Article Title

India and Colorism: The Finer Nuances

Publication Title

Washington University Global Studies Law Review


Most Indians show apparent ignorance about the practice of exclusion and discrimination based on the skin tone of a person although it is a deep-rooted problematic practice embraced by both the oppressor and the victim. This single practice has become so widespread in India, more so in the past four decades, that it has taken shape along the same lines as “colorism” of the Western world. However, the manifestation of the color discrimination in India differs as it hides behind various other variables. The questions that are still unclear and remain unanswered are: Whether colorism was prevalent in ancient India; whether it is prevalent in Indian society now; how and when colorism found its roots in the Indian society; how deeply it influences the mass consciousness; and what are the reasons behind the prejudice and bias toward dark skin?

Since India is a very complex and diversified society, the derivatives that play a role in the discrimination are also as diversified. These derivatives become the “variables” that in turn affect the overall premise that “darker skin color results in discrimination.” Caste, class, religion, region, gender and economics are a few of these variables. Through this study I will explore how all of the variables are connected and got connected over the period of time with the skin tone preference.