Racism Against Indians in Goa

Posted on January 21, 2010 in Society

Rudrani Das Gupta:

It did not end with 1947, in case you were wondering. You feel so relieved about not being in Australia after all the horrifying news reports that you have been reading about the attacks on the Indians there. Stop right there and take a look around. In the land of pristine beaches and buffeting waves, there is an ugly side that many fail to see.

If you think that you know all about Goa and it’s notorious reputation for sex, drugs and the occasional rape thrown in, there is more to come. Being a place frequented by truck loads (or, in this case, plane-loads) of foreign tourists, there are certain places there where you will be subjected to subtle racist hostility from the tourist population who, by the way are supposed to be visiting YOUR country! And, worse than that, there are many local Goans who will show a marked reference for “foreigners” when it comes to serving them or offering them rooms. If you want to prove it, try walking down the famous (infamous?) Anjuna beach, looking for rooms.

This narrative obviously stems from a first hand experience of the intensely disturbing instances of racism in one of the most happening tourist regions in the country. There are certain beaches which are mostly frequented by the “middle-class Indian crowd” as many travel guides choose to phrase it. Foreign tourists are rarely seen. On the other hand, in places like Anjuna which was one of THE destinations for the Woodstock generation in the ’60s, Indians are rarely found.

We had the misfortune of choosing Anjuna as one of our travel destinations and for the first few hours we had to scout around for rooms. It was then that many guesthouse owners politely informed us that they did not cater to an Indian clientele. The best part is, these people were Indians themselves. The place which was gracious enough to accommodate us, told us that they did not take in Indians generally, but since we looked like “decent people”, they would be glad to make an exception for once! From what we gathered, Indians are regarded as a noisy and ill-mannered bunch who are known for the wake of litter that they leave behind wherever they go. This ridiculous generalization surely leaves one speechless.

There was still more to come. Most of the times, whenever we happened to enter one of the numerous cafes, the level of conversation in the room would drop by a couple of decibels and the people would turn around and stare.

There was this instance for example, when a lady walked into the cafe where we were sitting and started handing out flyers for a rave party that was going to take place somewhere. The reason why I am unable to mention the name of the place in this article is not because I am trying to save my backside from the drug police but because I don’t know! And why do I not know? Because the tourist deliberately bypassed our table and passed around the flyers to all the “white” people sitting there! No one wants to lose out on foreign revenue.

So, what’s a little “black or white” got to do with that?

Related: Logic of Racism