India has strong ties with UK, will take up Britain racism issue when required: Jaishankar

Asserting that India is the land of Mahatma Gandhi and it can never turn its eyes away from racism, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Monday said that the government will take up matters related to racism in Britain “with great candour when required.”

Jaishankar was responding to concerns raised by a BJP MP in Rajya Sabha Ashwini Vaishnaw over racism that forced Indian-origin Rashmi Samant to resign as president of the Oxford University Students Union..

Responding to the concerns, Jaishankar said: “I note the sentiments of the House”.

“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,” he added.

Vaishnaw, who is a BJP MP from Odisha, expressed “shared global concerns about racism”. He stated that there “appears to be a continuation of attitudes and prejudices from the colonial area especially in the United Kingdom”.

He alleged that Rashmi Samant, a student from Karnataka and former president-elect of Oxford University Student Union, was “cyberbullied to the point that she had to resign (from the post).” “Even the Hindu religious beliefs of her parents were publicly attacked by a faculty member,” he said.

Vaishnaw also referred to Prince Harry’s wife Meghan Markle’s accusations of racism concerning UK royals. “A behaviour of a society is actually a reflection of its beliefs and value system. If such practices of racial discrimination are followed at the highest level in society what would be the following at the lower levels,” he asked.

Stressing that the two instances were not isolated, he said the treatment of migrants and their “segregation in the UK on a racial basis is very well known all over the world”.

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