#OxfordUniversity racism row: India to raise the issue when required
Weighing in on the Oxford University racism row, External Affairs Minister, S Jaishankar, on Monday said India will take up the matter with the UK when required. He was responding to BJP MP Ashwini Vaishnaw's query in the Parliament. Vaishnaw raised the issue of Indian-origin student Rashmi Samant resigning as the University's student union president over the racism controversy surrounding her social media posts.
Vaishnaw raised concerns that racism and cyberbullying forced Samant to step down as the President of the Oxford University Student Union last month just days after being elected. "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 UK (sic)," he said.
Vaishnaw pointed out that Samant was the first Indian woman to be elected the President of the Oxford University Student Union. "She overcame all the challenges to become the first Indian woman president of Oxford University student's union. What treatment was meted out to her? Shouldn't this diversity be celebrated? Instead, she was cyberbullied to the point that she had to resign," he said
After Vaishnaw raised Samant's issue in the Rajya Sabha, 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 have strong ties with the UK. We will take up such matters with great candor when required," the Minister added.
"We will monitor these developments very, very closely," Jaishankar said, responding to Vaishnaw, who is a BJP Rajya Sabha member from Odisha. "We will raise it when required and we will always champion the fight against racism and other forms of intolerance," he added.
A 22-year-old student from Karnataka's Udupi, Samant became the Oxford University Student Union's first Indian woman President on February 11. But she had to quit within a week after facing backlash over some of her old social media posts deemed "racist" and "insensitive". She was criticized over her past posts on the Holocaust as well as insensitive and ignorant posts on the transgender community.
After facing criticism, Samant apologized for her past social media posts—including some dating back to 2017—in an open letter. However, she later announced her resignation on Facebook as she continued to face severe backlash. "In light of the recent events, I believe it is best for me to step down from the role. It has been an honor to be your President-elect," she stated.