India shuttler Jwala Gutta has spoken up against the racism and discrimination dished out towards people from Northeastern states, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. In an unfortunate series of events, people in the North East, or those belonging from the region, have been are being verbally abused, spat at and harassed, with the word ‘Corona’ used as a racial slur towards them. Also Read - Jwala Gutta Gets Engaged to Vishnu Vishal, Badminton Star Reacts to Birthday Gift
“‘China ka maal’,’half Chinese’ and ‘chinki’, of course. I get a lot of this on Twitter when I disagree with a majority view on something. There’s a new addition: I’m a ‘Half Corona’,” Gutta wrote in The Indian Express. “I’ve developed a thick skin. I also know these are the same people who will troll me, but if we meet in person, will ask for a selfie. Still, it’s not been easy growing up as the child of a Chinese mother. Now, with COVID-19, the trolls have a new word to fling at me, and others from the Northeast. Also Read - Former President And Bharat Ratna Pranab Mukherjee Dies; Sports Fraternity Mourns | POSTS
“What we don’t realise as Indians when we call someone ‘corona’ or ‘Chinese virus’ is that we ourselves have a large number of cases of malaria and over 2 lakh Indians die of tuberculosis each year. It is contagious and high numbers of malaria are also down to our country’s poor hygiene standards. Now, imagine if an Indian walking past in a foreign country gets called ‘malaria’ or ‘TB carrier’.” Also Read - Jeyaraj-Fenix Custodial Death Case: Ravichandran Ashwin, Shikhar Dhawan, Jwala Gutta Speak Out For Justice
Gutta, who has a mixed heritage, opened up on the number of times she herself has faced the issue whenever she’s voiced something and it hasn’t gone down well with the public. Born to a Chinese mother and a Telegu father, Gutta confessed how while growing up, she was subjected to name-calling along with other forms of harassment.
“People don’t realise but I have abhorred attention since I was a kid because of all the staring back then. When I was younger, I thought it was only because I looked different — I was tall and fair, with a slightly different face. But I never understood the racism angle to it. I used to explain patiently to the kids who taunted me that I simply had a bigger face so my eyes looked small. In my twenties, though, the real import of all this name-calling hit me. I realised how none of it was acceptable. I saw our people from the Northeast being discriminated against and facing violence, even in big cities,” the shuttler said.
“I want them to know they are as Indian as anyone else. I understand it’s difficult, but if you get harassed, don’t think twice before approaching the judiciary and give courage to others. The more people complain, the more difficult it will get to ignore this harassment.”
It’s not the first instance when Gutta has been at the receiving end of such kind of attention. No stranger to trolls, Gutta was once asked if she’s not a supporter if India Prime Minister Narendra Modi because of her Chinese mother. Not too long ago, her boyfriend Vishnu Vishal was trolled for his relationship with the badminton star.
Stressing on the ill-practice of generalisation, Gutta urged people to respect others and humanity, something she feels Indians need to do in this battle against the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
“Because of my heritage, I’ll never generalise anything about Indians or the Chinese,” she explained. “I treat everyone equally and don’t see religious or caste distinctions. I have broader perspectives. Because I am a public figure, you can question my game, but never my patriotism. I’ve stood up more than most of my trolls ever have for the national anthem and those of my opponents.”