Monday, April 15, 2024
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Anti-racism law

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Editor,

In an increasingly hateful world, the life and death of Nido Tania could be shelved as yet another crime. He can be reduced to a statistic in that ignominiously growing list of North-easterners falling victims to race crimes in ‘mainland’ India. Or people can choose to take a stand and fight like the enraged fellow North-easterners in Delhi currently. This public outrage should be eulogized and supported for two basic reasons. Firstly, because it is wrong to kill, irrespective of causes. Secondly, if this xenophobia and racism is not curbed right now it might be too late.

The North-east diaspora that has flocked to Jantar Mantar to protest and express solidarity have a few valid points to make. Principle among them is their demand for a definitive law against racism and xenophobia. Nido was fined for an offense that he was instigated into performing (viz. breaking a table). The entire aspect of the racial instigation had to be ignored as there is no provision in law to deal with such. A strict law may have ensured that the perpetrators stayed in jail and did not take to lynching Nido as soon as they were set free. It brings to mind the kangaroo courts that persecuted blacks in America for offenses committed by them after being racially instigated. The time is ripe for an anti-racism law as we find more and more reasons to fight and kill.

The need for the law becomes all the more important to ensure that in our already divisive politics, race cannot play a part. Already, the much celebrated Aam Aadmi Party wants to reserve 90% college seats for Delhiites. This could prove to be a classic devil-deep blue sea conundrum for North-easterners who constitute a healthy section of the outstation students in Delhi. If this becomes a law, then our students lose out. If not, then the resulting unease and dissatisfaction amongst the local populace could lead to more race crimes against North-easterners. Already the effects of this have been felt down south in yesteryears.

The anti-racism law is needed and it is needed now. Meanwhile, we can take a page out of the book of the protestors outside Jantar Mantar, many of whom still opine that talking and opening up has helped solve a lot of these issues. Ignorance pervades fear which in turn gives rise to hatred. Ignorance about North-east has always been a bane for anyone from the region living in mainland India. If there ever was a more apt time to step out and tell our friends and neighbours about the beautiful hills and plains of North-east India and the people and culture, it is now. As Martin Luther King Jr. famously remarked: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” It also makes me wonder that if in the near future the anti-racism law does get enacted, what will our ‘revolutionary brothers’ standing staunchly to their demand of ILP have to say? Maybe they won’t have a rhetoric. Or maybe, they just wouldn’t care. Maybe, some races are more equal than others.

Until then, like Martin Luther King Jr. I, and many others like me, can dream of a world where people are not judged by the colour of their skin (or hair, or jeans) nor by their lineage and genetic make-up; but by the content of their characters.

Yours etc.,

Debojit Das Purkayastha,

Mumbai

Unethical and wrong reportage

Editor,

Through this, I wish to express the deep sense of indignation and outrage felt by most unsuspecting readers like me at the condemnable piece of so-called news story appearing in a local vernacular daily on Friday February 7, 2014 about a UN committee’s damning report against pope Francis personally when actually the UN has indicted those priests guilty of paedophilia. Having read the report in the English print and other media one is left wondering whether this vernacular media even understands the content it has published or whether the content is lost in translation. The report has defamed the pope of the Catholic church who consistently condemns all forms of human rights violations. The sheer incredulity of it deserves not even a second thought if not for the tragic fact that it is presented as news to the unwary general public, that too in a mainstream paper of wide local circulation, without bothering to check with the sources. The public expects efficient, professional and responsible journalists to disseminate news which is true and verifiable, not opinions or personal agenda otherwise all sorts of trouble will arise and harm the peace in society. Besides, there are media ethics by which by media persons should abide.. Let us hope that this particularly shameful piece of news reporting serves as an eye-opener about the dangers of allowing half-truths or sensationalism to acquire the pretensions of objective and reasonable journalism.

Yours etc.,

Richard Embor Marbaniang

Upper Shillong.

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