Most Non-Indians do not and cannot understand the sensitivities with the word Pariah within the Indian communities. At least not the way our brother and sister Indians do.
This is because the real issue with what is Pariah and what is not is an internal Indian problem. In fact, in the Indian community the issue is not just ‘what’ a pariah is, but more so ‘who’ is a pariah.
Let me explain.
While Non-Indians may use the word in a spate of anger, by calling someone a Pariah, the term has a larger and deeper import when used by Indians.
My late father for example will shout ‘Hindu Pariah’ when he is angry at an Indian cutting in into his lane while driving regardless if he is a Brahmin or a Pariah – it cuts across the community - Chinese and Malays too are not spared. But that was about it. It does not go any further than that spate of anger. In fact my late father will call anyone pariah even Muslim religious leaders as long as they screwed up or angered him.
The term Pariah is basically thrown to anyone who does not meet expectations. In fact the term pariah can also be used to a country; a pariah state -a country whose activities is out of line with international norms.
But within the Indian community, Pariah has deeper undertones and meaning. It means that you are by natural order has no right to marry my children, dirty, outcast by birth. In fact till today you will find non-Pariahs who will not even eat anything that is cooked or served in utensils used by a pariah.
It is not uncommon when a non-Pariah and Pariah were to fall in love, their goal to be together will be a fight till the end. They may lose their family ties, outcast and left all alone to fend for themselves.
It is within this context that we need to understand the current issues with regards to Interlok. I highly suggest you read Dr Chandra’s recommendation here and here.
We need to allow our Indian brothers and sisters time to solve this ‘internal’ issues. We must not use the word Pariah within the context of the Indian community. The real issue is not so much about Indians and non-Indians but more so an intra-Indian concern.
I find it sad that this issue has slipped into a race issue again – where a certain segment of Malaysians even good intentioned educated ones see it fit to pit the problem as though it is a fight between a Malay bureaucracy and the Indian community.
I suggest my Indian brothers and sisters to look within, while the rest of us non-Indians must practice empathy.
My Indian brothers and sisters, kindly note that if a non-Indian girl were to bring home a boy from the Pariah caste – the initial resistance by the parents is because he is an Indian – not a Pariah.
Until we are true to ourselves, we cannot be true to others. Gandhi tried to solve this Indian issue, we should follow suit.
Shanti, Shanti, Shanti .