Indian-Oxford student racism row: Will fight discrimination, says Jaishankar

The fact that I am a Hindu in no way makes me intolerant or unfit to be the President of the Oxford SU," Samant wrote in a public statement.

New Delhi: “We will always champion the fight against racism and other forms of intolerance,” said external affairs minister Dr. S Jaishankar in parliament today after a BJP leader raised the issue of an Indian student in the UK, who allegedly faced racism in her university.

Sawant, an Indian student resigned as the president of the Oxford University’s student union last month after controversy over some of her past remarks and references which were branded as “racist” and “insensitive”.

Ashwini Vaishnav, a BJP Rajya Sabha member from Odisha, told the Foreign Minister in the upper house: “I want to bring the attention of the House to a shared global concern about racism. There appears to be a continuation of attitudes and prejudices from the colonial era especially in the UK.”

Responding to the Rajya Sabha member, Jaishankar said, “As the land of Mahatma Gandhi, we can never ever turn our eyes away from racism. Particularly so when it is in a country where we have such a large diaspora. We’ve strong ties with the UK. “

“We’ll take up such matters with great candour when required,” the union minister said.

“We will raise it whenever required and we will always champion the fight against racism and other forms of intolerance,” the Minister said.

On February 11, 2021, Rashmi Samant, a 22-year-old from Karnataka’s Udupi, was elected as the first Indian woman president of the Oxford University Students Union.

However, the MSc student of energy systems at the Oxford University was forced to resign within five days, following outrage over some of her past social media posts that were perceived as anti-semitic and racist. Though Samant offered an apology for “unintentionally” hurting sentiments, she was forced to step down.

During an interview with The Indian Express, Rashmi said, “I believe the cancel culture mob got me. There was a conscious attempt made to unearth posts made by me in the past (going back to 2017). These posts were always there. But no one raked up any issue during the election process. It was only after I won that they were brought up. I believe my posts were not malicious or racist. To take offense you have to perceive it in a certain manner. Perhaps, people assume the worst in fellow human beings these days.”

“What hurts me the most is that my parents were dragged in the most insensitive manner: their religious sentiments and regional background were insulted in the public domain. The fact that I am a Hindu in no way makes me intolerant or unfit to be the President of the Oxford SU,” Samant wrote in a public statement.

“I wish to ask a question to all who termed me insensitive and racist citing my social media posts of the past. Are you being sensitive when you judge a person’s worth based on social media captions of a non-native English-speaking teenager that were posted years before the person formed convictions on issues of race? They were the posts of a teenager who just had access to the world of social media. I again reiterate my apology to those genuinely hurt for my ignorance but not to those with malicious intent,” Samant said.

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