Indian students, who were considered bright and smart, known for their intellect, are now getting a new identity – residents of a country with a “rape problem”. Youngsters dreaming of bright future with foreign degrees are not having a smooth ride anymore, with racism against Indians becoming covert and students being stereotyped.
Recent spate of events – India’s Daughter, its subsequent ban – have not only grabbed headlines in the country but have been played up by the international media as well.
The brunt, sadly, is being borne by Indian students living in the US and European countries. Goutham Nandam, who is pursuing MBA from Essen, Germany says, “My college management has allocated a hostel building especially for students of Asian origin. This sort of isolation makes us feel inferior.”
To add insult to injury, this week a German professor refused internship to an Indian male student on grounds that “multi-rape crimes demonstrate the attitude of a society towards women” and that “it is unbelievable that the Indian society is not able to solve this problem for many years now.” The “rape culture” sought the professor’s fancy more than the boy’s academic credentials.
Chris Valentino, a PhD student at Rome agrees that there is a “slight issue of racism which has aggravated further after the Italian marines shot two Kerala fishermen, and telecast of India’s Daughter.” However, glimpses of India can be seen in thriving Yoga centres, bookstores selling ancient Hindu scriptures translated into Italian and Indian women employed as nurses or caregivers in the city.
Nandkishore Talda, who is studying at the University of Sunderland at Newcastle in United Kingdom feels, that he has been lucky to have friends and a work environment where he has not been discriminated for issues that India is being characterised with these days.
Though the German professor came in under lot of heat from all quarters, aspiring students setting sights on the foreign horizon feel the incident was unfortunate and generalisations can not be made.
Jitendra Misra, a content writer who will be heading to Berlin later this year to study visual and media anthropology, says the incident was an exception. “I do believe that the statistics of rape in India are creating a negative image of Indian men in general. However, when it comes to working or researching abroad, Indians have proved to be hardworking, and this certainly counts,” he adds optimistically. Meanwhile, others like Sumit Salve, currently working with Cognizant and aims to pursue Masters in Science abroad, feels that a certain bias should not be generalised. “You can’t generalise because you have a certain image of India in the your mind. The entire populace can’t be judged by what a miniscule of population does. Aspiring students should not get bogged down by such incident. The onus is now on us to change the image of the country,” he says.
City-based finance professional Deepika Shankar, on the other hand feels the negative publicity is likely to affect students coming to India more than their conterparts who plan to move out of the country. “I don’t think high crime rate against women in the country should be a problem for students wanting to study abroad. On the contrary, I feel the influx of students coming to our country will dwindle as they will feel India is not safe,” opines Deepika, who plans to pursue post graduation programme either in the US or UK. While there is consensus that generalisations about Indian men cannot be made, students going abroad do have a fear of being stereotyped.
Jitendra for instance is quite vocal about his fear of being discriminated in a foreign land.
“A big percentage of people are not media literate and they will judge us on the current scenarios of rape in the country, “ he says.
Deepika while agreeing that current scenario of suspicion towards Indians in general and males in particular is a temporary phenomenon. “In Australia, for instance, there have been so many incidents of racial discrimination but that hasn’t stopped people from going there,” she states and adds emphatically that though the fear of being stereotyped is there, but it is not so great that it will stop students from applying to colleges from rejecting their candidature.