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Demons, Drug Dealers and Prostitutes: Do Indians look down on Africans?

Through posters and slogans, African students have expressed their feelings on how the country is mistreating them

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  • Zaharaddeen Muhammed shares his sadness that not once has he been invited to an Indian’s home or has someone visited him
  • when Africans offer money, shopkeepers often check the money to determine whether it is a fake
  • AINSCA 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

Holding handwritten posters and shouting slogans, the African students have expressed their feelings on how the country has treated them.  Even after adopting the ‘Indian way of life’ and following the social norms, they are unable to fit in the society or to be exact, racism has blinded the people of India.

Zaharaddeen Muhammed, 27, a student of Noida International University said to Al Jazeera, “People often look at me as if I am different, and hard to be trusted,” the tall, softly spoken student explains. “I try to be friendly. I speak Hindi and always laugh. But when I offer biscuits to the neighbors’ children, they don’t accept.”

He said that his failure to interact with Indian people and learn their culture has made him doubt his decision to swap his university in Nigeria for a two-year master’s degree programme in chemistry at Noida International University. The daily derogatory comments, the questions about personal hygiene, the unsolicited touching of his hair and the endless staring don’t hurt him as much as the fact that he can’t interact with the people of the land. Being a big fan of Bollywood, he shares his sadness that not once has he been invited to an Indian’s home or has someone visited him.

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“My landlord is an extremely good person,” Zaharaddeen said to Al Jazeera. He points out that not all Indians have treated him badly and he doesn’t want to generalize. He further adds, “That would be a huge mistake. Because it is Indians often generalizing about all people from Africa that makes us feel unsafe.”

Zaharaddeen Muhammed, a master’s degree student from Nigeria living in India, speaks at the Africa-India Solidarity Forum in New Delhi Image Source: Aletta Andre/Al Jazeera

The attack on the female student from Tanzania earlier this year, in 2016, where she was beaten and stripped in Bangalore by an angry mob, in response to a fatal accident caused by a Sudanese student unknown to her had caused large gatherings and protests. Zaharaddeen shares his concern that it could have been him instead of her who was beaten for no fault.

He feels that some progress had been made after several community meetings with residents from African countries and their Indian neighbors and landlords.

Another student tells Al Jazeera that the people have been rude by showing their distrust and by treating them in an unfair manner. The shopkeepers often check the money to determine whether it is a fake and the landlords eagerly look for faults so that she can be drived out of the home.

Ibrahim Djiji Adam, a 25-year-old business student from Libya says that he has learned Hindi and even “dated an Indian girl”. This is how he says he realized that many Indians are racist among themselves.”We are often seen as demons, drug dealers or prostitutes,” Ibrahim said.

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The All India Nigeria Students and Community Association had decided to impose fines of Rs 1,000 on people from the community found to be wearing “inappropriate” clothes that includes shorts and singlets. They have changed their lifestyle to suit the given circumstances.

The Al Jazeera report also says that, Zaharaddeen does not drink or smoke, and has adjusted his lifestyle. He has classes from 10am to 4pm, eats lunch on campus, usually with other international students, and goes home afterwards with no contact with the outside world.

Though he is happy that so many people care about their welfare, Zaharaddeen says that he would not recommend a good friend from Nigeria to pursue their higher education in India as the purpose of learning another culture is not served.

-This report is compiled by a staff-writer at NewsGram.

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  • Aparna Gupta

    Its totally unfair to treat them in unfriendly manner. Indians are known for their humble nature but this act disapproves it.

  • Vrushali Mahajan

    Racism is not only a crime, but it hurts the feelings of people! This is nothing but being shallow about one’s identity

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Twitter Takes Multiple Steps To Curb Misinformation Before Elections in India

More than 80 per cent of the Twitter accounts linked to spread of disinformation

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Twitter, tweets, India
The Twitter logo appears on a phone post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.. VOA

Twitter is taking “multi-variable” steps, including the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools, to curb the spread of misleading information on its platform ahead of 2019 general election in India, Co-Founder and CEO Jack Dorsey said here on Monday.

Addressing a Town Hall-style meeting at the Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi (IIT-D), Dorsey said fake news is a way too big category.

“The real problem is not misinformation per se as jokes can also be categorised as misinfomation. But misinformation that is spread with the intent to mislead people is a real problem,” stressed the Twitter CEO who is in India on a week-long maiden visit.

Dorsey, who got a rousing reception at IIT-D with the students wildly cheering the young entrepreneur, likened solving the problem of misleading information to that of addressing a security issue, or building a lock.

Twitter, India
Twitter Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey testifies before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on foreign influence operations and their use of social media on Capitol Hill. VOA

“No one can build a perfect lock, but we need to stay ahead of our attackers. AI could probably help,” Dorsey told the audience.

Earlier in the day, the Twitter CEO met Congress President Rahul Gandhi and discussed various steps the social network was taking to curb the spread of fake news and boost healthy conversation on its platform.

Dorsey also met Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama over the weekend. He was also expected to meet Union IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad in the wake of the growing criticism over Twitter’s role in the spread of misinformation and fake news as India faces Assembly polls in five states in November-December ahead of next year’s general elections.

Twitter, India
Twitter on a smartphone device. Pixabay

Twitter, along with other social media platforms, including Facebook, came under intense scrutiny of policymakers in the US for their failure to stop the spread of misinformation by Russia-linked accounts on their platforms during the 2016 Presidential election.

The micro-blogging site since then has stepped up its efforts to curb the spread of divisive messages and fake news on its platform.

To further protect the integrity of elections, Twitter recently announced that it would now delete fake accounts engaged in a variety of emergent, malicious behaviour.

India, elections
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi gestures as he addresses the gathering during the ‘Global Mobility Summit’ in New Delhi, India, VOA

As part of the new rules, accounts that deliberately mimic or are intended to replace accounts that were previously suspended for violating rules may be identified as fake accounts, Twitter said recently.

Also Read: Twitter Giving Its Users More Freedom to Report Fake, Suspicious Accounts

However, according to a Knight Foundation study released in October, more than 80 per cent of the Twitter accounts linked to spread of disinformation during the 2016 US election are still active. (IANS)