Ethnic relations in India

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Ethnic relations in India have always been historically complex. ("Ethnic relations" refers to attitudes and behaviours toward people of other ethnicities or races.) India is ethnically diverse, with more than 2,000 different ethnic groups.[1] 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 against other ethnicities).

Constructive relations[edit]

Usually, people in different regions respect each other's cultures and traditions. According to local sources, unity in diversity has been growing in India, making the country more tolerant.[2]


Against North-East Indians[edit]

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.[3] Many North-Eastern Indians face discrimination; are refused living accommodations when they travel to urban areas to study;[4] and are subjected to racial slurs[5] in reference to the appearance of their eyes. Racial discrimination that North East Indians face in the rest of the country is for their Mongoloid looks.[6] Verbal abuse using words such as "Chinky", "Chinese" towards Northeast Indians in Delhi NCR, and other parts of North India are reported.[7] Women from the Northeast are often regarded as "loose women" in Delhi and other parts of North India.[6] A spokesman for the NESC&H has stated that abuse and harassment of North-Easterners is increasing.[8]

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 April 2012, a 19 year old student from Manipur was found dead in suspicious circumstances in his college hostel In Banglore, which sparked protests demanding justice for the student.[9]

On 24th January 2014, two women from Manipur were assaulted and thrashed by locals at Kotla Mubarakpur, Delhi. They were at first hurled racial abuses but when they did not react to this, one of the accused tied the leash of his pet dog to one of the women's boots. Then she started kicking the dog away being scared that it would bite her. Then the attackers started beating her and when the other woman intervened, they dragged her out by the hair. When another three of the women's friends, who also hail from the North East, rushed to help them, the goons did not spare them either. According to them, despite being in the lane crowded with people, no one came to help them. Allegedly, one of the accused, while the women passed by the lane, often passed comments on them like, "Nepali Dhandewali" (here the term 'Dhandewali' means similar to 'bad girl' , 'Prostitute' etc.), "Rate kitna hai?" (how much are you worth) etc.[10][11][12][13] The same year, a North-Eastern student named Nido Taniam was killed in New Delhi.

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[14][15]. The second, two men from Nagaland were racially abused and thrashed by a group of locals in Sikanderpur, Gurgaon. After being attacked with cricket bats and hockey sticks, they were severely injured leading to concussions, and one had his hair sheared off by the attackers while being warned, "We will stop here so that you can tell other people from the Northeast living here to leave immediately." They were told, "We want to send a message to all of you in the Northeast. If you guys from Manipur or Nagaland come here, we will kill you."[16][17][18]

In november 2016, a student hailing from Arunachal Pradesh, who was studying in Delhi University, was denied free entry into the Jama Masjid, because of her looks, despite the entry being free to Indians.[19]

In March 2017, a student from Arunachal Pradesh, was beaten up and forced to lick his house owner's shoes for using excessive water in Bengaluru. Allegedly, the accused while beating the student, shouted, "You deserve it only because you are a dirty tribal from the Northeast".[20][16]

Till February 2019, over 5400 distress calls were received on 1093, a helpline for people from the North East India based in Delhi, since its launch in 2014. These calls do not only pertain to racist comments, but all kinds of crimes against people from the Northeast.[21]

Attacks on non-natives in Assam and other North Eastern States[edit]

In Assam 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.[22] 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.[23] 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."[24] Overall, 98 non-locals were killed in Assam during 2007.[25]

In March and April 2008, a banned Meitei outfit killed 16 non-locals in Manipur.[26] PHS alleged that anti-social groups in Assam were carrying out a continuous hate campaign against the Hindi speakers in the region.[27]

In May 2009, nine Hindi speakers were killed in Assam and Manipur, after the attackers set around 70 houses on fire.[28]

During 8–10 November 2010, 21 Hindi, Bengali, and Nepali speakers were killed by a faction of the NDFB in Assam.[29]

In Meghalaya, the non-indigenous people (who are collectively called Dkhars) are often targets of militant groups.[30]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ US Department of State (17 April 2012). "Background Note: India".
  2. ^ "Unity in diversity is basis for India". The Hindu. Dindigul, India. 9 January 2010.
  3. ^ "About NE Support Centre & Helpline". North East Support Centre & Helpline. 5 January 2011. Retrieved 14 August 2013.
  4. ^ "Delhi won't lend a home to students from northeast". Hindustan Times. New Delhi, India. 9 August 2013.
  5. ^ "Students from North East tired of discrimination". NDTV. New Delhi, India. 26 October 2009. Retrieved 14 August 2013.
  6. ^ a b Das, Bijoyeta. "India's northeast speaks out against racism". Retrieved 19 August 2019.
  7. ^ "Discrimination Against Northeast Indians: This Man Is Using Musical Weapon To Combat Racism". 15 August 2019. Retrieved 19 August 2019.
  8. ^ "Northeast students question 'racism' in India". India edunews. 6 June 2009. Retrieved 13 August 2013.
  9. ^ "Discrimination Against Northeast Indians: This Man Is Using Musical Weapon To Combat Racism". 15 August 2019. Retrieved 19 August 2019.
  10. ^ "Discrimination Against Northeast Indians: This Man Is Using Musical Weapon To Combat Racism". 15 August 2019. Retrieved 19 August 2019.
  11. ^ Feb 2, Maria Akram | TNN | Updated:; 2014; Ist, 2:08. "Goons assault two Manipuri women in Delhi, cops go slow on case | Delhi News - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 20 August 2019.
  12. ^ DelhiFebruary 3, Mail Today Bureau New; February 3, 2014UPDATED:; Ist, 2014 07:01. "Man arrested for thrashing and molesting Manipuri women in South Delhi". India Today. Retrieved 20 August 2019.
  13. ^ "Delhi: Manipur women assaulted, beaten by men, 1 arrested". News18. Retrieved 20 August 2019.
  14. ^ Maya Sharma (15 October 2014). "Northeast Student Attacked in Bangalore, Allegedly For Not Speaking Kannada". Retrieved 6 May 2015.
  15. ^ "Manipuri student attacked in Bangalore, 3 arrested". Retrieved 6 May 2015.
  16. ^ a b "Let's talk about racism | Don't call us 'chinky, momo, chowmein,' says a Northeastern woman". Hindustan Times. 16 May 2017. Retrieved 19 August 2019.
  17. ^ Oct 17, Rao Jaswant Singh | TNN | Updated:; 2014; Ist, 2:07. "Two Nagaland youths racially abused, beaten in Gurgaon | Gurgaon News - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 20 August 2019.
  18. ^ "Two Nagaland men assaulted in Gurgaon, hair forcibly cut". The Indian Express. 17 October 2014. Retrieved 20 August 2019.
  19. ^ Sharma, Ankita (4 November 2016). "Northeast girl discriminated at Jama Masjid, charged money". Retrieved 20 August 2019.
  20. ^ BengaluruMarch 10, Nolan Pinto; March 13, 2017UPDATED:; Ist, 2017 19:00. "Bengaluru: Student from Arunachal Pradesh beaten, forced to lick shoes". India Today. Retrieved 19 August 2019.
  21. ^ "Over 4,500 distress calls from Northeast people in city: Police". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 20 August 2019.
  22. ^ Subir Bhaumik (23 May 2007). "Persecution of Assam's Hindi speakers". BBC
  23. ^ Wasbir Hussain (12 August 2007). "30 Killed in Northeast Violence in India". Washington Post.
  24. ^ Hindustani Sammelan stages fast-unto-death". Hindustan Times. 17 August 2007.
  25. ^ "Militant Attacks on Non-Locals in Assam". SATP. Retrieved 4 February 2014.
  26. ^ "Manipur rebels kill Hindi speakers". UPI. 18 June 2008.
  27. ^ "Allegation of harrassment [sic] of Hindi-speaking people". DNA. 16 June 2008.
  28. ^ "Nine Hindi-speaking people among 12 killed in Northeast". Hindustan Times. 12 May 2009.
  29. ^ "Nine attacks since Monday, toll now 22". Indian Express. 10 November 2010.
  30. ^ T. Haokip, "Inter-Ethnic Relations in Meghalaya", Asian Ethnicity, 15:3, 302-316, DOI: 10.1080/14631369.2013.853545