Attacks on African students may hurt India’s image as educational destination

Five people were arrested in Greater Noida in Uttar Pradesh for an assault on Nigerian students on Monday. The Nigerian students had earlier been attacked on allegations of cannibalism and allegedly for forcing a minor boy into taking drugs.

Written by Kanishka Singh | New Delhi | Published: March 28, 2017 5:49:51 pm
Protest by Greater Noida residents against Nigerian students.

Five people were arrested in Greater Noida in Uttar Pradesh for an assault on Nigerian students on Monday. The Nigerian students had earlier been attacked on allegations of cannibalism and allegedly for forcing a minor boy into taking drugs. The boy died on Saturday. The attack took place during a candlelight march for the deceased boy. The incident of mob justice and racial attack on African students is not a one-off and has become frequent in the last two years. African nationals, usually students, living in India are the most likely victims of such racial attacks. If authorities fail to curb racial attacks, it seems India’s image as an international education destination will take a hit.

According to data from the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Sudan and Nigeria feature fourth and fifth on the list of top 10 countries from where students came to study in India. In the data for 2015, 42,420 foreign students were studying in India. Sudanese student count was 2,047 while 1,990 Nigerian students were studying in India. According to data by the UN, at least 11 per cent of the visits by Nigerians to India are for educational purposes.

The Association of African Students came forward in support of the students and warned that if their five demands are not met, they would inform Africans in their respective countries about the racial abuse they face in India. The association demanded maximum security to African students near their residences and said that it would also urge the African Union to end bilateral ties with India. It also threatened that African media outlets, government and heads of state are informed about the racism towards Africans in India. It also threatened to call a nation-wide strike while issuing an advisory to African students in Greater Noida area to stay safe and stay indoors. Most importantly it threatened that it would urge African students to stop keeping India as an educational destination.

Many of the demands, however, may seem a knee-jerk reaction or unfeasible. Many even manifest a growing sense of anger among African students in India. But, the core issue is that India has placed itself as a world-class destination for quality international education. Such incidents hamper India’s bid to transform into a global knowledge production hub.

There is a fear that this resentment would spill over to students from non-African countries who would’ve suffered their own struggles in India. Such an environment, if not tackled with immediate effect, would discourage non-African students to come to India as well. This system of mob justice against foreign students is detrimental to as it allows our prejudices to take over sensibilities.

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