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21st December 2000 - Page 2

Fair Fairer Fairest

One hour of watching some of the most popular Indian channels will surely introduce you to the wide range of cosmetics that have flooded the market. The most prominent of these brands go out of their way to come out with "the newly formulated" fairness techniques.
These kinds of attractive punch-lines have never failed to grab our attention, whether on TV, newspapers or road side advertisements - the fairness craze is nothing new to this country of more than a billion. The only difference noticed today is that we have devised new ways to introduce it to the mainstream commercial scenario. 
The number of fairness products present and sold in Indian markets today is unmatched anywhere else in the world. The 'fairness' product market surged from being a Rs 348 crore industry to being a Rs 558 crore industry in the last two years. 
Beautiful models depicting happy lives and how they feel "gorapan" 
fair and beautiful" brides. The "gora" factor of our society is disgustingly illustrated in the daily classifieds - matrimonial of our newspapers. The bride has to be "gori." Oh god forbid, if she's darker than the groom! 
This idea of color-"gorapan" is not estranged to our schools either. The innocent, maybe friendly, yet rude remarks faced by individuals with dark complexion is no novelty in our campuses. 
The subtle acts of racism that transpire in front of our very eyes are ignored or laughed upon innumerable times. In fact, songs that depict fairness as being synonymous with beauty are featured in our films and manage to reach the top ranks of our music charts.
Is this what we call a cultured society??? A mature society? A country with five thousand years of history, culture and heritage seems to be guilty of its own color. Fifty, hundred, two hundred years ago, I could still understand this feeling of inferiority. Two hundred years ago, when in many places around the world, color of your skin determined your rank in the society - I would still understand the lament of being dark-skinned. 
and "nikhaar" in their previously more natural yet supposedly disgusting skinsis seen as the most common theme for advertisements today. Demonstrating how miserable and depressed things were before they started using some fairness enhancing cream, is just another cheap way of criticizing the natural color of our skin. 
Once you come to think of it, you wonder if we Indians look THAT bad being the way we are? I believe the answer lies in our single tracked, primitive style of thinking. People around the world are proud of their physical distinctions.

Today, living in a democracy, the stalwart blocks of which are based on equality, these extravagant demonstrations of "fairness formulae" is nothing short of a crime. By attempting to 
convince that fairer skin is healthier, better (which, by the way, goes against the present scientific finding), one is already trying to convince that dark color is unhealthy or unwanted. 
Squeezing the whole argument into a phrase, we can say that we are constantly discriminating against our own selves.
They fight against discrimination based on their appearance, while we are still busy devising ways and putting science to the task of changing our skin color. No matter what the difference, it has to be fairer than it is now!
I am certain that all of us have come across instances when a person elaborating on someone's relative ugliness, often seems to stumble upon the color factor. We can question today, when all of us have exposure to new ideas, that why beauty has to be defined by color, even to the slightest degree. Where people are filing lawsuits against any comment on the color of their skin, we proudly print articles asking for "homely,
We are trying our very best to establish the idea of our skin being inferior to a fairer one. This, in my opinion, is one of the most disrespectful acts one can bestow against their own people. 
If this is taken as a mirror to our "fair" society one can easily see the ugly "dark" face of it in the reflection.

--Partha Sarathi Mudgil XI-A

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