India to take up racism issue with UK when needed, says Jaishankar

India will raise the issue of racism against Indian students with the UK government, in the backdrop of resignation of Rashmi Samant, an Indian-origin student who served as the president of the Oxford University Students Union on grounds of racism and cyber bullying. Ms Samant was the first Indian woman to be elected as the president of the prestigious Oxford Union.The issue was raised by Ashwini Vaishnaw, a BJP MP, who argued that there “appears to be a continuation of attitudes and prejudices from the colonial area especially in the United Kingdom”.

Alluding to a large Indian diaspora in the UK, Mr Vaishnaw requested External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar to take up the matter with the UK government. “There is a natural concern for all of us. The era of colonialism is over but the mindset seems to be still persistent. This is where the UK has to change. If it wants our respect, it has to change,” he said. “A behavior of a society is actually a reflection of its beliefs and value system. If such practices of racial discrimination are followed at the highest level in society what would be the following at the lower levels,” he asked.

Ms Samant, a bright student from Udupi, Karnataka, overcame all challenges to become the first Indian women president of the union, he said. She was cyber bullied and her parents’ Hindu religious beliefs were publicly attacked by a faculty member at the Oxford University.Delineating India as the land of Mahatma Gandhi, Mr Jaishankar said, “We can never ever turn our eyes away from racism wherever it is. Particularly so when it is in a country where we have such a large diaspora. As a friend of the UK, we also have concerns about its reputational impact.”

“We have strong ties with the UK. We will take up such matters with great candour when required; he added assuring that India will monitor these developments “very very closely.”Only a few days ago, India had issued a demarche against the British High Commissioner over the UK’s alleged gross interference and “unwarranted discussion” in the British Parliament on agricultural reforms in India.

(Palak Chhabra contributed inputs for this article)



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