One of my friends in northern Europe, a white psychologist who was watching the news of the landing of the Chandrayan in a restaurant overheard a couple of people at the next table saying, “Oh! But they are so dark. There is not a single fair person amongst them,” as if the presence of a white person would have made it something more tolerable and news worthy. They were journalists and their targets of conversation were the scientists applauding. The others around nodded their head in agreement as my friend, never a racist said he was shocked to hear that while sharing it with me. As he understood, their conversation was around the dark color of the scientists at the command center. There was no comment or discussion on any other aspect of the landing.
As we discussed it on phone, we talked about how it was a great disappointment for them and perhaps many more that how another bastion of racism has fallen today. We discussed how success is still associated with the color of your skin by many whites and people of fair skin. We talked about how the idea of who is a hero has been defined by western standards as someone who is white and fair, blue eyed and handsome. It doesn’t matter what the field is. While other bastions have fallen, it was unthinkable that rocket science or space research, the most complex of all sciences, would not hold up the racist ideology. Our heroes would remain forever well defined who confirm to a certain notion of racial type.
The mocking and ridicule, the primarily white media is showing towards our landing on the moon is perhaps symptomatic of the same mindset which held that Indians do not have the capability to do something great or meaningful and therefore, need to be colonized and ruled. It also tells us that we need to achieve more such results and show the world particularly the white one that it was a false idea, a bloated and prejudicial mindset that was at the foundation and still remains true for a section of people. It will not be the elimination of poverty or social ills alone by which the western media defines and identifies us but the very achievement like Chandrayan that will forever lift us out of the colonial mindset that binds us.
India has become the fourth nation to land a spacecraft on moon and the only nation of color to do so. The other America and Russia are white nations. China, the third country may be said to be highly racist. They see themselves as fair and are also seen so by the white world unlike the dark Indians. I always wondered why China’s achievements were never downplayed or put down while India’s were always seen as undeserving and flukes till I understood that the answer may lie in two words racism and enslavement of us.
We were enslaved for two hundred years. The dark skinned and enslaved by the whites defined the identity of Indians for so long. In a quiet, subtle and historical way, the launching and landing of the Chandrayan may be said to be one such moment when another defining moment for racism may be said to have crumbled like several other moments of history.
When Jesse Owens broke the world records in athletics in 1936 Olympics, he gave a crushing blow to Hitler’s idea of the superiority of the white race. The world was never the same again after that as it showed that skin color is not a marker of talent or capability.
The Indian mind, I believe, will never go back to the same level of existence again after this event. Like so many collective traumas we have undergone in our history, this is moment where we reject the identity heaped on us from the past that we are incapable of anything, should remain forever entrapped in inferiority and guilt.
The Indian mind, I believe, now will take a leap, a flight of imagination into the unknown that it has not done for a long, long time, perhaps reaching to a state that existed for us before the invasions started, our Vedic times. Our mind entrenched with ideas of survival of our lives and our society was trapped in guilt. How can beggars be choosers, doing what the masters do? Breaking out of that shackle, it is now about to take a leap into the unknown where imagination is not a dirty word, where the realm of possibility is no longer marked by fear and uncertainty. In times to come the landing of the Chandrayan will be defined as a moment where Indians began to throw away the mindset of racial inferiority and slavery.
Psychologist, Speaker and Author (The Infidel Next Door)