DELHI India -- It is high
time to take drastic and major steps to stop harassing and
injuring Africans living in India, writes Kul Bhushan
who worked as a newspaper editor in Kenya for three decades;
and he suggests a slew of responses to curb and stop this
inhuman treatment that inflicts massive harm to India and
its African Diaspora.
India has a great deal to lose by mistreating and beating
up Africans who come to study or live in India.
The latest attack on a Young Kenyan woman student on 29
March 2017 and on four Nigerian male students on 27 March
2017 living in Noida, 30 kilometers from New Delhi, have
made breaking news on all TV news channels and front-page
headlines in leading newspapers.
While this news story increases the viewership of TV
channels and newspaper readership to boost their
advertising, it inflicts massive harm to Indo-African
bilateral relations, Indian investment in Africa, and Indian
Diaspora in Africa.
The medium and long term repercussions and massive damage
to India’s goodwill is lost on the angry, racist and violent
Indian goons who assault and injure Africans.
The tragedy is that this is not an isolated incident
resulting in injuries to African inflicted by boorish
Such incidents have been happening in major metros for
years, especially in Delhi.
Sure, they are reported in the media but no lasting
remedial action is devised or implemented.
After some hue and cry, the police hold some meetings,
increase patrolling and it then fades away until the next
The African envoys make strong protests to the Indian
government and the response is worded in diplomatic jargon.
But no sustained campaign is launched in the media, on
the streets or in higher educational institutions to inform,
educate and sensitize local Indians about racial
discrimination and Indo-African cooperation on many fronts
The media hardly ever reports on African affairs, leave
alone African success stories.
The newspapers report only when an Indian company secures
a major contract, starts an investment project or expands
its operations in Africa.
The woes of Africans living in India are compounded
by frequent news items when they are apprehended at
airports with drugs.
Thus, a sustained image of almost all Africans as
drug carriers has frozen in the minds of Indians.
Or they think that African women make money by
selling their bodies.
On this basis, they deal with Africans in their daily
It’s high time that this stereotyped image was
smashed for all time and the fact that thousands of
African students are obtaining higher education in India
and hundreds of African patients are coming to India for
specialized medical treatment is boosted.
If these students are treated with concern and
understanding when they are away from their home in a
complicated society, they will go back as the most effective
ambassadors of India.
Similarly, if the patients and their relatives are
treated with care and sympathy in India, they will go back
as the top promoters for India.
In their racist and brutal reaction to any situation with
Africans, all this never comes to mind.
No thought for the massive Indian investments in Africa,
hundreds of joint ventures, and especially the three million
Indian Diaspora in Africa.
More than 1.2 million Indians live in South Africa;
another 200,000 live in East Africa and smaller numbers in
thousands in many countries.
These Indians can be attacked and injured in revenge,
their shops and factories can be damaged or destroyed and
their goodwill washed away.
At the national level, the Indian government is
making special efforts to woo Africa and obtain the
co-operation of 50-odd African countries for mutual
benefit and as a block for votes in the international
fora like the United Nations.
India has been holding India-Africa Summit with all
African countries since 2008 to promote bilateral
relations in many spheres.
The most recent such meeting in Delhi in 2015 was
attended by almost all heads of African states and Prime
Minister Modi made special efforts to welcome and meet
each one of them.
Co-operation in many fields was proposed and agreed
upon. Investment and export credits were top features.
An annual such meeting carries the economic agenda
further. Indian has mounted a diplomatic outreach to
Africa with visits by its president, vice-president, the
prime minister and ministers to African states.
However, repeated boorish behaviour and violent
assaults wipe out all these goodwill gestures while
seriously damaging India reputation and the fate of the
Indian Diaspora contributing to the development of
So what can be done to retrieve this pathetic situation?
First, the police must crack down on all accused of
racial insults and violence to Africans.
A thorough investigation, a fool proof prosecution and
tough punishment is the primary response by the authorities.
And that’s not enough; the punishment must be reported by
the media as a deterrent to all others.
Second, in addition to pacifying diplomatic statements by
the External Affairs Ministry, other ministries and
organisations must be roped in to launch a strong and
aggressive public campaign to promote racial harmony.
Third, the Ministry of Human Resources should launch a
campaign to inform and educate Indian students in high
schools, universities and higher institutes of learning
about Africa and its importance to India. Africa is still
undiscovered by almost all Indians.
All they know about Africa are the cricket teams from
South Africa and Zimbabwe!
Four, in addition to offering higher education and
medical treatment for Africans, India should urgently
establish branches of its universities and specialist
hospitals at least in east, west, central and South Africa.