- Nigerians in Delhi appear to have adopted self-disciplining as the only form of protection from public violence
- The general attitude of the public towards people from various African countries has shifted from tolerance to assimilation
- It is unlikely that the Africans who come to India are here by choice
A crammed urban village in South Delhi, Rajpur Khurda, has become the home for about a thousand men and women from African countries. A week after Congolese national, Masonda Ketada Olivier was beaten to death in neighboring Vasant Kunj, four cases of attacks on African nationals were reported from the twin villages of Rajpur Khurd and Maidan Garhi.
In response to these attacks, the members of an association of Nigerians in Delhi discussed ways to “understand and assimilate into what they call ‘the Indian way of life’ so that they can live harmoniously with the locals”. As part of this, the association has decided to impose fines of Rs 1,000 on people from the community found to be wearing “inappropriate” clothes that includes shorts and singlets.
Nigerians in Delhi appear to have adopted self-disciplining as the only form of protection from public violence. They have even come to an understanding that if they are beaten up by the locals for being Nigerian, Indian law is not likely to favour them. The perception that Indian law, or, rather, its administrators, harbour anti-African sentiments is a damning statement about its impartiality which we hold dear. It appears as if we are administering different rules for Africans and Indians.
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The general attitude of the public towards people from various African countries has shifted from tolerance to assimilation.
We tolerate those who have discarded their cultural identity and tend to be as far away from anything Indian. Yet we criticize and abuse foreigners asking them to be more like us. Hypocrisy is at play here. To prove our cultural superiority, we seek to run the citizens of other countries down to the ground. We tend to discriminate on the basis of nationality, culture, sex and even color. A Nigerian resident of Delhi said to an online news portal, “People need to understand, that I have not chosen my skin color, God has made me what I am.”
Talking about “the lack of English-speaking people in the village”, Mariamo , a Cameroon national points to her pink tights and a fitted tank top, and adds, “People here are extremely racist. Look how I am dressed now, is there a problem? I don’t understand what the men say about me, but I am not a fool, their expression says it all.”
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It is unlikely that the Africans who come to India are here by choice or that if given the choice; they would not prefer to be settled in the West.
Ethnic and religious minorities are frequently left with no choice but to make entirely unreasonable concessions for their safety and survival. Yet, as far as we are concerned, for Africans in India, this appears to be a good enough solution. It is an opinion so frequently expressed – and by so many – that their despair has, unsurprisingly, turned into self-policing.
We need to be accepting and tolerant not because of India’s geo-political interests or how it would affect India’s chances of a seat on the United Nations Security Council but because it is the right thing to do. (source: Scroll.In)
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