"Opinions are like assholes- everyone has one"!
These are my opinions. They don't matter much because they do not bring any change. People live as ever - spitting, throwing garbage, cheating, bribing, but leading a moral life - not smoking, not eating meat, not visiting a prostitute.
There is an ad on TV from a skin product called ‘Fair & Lovely’. This ad starts with a dark brown colored lady who is depressed and diffident. She looks at an ad of ‘Fair & Lovely’, applies it, and then becomes ebullient and confident. She gets spotted by a famous director who offers her a position in his new movie. Wow! What a fairy tale.
For some reason, the people who were sitting next to me and watching this ad didn’t find it offensive. I thought it was downright discriminatory and insulting. No one else seemed to share the same thought.
What is with Indians and Fairness?
Looks like we are obsessed with color WHITE! As such most of the Indians don a shade of brown (ask any non-Indian). But Indians themselves seem to conjure up with ‘white’ to ‘black’ within the color brown. Families wait upon the new born and decide whether he is ‘fair’ or ‘dark’ and the parents are congratulated if the kid is 'fair' while they will be comforted if the kid is 'dark' as if it is a physical handicap. In some languages of India, ‘fair’ is synonymous with ‘white’ (ex. gora in hindi) and ‘dark’ with ‘black’ (ex. kaala in hindi). It is already decided that dark people are inferior; fair people are superior. Sonia Gandhi, no wonder, is easily accepted- so were Annie Besant and Mother Theresa. Imagine a black woman from Africa to be wife of Rajiv Gandhi. I seriously doubt if Indians would have gleefully accepted such a wife as their ‘bahu’ (daughter-in-law).
This flagrant and ignominious discrimination affects Indian girls the most. While growing up, they imbibe this inferiority complex which remains with them forever. As young kids at school, the ‘white’ girls get better scores, are treated better, and win all laurels in school. As young kids at home, the ‘white’ girls get the affection, love, and better goods from their parents.The ‘black’ girls get taunted and insulted all their lives as ‘kaala’ (black). Getting a ‘kaala’ girl married off is tough for parents. They have to shower more dowries to get them wed. And for the bride groom marrying a ‘kaala’ girl is like settling for something less. A man who gets a ‘gora’ wife is considered a "lucky bastard"- he shows her off to his friends and family as prized possession. This induced feeling of inferiority doesn’t allow a ‘kaala’ girl to do well at school or at a profession. Though it is not the same for a guy, even he gets to go through similar discrimination in India.
To a White European, most of the Indians look the same color. He hardly distinguishes between a dark Indian and a fair Indian. And even when there is a difference, he finds us to be of same color but different shade. And sometimes, a dark-brown shade is considered a better tan.
Our obsession with our color is so much that a lot is written about it in all our mythologies where ‘white’ are gods and ‘black’ are demons. And to this day, it seems to possess us so much that an TV ad blatantly conveys the message of correct-the-flaws-and-improve-your-chances perpetuating these discriminatory and insulting feelings across the country using mass media.
Update [13 Feb 2008]:
Sriram has created scripts for many 'Fair and Lovely' Ads. Must read! Don't forget to watch the videos there. You will know what I am talking about.