‘India will take up such matters with great candour when required’ EAM Jaishankar on Oxford student union row
He was speaking in the Rajya Sabha about Rashmi Samant, who resigned as the Oxford University's student union president last month
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar told the Rajya Sabha that India will raise issues related to racism with the United Kingdom when required. He also made it clear that "we can never ever turn our eyes away from racism.”
The EAM was responding to an issue raised over Rashmi Samant, the Indian student who 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”.
“As 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,” Jaishankar said.
“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 replied in the Rajya Sabha
Ashwini Vaishnav, a BJP Rajya Sabha member from Odisha, drew the Foreign Minister’s attention towards the incident in the UK saying, “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”
The BJP MP said Rashmi Samant was the first Indian woman to be elected as the president of the university’s student's body.
“Her diversity should have been celebrated but instead of that she was cyber bullied to the point that she had to resign and even the Hindu religious beliefs of her parents were publicly attacked by a faculty member and that also went unpunished. If this is the kind of treatment that happens at the highest institute like Oxford what is the message that goes out to the world?” Ashwini Vaishnav said.
Soon after her election to the Oxford student union, Rashmi Samant, who is from Karnataka's Udupi, was criticised for some of her social media posts. These included a holocaust reference on a post during a visit to the Berlin Holocaust Memorial in Germany in 2017 and an Instagram caption on a picture of herself in Malaysia that read “Ching Chang”, which upset Chinese students.
She was also criticised for a campaign post caption that separated women and trans women, with the Oxford LGBTQ+ campaign calling for her resignation.