External Affairs minister S. Jaishankar told the Rajya Sabha on Monday that India will take up incidents of racism with United Kingdom “with great candour when required.”
“I do want to say, that as the land of Mahatma Gandhi, 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 U.K., we also have concerns about its repetitional impact,” the Minister said while responding to an incident of racism faced by an Indian student in the Oxford University recently.
BJP’s Ashwini Vaishnav mentioned during the zero hour submissions in Rajya Sabha that a student Rashmi Samant was “cyber bullied” and forced to resign as president of the Oxford University Students Union. The MP said the Hindu religious beliefs of Ms. Samant’s parents were publicly attacked by a faculty member.
“There appears to be a continuation of attitudes and prejudices from the colonial area, especially in the United Kingdom. The recent case of Rashmi Samant, a young student from Karnataka, Udupi area, is a classic case in point. She is a bright student from Karnataka. She persevered and overcame all the challenges to become the first Indian women President of the Oxford Students’ Union. What was the treatment meted out to her? Shouldn’t have this diversity been celebrated? Instead of that, she was cyber bullied to the point that she had to resign. Even the Hindu religious beliefs of her parents were publicly attacked by a faculty member and that also went unpunished,” Mr. Vaishnav said.
He added, “The second instance is the widely publicised interview of Meghan Markle, one of the erstwhile members of the royal family of the UK. If such practices of racial discrimination are followed at the highest level in a society, what would be the following at the lower level... we are a country with a large diaspora in the U.K. There is a natural concern for all of us. The era of colonialism is over but the mindset seems to be still persisting. This is where the U.K. has to change. If it wants our respect, it has to change,” he added.
Responding to this, the Minister said, “I note the sentiments of the House... government does... We have strong ties with the U.K. We will take up such matters with great candour when required. We will monitor these developments very, very closely. We will raise it when required and we will always champion the fight against racism and other forms of intolerance.”