Monday, September 21, 2009

Skin Colour Among Indians

- Is it Really a Question of Fairness?

Recently, Liz, one of my American readers, shared her feelings with me about India. She told me that some conversations with her friends baffled her and she would like to hear my answer. Liz’s letter inspired me to write this article.

In her letter, she writes, “I was speaking with a girl from New Delhi about India and the conversation turned to me complimenting Indians' many skin tones and undertones like, ginger snap, chocolate, cinnamon, gold or caramel when she ruined the moment by saying, ‘Well, most Indians aren't that dark...most are wheatish. Darker skin tones are mainly in the South.’ Really??? Then she said more or less, that if North Indians are darker than wheatish they usually have a sun tan. The complexions that I described I've seen on Travel shows that went to various parts of India. Mainly the North, like Rajasthan. So all this time most Indians aren't dark-skinned like I thought?"

Another girl, also a friend of the above, always attributed dark skin to “the climate.” Like, ‘They're dark because of the climate.’ I mentioned to her of how some Africans have black skin and she seriously asked ‘because of the climate?’ I've read of other Indians on Sepia Mutiny
attribute India's colorism to caste and that caste was based on skin color. That dark skin was from working outdoors and the upper caste ‘stayed’ light-skinned indoors.” She then asked me, “Are Indians in denial that they're a dark-skinned race of people?”

In response, I told Liz that I am not at all interested in determining what skin colours Indians have. I always believed that racism is bad wherever and in whatever form it takes. But it is also not a fact of any pride to show one’s self superior on the basis of one’s body colour. It is also not justified to use body colour as the basis of any creed or caste.

Racial Diversity in India

India has vast diverse racial and cultural origins. The exact origins of most Indian people are almost impossible to determine because of the large variety of races and cultures that have invaded and have been assimilated into the subcontinent. There are elements of three major racial groups: the Caucasoid, the Australoid, and the Mongoloid. All may be found in present-day India. But it is also debatable whether the people from southern India (the so-called Dravidians) belong to the Caucasoid group or not.

The languages related to these races are also different in origin. Assamese and Oriya are nearer to each other in dialect but differ in their racial origin; Oriyas are nearer to Caucasoid while Assamese are nearer to Mongoloid.

All tribal people do not belong to the Australoid groups and in some parts of Eastern India, we find a mixed race of these groups which we may call as Sankara or mixed group (Sankara in Sanskrit means mixed varieties).

Common Myths About the Colour of Our Skin

The melanocytes in the epidermis are responsible for the intensity of skin colour. The number of melanocytes is the same in both fair- and dark-skinned people. The amount of melanin produced by the melanocytes is partly determined by genetics and partly determined by the environment. People living near the tropics have more melanin to protect them from the harsher rays of the sun. There are some myths with dark skin in the Indian mind, which have no scientific basis.

The first myth is that ‘white skin’ is linked with the Aryan race while ‘black’ skin is Dravidian and tribal. So people of the ‘north’ in India are white and people of the ‘south’ are black. The ‘brown-coloured’ people are from the mixed races (‘shankar’) of Aryan with both Dravidain and Tribal. This is totally wrong. The theory of ‘Aryan invasion’ is still a debatable controversy and if so-called ‘Dravidians,’ people from south, are ‘dark coloured,’ how then do we find most of the Bollywood south Indian film actresses with ‘very fair skin?’ How do people from Rajasthan and Mahrashtra, Gujarat don’t appear to be so ‘fair?’

The second myth is ‘white’ people are from aristocratic and rich families where ‘dark’ people are from the labour class or are ‘tribal.’ This is also wrong. The tribal people of North-East India have ‘pale’ and ‘fair’ skin. I have encountered many ‘dalit’ girls in my surroundings with fair skin as well.

In South Asia, pale skin is considered as a social marker of aristocratic class allegiance. A peculiar idea in the Desi mind still prevails that dark skin is associated with labour class people as some of Liz’s friends told her. I think this notion has been a result of colonialism, as India was under British colonial rule for more than 200 years and the British people kept themselves alien from Desi people on this racial ground. In post-colonial India, the word “Saheb” (which was meant to call the “white” people) has been used for the upper-class people or bureaucrats to pay honour to them. I think, this racial skin preference has its roots in an historic background.

From Myth to Reality

I recently recollected a conversation in the staff common room of my college where I have been employed. This issue of skin colour came into sharp focus as I silently listened. There once a new chap joined with us as a laboratory assistant in physics. Finding him a bachelor, one of my colleagues, a lecturer in zoology asked him what type of bride he would like. The new chap replied, “Surely a fair skinned girl.” The zoology lecturer again asked, “What if the girl has only fair skin and hasn’t any sharp body features?” The newcomer replied, “I could manage. The fair skin has its own charm.”

I was a silent listener there, as I didn’t want to impose my feminist ideas there to continue a confronting argument. But the answers of that newcomer had embarrassed me for a while. In our ‘matrimonial ads,’ we often find ‘looking for a fair beautiful girl’ is a common phrase from the prospective groom’s side. I haven’t read any ad, asking for a ‘fair skinned groom.’

To write this article, I searched for the ‘business survey’ of fairness cosmetics products and found that there are at least 12 creams on the market from different companies claiming to make your skin fairer within seven days. The report indicated that their business leapfrogged from 384 crore in 1997-1998 to 558 crore in 1999-2000. And in six months between 2000-2001, sales reached up to 480 crore.

Besides these fairness-out-of-a tube brands, there are also soaps and talc claiming to remove blemishes to give the users a smooth and glowing complexion. Their business turnover is not included here. These business houses have tried to trap their ‘male consumers’ by creating a ‘fair-skinned consciousness’ among boys. Recently, Bollywood mega-star Shahrukh Khan appeared in a television commercial offering a tin of skin-whitener to darker-complected young boys who are unlucky with the ladies. The darker complected boy then suddenly attains popularity with women because apparently, the skin-whitener has lightened his complexion. It may seem amazing to Indian readers that in North America and other part of Europe, tanning has become an profitable industry, while in South Asia, people spend millions of dollars trying to make their skin darker.

There are numerous Hindu Gods and Goddesses who are dark or blue or dusky in appearance. Draupadi, a prominent character of mythical epic The Mahabharat, was dark in appearance. She captivated and enamored all the men of her era. Kings and princess were even ready to go into war for her. She had arranged for a Swayamvara to choose her husband.

But today, Hindu parents of dark-complected sons always prefer fair bride. But the same parents lament that their dark-complected daughter is not getting a good husband due to her skin color. What is most baffling is that we are ready to worship the dark-skinned gods and take their blessings but are not ready to accept a dark-skinned person as a life partner.

The Effects of Bollywood and Hollywood

The coloured mania has also affected Bollywood filmmakers and there, we find they always make it a point to get a dark man to play the villain, the rapist, the goonda, and mafia man, only to be beaten up by fair-skinned heroes. The Bollywood movies and TV serials are also responsible of giving the idea among the masses that that dark-skinned girls don’t have a chance of finding love. It is also a literary device –common in books,plays, and opera as well.

Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom, we see a black model Naomi Campbell establish herself as a supermodel. While in the United States, Angela Bassett, Alfre Woodard, Diahann Carroll, Halle Berry, Whoopi Goldberg, Kerry Washington, Thandi Newton, Jennifer Hudson, Rosario Dawson, Tracie Thomas, Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, Regina King, Sharon Warren, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Macy Gray, Lackawanna Blues and countless other black actresses from different generations have shined in the spotlight and have illuminated the silver screen and television sets.

How many black-skinned actresses have we seen on our Desi movies and TVs here in India? If there are few, the directors ask their make-up staff to make these dark-skinned women fairer for the camera.

The Many Forms of Racism in India Today

We Indians are living with a strange dilemma and we seem to use different terminologies for the same 'racism.' On one side, we oppose racism, particularly western racism. On the other side, we don’t want to recognise unexpressed internal hatred or discrimination of each other (e.g., between North Indians and South Indians) based on race. When our children are attacked either in Britain or Canada or in Australia, we shout against racial discrimination in these countries. We seem to see clearer when the subject is far away and seem less in focus when it is closer.

On one hand, we protest racism abroad; on the other hand, we seem to patronize and support it in our own countries. When a political leader, either from the south or from Maharashtra shouts 'why do these boys come from other states to our state and steal our jobs,' we don’t find any racism there. But when a Westerner tells why Asians are stealing our jobs away, we say they are racists and we are suffering from racial discrimination. The Desi Indians abroad feel less Indian feelings and love to think themselves as more Asian-Americans or Asian-Europeans than Asians or particularly as south Asians. I have met some young Indians working abroad and they feel their co-Indian colleagues (also known as ‘Desi’) neighbours never show any affinity towards them yet they get all types of cooperation from those western colleagues with whom they work. It seems to be a fabrication of Bollywood movies or some popular fictions that [Indian] people abroad are always missing their motherland.

Misogyny is also a part of racism. Celia R. Daileader, a Professor of English at Florida State University (United States) and a famous feminist scholar, has identified a relationship between racism and misogyny by creating the new term “Othello Myth” or “Othellophilia” in her book Racism, Misogyny, and the "Othello" Myth: Inter-racial Couples from Shakespeare to Spike Lee (published by Cambridge University Press, 2005, ISBN-10: 0521848784,ISBN-13: 978-0521848787 ). She describes that Anglo-American culture's obsession with sex between black men and white women, a formula that inverts the sad realities of imperialism and slave culture, has less to do with race, per se, than with an imaginative appropriation of black men to control women, both black and white. She writes, “Othellophilia as a cultural construct is first and foremost about women--white women explicitly, as the 'subjects' of representation; black women implicitly, as the abjected and/or marginalized subjects of the suppressed counter-narrative (page 10).” Daileader argues that a “fear of female sexual autonomy regularly shades into fear of miscegenation (page 46).” Proving her point, Daileader asks, “Is the man who beats his daughter for sleeping with a black man (as in Jungle Fever) a sexist or a racist? (page 218)” She concludes, “Racism will turn to misogyny on a dime; misogyny often obscures racism (page 218)."

Is It A Question of Fairness?

For me, racism is bad wherever or in whatever form it takes. I am always against racism, be it in the form of attacks on Indians in Australia, or in the form of misogynic control over female sexuality through the ‘Othello Myth,’ or in the form of interracial feelings throughout the Indian subcontinent. What do you think?


  1. Fantastic post! I agree one hundred percent about what you wrote: Indian's twisted view of where dark skin originates, their double standards for the sexes and for what they recognize as racism and the colonial origins of India's colorism. Bravo! I'm Liz by the way and I asked questions like "So all this time most Indians aren't dark-skinned like I thought?" rhetorically.

  2. madam,
    U have raised a vital question.
    glad to read it from your blog.

  3. Raheem Gopaul6:48 PM

    Very often it's the Mother who wants her son to marry 'a fair beautiful girl'

  4. This is a good article and arises some important questions. there are some assumptions on the basis of which this article is written. The very first assumption is that there is no "standard" of beauty. Beauty is a subjective thing and it lies in the eyes of beholder. Isn't there a universal standard of Physical Beauty? I think that from flowers to faces there are some universally accepted "models" of beauty (of skin, face, body etc.)
    Colonial rule alone is not the cause of our thinking that black skin is less beautiful. White skin is more beautiful than black, in its own sense and Black skin is more beautiful than white in its own sense. Black skin color has its own quality and aesthetic perception and white color has its own. We cannot compare between black and white.
    Sometimes we feel that white skin color is more beautiful than black. We feel so because we have been conditioned with it. Our social conditioning is responsible for considering black skin ugly or not good.

  5. Mahesh Chandra Dewedy8:56 PM

    After everything is said and done, we have to accept the fact that humans are conditioned by nature to ordinarily prefer white skin color to black- even black Africans do it.
    So why this fuss? Would the blogger been equally happy, had she had dark skin color instead of whitish.

    Mahesh Chandra Dewedy, Lucknow

  6. Why then this double standard, Mr. Mahesh? Why we Indians would protest the racial discrimination of West? Let white people be superior and all other 'browns'/ 'blacks' be their inferior follower and leave these people to be tortured. Right?

  7. Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder.The people have been conditioned to believe that white skin is beautiful since the white man ruled the major part of the world.I am sure when Chengiz Khan ruled the Central Asia and Central Europe ,people must be wanting to look yellow skinned and slant eyed with make up.When the Greeks ruled North Africa, it was fashionable to look like the rulers.Its human tendency to look like your ruler.A Semitic Jesus was painted white with blonde hair and blue eyes as the Roman rulers perceived that way.There has been constant migration of people for greener pasture since time immemorial and intermingling of races.I have a friend from British Guyana who is black with almond colour eyes and a small Marlyn Monroes nose and another from Brazil with green eyes but brown skin and frizzy hair.I have done research on Goa and learnt that a 12th Century Goan market was full of Armenians,Chinese silk dealers,Basra pearl dealers,Arab horse traders and African palaquin bearers.Hence Goa has people with frizzy hair,Armenian/Portuguese eyes,Indian skin tone.My friend Nicole Francoise in Mauritius has bronze colour,green eyes,frizzy hair and 6ft tall.Some Mauritians have Chinese genes.My friend Dr,Richard Cambridge,Vice President ,World Bank (of British Guyana) says even among the blacks in Africa and other countries, the colour shades matter.But the Universal perception of beauty is a symmetrical face and a proportionate body.The Yves Saint Laraunt model Khatija of the 80s was from Africa and looked exactly like me(I am from Orissa) in every way.I think now the concept of beauty is changing among the educated mass.Thats why a bronze skinned Sushmita Sen,Bipasha Basu are accepted in India and even on
    the ramps.But the eternal desire to look different from what you are, remains among the women.Everybody wants change.
    I find Nayonika Chatterjee,a super model in India very ordinary with a very asymmetrical face but she is accepted since last 15yrs because she is different.

  8. Pitking592:53 AM

    Isn't the real issue more that people are afraid to look on the inside in fear of revealing too much of themselves? Does it really matter whether someone is light or dark; tall or short; fat or skinny? We all have brains, blood, and most importantly -- feelings. How many times do the king and queen of the prom (the stereotypical ideal man and woman) get married and then five or ten years later, divorce because the covering faded only to reveal absolutely NOTHING on the inside? Some of us are blessed with the ability to see that true beauty is on the inside -- it just takes a little more effort but the rewards are usually well worth the trouble!

  9. apnadakhna chahia

  10. all human beings are to be respected
    because they are human being without
    discrimination -race,caste,creed,sex,
    wealth,education,position,religion etc we must strive to be human
    be human and shed your anti-human preferences

  11. Oh my! I can't believe Mahesh Chandra Dewedy (above) said that humans are conditioned by nature to prefer fair skin. First, is he saying that A) all the European whites are more beautiful than all the dark-skinned Indians? Second, is he saying that the pale person who marries the darker person is thinking that her darker spouse is ugly? Or does only the light-skinned person's opinion matter?

    But more importantly, he shows no knowledge of Indian history or the history of Africa. I doubt Nature can win against all the historical brainwashing brought by conquerors, the modern media brainwashing, people's inability to think, and people's ignorance about history.
    History shows that throughout India's history the effect left by each new conqueror affected Indian culture, just as it affected African history.

    The idea that nature would use fair skin as the be all and end all of beauty is ridiculous. Nature affects the way people choose their spouses in MANY things -- ability to bear children (wide hips), the health of the spouse, the height of the spouse, ability to run or hide in dangerous climates. These different elements add to each culture's idea of beauty. No doubt if the rate of skin cancer became prominent, Nature would add dark skin as the preferred "best" and that would become defined as beauty.

  12. Discrimination has so many different adverse connotations and can
    manifest it's self in different contexts .

    mostly in the context of Discrimination against fellow human beings.

    Whether this discrimination is based on the Caste system, Race,
    Religion, ethnicity, language, Rich & Poor and or between fair skinned
    people and dark skinned people, between men and woman, discrimination is
    abhorrent, derogatory, offensive and insulting .

    There is no superiority between one class of people and another. There
    is no superiority between the Genders.

    Man has created and is the architect of class divisions, whichever class
    welds power whether through arms, money or just barbaric brutality they
    promote discrimination in order to stay in power or maintain a
    privileged position, whether in the work environment, in a village or in
    a political situation, or in a marriage.

    Recently Indians were screaming bloody racism against the Australians
    for the racial attacks on Indian students studying in Australia. When a
    so called lower caste Dalit is murdered for simply drinking water from
    the same well as a Brahmin Class, there is no outrage against this
    diabolical act.

    In the abhorrent dowry system were woman are traded as commodities at a
    Auction Sale and are put to death by being doused with gasoline the
    victim a woman just becomes another statistics in a long list spanning
    thousand of pages .

    There is no scientific evidence that one race is superior to another or
    man is superior to woman only buffoons believe this archaic orthodox
    theory .

    Adolph Hitler believed in a superior Arian Race and he took the world
    into a devastating war, murdered six million Jews and millions of other
    races like the Gypsies . The Japanese murdered millions of Chinese but
    what history has not recorded that the Japanese in their slave camps in
    Malaysia, Singapore put to death thousand of Tamils of Indian origin,
    because they considered them inferior because of their dark skin to

    It is said by believers that god created only man and woman, the rest of
    the malicious diarrhoea was created by human beings.

    Danny Naicker

  13. Dear Sarojini,
    You have put forward a very crucial problem in India. Racism has become a major issue among illiterate people. That's why we don't feel its impact in the West.In the third world countries and developing countries like India, people are governed by superstitions and false beliefs. Even the religions take advantage of this contemptible situation and inject such unreasonable, unscientific beilefs and thoughts into the minds of the people. They never teach the people that under the skin all people have the same colour.
    Dear Sarojini, you have conclusively proved that colour consciousness and prejudices are baseless and unscientific. Let me conclude my comments with my poems on it:


    Why do you murmur lass looking at the mirror?
    Ma, why didn’t God create me a little more beautiful?
    Who told you dear that you are not beautiful?
    Bodily beauty is only one among the beauties;
    It fades and decays as a flower does.
    Who thinks of a flower when it is decayed?
    The sun is beautiful but can you enjoy it at noon?
    But it radiates its beauty through the objects of nature.
    Eternal beauty is in achievements eternal.
    Have a look at the great men of the world:
    Gandhi, Lincoln, Shakespeare, Shaw,
    Mother Teresa, Navratilova, Venus, Sereena…
    Who is more popular, Venus or Aiswarya?
    What makes Kalam our dearest President?
    Bodily beauty is all subjective and relative;
    Some like white, some like black.
    No child is ugly to its mother;
    Nothing can be ugly, for God created it.
    Didn’t you feel the snake’s beauty
    when Lawrence sang in praise of it?
    Keats has taught you “beauty is truth”
    and “a thing of beauty is a joy for ever.”
    Only spiritual beauty gives eternal joy.
    My dear lass, be like the sun,
    brightening this dark world with your inner beauty.


  14. YUP.U r comletely convincing on the issue. But human psyche is like that only from time immortal....

  15. Perhaps Mrs. Sahoo, saw how you only used a light-skinned model for makeup application. What about dark-skinned women? Mrs. Sahoo can you clarify?

  16. There is no reason to disagree with you that discrimination on any count is to be condemned but as your article says without mincing words, many-layered and complex realities are to be taken into account.Cultural and historical conditioning of minds plays havoc with the ideal of equality. With such articles, writers like you are trying their best to undo this conditioning. I admire it whole-heartedly.

  17. I appreciate your article whole-heartedly. You have rightly pointed out the conditioning of minds done by the cultural, historical and male chauvnistic ideas. They form our psyche which is not that easy to analyse and if anlayzed and reached to right conclusions, it is very hard to undo this vicious conditioning. Writers like you are doing really commendable job.

  18. Hi Indian’s Makeup Blog,
    You write, the whole obsession with fairness is considered by you very seriously. Still you have objection in pointing out your site as a mark of obsession. We live in a relatively free society to speak. We're all entitled to our opinions. But I do respect your sentiment and am removing the link of your site from the article. Moreover, I think, the link has no significant additional effect in this topic. Thank you for being with this forum of discussion.

  19. You have a different history with the British due to the race issue, though we also had to have a revolution to get rid of them.

    With regard to race though, your history is necessarily different. Those of us (myself included) who have American Indian blood as well as caucasian blood have some similar experience with you, but it's not the same thing -- for one thing, the American Indian races have been decimated.


    The majority of people, of any race, do not seem especially discerning in their judgements. They are often indoctrinated, too, rather than educated. They do not make distinctions when it's easier or more expedient not to. They make broad distinctions and line up according to what is familiar and comfortable. If another has the same color of skin, they tend to be "safer" than if another person is "different". Likewise, day can seem safer than night, light safer than dark. The vulnerability of the human mind, especially the undiscerning/unenlightened mind, to "blindness" seems quite incredible to me.

    Here, in America, when one talks about racism one is usually referring to white racism, but I have experienced it from every race, though least among Asians. It is as old as human kind, and is only one basis for discrimination as in "us against them". It is a tragic matter, but at this point I see no real solution except evolution, education being the best aid. True education, not more indoctrination.

  20. Try marrying off (arranged marriage) a dark skinned daughter and you would get rebuffed by Tom,Dick and Harry.The skin tone improvement creams or creams viz., fair and lovely are selling like Viagra or Hot Dogs in India.

  21. विश्व में रंग तथा नस्ल भेद के आधार पर मानवीय दृष्टिकोण में अंतर सनातन काल से चला आ रहा है .अष्टावक्र मुनि से लगाकर कौटिल्य तक, अब्राहम लिंकन व गाँधी से लगाकर नेल्सन मंडेला तक . सभी ने इस नीती का कटु विरोध किया है .फिर भी यह सत्य है कि मानवीय इन्द्रियां सदैव "अच्छे" के पीछे भागती हैं अर्थात आँखे अच्छे पदार्थ देखना पसंद करती हैं , नाक अच्छी सुगंध सूँघना चाहता है , कान कर्ण-प्रिय संगीत सुनना पसंद हैं इत्यादि .चिट्ठे के इस आलेख में डॉ सरोजिनी साहू ने मनुष्य जगत का रंग के प्रति मनोवैज्ञानिक भावों का विश्लेषण बोलीवुड एवं शादी के विज्ञापन आदि के उदाहरण के माध्यम से एक सार्वभौमिक समाधान की तलाश कर रही है जिसके द्वारा विश्व -बंधुत्व की भावना को बढावा दिया जा सके.

  22. You have raised valid questions, But I think in general we believe white color is better than black and we are not going to change this thinking in near future.
    Europeans has done heinous crimes and atrocities in past with black African. As a result a wave of sympathy, they have given equal rights, and you see Black men and women on respectable positions in glamour world.
    I remember your post entitle as “The historical role of gender in language”. Here you can heard the world some very bad day as “Black day”, Black Law”, and enormous bad thing are still associated with word Black. It is still in their subconscious that black is very bad thing.
    So the mentality in our cinema, and drama, every bad character in associated with black color.
    As for as the fair color bride is concerned, it is misconception, they have no idea what will be the problems after marriage.
    I think this thinking is among uneducated peoples.
    As you mentioned south and north, I don’t think it is racial issue. It is all over the world.
    When Abraham Lincoln was president, a bloody was fought between south and northern states of USA. Abraham Lincoln forces defeated southern forces. Similar stories in Nigeria, Sudan and many other counties. The root cause is not color or race but other issues.
    I can guess one reason, maybe I am wrong or may be some additional other reasons. Northern people are physically strong than southern people. They feel threaten by north.
    Good thinking always makes a person good looking.

  23. we are growing and living in society, where our thinking are narrowed. We praise the outer beauty not inner. So, we admire white skin girl by looking her outer body.Real beauty lies in her behaviour and deeds. If one will marry a fair looking girl, all will admire. If marry a black coloured girl, people,laugh at him. This is our sensibility, emotion. It cann't change so easily.-Nibaran Jena

  24. According to me,inner beauty reflects on the personality of a person,irrespective of gender and color of a skin.

  25. A very pertinent post. This requires a thumbs up.

  26. Your post can be compared with your previous post “Historical role of gender in language “. To my humble opinion, previous post can be considered as academic discussion, for something called masculine instead of feminine, it has no significant effect.
    But here color of skin or simply color is very important. I am not advocating or happy for this situation, but it is a sad fact that black color is associated with bad things. Blackmail, Black money etc.
    If former president bush and former foreign minister are standing and bush declares 9/11 as black day, what she feels, imagine what type of predicament is produced.

  27. Kalimullah

    Colors used symbolically in wording have nothing to do with the reason why dark-skin is stigmatized. Those examples you gave are from English which is a European language. We must not mistake or take for granted that we use European associations and phrases that use black negatively. Other cultures didn't necessarily use black in a negative way including ancient India, as Sahoo pointed out with Hindu gods and godesses, Ancient Egypt and others.

  28. Those are valid points and similar ones to ours in the USA. We have many Mexicans and Cubans now running to the USI think I am amazed because I have AOL and I also have Hughesnet. If I need help from AOL...I call India and they help us ...and if we have a tech issue with hughesnet or want to pay our bill...we call..not Indonesia ...but darn I can't think of it now...Philippines I think it is and they service us...Isn't that amazing.....and we have thousands just laid off just during the Obama Administration....

    It is all crazy and mixed up out there...all political and seems to have to do with monetary gain by everyone but the people....

    So yes it all puzzles me as well. Here i n Louisiana Obama taxed the shrimpers in the Gulf of Mexico so high they all had to close and the government is taking them and now the shrimp is coming from China....all our shrimpers are out f work and some have gone to California looking for work .......yes it is Worldwide...crazy one understands it just watch the news to see what is going to happen next....

  29. The topic about racism has double standards and we do call it racist or not according to our convenience. And that’s the truth.

  30. It matters not only in India..The discrimination due to colour of the skin..but its there everywhere...Ads for marriages are missing so they dont catch one's eyes..I for sure shall not include this qualification as a criterion for any of my descendents an issue....At least not the way its written causing insult of coloured skins.....Its lack of total courtsey to human beings.

  31. Obviously we r highly infected with racial out look. More precisely as u know since time immemorial generations 've fallen a pray to d "Menia of Traditions'.So in my opinion the causes 4 abov...esaid dilemma- 1. Basically escapist tandency of Indians. 2.Not making our mental make up -Time contemporary.

  32. You are right madam, But may be its like you go to a shop to buy washing powder and you ask for "Give me 'SURF'". Humans marry dark skinned human being as well as white skinned. But its all about the practice we have made during the years that comes first...

  33. People ask for SURF, keeping in mind the 'quality' of the product. Is 'white skin' a quality of human nature? Have you gone through the complete article? It has more aspects of racial discriminations besides this white skin.

  34. According to Maclver and Page the term race when properly used refers to a biological category. It refers to human states that owe their differences from one another specially their physiological differences to a remote separation of ancestry.

    Franz Boas defined race as a scientific concept applies only to the biological groupings of human types.

    Horton and Hunt defined race as a group of people somewhat different from other groups in a combination of inherited physical characteristics.

    Ralph Linton, an American anthropologist made a three-fold classification in The Study of Man. According to him the subdivision of Homo sapiens are breeds, races and stocks. Today breeds are encountered rather infrequently in some small primitive tribes or in some isolated mountains, though variants exist in such a group. A race consists of a number of breeds which share certain physical characteristics. The individuals constituting a race will have fewer characteristics in common

  35. Dear Madam, Namaskar. In my opinion, on the plea of skin Colour Discrimination in India You have perhaps intended to bring out the inner, psychic hypocrisy in our thought process. It is very candidly manifested else where in our society. And more over this double standard or hypocrisy is not gender biassed. I mean not only males bear this stigmatic tint, the females also very openly behave as biassed by the skin colour of girls in particular. This is revealed in all categories of females. In case of even debutant young mothers after the birth of their first child( if a daughter), they love to boast of the colour of the child( if white skinned), in case of the arrival of a new bride for the first time people(even the mother in law) love to raise her veil to have a look at her skin colour to post their maiden comment(fully driven by the colour of the skin). But most important point to me is Hypocrisy or Double Standard of our people. In case of Marathas, Biharis are aprtheid and they say it proudly. In Chak De India film, the coach says to the players to identify herself as an Indian first. If we think of ourselves in a bigger and broader perspective of identity, may be we will be less possesive and orthodox and hypocritic in our behaviour and response to the outer world.
    Anyway this post is surely a serious research work by a balanced thinker & writer(I dont think you a feminist writer at all, as you never evaluate women, never compare women).
    Thank you

    Pabitra Kar

  36. Another issue is the class one. A fair woman shows a man doesn't have to have a wife who works in the sun. He has servants for that. So that contributed to the brainwashing about color. In all cultures. (Never underestimate the power of wealth and appearance of wealth to affect people's idea of beauty.) While, on the other hand a man who is too pale implies he is indoors too much and too sickly -- not able to go outside and be strong.

    In the west, this habit of equating the light skin with the woman of wealth continued from the time of the troubadours (a swarthy shepherdess lass, etc ) through Victorian Europe. Then being darker to some extent began to imply wealth because it meant one could go off for a holiday while everyone else (because they were poor) had to endure the cold winter.

    So the class thing definitely got mixed in their all cultures.

  37. Why, why, why must I always be the one to expose the stpidity and racism of the above explanation???
    Scifiwritir, Indians' dark skin isn't and was NEVER a result of working outdoors! Most have dark-skin naturally. That abominable explanation is implying that the elites in most cultures originate with light skin. It's also insinuating that light-skin is more original or 'comes first' before dark skin. THIS IS A LIE! Firstly the upper-class of ancient India had dark skin like most Indians. The lighter skin of some upper-castes of Indian today is due to a slight difference in their ancestry and people just don't know what it is because common sense ought to dictate that no dark-skinned nation or civilization would originate with an upper-class that doesn't share their natural complexion. That's just the natural of genetics! Second thing. Dark-skin is just as "original," genetic, and natural as light-skin. Associating light-skin with staying indoors is incorrect because you can have dark-skin indoors too obviously. ANY shade no matter how dark is inherited through genes. So any skin-color associations with class would have to be due to racism. Let me rephrase that: the upper class being one particular color would have to be due to one ethnic group subjugating another. People like Scifiwritir unthinkingly use this explanation because they're taking for granted that many upper-classes worldwide are lighter-skinned than the common people of their nation. But most of it is because of European colonialism and marginalizing one race below another. Not because lighter shades are more original than darker shades. Classism however does not default to any particular skin-color hierarchy nor did it begin with light-skin nations ruling over dark skinned ones unless someone wants to support white supremacy.

  38. Nice blog pertinent questions. I would not call it racism but
    discrimination. It is there in all societies they are there in many
    different forms. I am not saying it is a good thing but it requires
    effort on the part of individual first and then society and then
    perhaps nation to get rid of it. You have certainly created an
    awareness. And as you pointed out it is I feel more in our country
    than anywhere else maybe because we have greater variety in
    everything. So maybe India could teach the world a thing or two about
    abolishing discrimination A tall order that is with our caste,
    colour,money power and what not not ! Keep on the good work! best regd

  39. Its that skin colour plays an important role in our thought process from time immemorial...I would love that people have shed their absurd feelings about dark complexions and love for fair skin..But its very difficult to imbibe in their minds....Draupadi was dark but many more female characters for whom wars were fought were fair skinned....Tanning and working in open fields do take its toll on skins but the races inherit their colours most of the time..When on a sea beach and under sun I also get tanned and become dark but in a fortnight I get my normal skin colour...Socially it does matter..Its going to matter till the parents of the prospective marriageable boys and girls give importance to it...In Germany,in 1969 the mother of one of my customers was fascinated by my brown skin..So its in the eyes friends and not really in the skin...Krishna K Dhandhania

  40. fascinating look. it is odd that gods and goddesses are dark yet social selection at the moment is towards lighter.

    still in American and Canadian movies, it is sadly common for villains to be darker toned or not present or token present. it is as if the world is popualted by blondes according to Hollywood.

    somewhere I read (now, if this is accurate or not) that females trend towards males darker than them and males towards females lighter.

  41. Lucy Martinez8:59 AM

    Dear Sarojini,

    I just wanted to thank you so much for writing the article on racism.

    My husband and I adopted a little girl from India 4 years ago. She is our treasured jewel. We love her so much. I am always worried about her though and how the world will treat her because she has dark skin. We live in the United States so although racism is alive and well here there will probably be more opportunities for her as you noted in your article. We discuss with her how the world is in regards to racism and particularly how the world sees us as a family. She is very perceptive already at 6 years old now. Most of the racism we've experienced has to do with us being an interracial family. Some of it is just curiosity but can be quite invasive. My husband and I are fair skinned although I have dark eyes and hair and get the hmmmm look. People stare at us regularly although I've gotten used to it and just smile and stare back on a good day. :)

    My daughter's Aunt and Uncle here in the states adopted 3 children from India. When they first adopted their oldest child (she's 14 now) we were pleasantly surprised at our deep connection with our niece who is also from Orissa. We love her very much. She is the reason we made the decision to adopt from India. We are about to adopt our second child and will travel soon to India we hope once our final paper work is through. So our daughter has cousins that she adores and spends a lot of time with and hopefully soon will have a sister. Her sister will be 4 by the time we travel. So she will be experiencing some serious transitions. It will be challenging on so many levels.

    The more information I have on the issues of racism the better I can explain to my daughter about the world we live in. So again thank you for your writing and I am now a fan of your work.

    All the best,


  42. Anonymous10:57 AM

    Wow I love this entry, kudos! I'm actually doing some research on Indian/ Bengali feminists for my dissertation and your's is a name that has come up a fair few times, so I'll be sure to quote some of your work. Even being brought up in England, there is still this ideology of fair and dark skinned girls in Asian families.


  43. rajan sooryadhas9:14 AM


  44. Anonymous5:50 PM

    Thankyou for your article. I am an Indian gal been brought up in Indian and aswell as America. I had to suffer through the whole discrimation idea when I was in school. It's so hard to believe that I was called ugly just for having dark skin. My own paprents believe in the fairness equals beauty. Our society, media the entire mindset has done a fantastic job of brain washing people to think dark skin is ugly. No question asked.

    I am a dark skinned, beautiful gal.. not to barg too much about it. I am going to college in Texas and I am studing to be a speacial education teacher. I am well read, well travelled and ready to share my gift with the world. Espcialy India!