Written by Akshata Pai of Chembur Karnataka College of Law.
Edited by Shantanu Nemani.
Racism is a belief of certain human groups who pose different behaviour on the physical appearance and could divide based on the superiority of one race over another. The nature is prejudice, discrimination and unethical for making comment or action just based some race or ethnicity. Racism is a mindset where people put down others for their inner supreme pride for their own race or ethnicity and disgrace others. According to United Nations convention on racial discrimination, there is no difference between the term racism and ethic discrimination. Racism supports injustice, inequality and is dangerous to the human race. The Constitution of India from preamble to Article 14, 15,19 and 21 do not support and encourage racism in India.
Racism is a modern concept found back in European age of imperialism. The culture of racism grew due to growth of capitalism, especially with slave trade from poor background. Racism was major force drive for genocides for Jews during Nazi war along with European colonization of the Americans, Africa and Asia. Nazism is the best example of Racism where the social and political division is based on ‘race’.
General types of racism as follows:
A historical hierarchical power relationship between groups.
A set of ideology about racial difference.
Discriminatory actions practices based on different basis such as gender, race, etc.
Legal aspect for racism:
Many countries have faced global racism in different ways and methods. The countries have passed laws to prevent racism and discrimination on different grounds. The United Nations organization was first to recognize and develop human rights in the form of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and adopted in 1948. During the same time our Constitution of India was adopted by the Constituent Assembly of India on 26th November 1949. Hence, even Indian laws have provisions for the prevention and safeguards for racism in India.
The UDHR recognizes that if people are to be treated with dignity and requirement of economic rights, social rights include education, cultural and political participation and civil liberty. Everyone is entitled rights to live without distinction of any kind such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion.
Racism in India:
Effects of racism are on the social and political conflicts. Racism has a cause and effect. Racism in India is mostly skin colour and caste based.
Dalits have discrimination on based education, healthcare & nutrition, crime and religion. Dalit have untouchability which was been practiced since 400 AD, due to struggle of supremacy between Buddhism and Brahmanism. Thus, Article 17 “Abolishment of untouchability” of Indian Constitution when it forbids its practice.
Article 17 is also significant in accordance with equity before law ‘Article 14’. It guarantees social justice, dignity of person. Additionally, to prevent the commission of offence or atrocities against the members of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, the parliament enacted the ‘Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention Atrocities) Act, 1989’. The Act provides for special courts for the trail of offence. The act also facilitates relief and rehabilitation of victims of any offence based on discriminations for SC and ST.
Article 14 ‘Equality before the law’ of the constitution which guarantees that all people shall be equally protected by the laws of the country. It implied that the State will treat people in the same situation alike.
Article 15 ‘Social equality and equal access to public areas’ of the constitution state that no citizen of India shall be discriminated on the ground of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth. Every person shall have equal access for all opportunity. Special provisions have been made for advancements of any socially or educationally backward class or scheduled castes or scheduled tribes.
Article 16 ‘Equally matter in public employment’ of the Constitution lays down that the State cannot discriminate against citizens in the subject matter for employment.
Article 18 ‘Abolition of Titles’ of the Constitution prohibits the State to be ruled any king or family. After independence our country has accepted India as ‘Republic of India’ which indicates that the government of India is run by the citizens.
Also, Racism based on religion is protected by Article 25 and 26 of the Constitution of India protects and follows the policy ‘Respect all religion and All religion are equal’.
Commercial advantage of Racism in India:
India has witness and seen discrimination on based colour racism where people prefer fair skin people over dark shade. This discrimination can find when groom is in search for fair skin bride. It is estimated to be worth 270 billion rupees ($4 billion) and with more to grow.
Racism in India is significantly relevant as it has commercial and legal aspects. Thus, laws are relevant to prevent and control any discriminations which deprive their basic human fundamental rights. The legal maxim ‘Salus populi suprema lex esto’ the Welfare of people is the supreme law wherein Racism is prohibited in all forms practice and policies.
Image Courtesy- Freepik