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Colour is only skin-deep

Colour is only skin-deep
Was the recent beating of three African students at the Rajiv Chowk metro station just a stray incident? I think not. In four years of living in Delhi, it has become quite clear to me that the national capital, instead of celebrating its diverse population, takes pleasure in intolerance. Be it a Muslim, Dalit, or a foreigner, the city is most unkind to people trying to find an accommodation, resulting in the formation of community ghettos.

New Delhi is not new to racism either. The ruckus at the metro station on 28 September is not the first time a mob went hostile on Africans, and unfortunately it won’t be the last. But what triggers such an aggressive behaviour?

A young woman from The Gambia who was studying at Sharda university in Greater Noida had once narrated to me her experience while travelling in a public bus. She was sitting in a seat marked for ladies' when an Indian woman approached her and asked her to give up her seat, she said.

The student was bold enough to point out that she had an equal right to the reserved seat as the other woman. She also narrated other incidents of people making a loud noise near her to try and scare her.

Recently, while travelling in a DTC bus I witnessed the prejudice towards African people. Two African men were sitting in seats designated for senior citizens, as were two Indian men right behind them. But on seeing an elderly man, the Indians were too quick to ask the African men to vacate their seats for him.

A few years ago when I was travelling in Egypt, an Indian tourist was ripped off by a native salesman in the Giza plateau near Cairo. When the tourist complained to a policeman, the first thing he did was to take out money from his own wallet and give it to the tourist before bringing the salesman to book.

The Egyptian people know the value of tourism very well and everywhere we went, irrespective of our nationality, we were treated with utmost respect. Their hospitality impressed me so much that even years later, I can’t but praise them. Can we not learn to be as friendly and cooperative? Indians have migrated to countries all over the world.  Even Africa has a sizeable Indian population. If they have been so tolerant towards us and have accepted the Indian diaspora, what is stopping us from doing the same?

By arrangement with Governance Now
Puja Bhattacharjee

Puja Bhattacharjee

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