Monday, October 24, 2005


India and Racism

Inquiring minds want to know if folks from India practice racism? My own thought on the matter seems as if it still is present. Let me state the reasons why...

When one looks at firms such as Infosys and their employees, a vast majority of them tend to be of higher castes. Of course, many will tell you that caste based hiring no longer occurs but statistics show a different picture than the rhetoric.

American's who grew up in the 80s and 90's are keenly aware of the notion of equal opportunity and understand it is simply wrong to hire (or not hire) based on the nationality, religion, gender or ethnic origin of a person. In fact, American corporations have taken deliberate steps to not only put an end to discrimination but to also encourage diversity. Too bad the Indian government hasn't encouraged diversity at all levels.

Sometimes folks from India who come to America forget or simply are not aware that they too should practice diverse hiring and not just people from their own countries. I was reminiscing with a friend who was born in India about an experience I had in the days after September 11th.

I visited the local market down the street from work to buy halal meat. The shop was owned by a person from Somalia and is located in a minority community comprised of black and hispanic people. Several street people approached me in conversation while I was in the shop telling me that I should avoid buying pizza from the guy next door because he was down with Bin Laden (He wears a turban and was a Sikh). They also told me that they would put him out of business. Not wanting to put my own health in harm's way, I didn't bother to educate them to the real facts and let them think whatever they wanted and for this I admit my guilt.

Anyway, as months past the pizza shop owned by the guy from India was ultimately closed. In a location a couple of doors down, another Indian person opened a fried chicken store prior to it closing and is still wildly successful. Being somewhat puzzled, I asked myself the reason why one was successful while the other one wasn't and the answer suddenly appeared.

The Indian owner of the pizza shop thought it was sufficient that he simply could work hard and take money from the community without giving back. He only hired people from his country. Compare and contrast the Indian owner who opened the fried chicken store had hired people from the community that were of different ethnic descent and was successful.

In other words, he understood the importance of diversity. He knew that if he created jobs from those in the community, they in turn would show him not only respect but reward him with business. I wonder how many other folks from India will stop hiring only others from their own country and start practicing diversity?

Maybe diversity will not be a choice in India. Imagine what would happen if American companies started to enforce the same rules and guidelines they practice in America on their outsourcing partners? Imagine how much better India would be if a new generation understood that discrimination no matter what the reason is wrong...

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