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Viral Now: The Social Experiment

By Satrajit Sen , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Digital | April 25, 2014
A 'social experiment' was conducted where a girl from the Northeast was subjected to racial abuse, and the reactions of people around her captured on camera.

As per the 2013 Washington Post World Values Survey, India is ranked topmost as the least racial tolerant country in the world and 40 per cent Indians don't want neighbours from a different race.

Racism Experiment video

And, when it comes to people from the Northeastern parts of the country, racism and violence are not new. Northeastern people claim to be at the receiving end of this discrimination in almost all cities and other places in India. The main reason for this approach, apparently, is that Northeastern people look different from the rest and also have distinct cultures and traditions. The discrimination goes to the extent of people equating them to Chinese citizens and outsiders in India.

Of late, the media has been abuzz with news of racial discrimination against the Northeastern community, especially in Delhi since Nido Taniam, a 19-year-old student, was killed in an apparently racially motivated attack.

After the attack, many expressed their concern towards the Capital's latest ferment over racist attacks. Members of the community living and working in Delhi admitted that going back to their states looked like a good choice, given the spike in violent incidents against them.

Apparently, when the Taniam incident took place, there were bystanders who saw what happened, but no one came out to help the young man. Following this, TroubleSeeker Team conducted a social experiment involving a scenario where a girl from the Northeast was subjected to racial abuse. The experiment was done to see how people reacted to this situation.

While many of the bystanders preferred to walk past after just looking at the two, a few came up and actually stood for the girl who was being abused. The video was published on YouTube on April 17, and has so far crossed one million views.

The aim of the video, say the producers, is to spread the strong message of Taking Action if you witness such a situation as they believe that racism starts and ends with us. However, the non-action of the bystanders can be related to the bystander effect, or bystander apathy, which is a social psychological phenomenon that refers to cases in which individuals do not offer any means of help to a victim when other people are present.

In such cases where there are a lot of bystanders, the probability of help is inversely related to the number of bystanders. The bystander effect is also referred to as the Genovese syndrome derived from the murder of Kitty Genovese, a New Yorker who was stabbed to death near her home in the Kew Gardens neighbourhood of the borough of Queens in New York City, on March 13, 1964, by Winston Moseley.

(Viral Now is a section about videos that are catching people's fancy on social media).

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