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‘Can’t turn our eyes away from racism’: Jaishankar on Oxford University row

"As a friend of the UK, we also have concerns about its reputational impact," Jaishankar said. "What I do want to say is that we have strong ties with the UK (and) we will take up such matters with great candour when required.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
March 15, 2021 1:20:42 pm
Rashmi Samant, Oxford UniversityRashmi Samant . (Photo: Twitter/@digvijaysinghd9)

India will take up with the UK when required the alleged incidents of racism in Britain, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said in the Rajya Sabha on Monday. He also described India as the land of Mahatma Gandhi and said it can never turn its eyes away from racism.

Jaishankar’s response came after BJP leader Ashwini Vaishnav raised the topic of Rashmi Samant, the Indian student who resigned as the president of the Oxford University’s student union last month after controversy over some of her past remarks and references which were branded as “racist” and “insensitive”.

“I note the sentiments of the House,” he said. “I do want to say that as a 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,” he said.

“As a friend of the UK, we also have concerns about its reputational impact,” Jaishankar said. “What I do want to say is that we have strong ties with the UK (and) 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,” he added.

Samant, a 22-year-old from Karnataka’s Udupi, was elected as the first Indian woman president of the Oxford University Students Union. Though Samant offered an apology for “unintentionally” hurting sentiments, she was forced to step down.

Samant now feels that she has been unfairly targeted and even her family has been unnecessarily dragged into the whole affair by Internet bullies, including a faculty member.

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