Coronavirus, which has claimed more than 45,000 human lives across the world, may not be discriminating between races, but it has given an opportunity to bigots to scapegoat Chinese people and those with Oriental facial features.

The virus which originated in Wuhan, China has now spread to more than 150 countries, including Canada and the US. India, which shares a border with China, is no exception.

The disease has created a lot of fear, and with uncertainty prevailing because of lockdowns, economic crisis, and health emergencies in many parts of the globe, some vested interests are trying to capitalize on it.

All this has led to a spike in racism against the Chinese community, especially in countries like US and India. With extreme right wing leaders and governments with an axe to grind against China due to trade and territorial issues respectively, the hostility is getting out of hand.

So much so, US President Donald Trump himself is inciting hatred against Chinese people by repeatedly describing COVID 19 as “China virus”. Under such circumstances, Chinese people in North America are facing backlash.

In India, which has many longstanding issues with China, things are becoming more challenging under the right wing Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) government that wants to turn the country into a Hindu theocracy. Attacks on religious minorities have already grown under this government ever since it came to power in 2014.

Apart from many BJP supporters calling for boycotting Chinese goods, people from north eastern states of the country are being targeted across the nation known for its cultural diversity. Just because residents of these states bear oriental facial features, they are taken as Chinese and being assaulted because of coronavirus.

A case in point is a woman from Manipur who was spat on in New Delhi – the national capital of India – by someone who called her “corona”. If this was not enough, Nagaland students were stopped from entering a grocery store in Mysuru. Such incidents have forced Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga to ask Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene and stop racial abuse against North-eastern people. He also tagged fellow Chief Ministers from other North-eastern states on twitter.

To be fair though, people from North-eastern states in India have always faced discrimination in other parts of the country. It’s a shame that the Indian mainstream has largely failed to embrace them adequately and have always seen them as “outsiders”.

Caste-based prejudices, regionalism and religious divisions have existed in India for years.

Nevertheless, coronavirus has made things more difficult, and Trump’s anti-China rhetoric has further fortified such hatred. With Modi being Trump’s ally and having a huge following, the trickle-down effect of such fear mongering is not hard to understand.

Gurpreet Singh is a journalist


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One Comment

  1. Avatar Nandakumar K N says:

    Countercurrents is doing great job in this time sell out of media wholly to the ruling elites.