What’s Wrong With This Picture?

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There will be two, maybe three, more posts going up to the 15th August.

Now, what is wrong with this picture?

Does the girl look Chinese?

Is she “Chinky”?

If you answered ‘yes’ to the above two questions, then you are wrong.

She is from the North Eastern state called Manipur. There are seven states in North East India, where the people have Mongoloid genes. It is one of my favourite parts of the country. I have travelled there in the past, and intend to travel and photograph it again in the next few years.

She is not Chinese, nor is she “Chinky”. She is very much Indian, and she is a friendly girl who once served me up a fantastic hot dog.

Yet, people in Delhi call them Chinky and beat them up. Several have been killed.

When I was 16, I was sitting quietly in the Army Mess ( we were to be seen, but not heard) listening to a Parsi Lady wax eloquent about the Americans, and how they mistreat Indians, and discriminate against us. She then went on to criticise black people, and when I finally, timidly raised my hand and said, “Ma’am, but aren’t you doing the same? Discriminating against a bunch of people?”

Giving me a withering look, she said, “Young boy. You don’t understand. We are light brown. We are not black. Therefore, no one has the right to discriminate against us.” With that, I was dismissed.

A few years back, there were reports in the Indian papers about Indian students being beaten up in Australia. Now, I am not going to go into the details, nor excuse the Aussies. Neither will I excuse the Indians who, other reports claimed, had made no attempt to integrate into the Aussie society.

Yet, here we are, discriminating against our own people, simply because they look different, and come from a part of the country that not too many Indians know about.

Methinks, we need to look at ourselves in the mirror and ask ourselves how we, as Indians, can do better.

It is easy to talk about Americans, Aussies, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Parsis, Blacks, Yellows, Whites, Greens, and say – “You bad sonofabitch! How dare you discriminate against me!”

We have made strides, as a Nation. When I was in my teens, any one from the South was considered dark and not fit for marriage into a North Indian family. With the opening up of our economy, things have improved on this front. But not enough.

Unless we learn to respect what, and who, is different, we will never find peace on this planet.


  1. I was thinking there was something wrong with the dog picture as advertising for steam hotdog thing…sorry, no, I don’t think there is something wrong with the lady at all. She is beautiful, btw.
    I agree with your view. Well said Rajiv.

  2. I was laughing at the ‘willydogs.com’ I suppose she does look a little Chinese, she has very fair skin which I always thought was prized in India… I do know when I lived for a couple of years in Malaysia the Seikh girls seemed to look very different from the Hindus there. Well said, good post.

  3. Well said, indeed. I am so far removed from racial profiling / discrimination that I often forget it exists.
    Like others, I searched hard to find what was “wrong” with this photo. Nothing!

    1. I know… Nothing really wrong. But, if one of those crazy Delhi people were to read this post, they would castigate me for “talking well of a Chinki”.

  4. I think racism is a product of fear, fed by religion – or I should say, by those who would corrupt religious teachings to support their racism. This fear of the unknown, of the “different,” that seems almost inherent in the human race can be overcome with education, but as you pointed out so eloquently in a previous post, children today are being taught what to think rather than how to think. When I look back to the conditions under which blacks lived in the U.S. that resulted in the race riots of the ’60s, I can see that strides have been made, but the disparity is still so huge that I think we will see more race riots in the next decade or two. I guess that, if you can’t fight fear with education, you fight fear with fear.

  5. Dear Ann, I agree with you that “racism is a product of fear”. It might be “fed by religion”. But there was no religion in the Soviet Union and racism was thriving there. Racism used to get power and all kinds of benefits. There is white racism and black racism, etc.

  6. That’s a beautiful post, Rajiv…thanks for it, we do need to spread the message against racial discrimination at all levels, if we are looking at the citizens of the world belonging to ‘one global human race’.

  7. I think you are wise and brave for this post Rajiv. I have encountered Indians who thought that if they spoke in my husbands language I would not understand their disparaging remarks (I simply don’t speak it – but understand it well). At the same time I am humbled by my husbands own family who are simple, uneducated farmers who have lovingly welcomed me into their family & homes.

    I like to think that kindness and acceptance is grown organically through people like you (your kids->your grandchildren..) my inlaws -> son >nephews & niece -> their children and so on and that with enough time these issues will be fewer and fewer.

    1. Hey thanks for your comment! Yes, I agree with what you say. When I used to travel to South India, the local sales team would switch to their local language when they wanted to make disparaging remarks, sometimes forgetting that I would look at the expressions on their faces. North Indians do the same!

  8. Thank you for another wonderful post! I absolutely agree with you, that we should all look at ourselves in the mirror and ask ourselves if we are not (either consciously or subconsciously) doing the same things that we accuse others of doing. And, I think this young woman is a beauty 🙂

  9. Very Well said, Rajiv! Kudos. After all the clever search for the ‘wrong’ in the picture, from the Comments it is very gratifying to see that Nobody saw Anything wrong with that Pretty Girl.

    To come to: ‘Unless we learn to respect,’ at the end of the post… Who TEACHES us that? Our Parents, Our Teachers, and …Our Religious Leaders. That is where You find me trying to Pull them Up.

    Keep Up the Good work. Regards.

  10. Agree with all you say, Rajiv. I’d just add that even if she were from China, one has no business calling her names.

    PS: Is this the shop located near Priya Cinema, Vasant Vihar?

  11. I hope I am still here to see a day when we as a world make a massive shift of consciousness concerning racial differences, hatred of the other, and inclusion vs exclusion. Great post, Rajiv!

  12. Rajiv, this world has become very “small”. People that are from different cultures or racial backgrounds must share th world. I do not think of a peopson by thir skin tone , or features. These , we are born with and did not choose. WHO we are i so much deeper thn that. It would be nice if we could know a peron before we form opinions on them. Looking alike does not me BEING alike in beliefs or interests. beebeesworld

  13. Before I read you post I would have answered that she looked too young to work. To me she looks to be 12 or 13 years old! I could be wrong. I also think I’ve lead a very sheltered life and reading your blog is like a huge eye opener. There is so much to read that I didn’t know! 😀

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