India will raise with UK ‘incidents of racism,’ says Jaishankar

His response in Rajya Sabha came over a month after an Indian was forced to quit as Oxford University Students Union president over her ‘racist’ posts, a charge she later denied

India is the land of Mahatma Gandhi and can never take its eyes off racism, External Affairs Minister Jaishankar told Rajya Sabha. File Photo: PTI

India will, as and when required, raise with Britain the alleged incidents of racism, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar told the Rajya Sabha on Monday (March 15).

“India is the land of Mahatma Gandhi and can never turn its eyes away from racism,” said Jaishankar in his response to BJP’s Ashwini Vaishnav’s remarks on the resignation of an Indian student as the president of the Oxford University’s student union over her remarks seen by many as “racist” and “insensitive.”

Rashmi Samant, 22, from Karnataka’s Udupi was elected as the first Indian woman president of the Oxford University Students Union on February 11. The M.Sc. student was forced to resign within days over some of her social media posts seen as anti-Semitic and racist. Though she offered an apology, she was forced to quit. Samant believes was unfairly targeted.

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“I note the sentiments of the House,” he said. “I do want to say that as a land of Mahatma Gandhi, we can never ever turn our eyes away from racism wherever it is. Particularly so when it is in a country where we have such a large diaspora,” Jaishankar said.

“As a friend of the UK, we also have concerns about its reputational impact,” Jaishankar said. “What I do want to say is that we have strong ties with the UK (and) we will take up such matters with great candour when required,” said the minister.

“We will monitor these developments very, very closely. We will raise it when required and we will always champion the fight against racism and other forms of intolerance,” he added.

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In an interview to The Indian Express, Samant said: “I believe the cancel culture mob got me. There was a conscious attempt made to unearth posts made by me in the past. 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.”