With March 21 being observed as International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination each year, HT City talks to students from other countries and states who are studying in Punjab and Punjabis studying abroad, on whether they have faced discrimination.
International students love India, some feel threatened outside campus India is like a second home for Odigi Stanley from Nigeria, who is studying in Punjab College of Technical Education in Ludhiana. “I have been here for over 18 months have never come across or faced any sort of racial discrimination. Everyone is warm, kind and ready to help,” he said.
Princia Nganga and Lisa Samba from Republic of the Congo, said, “Our classmates take us to their homes, villages and traditional fairs where we have been introduced to the country’s rich culture. No one treats us like a stranger.”
Hayden Mesim from Papua New Guinea said, “I am in love with India not just because of its rich and varied culture but also because people here happily accept those from other countries. With the world becoming cosmopolitan, there little room is left for racial issues.”
“My Punjabi friends are helping me to learn Punjabi and it feels more like a family affair to be here,” said Abebe Yirga, from Ethiopia, who is had come to Punjabi University, Patiala, last year to pursue masters in social work.
Evidence Machanga from Zimbabwe, another student of the Punjabi University, has been in India since 2013. “Having travelled across the country since my, I have never been discriminated against. Rather smiling faces greet me everywhere and some people try to help even if they do not know English. I love India’s culture,” said Machanga.
Anuj and Ranjeet Kumar, natives of Nepal, who are pursuing MBA at Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU) in Amritsar, said, “We never felt away from home because of the helpful attitude of our classmates and professors. No one has ever made us feel inferior. People rather praise Nepal’s natural beauty.”
Amarjit Sidhu, GNDU’s welfare dean, feels these students love Punjabi food, culture and music. “Some of them have toured across the country and have plans to invite their families soon,” he said. However, some students have different experiences to share.
Indian students abroad have a mixed feeling
Nimrata Shergill, a high-court lawyer in Chandigarh who had pursued her masters in law from London, said, “People from across the world are settled in London. The natives there are used to seeing people from other countries which is what I loved about them.”
Harman Badesha from Jagraon, who is studying project management in Toronto, said, “Canada is highly multicultural. My professors and classmates have always been very kind and helpful just like the people on the street.”
But few students studying overseas beg to differ. Shubhdeep Singh from Bathinda, who is currently studying in Surrey, Canada, opined that it is not Canadians but Indians born or settled there who are racist.
Parneet Kahlon, a Jalandhar girl studying MBA in Kamloops, Canada, feels that skin colour is given preference over merit when it comes to getting jobs in Canada.
With inputs from Neha Arora