Last weekend in Khirki Village, Delhi, a late-night mob led by the Aam Admi Party (AAP) leader and Delhi Law Minister Somnath Bharti went looking for “some Nigerians or Ugandans.” They pulled four young African women out of their home, held them captive in a taxi for hours, probed their “private parts”, forced them to urinate publicly, hustled them to a hospital against their will for “tests”, and reluctantly let them go the next morning.
In lieu of an apology, the AAP and the Delhi Government have dug their heels in. Their bizarre “evidence” appears to hinge on four grainy videos, one of which was charmingly titled “Naked in front of police” where a shirtless man—African, of course—is fighting off the police. That video has since been retitled. In the days since the late-night “raid” both Somnath Bharti and his party have been near-universally slammed in Indian media, and by civil society, for their racism, sexism, and unconscionable egging on of hysterical middle-class vigilantism. Some of the media criticism coming their way is being opportunistically lobbed by rival political parties—from left, right and centre—who are threatened by the AAP’s dramatic rise. The AAP has used this to their advantage, but it neither negates the reprehensible actions of the party that night in Khirki, nor excuses its frighteningly unrepentant stand in the days that followed.
In the light of this event, and given black peoples’ fondness for suspicious activities like studying, working, breathing, etc., many foreigners wish to know if India is worth visiting. This is an inclusive website, so here is a handy guide for potential travellers of all races.
Are you white?
Are you brown? Yellow? Any other marginal pigment we disdain?
Don’t worry. Most likely, it’s not your fault.
Are you rich?
Are you from the first world?
Are you poor and/or from the third world?
Thanks for your support. Don’t let the door hit you on your way out.
Are you black?
Worry. It is almost always your fault.
Are you Oprah?
Are you the world’s biggest movie star?
Are you a major sport star?
Are you a major, or minor, pop star?
If you’re still here, we’ve established that you are not white, not even a passably intermediate colour, and not noteworthy in any way we recognise and respect.
Now, ask yourself these simple questions:
Are you gay?
Do you plan to study?
Do you plan to work?
You might seriously want to consider the repercussions of working while black in India.
Do you expect justice?
You might seriously want to consider the repercussions of expecting justice while black in India.
Do you expect to go to bars and restaurants?
Do you like living in a house?
Do you like walking?
Do you like being considered human?
You might seriously want to consider the repercussions of watching television while black in India.
No, really: do you like being considered human?
You might seriously want to consider the repercussions of watching movies while black in India. (The upside to representing the nadir of our ancient civilisation? If there’s anyone who can set a desperate drug-addicted model’s career back on track, it’s you.)
Do you enjoy staying alive?
Do you know what a Shobhaa De is?
You might seriously want to consider the repercussions of being subjected to Shobhaa De’s stray thoughts on anything.
That’s all folks! But take heart. Exactly one year ago, our renowned Indian hospitality was warmly extended towards four ordinary visitors from the African continent. Thousands jostled to see them, dignitaries queued up to get a glimpse, the media went crazy, and it was no wonder. These continental guests were the very model of good manners—cool, calm, and unflappable, impeccably poised and immaculately polished. Surely there’s a lesson in here for the modern African traveller? Indeed. With a little advance planning, despite being black, you too can have a nice time in India—just as long as you’ve made the effort to be dead for 3000 years.
A version of this piece first appeared in Mint Lounge on January 24th.