Mind Your Conduct Too!
Racial discrimination anywhere on earth is a criminally inhuman practice that essentially dents the ethos of the nation that patronizes this evil. If a country allows myriad clusters of its ethnic groups to practice, preserve and promote the sanctity of their cultures and traditions, it becomes imperative that these ethnicities allow space to other groups as well, even if they happen to be outsiders such as Africans. India has rightly lived through its tradition of "Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam", meaning the "world is one family" and is and will remain a country which believes in an extended world family and hates racism.
Instances of attacks on some Africans may, however, suggest that sections of Indians society have become intolerant of blacks. Six African nationals were attacked on Thursday night in Delhi's Mehrauli area, a week after a man from Congo was beaten to death in the city. A Tanzanian woman was reportedly beaten and stripped on road by a mob in Bengaluru two months back. Few more such incidents of altercations and feuds have been reported in recent days. But no one seems to go deeper into why all this is happening. All these 'assaults' may appear racist in nature on surface, but the fact remains they are neither racist, nor grown out of any endemic hatred for these people. Almost all the alleged attacks, group fights or skirmishes are isolated incidents caused by some kind of provocations from Africans. Mehrauli incident, for instance, followed extreme disturbance routinely caused in the neighbourhood by African tenants. Our leaders have, however, assured the African nations that these incidents are not racist in nature and that the govt will provide all-possible protection to all foreigners, including Africans, and will not spare anyone who attacks them.
But why are these ‘attacks’ happening? To find answers to this question, we must go to the roots, asking the Africans why violence against them is becoming all too commonplace in this country. A female African student told a reporter sometime back that her experience as an African was not that bad with her college or the professors, but she certainly had problems with fellow students. She said she faced racism from the general public which generally thinks "Africans are into fraud and prostitution.” Another student also admitted, "We Africans are also at fault, sometimes we are." Just lift a sample from a senior scribe who summarizes in an incisive article that "80% of Delhi prostitutes are Nigerians and out of them many are from Edo state." He pointedly states that "more girls from Nigeria and other African countries troop into Delhi as prostitutes... there are other Nigerian girls (meaning perhaps students) who have legal and productive intentions, but the number of Nigerian women who are into this type of predicament is growing by the day."
Who doesn't know there is sudden surge in crime committed by African nationals residing in big Indian cities. Dangerous law-breakers, including hordes of non-students, have lately emerged on the scene. Intelligence sleuths are already on the job to catch these wily criminals who are part of the vicious, large-scale drug-peddling circuits already built up in large cities. Some of them on education or tourist visas have been caught thriving on the lucrative narcotics trade. At several places, they have been found harassing the Indian citizens with rash behaviour. Visa violation is another serious crime against them. A number of Nigerian fraudsters, including drug traffickers, routinely come to India on various entry documents and indulge in criminal acts here to make quick money. Globalization of world economies draw them to the fast-growing countries like India. Who will help such racketeers who are involved deep in criminal activities?
If it were not so, why even landlords often deny apartments to Africans? Whoever gives them accommodation, it is invariably for an extra premium on rent. No landlord looks happy with these tenants despite high rents, provided his own family is living in the same premises. My own neighbour in South Delhi recently refused to oblige three African students who approached him with a hefty rent offer for his apartment. He told them, "You Africans are rude and have too many friends who create hell for neighbourhood." In one building nearby, four Africans took space on unreasonably high rent a year ago and have since become a headache for the neighbourhood. They not only disturb neighbours with loud, piercing music, but come out on the street and indulge in drunken brawls almost every night and shed blood with broken liquor bottles and pieces of glass. Since the landlord lives elsewhere, neighbours complained to the police several times, but to no avail. Cops explain they can't even ask them to vacate the premises since they have instructions from top not to "disturb the Africans" as the issue has acquired racist overtone, potentially with international ramifications.
India’s world-class, state-funded institutions of higher learning lure students from almost every part of the world. Africans, too, troop in here in great numbers, despite high fees. One estimate puts India’s higher education system as one of the largest in the world, with over 26 million enrolled in tertiary education. Not that Africa has little or no higher education spread these days, but times have gone when brightest of Africans became icons studying in their own universities which were not so mismanaged in those times. Note the big count of celebrity African achievers like Nobel Prize-winning author Wole Soyinka of Negeria, Tanzanian leader Julius Nyerere and Namibia’s first President Sam Nujoma, among a few others.
India's predicament is that even if provocations emerge from Africans, most of whom are known to be operating through vice dens, any feud that is reported in the media, which invariably sensationalizes incidents, big or small, in an environment of cut-throat media competition and the race for TRPs, every happening looks fundamentally racist. And when African diplomats feverishly raise the issue, seldom believing that their own people might also be at fault, all that muck becomes international. Our Opposition leaders, too, play their negative role, throwing dirt on the Narendra Modi govt. Don't they understand no govt can afford to promote racist environment in its country these days. Doing so will mean straight buying alienation from the world community.
Finally, Africans will be better advised to mind their acts. If they wish to find ground to promote their well-meaning interests in this country, they must improve their conducts. They can't take liberty with a country like India which respects others, but knows how to protect what it values most. African envoys must ask their men and women to start respecting Indians, rather than howl 'racism' every now and then. The govt must also find time to look deeper into whether or not there is a well-planned conspiracy mounted by unscrupulous elements to bring it bad name. Already fiercely fighting the evil of terrorism, India can’t afford to get into the disgusting filth of racism.