ROAD to EQUALITY podcast

Episode 3 with Yuvraj Singh (Video, Audio & Transcript)

March 15, 2021




YUVRAJ:

Hello everyone, my name is Yuvraj Singh and I’m from India, the southern part of Asia. India is the second most populated country in the world. There are different religions that India follows and different races. Living in India for the past 20 years, I’ve experienced many things. I’ve seen many things on a daily basis. Racism in India is one major part. When I was living in India, I felt on a daily basis that racism, how we treat people on the basis of their colour, on the basis of their religion and on the basis of their caste.

There are many parts on which Indians describe people; first of all, race… The people of India are obsessed with the white, white skin, or the fair skin. There are TV products, there are TV commercials or there are Bollywood movies that encourage everyone to be more White. They don’t accept the reality that being dark or being different from anyone, being dark is not… It’s not your fault. There’s nothing bad in being dark, everyone is beautiful in their own way. But in India, there are TV commercials I’ve seen from the past 15 years on the TV on a daily basis, there are TV commercials that show the actor as being dark, and after applying their face products or after applying their creams, they become lighter, and then they get more attractive, girls start coming to them. That’s how TV commercials are shown. Same goes in the Bollywood movies. If they want to show that someone is not that rich or is poor or from the lower caste, they show them dark. Sometimes I have seen people who have white skin… They apply a dark colour on them in the movies to show that they are poor, to act on that. I think after coming to Canada, I think that’s really bad… Feeling that racism in India is in such a high pace that no one is really speaking on that. People do speak though, even though the biggest stars like Shahrukh Khan, Salman Khan, any of the biggest stars, they promote the products which show racism to everyone openly.

On the basis of caste, caste is like… It’s really bad in India. People are differentiated… People are being respected on their caste as general category, scheduled caste, other backward class, they’ve been treated totally differently… Being general class… I know there are some Hindu people… They are the people who follow Hinduism in India… There are some of the people that don’t even drink water served by the lower caste people. They don’t want to sit with them to have their meal with lower caste people. I think that’s really bad. There’s nothing you can differentiate about people’s caste; everyone is a human being, everyone is the same.

I think in my religion, I say that one of the greatest things that I feel is langar. Langar is said to be… It is started by our first guru and it is said to be that everyone is equal in front of God. Everyone sits together. It doesn’t matter where he came from what’s their caste, what’s their colour, what’s their gender, they all sit together, have their meal, because everyone is equal under the God and they all should be respected in a way.

On the basis of religion in India, 70% of the Indian population follows Hinduism. At the end of last year, there were three laws passed by the Indian government to the farming industry. But these three laws, the farmers suggested that they were not in favour of them. The farmers started protesting in November, in December of 2020 in their own particular, respective cities in their neighbourhood, but no government reacted, no one reacted on their demands or anything.

On December, in the end of December, they all started to go together into Delhi. Delhi is the capital of India where all the parliaments… Supreme Court is there. So every farmer, they all started a rally to Delhi. Also, it was a peaceful rally, but there were many barriers in between the states that stopped farmers from going to Delhi. Farmers were being beaten, they were forced to go back, they’ve been shot with tear gas and there were also water cannons that were shot on them. After coming to Delhi, they were stopped at the borders. They were being barricaded. There are spikes that no one, no car or no tractor can go about, so… But when it all started, the Indian media or the government, or the opposition party, as the BJP is the leading party in India right now… They all state that these protests are done by the terrorists. They stated that the farmers who feed the country, who feed India, they term them as a terrorist, as they say that only Sikh people are against the law, no one else.

Also, I want to state that the protest is being held all over the world right now. Even on the 7th of March 2021, there’s a rally being organized in Brampton right now, a peaceful rally. The cars are there in support of Indian farmers.

It’s been more than 100 days. The farmers are staying on the roads, freezing cold. Now the summer’s started. The government didn’t even react to them, they say that the laws are being passed. But another fact, farmers are of no religion, of no caste. They are farmers, they are feeding. They came as farmers, but the Indian media or the government state that only one religion, only Sikhism is there that is fighting against the rules, that Sikh people have the problems with the laws and no one else. Even the other parts of India like Gujarat, Gujarat does have protesters… They are with the farmers. The southern part of India, they are with the farmers, but no one says that. Even if I watch Indian media right now, they just say one thing: that terrorism is being done by the Sikhs, no one else.

It’s not only the Sikh people that face racism, even the Muslims face racism on a daily basis. I know that people treat Muslim people really differently in India. I studied in Chitkara University, there were different people… When we used to… Sitting in a canteen, having food together, I know people who were talking that… Say a Muslim guy came, and say there are Muslims sitting on the corner, they were being totally differentiated on the basis of their religion, on the basis that they came from Kashmir, they are near to Pakistan, or they say that they are terrorists.

I know it’s really felt bad that when you… When you want to study, when you come from a different part, as I come from India… If I say that I’m coming from India to Canada and someone is saying to me on a daily basis that you’re a terrorist, why you came to our country, I feel really bad, I feel… I don’t know what… I will feel really depressed that I want to study, I want to grow more, and people here are calling me terrorist, or people here are calling me… Differentiating me on the basis of my religion or my colour… We should not discriminate against anyone on the basis of their colour. Everyone is equal, everyone is beautiful. Why make TV commercials that state that being dark is bad and being White is beautiful? In India, it should have to be stopped right now.

In my view, I’ve also experienced many things that if someone… People judge everyone on the basis of their colour on their first experience. I know people saying that if someone is dark, he’s not rich. I know people who talk that… That he’s a businessman, but see, they talk about the colour then. You are Black… How can you be rich, how have you got some money in India? It’s so bad that my friends, even my old ones say many things on the basis of their religion, on the basis of their caste. I really… I really feel bad that I have connections like that. But I took a step. I say to them… I stop them, “What are you doing? Everyone is equal.”

As a youngster, we need to take a step to stop the commercials, to put a… Social media is a big platform right now. I want to say if you want to start something, if you’re against something that’s wrong and you’re on the right side, you can do many things. The biggest companies can stop their products because you took a step against them. As a youngster, I want to say that the companies like that which promote racism in India, take a step against them. Don’t use their products. Don’t let them promote to you. Don’t think that using their products will make you more beautiful. You’re beautiful in your own way. Everyone is beautiful in India in their own way.

As a hope, I want to see that India should be… If I visit India after a year or two, I want to see that everyone is being served equally, everyone is being seen equally, even the lower caste people, even the rich and the poor.

I was in a restaurant, in a good restaurant… Someone came with a normal shirt and trousers. He was dark, he was dark. But security stopped him. The managers talked to him, “Are you good that we have our prices like that? Are you suitable? Are you are you suitable to eat over here? Are you comfortable to eat over here?” I really feel that sitting in a restaurant like that, in a five-star restaurant, and the manager comes to you and asks you, “Sir, we have a really high price, are you suitable? Are you comfortable to eat over here?” How shameful he will be feeling that… How hurt he will be right now, standing… Hundreds of people are sitting and you’re being asked a question, “Are you comfortable about the prices over here?” In a hope, I see that India should stop and the people should stop to differentiate between rich and poor. I know some people can afford it, some people can’t, but that’s not their fault. You can’t shame someone because he can’t afford it.

I do think that India… India will stop a generation from now. People understand that… My generation or the coming generation, they understand that everyone is equal. Being, as I say, my father or my grandfather living, they have a different mentality, but my mentality, my future generation’s mentality is different. I hope that people, the coming generation will stop it, will not promote it more and more, differentiating on their caste or their colour or their religion.

After coming to Canada in 2019, I studied at George Brown College. I’ve experienced that things are totally different over here. At first, I really think that being in Canada is really, really good… It is good. It’s totally different from India. Racism is really on a low level. But being here on a daily basis, living, studying, I’ve experienced many things here… Black people or the dark-skinned complexion is… It’s racism over here too. People do comment on the dark skin, but… People do comment on the dark skin on a daily basis.

I have also worked as a security guard. I have talked to many police officers. I have seen their behaviour change from the White people to the dark people, the way that they talk, the way that they react to a situation when there are a group of White people or a group of Black people standing. I know how they judge them. They’re being… There was a situation that… I used to work at Yonge and Dundas, so it’s… A lot happens over there, it’s a major intersection. So I know a group of people… If there’s a group of Black or dark people standing at the side or near a store, the managers used to call the cops that there’s something suspicious happening. If someone is fair or White people are standing, no one says anything because they think that they are just enjoying, that it’s literally normal.

During COVID or during coronavirus, the Asian community felt… I have seen on social media on a daily basis that people do comment that because they are from China, they are from Asian countries… They state their name as COVID, “Hey COVID.” It’s not their fault that COVID or any virus that came from the Asian countries… No one knows that right now.

In Canada, people do comment on you that you are a terrorist, or “Why are you coming to our country?” There was a time when I used to travel from my work to home around 3 in the night or 2 in the night. The crackheads or people like that, the people who are on high on drugs, they do comment on us, “Hey, it’s our country. We are natives over here, so why are you coming to our country even though you don’t even know how to speak in English?” They comment on the way we have an accent in India, that… We do have an Indian accent in our English speaking, but they do comment on that. They profile us, they shout at us that you’ve been coming to our country, you’re taking our jobs, you are taking… You are getting more of the… More importance or more advantages than us, but they do forget that Canada is open to everyone. Anyone can come here, anyone can make their life.

In the future in Canada, I do feel really positive that if you are against someone, if someone… If a big community is against something bad, the government does listen to you. Even if I say that there was a case in George Floyd, people protested all over the world. There were actions taken against those police officers.

I’m really hopeful that Canada will be better… It is good. It does have a bad side on racism, on Black lives, on Asian communities, on the basis of that we come from India as a student… Or native people do say, “Why are you coming? So that you can take our jobs?” I do see that Canada or the people in Canada are really, really polite. They do… They will… It will take time, but in the future, I see… I see that in the future, I do see that everyone should be treated… Really, if I see a case or a two in a year, that I feel that someone felt racism… And I want to say that everyone is beautiful. It doesn’t matter how you look or where you are from, what’s your religion, where you came from. Everyone is equal in this world and everyone should be treated equally in this world.

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