Come to think of it, colour of skin and caste in India were inter-linked. Those who tilled the land, performed menial tasks under the scorching sun tended to be of darker complexion as against Brahmins and other upper castes. Caste and income too had a close connection. The colour of one’s skin, therefore, became a social marker. Democratisation abolished the caste and colour prejudice on paper, but it persisted in social consciousness. Long after ‘we the people’ gave ourselves a republican constitution, our people continued to solicit matrimonial alliances with ‘fair-complexioned’ women. Several newspapers further consolidated caste and colour prejudices, offering caste-categorisation in the matrimonial ads. So deep-seated is the caste-colour prejudice that merely calling a skin fairness cream by another name is unlikely to change the general conception of beauty and handsomeness in the popular mind. Following the death of George Floyd at the hands of a brute police officer in the US, the Black Lives Matter campaign acquired a life of its own, with protests taking place in several countries in the democratic world. The spin-off has brought focus on the skin brightness creams. But we don’t think it would impact the sale of the skin whiteners — even our own ayurvedic pharmacists have entered the lucrative business. Modern education alone holds the key against this age-old prejudice.
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