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Indians feeling the heat in the US; MEA not seen taking any solid steps
Rohit Chandavarkar | Monday, 6 March 2017 AT 09:37 PM IST
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Suddenly for Indians, the ‘American dream’ seems to be running out of steam! Many international news publications are now reporting that there is an unprecedented level of fear and insecurity among Indians living in the United States (US). Many Indians living in the US have experienced financial insecurity earlier during the dot-com bust and the 2008-09 recession but now there is an atmosphere of physical insecurity which was unheard of till now.

Almost every third household in the affluent areas of booming Indian cities like Pune or Hyderabad has a family member or relative living in the US. Speak to any youngster in some of the top colleges of these cities and chances are that they would express the desire to go to the US for higher studies. Since the last few decades, urban Indian youths have looked at the United States with huge aspiration level but since last few weeks, the question on everybody’s mind is whether all this is about to change in Turmp’s America? The Indian community living in the United States is shocked after successive incidents of violence against people of Indian origin in America. In most cases, the attackers have been heard shouting “get out of my country”! The latest Seattle area shooting in which a Sikh person got injured follows the week old attack on two Indian computer engineers - Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani - in a Kansas bar that left one dead and was condemned by President Trump as an act of hate about a week later. On Thursday, a convenience store owner was fatally shot in South Carolina. An investigation is ongoing, but authorities said they have not seen evidence of a hate crime. The attacks have prompted some in India seeking to visit, study or work in the United States to cancel or change their plans.The situation seems quite serious and in many ways unprecedented. But India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has issued a standard and usual “We are watching the situation” kind of a reply to it. India’s Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar went to the USA and media is being told that he held talks with US authorities. But the incidents require a much bigger reaction from the MEA as well as the government of India. This is going to require a lot better response than just ‘watching’. Indian MEA has to start getting into a dialogue with the Americans to prevent or at least control race-related violence.  

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) shot an excellent documentary travelling across several states of America’s heartland just after Trump’s victory was confirmed and some startling revelations emerged. The level of anger among the unemployed American people and even workers against migrants was seen to be very high. Trump’s victory was mainly attributed to the class of Americans living in heartland states where the economy has been in doldrums and job losses have been immense. The documentary clearly shows how Indians apart from Mexicans are now seen as the ‘outsiders who took away jobs from us’. The anger is now getting vented out against people of Indian origin.

As it is, there is a huge debate on about gun control laws in the United States. Every day, 91 people get killed in gun related uncontrolled violence in the country. In schools, universities and malls, there have been a number of mass killing incidents and now to add to it there is racial violence. Should India issue a travel warning like the western countries do when they sense danger for their citizens in any country around the world? A travel warning, if issued by the Indian government, would not be unprecedented. Several countries - including France, Germany and the United Arab Emirates - have issued advisories in recent months urging caution for travellers to the US over gun violence, police shootings and anti-Muslim attitudes. The solution may be in starting a dialogue with the federal government and put pressure on state authorities in the US who control law and order in various parts of the country to build awareness and prevent attacks.



UNPRECEDENTED SITUATION
The situation seems quite serious and in many ways unprecedented. But India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has issued a standard and usual “We are watching the situation” kind of a reply to it. India’s Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar went to the USA and media is being told that he held some talks with US authorities on violence as well as H1B visas. But the incidents require a much bigger reaction from the MEA as well as the government of India. This is going to require a lot better response than just ‘watching’. Indian MEA has to start getting into a dialogue with the Americans to prevent or at least control race-related violence.  

TRAIL OF HATE CRIMES
March 3, 2017: 39-year-old Deep Rai was shot at by an unidentified person outside his home in Washington state. The attacker reportedly shouted "Go back to your own country" before opening fire at Rai
March 2, 2017: Harnish Patel, a 43-year-old Indian-origin store owner in South Carolina, US, was shot dead outside his home.
February 23, 2017: An Indian-origin girl was racially abused on a train by an African-American man in New York
February  22, 2017: Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32, an engineer from Hyderabad, was with his friend at a bar in Kansas when a man allegedly yelled "get out of my country" before shooting at them. Kuchibhotla was killed, while his friend, Alok Madasani, survived.
February 13, 2017: Mamidala Vamsi Reddy, a 27-year-old student from Warangal district of Telangana was shot dead near his apartment in California.
December 21, 2016: Aravinda Pillalamarri, an Indian-American woman who has lived in the US for more than 30 years, was walking in her neighbourhood in Maryland when she was stopped and asked about her immigration status.
November 8, 2016: Gurnoor Singh Nahal, a 17-year-old Indian-origin Sikh boy shot dead when he was returning home from work. The incident took place at his home in his garage on Kandinsky Way in California.
— Compiled by Ratnakar Detke, ST Library

- ROHIT CHANDAVARKAR
 
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