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Increasing hate crimes against Indian diaspora a serious cause of concern for government: MEA

MEA spokesperson says that Government is taking up the issue of safety of Indian diaspora very seriously

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indian diaspora
A memorial for a hate crime victim; (representational Image) Source: Wikimedia
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New Delhi, Mar 14, 2017: Srinivas Kuchibhotla, an Indian engineer was killed in a hate attack in Kansas on February 22. India raised this with the US authorities on very strong terms, as reported by a top official to Zee News. The MEA official further said that the safety of Indian diaspora and Indians is a matter of serious concern for the Indian government.

The issue was majorly raised in the Parliament, following which Rajnath Singh, Union Home Minister assured the House of the People that the Government is taking this issue very seriously. Gopal Baglay, spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs said that Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar was conveyed by US officials during his talks in Washington that the attack on Kuchibhotla and another Indian in the February 22 incident was an “individual case”.

The number of graves increases as hate crimes rise; Source: VOA

The Indian Consulate reached out to the families of Alok Madasani and Kuchibhotla, who were injured in the shooting in a Kansan pub on 22nd February, also offering support to the family of Deep Rai, a sikh and an American Citizen, injured in a hate attack in Kent last week, said Baglay.

“You would have also seen the response of the US authorities, beginning with President Trump who referred to the Kansas incident in his address to the Congress. The US Embassy had put out a press release condemning the Kansas killing. Speaker of the House has also condemned it,” said the spokesperson, pointing out the wide ranging condemnation of such crimes within the US.

“This point has also been highlighted by various prominent US dignitaries that such crimes do not represent the views of the vast majority in that country. In fact, several senior US dignitaries have explicitly mentioned in the recent days that Indians are welcome in the United States,” he added.

“Given the high priority the Government attaches to the security and wellbeing of Indians and persons of Indian origin abroad, we will continue to remain strongly engaged with the concerned authorities wherever required.”

A memorial for a hate crime victim; Source: Wikimedia

Baglay also said that the Kansas Government has offered to provide support the Kuchibhotla’s family and has welcomed Indians to the State.

Referring to Governor of Kansas, Sam Brownback’s letter, he said, “there is a sense of regret at the unfortunate shooting, commitment to prosecute the matter, support to the family of the deceased, and recognition of the qualities and contribution of Srinivas to Kansas.”

Sam Brownback wrote a letter to Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India expressing regret over the violence against Indians.

Harnish Patel, another Indian was killed 10 days ago in South Carolina. However, the killing was not identified as a hate crime.

-Prepared by Nikita Saraf, Twitter: @niki_saraf

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Copyright 2017 NewsGram

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Why should we talk about Race?

Dr Kumar Mahabir, an anthropologist, brings out the topic of discrimination

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Race has always been a big deal whenever its been spoken about around the globe.
Race has always been a big deal whenever its been spoken about around the globe. Pic by Dr. Munish Raizada taken at the Race exhibition at Chicago History Museum. November 2017
-By Dr Kumar Mahabir
Even academics like me who often view certain topics through the lens of race sometimes
receive negative attention and judgement. Some people feel that speaking or writing
rationally about race is counter-productive and even racist.
Indo-Caribbean people (Indians), in particular, tend to receive condemnation when they
examine topics on the basis of race. Indian victims are often criticised for reporting
discrimination.
On the other hand, Afro-Caribbeans (Africans) receive either indifference or praise when they discuss race. For example, the following comment by a black calypsonian, published in a Trinidad national newspaper, drew praises: “In the midst of black consciousness in the 1970s, Bro Superior told black people ‘No matter where yuh born, Yuh still African’” (Guardian Nov 12, 2017).
Discussing race objectively with empirical data and statistical evidence is not racist. Racism
is the belief that another race of people is inferior. This attitude results in discrimination,
antagonism and domination individually, politically, economically and otherwise.
Race, ethnicity, class, sex, religion, nationality, geography, etc. are valid, legitimate and
appropriate social categories of difference in examining historical and contemporary issues.
Why should someone who talks objectively about race be criticised as a racist? Should we
also condemn someone who uses sex as a mode of inquiry as being sexist? To do so would be ignorant, biased and unfair.
In a recent public broadcast, the Prime Minister of multi-racial Trinidad and Tobago (T&T)
advised some citizens “not to see race in everything we do” (Express Sept 22, 2017). This ill- informed statement was made in relation to the mixed responses he received when he
appealed to citizens to open their homes to displaced Dominican refugees who were devastated by Hurricane Maria.
On the contrary, people should be encouraged to “see race” as well as sex (gender), class, nationality, geography and types of social identity. Studying race can reveal differences in the form of disparities, disadvantages, inequalities, power and privilege which have structured human life in the past and present. To overlook race would be to ignore the elephant in the room.
Criminologist and social psychologist Dr Ramesh Deosaran wrote a book entitled Inequality,
Crime & Education in Trinidad and Tobago: Removing the Masks (2016). He found that there was a toxic relationship among race, class, gender, family and geography, resulting in African students performing the worst in the education system.
Deosaran wrote: “Wittingly or unwittingly, the education system, to a large extent, becomes a racially segregated system. And with academic achievement also stratified by race” (page 163). His data showed that while 47% of African students went to university three years after secondary school, as much as 72% of Indians did so, and 49% of the Mixed group also attended.
Prospective students of Whitman College in the USA are encouraged to enrol in its Race and Ethnic Studies programme. They are told that “ideas about race and ethnicity have been central at many points in world history and remain salient today, whether we talk about ethnic pride or ethnic cleansing, about multicultural diversity or racial discrimination.”
Race and ethnicity are often used interchangeably. However, race refers to biological features (bone structure, facial features, hair texture, skin colour, etc.) and ethnicity denotes cultural traits (history, customs, religion, family-type, values, music, food, etc.).
In the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) CSEC Social Studies syllabus, Section A
(Individual, Family and Society) comprises of a content section that explains characteristics
of the population. These characteristics include age, sex, occupation, religion and ethnicity. In the CXC CAPE Sociology syllabus under Unit 1, Module 3, Social Stratification is
conceptualised according to status mobility, gender, class, colour, caste, race and ethnicity.
The topic of race and ethnicity is studied not only in sociology but also in history,
anthropology, cultural studies, visual culture, media, literature, communication, law, health,
human rights, gender, political science, economics, geography, public policy, international
relations, social psychology, etc.
In a research paper entitled “Understanding race and crime in Trinidad and Tobago,”
criminologist Dr Randy Seepersad (2017) found that most of the murderers, victims, accused and prisoners are Africans. His disaggregated data demonstrated that most of the violent crimes are committed by blacks against blacks.
In 2011, former National Security Minister John Sandy said, “We must recognise that it is
people looking like me who are being murdered, mothers like my mother, God rest her soul, who are out there weeping more than any other race” (Express Sep 3, 2011).
Race has always been a major factor in voting in all general elections in T&T. This form of
ethnic polarisation has been well documented by pollsters such as SARA, NACTA, ANSA
McAl and H.H.B. & Associates Ltd. Most Africans and Mixed persons support the PNM
while most Indians vote for the PP/UNC.
 
Dr. Kumar Mahabir is an anthropologist who has published 11 books. He lives in Trinidad.