Why politicians don’t stand up against racism?

Written by: Maitreyee Boruah

The Minister of State of External Affairs VK Singh has come up with a great solution to solve all the ills affecting the country. Actually, Singh thinks there is no problem at all. The minister over a period of time has developed a unique theory that most of the issues plaguing the nation are actually "minor" and the media is "blowing up" small incidents into big ones.

The former Army General shares a very volatile relationship with the media and often loves to attack journalists. It was Singh only who had earlier labelled media persons as "presstitutes".

Why politicians don’t stand up against racism?
So in his trademark style, instead of condemning a series of attacks on people belonging to various African countries staying in Delhi in May, Singh tweeted, "Had detailed discussion with Delhi Police and found that media blowing up minor scuffle as attack on African nationals in Rajpur Khurd."

He added, "Why is media doing this? As responsible citizens let us question them and their motives."

Attacks on Africans indicate a pattern?

The latest racism row broke up after a Congolese national, Masonda Ketada Oliver, was beaten to death in a brawl in south Delhi's Vasant Kunj on May 20. A week later, seven African nationals were allegedly attacked in three separate incidents in Rajpur Khurd village, in south Delhi's Chhatarpur area.

While Singh dismissed these attacks as "minor scuffle", the African nationals were hugely outraged over growing number of "racist attacks" against them. In fact, the African envoys also threatened to boycott the Africa Day event over Oliver's murder.

The African nationals also staged protests in the national capital to end frequent attacks against them. According to statistics, most of the African nationals in India are students and are pursuing their higher education in big cities like Delhi, Bengaluru and Pune, to name a few.

Why politicians don’t stand up against racism?
Living in denial: Singh is not alone

Make no mistake that Singh is the only person in the current ruling dispensation good at making insensitive comments.

Causing further embarrassment to India's reputation at the international podium, the Union Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma said the killing of a Congolese man in New Delhi was unfortunate, but "even Africa is not safe". Thus he suggests that we need not worry about the safety of foreign nationals as the entire continent of Africa is also unsafe.

Similarly, the Goa Tourism Minister Dilip Parulekar said a strict pan-India law should be enacted to deport Nigerians facing criminal charges within a month. He said Nigerian nationals don't just "create problems" in Goa, but across the country, too.

Sushma Swaraj: The saving grace

The only silver lining in the entire controversy is the way the Union Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj responded and handled it. Swaraj was not only careful in choosing her words before saying anything on the social media, but worked sincerely to quell the diplomatic row since it broke out.

On Tuesday (May 31), she chaired a meeting attended by African students and their leaders in Delhi. Swaraj assured them of government's commitment to provide safety to the African nationals in India.

"We tried to explain them that the incident is huge but it isn't an incident of racial discrimination," Swaraj said.

"The CCTV footage clearly shows that Indian citizens, who were present at spot, tried their best to save Masunda Oliver. We held a meeting with African students and told them the incident of death of Congo national is not only unfortunate but painful for us," she added.

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