3.2.5 Race and Racism
Nash notes, ‘in English image black became a partisan word, a black sheep in the family, a black mark against one’s name, a black day, a black look, a black lie, a blackguard, and a black ball were all expressions built into cultural consciousness’ (1974:162-63).
The labelling of Asians as blacks prompted the export of people of Chinese and Indian descent to British colonies as contract labour. In spite of all these everyday racism persists (see Essed, 1991) with vehemence and to understand this we need to understand the trajectory of the career of the concept of race.
The problem of racism could have been overcome through scientific education, good attitude and good behaviour of people in the field. Although to conceptualise races as linguistic categories was a stupid idea, it became very powerful as exemplified by the Aryan myth (see Poliakov, 1974). Understandably races came to be considered as nations. This four-in-one phenomenon gave birth to idea of unity in blood, language, culture and nation (Oommen, 2002:115-26).
The Third World was caricatured as a world of tradition, having too much of religiosity, irrationality, under-development, overpopulation, political chaos, that is, bereft of modernity (Pletsch, 1981:65-90).
The recent report of the RAND Corporation notes that the US can retain its scientific supremacy in the world because of the contributions made by scientists of foreign origin, particularly those from India, China and Europe, residing in the US (see Gopal Raj, 2008:13). Caste is found in all the countries of South Asia, it is particularly strong in India and Nepal because of its deep relationship with Hinduism. The Hindu nationalist scholarships that attack orientalists are not different methodologically because they often rationalize internal colonialism. The attack against orientalism was articulated forcefully by Said (1978). Inden (1990) reinforced Said’s line of argument with special reference to India.
Savarkar (1929) holds that the combination of shared ancestral territory; common blood and similar culture make the Hindus for whom India is both Fatherland and Holy land. The Dravidian movement, which is anti-Aryan, also conceptualized Dravidians as a race (inam) to wriggle out of the Aryan characterization of Dravidians as lower castes. ‘â€¦concepts of caste, race and national identity interacted in complex and dynamic ways with changing orthodoxies of evolutionary race theory’ as Susan Bayly (1997:215) correctly comments.
Purity of the realm: Father Ippolito Desideri (1932:316) noted in 1722 that “Newar travellers, before being readmitted to NepÄl from Mughal territory had to undergo purification by bathing for forty days in cow’s urine, drinking it, and eating cow dung occasional.” After their conquest of NepÄl in 1768-1769 the Gorkha rulers continued to preserve the purity of NepÄl as their locus authority.
Some of things Shahs (rulers) have been following the status queue of Newar traditional customs like that. Newar people also caution about caste barriers in Nepali society. Traditional culture and customs were followed by the Shah dynasty as well as by Hindu people.
Gorkhali envoys returning to Kathmandu from Tibet underwent three days of purification at Nuvakot, just outside Nepal. Their readmission to the realm was signified by the king’s offering water from his pitcher at the Kathmandu palace (Cavenagh, 1851:69; Oldfield, 1880:1, 412).
The conception of the realm as a universe implies that the realm was an autonomous and auspicious system of social relationships. Nonetheless other such realms existed on the subcontinent. According to one Brahmanical scheme there were fifty-six universal realms in the Sacred Land of the Hindus (bhÄratavarsa), of which NepÄl was one (Hamilton, 1819:192).
Although the Khas claimed Kshatriya status, nevertheless they were considered to be inferior to the Thakuri clan of the Shah dynasty, which traced its royal descent from the Rajputs of western India (see Levi, 1905:1, 258-78).
The pride that the Gorkha nobles took in the administration of justice (see Hodgson, 1857:234-35) is expressed in such saying as “For knowledge go to Kasi; for justice go to Gorkha” (cited by Smith, 1852: 1, 151-52) and “blood, salt, and law – all these are cheap in India” (recited today in the Nepalese Tarai). It means people have such kind of strong believe with Gorkha rulers, they were giving justice to own citizens. It means Gorkha rulers were good concept of national building strategy to make people closure with them.
Cow slaughter, however, was banned with utmost severity (RRS, 1980:170; see also RRS, 1979:126-30). Persons who commit the heinous crime of slaughtering oxen in a Hindu land shall be flayed alive, impaled, or hanged upside down until dead. Their property shall be confiscated and members of their families enslaved.