Intro: Recent spate of hate crimes against Indians points finger towards the Federal decision to strengthen the weaponry and other equipment of the police departments all over USA. As a result there is currently much more police high-handedness than in the past. The Madison (Alabama) happening is a reminder of this mindset.
When 57-year old semi-literate Suresh Bhai Patel of village Pij in Gujarat state went to America on January 31, 2015 to visit his son Chirag and the recently born and ailing grandson, he had no inkling of the outright racial attack on him by American police on February 6, 2015. Why did it happen? One reason is because he did not know/understand English language, and was not able to respond to the queries of the American police officer, and the second reason is, because he’s a ‘black guy’. He was on a morning walk near his son’s residence in Madison in Alabama State when the incident occurred. The injuries perpetrated upon him by the policeman have almost paralysed him. It is not a solitary instance of aberration. A casual glimpse of its past will show how racial hatred has been afforded in the USA, a country that boasts of being a melting pot for all faiths and beliefs.
Historical reality is that USA, like many other countries of Europe, has been in the cruel grip of racism and ethnic discrimination since the slave era. The period from 17th century to 1960s witnessed perhaps the worst instances of discrimination, in which the white-skinned enjoyed many legally sanctioned privileges, which were denied to the blacks. A cursory reference to a few instances of racial attacks in the USA will question President Barack Obama’s recent averment: “USA is a very tolerant State”.
In an inter-religious meeting the US president lamented the “intolerance in India, which would have shocked Gandhi ji”. But the secular America needs to introspect if at all it has been instrumental in being a tolerant State? The incidents of racial attacks such as those on Irish Catholics, the Chinese, and other immigrants in the 19th century; and on Mexicans in the late 20th century did stir the conscience of many great people of USA who took drastic actions to free their country from racial hatred. The recent incidents of hate crime against Indians do crave indulgence of all such people who believe that all human beings deserve to get fair and civilised treatment from others, irrespective of their skin colour. Quite a lot has yet to be done by Americans.
Some cases of the racial abuses and attacks in the USA in recent past should pinch the collective conscience of the USA: The murder of 49 year old Divyendu Sinha, an IIT Kharagpur alumnus in New Jersey suburb on June 25, 2010; Hospitalisation of a youth from Andhra Pradesh, Murali Krishna, after a racial attack in June 2009; And, the killing of 28-year-old young Indian- American businessman Amit Patel from Edison by an unidentified assailant outside his family owned liquor shop in New Jersey on February 18.
In August 2014, a Shiva-idol at the Vishwa Bhawan Hindu Mandir in Georgia State of America was desecrated with black paint. Phone lines were cut off, and graffiti with hate messages was written on it. On the eve of the Maha Shivaratri in 2015, a wall of the famous Hindu temple in Seattle metropolitan area was sprayed, a swastika and the message ‘GET OUT’ was painted on it. ‘These attacks made the US Justice Department mandate the inclusion of anti-Hindu Hate Crimes as a category in crime reporting forms starting in January this year’, reports the Hindu American Foundation.
Let America be awakened to her inherent deficiency, and let true Gandhianism be retrieved. Believably, Obama in USA and Modi in India are trying to do the job. There must be a rethink in the diplomatic relations between India and USA, at least till the supposedly humanistic and democratic chemistry of the so called NAMOBAMA syndrome produces some good results. To start with, let Indians living in the USA, show their concern against hate crimem by raising their voce rather loudly till justice is done.
Dr Balram Misra (The writer is a senior columnist)