Friday, May 17, 2013

Racism in India

The Washington Post published an article: A fascinating map of the world's most and least racially tolerant countries.  India shows on the map as the least racially tolerant country.

Tracing back from the newspaper article to the journal article to the source of data lands one at the World Values Survey  (WVS) (  The data on which the findings are based date to the WVS survey questionnaire from 2005, that was conducted in India in 2006.  The questionnaire was translated into Hindi by some of the researchers, back-translated to English by someone else, and the whole thing was approved by the WVS organization.  The Hindi master was used for translation into other Indian languages.   The way the polling was conducted was exit polling - random selection of voters at randomly selected polling stations at randomly selected constituencies in 19 or so states.

So this is a survey of opinions of actual voters, at the time of elections - which are emotionally charged times, when politicians appeal to caste and religion.

Apart from the WVS survey, there was an extensive questionnaire on the respondents's background.  I do not know whether this was done before or after the WVS questions.  I do know that question 18 of this background survey had a very fine-grained division into castes,  including e.g., just for Muslims - Muslim Ashraf, Muslim Mughal (Khan),  various Muslim OBCs, Muslim Dalit, so you can imagine the categorization of Hindus.  Why this is significant is if one asked the background questions before the WVS questions one has made the respondent intensely aware of his caste identity at the time of posing the WVS question. (Question 77 of the background survey is about language.)

Apart from that the survey question in Hindi was posed with "jaati" for "race".   "Jaati" does not have the meaning or connotations of "race".  "Jaati", IMO, is best defined as an endogamous group of people, and a connotation will be "having a common profession".  The survey question is at the end of this post.

Anyway, what is interesting is that the WVS survey was conducted in India in 1990, 1995, 2001 also.  I do not know how the survey sample was conducted or how the question was posed in those surveys. Let us assume that these are all comparable.   Then what is interesting - more so than the absolute numbers - is the trend.

(You would not like to have as neighbors people of different race.)
1990 - 34.9% (2500 respondents)
1995 - 36.0% (2040 respondents)
2001 - 41.8% (2002 respondents)
2006 - 48.8% (1786 respondents)

For comparison (You would not like to have as neighbors immigrants/foreign workers)
1990 - 36.6%
1995 - 33.1%
2001 - 38.2%
2006 - 39.2%

Interestingly, only in the 2001 survey the question was posed (You would not like to have as neighbors people of the same religion)
2001 - 41.8%.   I'm guessing this must be a data-entry error.

"Jaati"-intolerance seems to have risen, while intolerance of  immigrants/foreign workers - who are almost certainly of a different jaati,  but maybe common profession -  has not moved much.

Assuming the data at each survey is meaningful and the data is comparable across surveys, this trend in jaati-intolerance is to be explained - why has it risen so much in 15 years?

The 2005 survey question was:

On this list are various groups of people. Could you please mention any that you would not like to have as neighbors?

1. Drug addicts
2. People of a different race
3. People who have AIDS
4. Immigrants/foreign workers
5. Homosexuals
6. People of a different religion
7. Heavy drinkers
8. Unmarried couples living together
9. People who speak a different language
10. (optional: minority relevant to given country, write in):

The Hindi translation of the question is available as asked (I'm transliterating into Roman)

Mein ab aapke saamne kuch khaas log/samudaya ka zikra karunga/karungi, yah bataayen, aap inmein se kinhe apne padosi ke roop mein pasand nahin karenge?

a. nashaa karne waalaa
b. doosri jaati ke log
c. AIDS bimari se grasit vyakti
d. videshi
e. samlaigik
f. doosre dharma ke log
g. sharaabi
h. avivaahit stri-purush jo pati-patni ki tarah rahte hain
i. doosri bhasha bolne waale log
j. doosre rajya/praant ka vyakti

How the results are recorded for India (1786 respondents)
People that the respondent would not like to have as a neighbor:

Drug addicts: 60.3%
People of a different race: 48.8%
People who have AIDS: 48.9%
Immigrants/Foreign workers: 39.2%
Homosexuals: 45.2%
People of a different religion: 49.2%
Heavy drinkers: 54.3%
Unmarried couples living together: 47.8%
People who speak a different language: 44.6%
Militant minority: 43.7%

For comparison purposes, the figures for the USA are (1200 respondents)

Drug addicts: 93.8%
People of a different race: 4.1%
People who have AIDS: 15.9%
Immigrants/Foreign workers: 13.2%
Homosexuals: 26.0%
People of a different religion: 2.6%
Heavy drinkers: 72.9%
Unmarried couples living together: 8.4%
People who speak a different language: 11.1%
Militant minority: 14.8%