“Mumbai is racist, Stop Slamming Oz” by N Raghuraman

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I read this article in a newspaper and just had to reblog it:

Mumbai’s racism can be characterised as ‘cash-bigotry.’ That strain of bigotry manifests itself at the workplace, inside commuter trains, at hotels and restaurants.

Mumbai is one of the most racist places on the world map.

When American author and humorist Mark Twain said, “Clothes make the man and naked people have little or no influence on society,” he wasn’t merely being humorous. The stark realism underlying the statement is as unmistakable as its universality.

Twain’s nakedness is a metaphor for a race bereft of monetary supremacy, as opposed to one in clothes which commands societal acceptance. To that end, Mumbai, I say, is one of the most racist places on the world map.

White supremacists absurdly believe that only they live within the pale of superiority, if you can see what I mean. For others, colour of the skin does not matter; for example, in India, you can be fair-complexioned, but still remain forever doomed by the caste identity. In Mumbai, neither complexion nor caste matters: lakhs of people are reviled, humiliated, and � even worse � pushed into the category of the ‘uninvited’ if they do not have enough money.

Mumbai’s racism can be characterised as ‘cash-bigotry.’ That strain of bigotry manifests itself at the workplace, inside commuter trains, at hotels and restaurants, in malls and in housing societies. Now, remember the hoo-ha about the 26/11 coverage?

Scores of well-meaning people got terribly exercised because most the TV grandees preferred the five-star wreckage to train station ruins. In fact, one TV notable admitted that her class might have been swayed more by the travails of those who could afford the kind of shoes she normally wore. Well, she did not quite put it that way, but you got the drift.

Salman Rushdie was shaken by the compensatory hand-wringing caused by the realisation that the CST victims were all but ignored in the early part of the terror trauma. He said that it was ludicrous to even think that rich people’s blood was cheaper than that of the poor.

Well, he would have communicated the idea in different words; sang-froid in clipped tones sounds so wealthy! Anyway, Mumbai does not need the catastrophe of a terror strike to recede into cash-bigotry. It took a massive drive against drunken driving to curb the thought among rich brats that money was the fuel that made their lurching cars unstoppable and untouchable.

It surprises few Mumbaikars that a former gangster, Abu Salem, has apparently been made immune from torture not by diplomatic fiats issued by Portugal, but by the piles of ‘khokas’ offered as insurance against rough treatment.

And while you are in the malls, do you notice that those who hustle the more expensive brands are invariably more polite than those who dispense easy-on-the-budget goods? You could claim that expensive brands train their staff well? Is that so? I beg to differ.

Some of you may remember that I had once observed in this column that security guards at a suburban five-star were more likely to screen the baggage of ‘non-suited’ Indians than touch the laptop of a white guy in a T-shirt? Indians who dressed as though they were trawling through snow, were let in without any checks.

Mumbai, in other words, has an invisible class. In order to belong to it, you need to buy
a car which is much bigger than you need; you need to spend much more than you ought to; and yes, you need to flash the cash as often as you can to show you are superior.