Opinion: How India Can Stem The Rising Scourge Of Racism Against Africans

Opinion: How India Can Stem The Rising Scourge Of Racism Against Africans

By Pooja Jain-Grégoire – From News24 (Racism against Africans)

India has seen a rise in incidents of racism by its citizens against foreign nationals, especially Africans, in recent times. As a country with the largest diaspora communities, India needs to be particularly worried by this development.

The country is home to a significant migrant population, most of it from the neighbouring countries in South Asia. In 2010, there were 5.4 million foreign-born people in the country. The number of Africans in India is estimated to be about 40 000, of whom 25 000 are students.

Yet, these small numbers are significant for the growing relations between India and Africa. The Indian government has been announcing scholarships, grants and credit lines for Africa against the backdrop of the India-Africa Forum summits. In spite of these efforts to woo Africa, the government is in denial about racist attacks against Africans in India.

In the wake of the recent attacks on Africans in India, the official denial that such acts are racist hampers efforts to tackle the problem. This, plus the fact that the perpetrators are hardly ever brought to book is a major cause for their recurrence.

India and Africa matter to each other

The government positioning stands in contrast to the historic relations between India and Africa founded on the tenets of anti-racism and anti-colonialism. Moreover, the government’s stand risks jeopardising India’s growing relations with Africa in the fields of trade, technology and human resource development. India’s trade with Africa has grown from $1 billion in 1990-1991 to $71 billion in 2014-2015.

Despite this, stereotyping of Africa is common. African countries are often insidiously used as a metaphor for under-development. And Africans in India are associated with labels such as “debased” as well as “drug-peddling and prostitution”. These stereotypes are constructs of economic hierarchy coloured in racist hues.

Read more at News24