insight to do the right thing. One certainly has to fix his house, however, one should not let that guilt stop him from fighting another battle.

  16. Humans go by self and group interest ( caste, religion,race, language etc). In USA, Indians perceive themselves at the receiving end of racial politics there. White supremacists may not recognise any difference between black and brown. In India that same group sees the the thing from majoritarian perspective. They support the divisive agenda which they feel will benefit their self and group interest.

  17. The unholiest of alliances is the one between “liberal” leftists and conservative Islamists here in India.

    As someone who identifies as a liberal and an atheist, I can never understand how liberals will oppose abolition of Triple Talakh, not support universal rights for all citizens irrespective of religious affiliation.

    The right in India not only has left leaning economic policies but has also co-opted some of these causes as they dislike a particular community.

    And to oppose this, liberals in India have resorted to appeasement at the cost of true liberalism.

  18. With a name like Rachel John, you must be white person or born with one white parent?What makes you think BlackLIves Matter is comparable to us?Have you ever lived in US, probably not?Don’t compare institulised American racism to us here in India.Just because you have command of English language, you think you can spread lies with help of corrupt Congress Paid Shekar Gupta?

  19. Lady, it is you who need to refresh your memory. ‘Goli maaro saalon ko’ was from MoS, Anurag Thakur’s election rally. It wasn’t Kapil Mishra. Doesn’t ThePrint have fact checkers?

  20. Another pontificating piece. The journalist’s “virulent” hatred for those who support the CAA/NRC is on full display. And as is the norm, anyone and everyone who has a contrarian view on contentious political issues gets labelled as regressive, Hindu right-wing, masculine, upper-caste, etc.
    The article rather provides an interesting overview of how the mind of a woke “journalist” works.

  21. Hlarious coming from an armchair critic! So are the leftists only entitled to “opinions” now and now do we have a “higher” opinion and a “lower” opinion? The author seems casteist at best albeit in a different flavor!

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