The racial trouble in Indo-African relations


Francis A. Kornegay, Jr.

The time when India under the fellowship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is upscaling its African diplomacy, but the fact that the country has a deep-seated race problem to confront, would complicate New Delhi’s African agenda.

The attack on an African student in Bangalore from Tanzania which was inspired by a fatal car accident also involved a Sudanese national followed the murder of a student from Burundi in Punjab and an AAP minister in Delhi leading a mob attack in New Delhi on Nigerian and Ugandan women in 2014. All of these are on top of the attacks that have occurred in metropolitan areas on India’s own racial minorities from its north-east region.

Indo-Aryanism and social realities

At the risk of being presumptuous – I am a race-conscious African-American in race-conscious South Africa – let me say this: in India discussing issues related to racism doesn’t seem comfortable. Ashwin Desai and Goolam Vahed, co-authored a provocative book, The South African Gandhi: Stretcher-Bearer of Empire.

Giving more tolerant traditions in its south with its darker hues and Dravidian heritage, there is, more to India than ‘Indo-Aryanism’. Out of these, there are a plenty in the global north and south alike: poverty and marginalisation of the poor, ‘the left behind,’ the unemployed and unemployable, the uneducated, those fearing their identities threatened – men especially – by loss of status brought on by little understood rapid socio-economic and cultural changes absent appropriate developmental outlets for channeling pent-up tensions from unrequited yearnings likely to never be met.

India’s domestic baggage

Combining with the impunity of culture, there is little or no enforcement of protections for the vulnerable – and it takes little in putting a match to the dry tinder of manifold animosities waiting to explode. Neither does it take much in this brave new world of global integration where different people are thrown together for the innocently unsuspecting to wander into dark corners of life-threatening rage fuelled by uncontrollable grassroots emotions, whatever the spark that may alight them.

To place a broader perspective to what India, as an emerging power is doing, this background is also necessary.  The cases of horrendous violence against women, minorities and foreigners expose intractably combustible contradictions in an ancient civilisational culture under strain as external and internal forces of change test leadership and governing capacities to manage such challenges.(Source-The wire)(image-newsminute)