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Monday, June 04, 2012

Chp 406. Chinki/Chinky in the limelight again

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. :)


Anonymous said...

On the question of being called Chinky I don't personally feel offended - God knows there are more than a billion chinkies in China alone!!

Way smarter and prosperous than India.

And then again, being called Nepali or Bahadur or any word trying to relate us to Nepal/ese - I find very amusing!!!

The only country or people Indians dare make fun of is the only Hindu kingdom in the world and their neighbor - says more about themselves (Indians) than anyone else!!

Do you know Singapore is a very clean city - only where there are Indians are there dirt!!

Mizohican said...

Now that you mentioned about the Nepali slur, it's also extremely ironic that most Nepalis do not resemble people from the North East and in fact are more similar in looks to the average Indian :)

koolio said...

Calling NE chinki = bad racial slur. Th bigger issue is how are they going to prove that the jailed uttered the word? Have they prescribed the number of witnesses and how do u prove that the witnesses are free of racial slurs?

Mizohican said...

hehe... yeah good point there bro. I don't know how they're going to prove it in court.... but then, the original news article said 6,272 people have already been booked under this act due to atrocities against SC, so I guess it should work the same way for us ST too :D

claytonia vices said...

Good post dude! Insensitivity at various levels is the problem. Every person who uses a slur fails to realize he/she could be called a cabdriver, Cow-Kisser, Curry-Muncher, Diaper-Head, Dot-Head, Hadji, Patel, Push-Button elsewhere by their own kind, that is, other racists! LOL

I used for reference on these slurs.

Martin said...

When I was in school, a dark South Indian would be "kaloo" or "madrasi", any East Indian or Goan would be a "pau" a fair guy would be "chikne", a Sardar would be a million things, a Muslim would be another million, a tall guy would be "lamboo", a short guy "chintoo", We had a couple of north eastern guys, but the name of a Chinese guy "Chang" was used for all of them. Looking back now, I realise that the problem started out that early.

Did you hear the noise our media made when there were reports of Indians getting trashed in Australia? We racist? NO WAY!

Mizohican said...

@ claytonia and Martin: Thanx for your comment :) I know racial slurs have been always there, and it will be hard to stop this. But I think many people on the net are missing the point here.

This announcement by the MHA is not just about racial slurs or who calls who what. The main point is, most North Easterners are STs, and as ST, we are protected by the Constitution. Using this special SC and ST Atrocities Act, anybody who utters racial slur or discriminates us in the work place or any other place just because of our identity can be jailed.

That is the point I was trying to bring out :) Unfortunately, if you look at the twitter world, most people are still fixated on the word "chinki" itself, and debating how it could be a racial slur or how other racial slurs should be banned too etc etc... sad...

Unknown said...

I don't know about Delhi or Mumbai but I was in Bangalore for 2 years. I have been called 'chinky' too but I cannot complain because in Mizoram we call plain people 'Vai', in Meghalaya plain people are called 'dakhar'. And no one wants to be a 'Vai' or 'Dakhar'.

In India, we are all rasist, north, south,east,west and northeast. So my chinky mates, the next time someone call you chinkie and before you make a big deal out of it, remember that it does not mean 'everybody' hates you. n a country with 1.2 billion people, there will always be a 'few' bads among the many goods. And before you complain about the rasicm, do remember the 'Vai(s)' and 'Dahkar(s)' at your home.

For north east to be recognized, more and more people should work in the national media. This is my piece

Mizohican said...

Thanx for the comment Jacob. I don't think it would be fair to say "vai" and "dakhar" are the same. The word "vai" actually originated from the word "bhai" but since we Mizos don't have "Bh" in our alphabets, it became "Va". So calling a non Mizo "vai" means calling him a brother. But if somebody says "vai chhia" or "vai ek" etc., then that is a racial slur and I have never ever used such words. Anyway, the point of this article is not about the racial slur or which word is offensive, but about the implication of this law. As Scheduled Tribes, we are protected under the "SC and ST Atrocities Act" so any form of verbal insult of discrimination we face from the upper castes, that person is punishable by law.

H3RM!T said...

Being born to a bengali father and a mizo mother, I have been bombarded with racial abuses, for a greater part of my life.
I was called VAI while I was studying in Mizoram ( this changed when I reached HIGH school) and when I went for college I was called a Chinky, Chinese etc. The VAI remark has stopped now, I guess this shows the increasing acceptance of non-mizos in MIZORAM.

In short ,I'll say we INDIANS are the most racist people in the world.

I don't mind when people call me chinky. Its offensive when I am called Chinese or nepali.

Its also offensive when people ask "which country?" when I answer " I am from MIZORAM"

Unknown said...

Vai may not be an offensive term literally but the way we use it is offensive. For example,In Assam, people use the word 'Bihari' as a racial slur. An Assamese friend once told me that being called a 'Bihari' was considered an offence (to the point where even the real Biharis are offended when they are called Biharis)

So the law said calling people chinky (or any other racial slur) is punishable. Personally I couldn't care less. Think it's just gonna make the situation worst. It reinforces the stereotype that poeple already have about the NE. It makes us more and more distant. Just my opinion.

H.Vangchhia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
H.Vangchhia said...

A ngaihnawm e.

Anyways, If they call you "chinky," call them "owl eyes" :P

Roady said...

So.. this is what happened on teh day I read about this news.

There was this delhite girl sitting next to me who told me about the ban. She's a Delhite, and looks like a chinky too. You know - small eyes and all.

Now - the funny part

I never, never ever called her chinky or anything till date. Until. On that day, when she told me about the ban. I thought - damn, earlier I never used to say that word, and now I surely can. So let's have some small fun with her.

So I called her chinky twice - for fun.
And she got butt hurt so bad, so bad that she ended up saying "I could have said that to your mom okay?"

I was baffled. Weird things were going throuh my head that time. I was like.. why would she say that? All I, honestly, meant was about the small eyes, and only in a good humor-way. Nothing derogatory.

But who knew, that after asking someone, chinky would turn out to be a prostitute. For Her.

So after a while, I did apologize to her but yeah, overall - the funny part was - Someone who's from Delhi, and isn't really a chinky - is still called - only in a good way - still gets butt hurt?

That was probably the first and last time I called someone a chinky. lol. I got nothing against small-eyed people though. I kinda like the small eyes :)

Sigh. Girls.

Shahnaz Kimi said...

Kim, As usual, good post. Recently I was transiting via Dubai from Kolkata, where I met a black student from Hyd uni who spoke fantastic Arabic. On seeing my Classic ciggie packet, he asked me if I was Ƨhinkie. I replied back that I am from the NE, and questioned him if I were to call him a 'nigger how would he feel'- we ended up talking about the terms and names that are derogatory.
But I would also like to highlight the same at home as mentioned by H3RMIT - we children out of mixed marriages are subjected to racism in our own home in Mizoram. Perhaps it is time that you also address this issue?

Helen Pari said...

I'd like to make few points here: 1. This law has to be understood from its historical and sociological legal jurisprudence point of view. People need to understand that no law is create in a civilised country in a spur of the moment. The atrocities and stereotyping against NE has always been there since the formation of this country. That is why the Constitution of India provided us with special protection as our constitutional rights. This law is not NEW, its merely a re-affirmation of our inherent and constitutional rights where the law-makers are now giving arms to our rights after 65 years!! That alone is a proof of discrimation and neglect we've been talking about. 2. People who use the word 'chinki/chinky' need to ask themselves in what context they use this word. Can they say with 100% honesty that they've never used it without the intent to discriminate, stereotype? The intention of law is to prevent and curb discrimination and the MANIFESTATION of that discrimination. So, its not just the word 'chinky/chinki' here. Its the act of discrimination in itself. After all, the law needs to start from some place right? This is just the starting point because it is so common that many people dont even know that its wrong.3. I seriously doubt the effective implementation of this law. Let everyone be reminded that the law says 'UPTO 5 years', so that doesnt mean 5 years. It merely means that depending on the severity of the case, the offending person can served up to 5 years at the maximum. So, in reality, it can be 1 week, 1 month, etc. To what extent will our learned judges implement this law is still a very big question. I pray that this law is taken very seriously and implemented properly. And, to all those nay-sayers, kindly brush up your knowledge and stop measuring the size of an iceberg from what you can see on the surface of the ocean.

Mizohican said...

Helen: That is why I love having a lawyer blog friend like you! :) Awesome comment. That's what I've been trying to point out in my post too, but many people fail to see beyond the implication of this law.

Like I mentioned in my post and even in the comment, this issue is not about the word "chinky" itself or about uttering racials slurs at people. This is about the SC and ST Atrocities Act. And yes, I agree with you and am skeptical about whether this law will be implemented at all...

Mizohican said...

Shahnaz and H3RM!T - Totally understand where you guys are coming from. I've had a lot of "mixed" friends from Mizoram and truly empathize with you all. I remember playing for a basketball team in Mizoram called "Vipers" back in the 90s. Since one of our friends in our team was a "vai", people used to call us "Vaipers" and it was a really mean thing to do. Similarly, I moved to a different team called "Vikings" and there was another guy in your team so the crowd again called us "Vaikings". Back in school in Tamilnadu too I had a few "mixed Mizo" friends from Mizoram and even they faced racial discrimination, not from us Mizos but from the non-Mizos. In college again I had a mixed Mizo friend who went through the same ordeal. In B'lore my roomie was a mixed Mizo again, and I know what all he had gone through. Even here in Mumbai I have a lot of mixed Mizo friends. Yes, something definitely needs to be done about this. :(

Geotech said...

One of my classmate in IIT Delhi liked a North East girl and vice-versa but his friends made so much fun of him saying - "common man you dating a chinki??…you can't find a normal girl or what??." he was so embarrassed that soon he had to break up with her. I never heard any of them saying anything like this about a Gujju, Mallu, Madrasi or a Baniya girl.

So when people try to justify the word chinki by saying -"hey all ethinic groups in india have an epithet - Gujju, Mallu, Madrasi.." etc., they need to realize that the word has so many negative feelings associated with it. Feeling of being called out, made fun of, deemed an outcast etc. Gujjus, Mallus etc. were still considered normal, part of our society.

5 years jail may be too much though. Hope the law isn't misused. On the other hand, I have heard stories of how North Easterns are even mistreated by the police.

For the record I am not a North Eastern.

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