The quintessential obnoxious “Madrasi” is “Kaala”, studious and a pinchpenny in the delusions of the average North Indian psyche. Almost as a tit for tat, the South Indians scorn the “Northys” as ostentatious, boorish, pompous, proverbial frogs. Prima facie these prejudices appear harmlessly skin deep. After all, India thrives on its obsession with fairness. It’s 432 million dollar fairness cream market, growing at 18% per year and consuming 233 tonnes of fairness products, shames the likes of Coca-Cola. From “Fair and lovely” and “Fair & Teen” to “Fair & Handsome” it’s almost viral in the sub-continent.
The great Indian divide along North-South lines now stands blurred. Scientists from Harvard Medical School and the CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology in Hyderabad, argue that this is a myth. Geniticists prefer Ancestral North Indian population (ANI) and Ancestral South Indian population (ASI) as nomenclatures over cultural terminologies such as Aryan and Dravidian. ANI were related to Central Asians, Middle Easterners, Caucasians, and Europeans whereas ASI were primarily from the subcontinent. The ANI or Aryan and ASI or Dravidian are mythical mammoths that donot exist in modern day India – they grazed 4000 years ago. Subsequently, widespread admixture set in motion and every community in India (even the most isolated tribals) evolved from this randomly mixed concoction of ANI-ASI. The ANI ancestry of modern Indians ranges from 39-71% in most groups and the indigenous Andaman islanders may be the only ASI-related group without ANI ancestry. The saga doesn’t end there. Unfortunately after a rabid inter-mixing, endogamy sets in and froze everything in its place, atleast for the ANI-ASI mixture. But did all racial inter-mixture halt after that ? To make a blanket statement such as that would be incongruous. Various racial cocktails continuously trickled in India, even after the ANI-ASI mixture, be it through invaders in the North or traders in the South.
Underlying India’s “colour-fixation” is a subtle but disturbing undercurrent of racial profiling grounded in “Aryan” and “Dravidian” fantasies. Not surprisingly, this fiery brand of ethos permeate and polarize Indian minds not only along North/South regional antipathies but also along high/low caste stereotyping, linguistic intolerances and even ideologies of political parties. While historians debate and counter-argue about the validity of the Aryan Invasion theory (AIT), Indians are quite content with this dish. It serves all, it’s the chicken tikka masala everyone likes to lick. It blesses “Kalaignar” with Dravidian votes, it rights anti-Hindi protests in the South and it legitimizes a “Madrasi” into a harmless bollywood-joker. A Kumar Vishwas humours his North Indian audience with a “Kali-peeli” jibe at Keralites, a pious hindu likes his Krishna blue, a matrimonial column reads “seeks alliance from FAIR educated girls”, an NRI Punjabi flaunts his “Gori” wife. Colour-centric stereotypes in perception are not hard to spot – An average North Indian is fair and Aryan, the average South Indian is dark and Dravidian – Nandi Das and Aishwarya Rai are conveniently advertised as freeks of nature in North and South !!!. Is it that simple ?
India forgets that its civilization has been one of continuity and is essentially a potpourri and hence any form of ethno-geographical or cultural or even linguistic puritanism is blasphemous – “PURE” does not exist.