It’s been six years since I wrote my blog post “Chinky: What me insult?” which appeared in “NE Sun” and a couple of other renowned magazines. And today, everybody’s talking about this again because India Today published an article that begins with the sentence… “The next time you decide to call a person from the North-East a ‘Chinki’, you could end up cooling your heels behind bars for the next five years.”
Growing incidents of racial discrimination and verbal abuse against citizens from the North-East have forced the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to send a letter to all the states and Union Territories, asking them to book offenders guilty of atrocity against people from the region under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act since a significant number of persons from the North-East belong to the Scheduled Tribes.
The Indian twittersphere responded…
@samar11 tweeted - Five years for calling someone chinki. I guess racist india needed extreme punishment.
While @mojororo stated truthfully - You can now go to jail if you call a North-Easterner a chinki. You can also go to jail for no reason if you are just a North-Easterner.
I had an interesting discussion with my good twit-friend @twilightfairy too who replied - @Mizohican i know and fully agree that politically incorrect terms shd nt be used. but Jail is too much. so many other words deserve jail no?
And I find @aatifsumar’s wisecrack really funny - If I were a North Eastern Indian, I would rename myself to Chinki just to mess with people.
On the question of whether the slur chink, chinki, chinky etc. is offensive or not, well, I have been called such names many times even at the comment section of my blog, and you can judge for yourselves if you think the usage is offensive or not…
This one was when I wrote the aforementioned blog post [Comment link]
Oh, let’s start by getting things straight, what is this? A Whining little chink from North east? What happened can’t get along with the realities of life in India? Your ugly aids infested wh0rish women and your ugly men, including your butt ugly face and nose, and eyes clearly deserve the word Chink.
Or when I wrote a normal blog post about the internet… [Comment link]
India doesn’t need whining chinks like you, we just need your land to be the buffer zone , not you. We poured out crores of rupees into Mizoram every year, and what was the result? No industries, nothing. You are just leechers.
Or even this post where I was celebrating India’s diversity… [Comment link]
and where are your chinko mizos? I don't see them anywhere else in the world or even lol in hind-fuk-sthan either, sitting and jumping on bamboo sticks and eating dogs for dinner ?
And there are so many more on just my blog alone, I don’t even want to talk about the rest of the internet…
After being verbally abused like that almost every day and reading such comments everywhere, it’s quite easy for most North-Easterners to assume this is how the rest of India feels about them.
Vice Chancellors of reputed Universities have stereotyped us over and over again. Police racially profile us. Even newspapers continue to stereotype us. Remember “Mail Today” that reported, “The next time a drug peddler knocks on your door to deliver drugs, it will not be an African but a girl from the North East”? [my response to that report]
It’s not just about being called a chinky, but about people whom I’ve never met or known before calling me from the roadside “Abey watchman”, “momo”, “bahadur”, “ching chong”, “waiter”, and laughing their asses out…
And then comes some of the prominent Indians on twitter, like @gkhamba, who immediately tweeted today -
You can now go to jail for calling someone from the North East chinki. Personally, I prefer "waiter".
…and even got many retweets from his 20K+ followers, making more crude jokes about people from the North East.
And of course if we protest, we are told to grow up or that we lack a sense of humor. I wish these people could put themselves in the shoes of somebody from the North East for just one day and see what we have to endure every day. Haha yeah that would be utterly hilarious. Where’s the sense of humor now, huh?
Overall, when my close friends call me a chinki, I am not offended at all. I know they mean it affectionately. I’ve been outside Mizoram all my life and have more non-Mizo friends than Mizos. I know for a fact that there are many broad minded and politically correct Indians out there. But will this new law stop the few deranged ones from verbally abusing North Eastern people on the streets and restaurants?
Only time will tell, I guess.
Maybe if an example is made of, say, a stand-up comedian who takes pride in calling people from the North East as “waiters”, maybe things will change? Hah, who will have the last laugh then? :)
Nah, just kidding. @gkhamba can be really funny sometimes and I’m sure he’s a really nice guy, and that’s the problem with being a standup comic – sometimes you have to insult certain communities for the sake of wringing out a few laughter from your audience, after all, truth be told, we’re all a little racist inside. As a Mizo, I can laugh to harmless jokes about our Mizo Christian community, our accent, our hot temper, or even about eating dog’s meat (even though many of us don’t eat it). But lines must be drawn and it’s hard to laugh when somebody refer to northeastern women as prostitutes or the men as watchmen or waiters.
But I think most of us are MISSING THE POINT here.
Everybody’s discussing about how chinki can be a racial slur etc etc… completely missing out the crux of the statement from the Ministry of Home Affairs.
@laajjo tweeted - I gather it's in a bad taste to called NEs chinki. When are we banning the sardar, sindhi, South indian, marwari, gujju, baniya jokes then?
@twilightfairy tweeted - Abusing someone does not a baal baanka, but calling someone chinki can land u in jail?
@lifetimefe tweeted - If we go to jail for calling north eastern people chinki, then all north Indians must go to jail for calling south Indians Madrasis.
@kmanojmenon replied - @Mizohican @northeastblog he is extending law to sections to whom it does not apply, will he apply to Biharis, in Mumbai & Delhi ?
See, see, see… this is NOT about the word “chinki”, per se. This issue is not just about uttering racial slurs. This is not some new law the MHA made up, out of the blue. It is not suddenly giving people from the North East special status and protection. Many of us are not aware of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 which protects SC and ST people from discriminations and atrocities from the upper castes, like verbal abuses and racial slurs.
If you find this Act unfair, then hey, you can speak to the law makers of our country and tell them to scrap this law or amend it. I didn’t chart this Act. I had nothing to do with it. But as long as this Act is in place, then that means SC and ST people are protected. And most North Eastern people are ST, so that is why you cannot use racial slurs like chinky because according to this Act’s atrocity definition, the one and only reason why you’re abusing him as a chinky is because of his identity, WHICH is indeed an offense under this Act.
Yes, my friend. This Act has always been around, and what India Today did was merely reminded the citizens of this great country about the existence of this Act.
I hope this tweet by my good friend @MansinghNepram clears some of the confusion…
"Chinki" could get you jailed for five years according to SC/ST act - > Dont belong to SC/ST, no protection for me? :D
He’s from Manipur, a Meitei. Hence he is neither an SC nor ST, unlike his Mizo and Naga neighbors who are all Scheduled Tribes. Therefore, TECHNICALLY, if somebody calls him a chinky, then that perpetrator (unfortunately) CANNOT be punished under this same Atrocities Act.
Hope it’s clear now.
Cheers, y’all. And I’m sure some of the racial abusers will comment on my blog again. Haters gonna hate. :)