Racial Discrimination in Urban India

Shivangi Kaushik

February 2019

DPhil International Development (University of Oxford)

Picture1 - Shivangi Kaushik - Zoë Johnson.jpg

The paper seeks to understand how racial subjectivities of women who migrate from Northeast India to New Delhi are shaped in relation to people who look different from them and claim to be more ‘Indian’. Alongside I also try to understand if the way colonial ethnographies of the various ethnic groups of the region have described them as naked headhunters or barbaric also impact how postcolonial India designs and formulates development policies for the region. Do people in New Delhi treat them as the exotic other today? Can their access to work and higher education (Colleges) in the college be mediated through the way they look? Through an ethnography of their everyday experiences in the city, I try to understand how power may be exerted on them to limit their choices especially in the case of finding rented accommodation in New Delhi. Are racially homogeneous neighbourhoods the answer? Can they subvert the colonial gaze on them today by 'worlding' the city through creating spaces of Northeast India (restaurants, fast food joints and association, journals) within New Delhi? By protesting against the racial discrimination within Delhi are they able to claim access to resources as equal Indian citizens like the ones who look different from them?

I am excited because for long, India denied that she is racist. The focus has always been on caste as the sole 'evil' social institution in the country producing social inequality. The paper tries to overturn this assumption and looks at how racial subjectivities are formed in the capital city where women who migrate from the periphery of India, face racial discrimination in their everyday lives in relation to the ones who claim to be the original inhabitants of the city.