Racism can be defined as
The prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.
Or the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.
In simple terms racism is the bias or perception that one is superior to or better than someone else based on physical features or characteristics. It is the stereotyping of a individual or group of individuals or generalizing a community based on various factors from skin color (black and white), religion (Muslims are all terrorists), caste (Dalits are impure), gender (females are weaker), age, tradition, culture, creed, etc. many examples can be give like the constant jokes about Sardarjis, the
Racism creates hatred, divides people and can lead to communal violence, extreme case it lead to the elimination of another race and wide spread persecution – Nazi ideology were Jews were gassed and imprisoned in concentration camps, division of a nation-American civil war and the enslavement of another race- Africans due to dark skin color were bought and sold as slaves (commodities) and many such incidents has taken place in history. It is a constant struggle and friction/conflict between the dominant or powerful race which often tries to oppress and put down the weaker or supposed inferior race.
Racism can take many forms and happen in various places. It is more than just words, beliefs and actions, attitudes, jokes, name calling etc. It is reflected in systems and institutions and ingrained in society. It is a learned behavior and from childhood we are exposed to these discriminations and abuse due to our birth/origin and characteristics/traits. Race is created socially and can have many negative impacts from being denied educational and economic opportunity, political representation, as well as income, health and social mobility of people of color or other race.
India is a boiling pot/cauldron of diversity and different ethnicity, religion, traditions, culture, languages/dialect etc. though unity in diversity is the way India has survived till now it has been a tentative peace/harmony with many a strife and violence erupting due to race or communal tensions. Even though our constitution guarantees equality under the law and there is growing tolerance for others due to education and intermingling of cultures discrimination is still prevalent.
The best example of this would be the discrimination against the north-east Indians and how they are violently attacked, face verbal and physical abuse and slang/slurs just because of their mongoloid or slightly different physical features than the typical Indian. It is also seen in the popularity and near fanatical obsession with fair or white skin and the amount of skin care products and crèmes that are present in the market and advertised in all forms of media (TV, newspaper, social media, magazines) to make one feel inferior due to skin color and spend money to alter their look and attain the socially set standard of beauty.
The caste and class system are very powerful and deep-seated in Indian society and mobility or moving up the hierarchy is next to impossible. Caste is given by birth and no matter what status, money, reputation one earns or converts their religion the stigma of being of lower caste will still remain. The dalits or untouchable are still downtrodden and poor even though protected by the constitution and given special privileges and reservations. Class the divide between the rich and poor is only widening with only a handful of people controlling 90% of the wealth with the majority of the population suffering from poverty, hunger.
Caste discrimination and religious superiority/dominance (Hindu, Muslim, and Christianity) is seen even today and most of the times are violent and end in tragedy. Inter caste or inter religious marriages are frowned upon and can result in ostracizing from society, honor killings. Upper class people discriminate against lower class people in many ways starting from home we have separate plates/vessels for use by house help or drivers, in public we have high end restaurants or stores were rich can eat with those of similar class and avoid places were poor or lower class people gather.