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Rashmi Samant Racism Case at Oxford University – India to raise the issue with UK

Rashmi Samant Racism Case at Oxford University – India to raise the issue with UK


  • GS 3 || Polity || Constitutional Framework || Fundamental Rights

Why in the news?

A BJP leader raised the issue concerning Indian-origin Rashmi Samant, the first Indian woman to be elected as the President of Oxford University Students Union, Who stepped down from the post following accusations and cyberbullying regarding her having made racist remarks when she wasn’t even a teenager

Understanding Racism:

What is racism?

  • Separate and exclusive biological entities called “races”; that there is a causal link between inherited physical traits and traits of personality, intellect, morality, and other cultural and behavioral features; and that some races are innately superior to others.
  • The term is also applied to political, economic, or legal institutions and systems that engage in or perpetuate discrimination on the basis of race or otherwise reinforce racial inequalities in wealth and income, education, health care, civil rights, and other areas.
  • One of the worst racist events against any ethnic group situated in Europe to be accurate in Germany beneath the command of Hitler; slaughtering millions of Jews, Gypsies, and Catholics

The Three Levels of Racism:

  • Cultural Level: The cultural level is not a separate theory of racism. It is one of three components of a theory. Its transmission is cultural because it has distinct norms, attitudes, beliefs, and values and is a particular worldview. This transmission of racism is not a theory; it is an empirical fact.
  • Institutional Level: Parks, schools, store entrances, courts, movie theaters, jobs, housing, churches, swimming pools, hospitals, and even cemeteries were racially segregated. Whites had the better facilities; Blacks had the worst. Blacks had to show deference to Whites.
  • Individuals Level: Individual acts of racism constitute the third level of racism. To their credit, activists recognized that for most Whites the motivation of individual acts of racism was not innate.

Types of racism:

  • Implicit Bias and Racism: Implicit racism refers to unconscious biases and attitudes toward those who are perceived to be from other ethnic or racial groups. It is considered implicit because biases and attitudes are often automatic and occur outside awareness
  • Subtle Racism: Subtle racism is considered to be more covert in nature; that is, it is racism in disguise. Additionally, subtle racism is an ambiguous and ill-defined practice,which contributes to its obscurity
  • Explicit Racism: Contrasted with implicit and subtle racism, explicit racism refers to experiences of blatant discrimination and prejudice. Though it was a commonly held belief that the United States. Indeed, this is the level of racism that has received the greatest empirical attention with adolescents.
  • Institutional Racism: Finally, a discussion on racism would not be complete without addressing institutional racism. Institutional racism refers to the merging of history, ideology, policies, and practices that produce and maintain inequalities among ethnic and racial groups.

There are factors of racism:

  • Categories organizing people into particular groups;
  • Segregation: It forms racist preferences, perceptions and beliefs;
  • Fractions: They trigger loyalty and competition in group keeping white and black communities separated (this is based on historical reasons);
  • Hierarchy: It makes people behave, feel and think like a racist;
  • Power: It makes racism legal on micro and macro levels;
  • Passivism: Not noticing or denying racism existence encourages other people to do the same;
  • Media: It tends to idealize white people thus minimizing the colored people.

Reasons for why racism persist today:

  • Sense of insecurity:-insecurity in economy, livelihood , job place, residential place, insecurity for religion, example : the holocaust during world war –ii
  • Social exclusion: – fear of exclusion can stop the sense of developing friendship between two racial group, ex. – rohingya muslim, migrant from Africa in Mediterranean sea.
  • Violation of basic fundamental right: The violation of basic fundamental right aggravates the situation more and when time comes people don’t understand how to handle the situation. ex;- India-Pakistan partition 1947.
  • Past cannot be forgotten: people cannot forget their painful memory, loss of their dear one, ex- Jewish museum- yad vashem.
  • Economic imbalance: economic problems can give birth to so many problems which complicate the situation more. ex; at the time of civil war north USA is a more rich zone as compared to south USA.
  • Regional differences: differences between north India and south India
  • Want to leave in a comfort zone: people think that leaving in a particular group or community is safe for them, so they don’t want to come from their comfort zone.
  • Sense of Insecurity among majority with revolutions Ex: Martin Luther King Jr, led to violence
  • Mahatma Gandhi in India took many steps to eradicate caste based racism and gender based racism varna system in India, Nelson mandela in South Africa also stand against Racism

Legal Measures:

  • Article 17 of the constitution abolished the practice of untouchability and made its practice a punishable offence.
  • The legislations focused on the discrimination and oppression of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. These include:
    • The Untouchability Offences Act of 1955 (renamed to The Protection of Civil Liberties Act) was enacted which provided penalties for preventing a person from entering a place of worship or from taking water from a tank or well.
    • The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.

Future Directions:

  • The primary future directions are twofold
  • First, there is a great need for researchers, educators, practitioners, and policy makers to be aware of the four different types of racism and how they may shape individuals’ experiences.
    • It may be tempting to, for example, note a lack of experiences around explicit racism and then conclude that an adolescent is not adversely impacted by the racial context. Simultaneous attention to all four types of racism can both prevent this potentially false interpretation and deepen our understandings of the complexities of racism.
  • The second recommendation follows from the first: There simply needs to be more research on the different levels of racism, especially among adolescents. As noted, most of the existing research with adolescents focuses on explicit racism.
    • This is obviously important, but there must be attention given to the other levels as well. Social psychologists have extensively studied implicit racism, and counseling and clinical psychologists have studied subtle racism, but neither of these fields tend to include adolescent samples.
    • No area of psychology has been particularly good at conceptualizing and measuring institutional racism, as it falls outside the traditional individual focus of psychology. This needs to change if we want to productively understand how racism at all levels impacts adolescent experiences


People who are discriminated against because of their ancestry face major difficulties in exercising their human rights. These difficulties stem from a number of historical and contemporary legal, social, and structural obstacles and constructs. To counter caste and other mechanisms of hereditary status-based discrimination, we must address the wider social norms, expectations, behaviors, and values that sustain and reinforce biases and stereotypes of hierarchy, as well as the associated forms of superiority and exclusion.

Mains oriented question:

How racism has developed and interacted with capitalism, colonialism, heteropatriarchy, and other systems of oppression across various contexts. Explain. (250 words)