March 16, 2021 1:10:06 am
A week after the British parliament discussed the farmers’ agitation on the outskirts of New Delhi and India summoned the British High Commissioner over the issue, a BJP MP on Monday raised concerns over “racism” in the United Kingdom during the Zero Hour in Rajya Sabha.
Union Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar, responding to concerns raised by BJP parliamentarian from Odisha Ashwini Vaishnaw, informed the House that India will “raise it when required and we will always champion the fight against racism and other forms of intolerance”.
Vaishnaw brought up the issue during a discussion on matters raised with the permission of the chairman. He highlighted a recent incident of 22-year-old Rashmi Samant being forced to resign as the president of Oxford University Students Union within five days of being elected for apparent “racist” and “anti-semitic” social media posts.
Drawing the attention of the House to a “shared global concern about racism”, Vaishnaw said prejudices of the colonial era seemed to be still in place, especially in the United Kingdom. “Even the Hindu religious beliefs of her (Samant’s) parents were publicly attacked by a faculty member and that also went unpunished”, Vaishnaw said, adding that if this could happen in an institution like Oxford, “what is the kind of message that goes out to the world?”
Moving on to a recent interview given by English royal family members Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, in which Markle spoke about alleged racism in the British monarchy, Vaishnaw said the “behaviour of a society is actually a reflection of its beliefs and value systems”. Drawing a line between Samant’s case and Markle’s remarks, he said the two instances are not isolated and added that the “treatment of migrants and their segregation in the UK on a racial basis is very well known all over the world”.
In response, Jaishankar said “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 UK, we also have concerns about its repetitional impact… we have strong ties with the UK. We will take up such matters with great candour when required. We will monitor these developments very, very closely…”
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