The Big Picture – Africans Under Attack: Racism or Law and Order Problem?
The recent attack on African student at the national capital has been in news. With string of attacks on African student last year the debate on safety and security of African students studying in India has emerged again. African governments have taken such issues of violence to highest level of Indian government and have advised its students not to travel to India until the situation improves. The article deals with the issues of African students and why there are frequent attacks on such students.
It is very strange to call that the attack on African student in the capital is simply a law and order problem. The problem is more severe than a person can understand. There is no doubt that the element of racism exists in the Indian society but the larger question is what kind of measures we have taken to address such problem.
India and Africa share similar history culturally and politically. But despite having similarity, African students who come to India face huge amount of discrimination at all levels, be it renting the house or to overpay to taxi etc. This puts them under severe emotional and psychological pressure that sometimes they tend to resort to violence or create nonsense in public.
This is a social problem. There is absence of any sensitisation programme that is conducted to African students when they arrive in India. A person from foreign country feels foreign until he is accepted in the host society. But this thing is not happening at grassroots level as there is a very narrow notion about such people who instead of letting them to join the society face more alienation. This thing needs to be addressed.
Finally we need to understand that there is a problem of discrimination or racism and there should be a will to accept the problem. India being a heterogeneous society has its own deep rooted cultural and social problems. But this should not manifest in showcasing this cultural or social insensitivity to foreign nationals. Wide range of steps have been taken to address the issue of discrimination domestically, we also need to recognise that there is need for a policy that prevents discrimination against foreign nationals. Sensitisation programmes starting from school level and numerous cultural exchange programmes should be conducted to increase the awareness of the problem and steps thereafter to prevent such incidents. Ministry of external affairs should coordinate with HRD ministry to conduct more programmes to avoid the conflict. India being a living example of cultural and vibrant society should embrace more people and reaffirm its commitment to tolerance and harmony.