Racial Profiling - Episodic Misgivings


Human species has evolved over the ages to greet its fellow beings with trust rather than suspicion. Societies too have donned this evolutionary mantle over the years though not without many wars over caste, religion and creed. There has been much carnage, the memories which are too horrifying to recount in words and continue to raise strong emotions in the affected as well as those who have been concerned with placid human evolution before we have settled to a higher form of social progress.

In the modern World, the nation state has come to represent the hopes and aspirations of multitudes and is considered the highest institution devised for sustained human development, a model which is now being challenged by two very divergent ideological processes, in totally opposite paths, the European Union benignly and the Al Qaeda, violently. People are thus left with two choices to decide on the model of unity that they would like to follow. Saner citizens are aware that the Al Qaeda model is not a paradigm of progress but a call to anarchy. However it is increasingly being granted legitimacy in the eyes of those who tend to be carried away due to their inability to distinguish between the right and the wrong course against the propaganda of misdeed of the Al Qaeda and the proclivities for racial profiling by their neighbors and fellow citizens. While communities have been responding with ghettoisation, individuals take the most perilous course of being suicide bombers, though recent research has conclusively proved that the latter is totally unrelated to racial affiliation.

Racial profiling is not a new trend; it has existed in human history over the years. People are increasingly prone to coagulate based on parochial affinities as that has been the basis of human survival against the odds of social and economic tension in modern societies. Expression of such tension through a deliberate and sustained institutional process leads to adoption of violent means. The proliferation of means and ideology available for the deviants to express their grievances in the form of fundamentalist terrorism makes racial profiling a dangerous phenomenon, the perils of which need serious debate. In civilized societies it is providing grist to the flawed theory of clash of civilizations and plays into the hands of the fundamentalists on both sides of the dyadic divide.

The post Second World War panacea to racial profiling was creation of new nation states, providing security as well as aspirational satisfaction to communities, India, Pakistan and Israel are its most salient examples. However over the years it is evident that the nation state cannot constrain many other human aspirations. Globalization has firmed in this belief despite the Balkanization of Yugoslavia, not many states based on racial differences have been created.

India as a multi cultural, multi ethnic society has crossed the Rubicon of racial profiling decades ago. The birth of this, 'jewel of the East' of the erstwhile British crown was wrecked by the pangs of tectonic violence of one community against another. As the nation settled down to its, 'tryst with destiny' there were many incidents small and large where racial profiling led to large scale violence, be it involving the Sikhs in 1984 or the current phase, followers of Islam which started with the Babri Masjid violence and has ebbed and flowed since then. There are hopes though that India has finally come to grips with the problem of racial profiling, the sole positive development of the terror strikes in Mumbai in July this year. This supports the premise that these are episodic happenings following the occurrence of an earth shaking event which is seen to be perpetrated by members of a particularly community, tacitly or otherwise supported by the diaspora at large. Gradually however the larger community accepts the futility of the premise of demonizing multitudes for the misdeeds of a few and goes on to influence general public opinion towards greater harmony. This trend is confirmed by the greater involvement of an enlightened community and even the police in Mumbai, who had learnt their lessons from the past incidents well and despite some hastily launched combing operations of Muslim dominated areas, the situation remained perfectly under control.

The key to preventing growth of racial profiling is thus an understanding by the community at large, that by creating disharmony they are contributing to the cause of the anarchists, that it does not suit the purpose of society at large and primarily that it will not be good for economy or more specifically their livelihood. Unfortunately till such a realization comes there may occur many intervening episodes of major as well as minor racial profiling be it terrorist attacks, razing of religious places or simple utterances by influential members of the word, 'terrorist' in reference to a member of a particular community on television. 


More by :  Col. Rahul K. Bhonsle

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