India on Wednesday formally asked the British government to look into alleged incidents of racism against Indian actress Shilpa Shetty and take action against those involved. The actress allegedly received racist slurs from British participants of a television reality show, Big Brother, of which she is a part.
The spokesman of the Ministry of External Affairs, Navtej Sarna, said the British government has been urged to deal with the incident according to their laws.
The Indian High Commission in London has been asked to look into details of the incident and report to MEA headquarters in New Delhi. A spokesman for the British High Commission in New Delhi confirmed that an official from the MEA had called them seeking more information on the incident.
Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, who is visiting India, condemned the incident, the High Commission spokesman said.
Referring to 10,000 complaints having been received from viewers of the show, Brown said, "We want Britain to be seen around the world as a country of fairness and a country of tolerance."
Earlier on Wednesday, an interaction with the media on the forthcoming Satyagraha Conference turned into a question-answer session on the issue of racism in Britain, focused on Shetty’s travails in a television reality show.
Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma, who called the press conference to speak about the centenary celebrations of Mahatma Gandhi’s Satyagraha movement, was hard pressed to respond to repeated queries from media persons about the Bollywood actress.
“India has consistently fought against racism in all its manifestations,” Sharma said. “The Ministry (of External Affairs) has sought details of the incident from our High Commission in Britain,” he said in response to a specific query on alleged racial slurs on Shetty. “We will take appropriate action after getting all the details,” he said, declining to specify what the government would do.
“After all," he said, “India was at the forefront of the international campaign that finally dismantled apartheid in South Africa.”