Ethnic relations in India
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Ethnic relations in India have historically been complex. ("Ethnic relations" refers to attitudes and behaviours toward people of other ethnicities or races.) India is extremely diverse ethnically, with more than 2,000 different ethnic groups. Furthermore, within India, there is also significant diversity within regions, and almost every province has its own distinct mixture of ethnicities, traditions, and culture. Throughout the history of India, ethnic relations have been both constructive (as with mutual cultural influences) and destructive (as with discrimination and ethnically-based violence).
Examples of constructive ethnic relations in India include the following:
- People of different religions and castes take part in each other's festivals and celebrations.
- At times, people of one religion have provided protection an event held by individuals of another faith. For example, this occurred on 12 August 2013, when a group of Muslims escorted a Hindu baraat.
- Inter-caste marriages occur, and have helped to decrease inter-caste discrimination. Certain state governments now encourage inter-caste or inter-faith marriages by providing incentives.
- Some people visit the shrines of other religions. For example, some Hindus visit Ajmer Dargah, an Islamic shrine. Meanwhile, some Muslims visit the Hindu Sabarimala temple and Vavar shrine. Other Indians visit the Christian Velankanni shrine. Finally, people of any religion can visit and take food in the Sikh Amritsar Golden Temple.
Attack on Bihari people
In recent years, the most infamous and most numerous racial attacks in India have been towards the Bihari people. The state of Bihar suffered from lower economic growth than the rest of India in the 1990s. Reasons given for the state's stunted growth have included heavy corruption within the state government, and lack of attention to social welfare and economic development by the Indian central government. As a consequence of the lack of economic opportunity within Bihar, many Biharis migrated to other parts of India in search of work. Bihari migrant workers have been subjected to a growing degree of xenophobia, racial discrimination, prejudice, and violence. In 2000 and 2003, anti-Bihari violence led to the deaths of up to 200 people and created 10,000 internal refugees.
There are significant Bihari communities in India's northeastern states, like Assam, Manipur, and Nagaland. In these areas, there have been a number of racial attacks against Bihari people, including a number of massacres, almost all carried out by militant groups.
The most recent anti-Bihari attack took place on 18 January, 2014, committed by militants from the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) in Assam’s Kokrajhar district. The militants pulled four youths from Bihar off a bus and shot them to death. Three others, also from Bihar, were injured in the attack.
Prejudice and discrimination against North-East Indians
In recent years there have been many reports of discrimination against people from North-East India. In 2007, the North East Support Centre & Helpline (NESC&H) was started as a separate wing of All India Christian Council. Its stated goal is to increase awareness regarding prejudice and attacks against people from North-East India. Many North-Eastern Indians face discrimination; are refused living accommodations when they travel to urban areas to study; and are subjected to racial slurs in reference to the appearance of their eyes. A spokesman for the NESC&H has stated that abuse and harassment of North-Easterners is increasing.
In 2012, in an attempt to prevent such discrimination, the Indian government asked all of its states and union territories to arrest anyone who commits an act of atrocity against a North-Easterner under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. A person found guilty under this law can be jailed for 5 years.
In 2014, a North-Eastern student named Nido Taniam was killed in New Delhi. His death was widely publicised.
in October 2014, there were two separate incidents, one in which a North-East student was beaten by three men in Bangalore for not speaking Kannada, and a second where a North-East student was beaten by seven men in Gurgaon.
Attacks on non-natives in North-East India
In North-East India, there have been many attacks on those from outside the region. In 2007, thousands of Hindi-speaking labourers fled from Assam after a series of massacres and bomb attacks. In May 2007, nine of them were killed and another 20 injured in violent attacks. The next month, 26 people from other parts of India were killed in a series of attacks over a period of six days. The police blamed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and the Karbi Longri National Liberation Front for the violence. In response, the members of Purvottar Hindustani Sammelan (PHS) staged a hunger strike in Dispur to protest against the "merciless killings of innocent and defenceless Hindi-speaking people." Overall, 98 non-locals were killed in Assam during 2007.
In March and April 2008, a banned Meitei outfit killed 16 non-locals in Manipur. PHS alleged that anti-social groups in Assam were carrying out a continuous hate campaign against the Hindi speakers in the region.
In May 2009, nine Hindi speakers were killed in Assam and Manipur, after the attackers set around 70 houses on fire.
People from other countries
People from other countries are treated differently by some Indian people, based both on skin colour and country of origin. African people are especially affected by racism in India. Many African people who go to India to study have been victims of racism. Some are denied living accommodations and face other forms of racism.
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