Monika Khangembam Talks About Racism In Indian Society At Converge 2016

Posted on November 12, 2016 in Racism, Specials

By YKA Staff:

Today, Youth Ki Awaaz hosted its flagship event CONVERGE 2016, featuring a series of back-to-back talks delivered by some of the most inspiring change makers in India.

Following a powerful speech delivered by Kartik Lokhande, the event witnessed an equally hard-hitting talk by Monika Khangembam. Khangembam, who is known for her activism against the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Manipur and as a prominent crusader against racism in India, set the tone of her speech right at the beginning.

Speaking about her recent experience of racism in a Delhi airport, she said, “There is an inherent racism in the Indian society.” She went on to highlight how she was treated by the passport control official, recalling: “He even asked me ‘Indian toh nahi lagte ho (You don’t look Indian)’.” The unfortunate event was followed by an unfair internal inquiry by airport authorities on the matter, after which the official was not prosecuted.

Monika questioned the justification behind the verdict and commented: “There is no bloody law against racism in this country.” She then went on to highlight the importance of having such a law in place, saying: “[The incident] affects the person, it affected me, it affected my mental state.”

Concluding her talk on a hopeful note, Monika said that the way forward was first, for the government to acknowledge the existence of racism in the country and the need to instate an explicit law against it. Secondly, she said that education should involve crucial lessons about the need for humanity and empathy , rather than limit itself to impersonal lessons about alternate histories. Finally, she appealed to every Indian as an individual to listen and understand different cultures, accept their mistakes and apologise for them, take responsibility for them and hold themselves accountable for future mistakes. After all, we can only beat the menace of racism together, as a collective unit.