In India the word racism has a different meaning. Most of the time racism is actually favoring the citizens of a particular country, which is also a wrong way of interpreting it, but a very logical way of assessing racism. However, in India it is the other way round. In India racism is more against the Indians than the foreigners who are actually coming to visit India. Of course Indians believe in the concept of “Atithi Devo Bhava” (treat your guests just like God), however having said that, worship should not be at the cost of debasing your fellowmen. This is what I want to highlight in this article of mine.
There are many places in India that actually practice this habit of discrimination, especially joints where you see more foreigners entering and enjoying, in those joints the Indian counterparts are always given a measly treatment. To give an example let me tell you about Leopold Café in Mumbai. The café came to highlight in the recent 26/11 attacks. However, apart from the gruesome and condemning act that happened in the café that night there is a dark side to this place which I want to share. By this article I nowhere want to prosecute any foreigner who may be visiting our country. India is always a country that accepts everybody with warmth and affection; however I just want to highlight the amount of mental discrimination that an Indian actually does with another Indian.
It was a Sunday afternoon when I and one of my friends paid a visit to this café once. I had been a regular visitor in the café and a real admirer of the food and beverages that is served in the café. That day too like other days I went with my friend to have a good time in the place. We also planned to watch the formula one race on the LCD screen that is on the upper first floor of Leopold. In the afternoon there is not much rush so I just went ahead and we entered the first floor. We were given a table near the LCD as there were not many people to watch out for. There was this usual crowd of foreigners in the café who had also come to have a good time. We ordered our food and beverages and waited. First of all it took a long time for the waiter to attend to us. He was always engrossed in attending the visitors from outside India and didn’t even bother to listen to us. When he was free, thankfully we could order our things. Then it took him more than half an hour to deliver our order on our table whereas the foreigners got an express service within 5 to 10 minutes. We didn’t bother about this as we were keen on seeing the formula one race and were enjoying it.
The climax came at around an hour later when the café was virtually filled with people. We were enjoying our food and the race near the LCD. Now suddenly the waiter comes to us and urges us to sit in a separate table which we had to share with some other people. This was because there was a group of four people, from west, who wanted to have a seat near the LCD. I was furious at this request. It was as if we were eating there for free and were unlikely to be billed, or as if the other “guests” were going to pay them double the amount. It was racism at its worst done to an Indian by and Indian on Indian soil.
Sometimes I feel that the country has still not been able to come out of the foreign rule that was there in this country for 200 long years. We still have people who would rather prefer a foreign rule in this country than a sovereign democratic republic. The proprietors of Leopold Café are definitely one of them. I don’t blame the waiters because at that position you are more commanded upon than asked to take your own decisions. The waiters were just probably following the dictum set by the Leopold proprietors of just ignoring countrymen to foreigners or even insulting them at their cost.
The café boasts of being in existence since 1871, however it has just forgotten that this is not the 19th century India where locals were treated equal to dogs. Today India is one of the forces that is shaping the world economy and politics. It is a country of billion people with billion ideas that are capable to changing the face of the world and influencing decisions on a global scale. It is a country, where businessmen, just like me have proved to be competent enough with the international business scene. Despite all these the racist proprietors of Leopold only feel that we are a country still struggling with our existence. They dare to deny the law of the land and carry out their open discriminatory policies against Indian guests that too on the Indian soil.
My question is, how long can this go on? Are the torch bearers of this society not seeing this? Where are the organizations who are more interested in lifting the national spirit high? Why are they ignoring such activities that are happening in the most happening place in India? Will there ever be an end to this racial nonsense that Leopold is carrying out? How can Indians be treated like second class citizens in their own country? What about the constitution? What about equality in the country itself? Should we allow such racial joints to even operate in India?