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.[1] 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).

Constructive relations

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]

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.[3]
  • 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.[4]
  • Inter-caste marriages occur, and have helped to decrease inter-caste discrimination.[5] Certain state governments now encourage inter-caste or inter-faith marriages by providing incentives.[6]
  • Some people visit the shrines of other religions. For example, some Hindus visit Ajmer Dargah, an Islamic shrine.[7] Meanwhile, some Muslims visit the Hindu Sabarimala temple and Vavar shrine.[8] Other Indians visit the Christian Velankanni shrine.[9] Finally, people of any religion can visit and take food in the Sikh Amritsar Golden Temple.[10]

Destructive relations

Attack on Bihari people

In recent years, the most infamous and most numerous racial attacks in India have been towards the Bihari people[citation needed]. 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[citation needed]. In 2000 and 2003, anti-Bihari violence led to the deaths of up to 200 people and created 10,000 internal refugees[citation needed].

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[citation needed].

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.[11]

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.[12] Many North-Eastern Indians face discrimination; are refused living accommodations when they travel to urban areas to study;[13] and are subjected to racial slurs[14] 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.[15]

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,[16][17] and a second where a North-East student was beaten by seven men in Gurgaon.[18]

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.[19] 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.[20] 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."[21] Overall, 98 non-locals were killed in Assam during 2007.[22]

In March and April 2008, a banned Meitei outfit killed 16 non-locals in Manipur.[23] PHS alleged that anti-social groups in Assam were carrying out a continuous hate campaign against the Hindi speakers in the region.[24]

In May 2009, nine Hindi speakers were killed in Assam and Manipur, after the attackers set around 70 houses on fire.[25]

During 8–10 November 2010, 21 Hindi, Bengali, and Nepali speakers were killed by a faction of the NDFB in Assam.[26]

In Meghalaya, the non-indigenous people (who are collectively called Dkhars) are often targets of militant groups.[27]

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.[28] 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.[29][30]

See also


  1. US Department of State (17 April 2012). "Background Note: India".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Unity in diversity is basis for India". The Hindu. Dindigul, India. 9 January 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Unity in diversity". Times of India. Bhubaneswar, India. 28 January 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "When Muslims escorted a Hindu baraat". The Hindu. Srinagar, India. 13 August 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Inter-caste marriages in national interest: SC". Indian Express. New Delhi, India. 20 April 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Govt incentives for inter-caste marriages". The Hindu. Lucknow, India. 13 April 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Ajmer blast carried out to deter Hindus from dargah visit". India Today. NewDelhi, India. 10 January 2011. Retrieved 13 August 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Sabarimala tragedy: Muslim devotee among the dead pilgrims". Zee News. Kumil, India. 16 January 2011. Retrieved 13 August 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Mother of good health beckons all". The Hindu. Bangalore, India. 25 January 2011. Retrieved 13 August 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "A Sikh Temple Where All May Eat, and Pitch In". NewYork Times. Amritsar, India. 29 August 2010. Retrieved 13 August 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. PTI. "Militants fire on Hindi-speaking bus passengers, five dead in Assam". The Hindu. Retrieved 6 May 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "About NE Support Centre & Helpline". North East Support Centre & Helpline. 5 January 2011. Retrieved 14 August 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Delhi won't lend a home to students from northeast". Hindustan Times. New Delhi, India. 9 August 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Students from North East tired of discrimination". NDTV. New Delhi, India. 26 October 2009. Retrieved 14 August 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Northeast students question 'racism' in India". India edunews. 6 June 2009. Retrieved 13 August 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. Maya Sharma (15 October 2014). "Northeast Student Attacked in Bangalore, Allegedly For Not Speaking Kannada". Retrieved 6 May 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "Manipuri student attacked in Bangalore, 3 arrested". Retrieved 6 May 2015. External link in |work= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "After Bangalore, it's Gurgaon: N-E students brutally assaulted". Yahoo News India. 16 October 2014. Retrieved 6 May 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. Subir Bhaumik (23 May 2007). "Persecution of Assam's Hindi speakers". BBC
  20. Wasbir Hussain (12 August 2007). "30 Killed in Northeast Violence in India". Washington Post.
  21. Hindustani Sammelan stages fast-unto-death". Hindustan Times. 17 August 2007.
  22. "Militant Attacks on Non-Locals in Assam". SATP. Retrieved 4 February 2014.
  23. "Manipur rebels kill Hindi speakers". UPI. 18 June 2008.
  24. "Allegation of harrassment of Hindi-speaking people". DNA. 16 June 2008.
  25. "Nine Hindi-speaking people among 12 killed in Northeast". Hindustan Times. 12 May 2009.
  26. "Nine attacks since Monday, toll now 22". Indian Express. 10 November 2010.
  27. T. Haokip, "Inter-Ethnic Relations in Meghalaya", Asian Ethnicity, 15:3, 302-316, DOI: 10.1080/14631369.2013.853545
  28. "India Is Racist, And Happy About It". Outlook. India. 29 June 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  29. "African students often victims of racism, stereotyping". Deccan Herald. New Delhi, India. 12 March 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  30. Elizabeth Soumya. "Africans decry 'discrimination' in India". Retrieved 6 May 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>