The problem of Racialism in India-Africa Relations

With the 2015 India Africa summit, all seemed to be on an upward trajectory in the India-Africa relations. And, so it is the case when we talk about trade, investments and other economic measures. However, when it comes to the societal level, we have a problem. The problem is of racialism.

The Africans have continuously been victims of the racial attitude of Indians towards them. The problems range from a landlord denying to rent them accommodation to the recent murder of a person from Congo or the not so long ago incident of stripping of a Tanzanian woman in Bengaluru. The incidents like former mostly go unnoticed whereas the latter are passed off as problems of law and order problem rather than something more serious i.e. the problem of mindset. Due to certain stray incidents, the Africans are often stereotyped as drug peddlers or running prostitution rackets. Clearly, this shows lack of understanding of Africa and its people at the level of masses.

There are repercussions to this. The more tangible will be the backlash on people of Indian Origin in Africa. This has already begun in Congo. In addition to that is the potential threat to future of India Africa relations. Some of the African students in India in present will make the future leaders of Africa. The image of India they develop in their formative years will matter. The African diplomats’ refusal to participate in the Africa Day celebrations (May 2016) will draw International attention. India’s quest for a UNSC seat might also get hampered.

The government has resorted to action by introducing sensitization campaigns but more needs to be done. Given that the communicator he is, the PM should make a strong statement on the issue. Value Education should be there and eradicating racialism should be one of its targets. This couple with fast tracked justice and stringent punishments has the potential to take down the issue at hand.

Africa is a continent where there are tremendous possibilities. For instance, mineral reserves, a growing market, and potential collaborations on international issues such as climate change, Doha development agenda, etc. The relations cannot be jeopardized. But, more than that it is the spirit of humanism that should guide the extinction of racialism from Indian mindset, be it against Africans or fellow countrymen from different regions.

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