Safety remains a concern

Safety remains  a concern

Bengalureans were left flabbergasted when they heard about the attack on the Tanzanian student in the City recently. Known to be a more tolerant place compared to most cities in the country, Bengaluru saw many speaking of the assault as a racist one, while others point out that it was circumstantial. While the flow of events may lead to varied conclusions, foreign students who have made Bengaluru their home are concerned. They voice their concerns and share their experiences in the City.

Marvin Ampaire, a fourth-semester MBA student of Koshys Institute of Management Studies, who is from Uganda, says that the whole episode came as a shock to him. “Back home, we have immense respect for foreigners. We make it a point to see that they are safe and protected under the law. If something unfortunate happens, we make sure that appropriate action is taken at the earliest.” He adds that the law in Uganda treats foreigners exactly like its residents.

He has noticed resistance from people in the City towards foreign students. “I have experienced such an incident too — I was on a bike, on a chore, when some people hit me on the back as I rode by. Since then, I always think twice before I take my bike and prefer taking the bus.”

He adds that since there is differentiation between people from different classes here, this is expected. “This will hamper the growth of the society.” Marvin adds that despite this, he has had a relatively comfortable stay here and always tries to gel with people around.

There is discrimination in even services like healthcare, laments Suzanne Nasaka, a second-year student from T John College, who hails from the Democratic Republic of Congo. She has noticed that she is charged much more at clinics and even at provision stores. “Things are always rated higher for foreigners. Everything should be same for everyone as it just doesn’t make sense otherwise,” she states.

Other students like Muhammed Ahmed, a MSc Bio-Tech student of The Oxford College of Science, says that in all their actions, foreign students need to remember that they are not in their home country.

 “Since not all cultures are similar, what one might be able to do freely in their home country could get them in trouble elsewhere. Often foreign students come here and do whatever they please.” He says that though the country and the City have been welcoming, one needs to adjust accordingly.

About the attack, he says, “Whatever the reason maybe, it was disturbing to see mature people act this way. Also it is alarming to know that people felt the need to take law in their own hands.” But Muhammed believes that the incident occurred due to some residual anger as a result of which the mob just jumped to action. He says, “Everyone isn’t the same. Just like there is a misconception about students from Africa being involved in illicit activities, not all localites are intolerant. It is sad that some of them turn out to be bad pods, but not everyone should be seen through the same eye.”

Some students have even faced hostility in their own classrooms, like Nigerian national Aishatu Aje, a fashion degree student. She says, “Though my stay has been smooth, I have seen our teachers treat me and other foreign students differently. There are even some batchmates who look at us through a judgemental eye.”

Considering the assault on the Tanzanian student as an act of racism, Aishatu says that the police and people need to be more sensitive. “A clear identification of the root cause of an issue is needed, more than judging everyone of a particular colour or caste, according to one act,” she says.

There are others like Gethma Senadheera, from Sri Lanka, another fashion student in the City, who feels that there are many who have a hostile attitude towards foreigners. She says, “I have faced instances where autorickshaw drivers and even bus conductors have been very rude when I haven’t given them the exact fare. Not all people are polite here and often they are not respectful towards women. The change has to come from within.

They have to know that when people from outside choose to come to the City, this adds to the economy too.” Gethma adds that laws need to be more stringent here. “With respect to this specific case and similar ones, the police needs to do their best to hear all sides of the story, before reaching their own conclusions.”

Ramired Sorasit from Thailand, a BCA fourth-semester student from Baldwin’s Methodist College, says that when they are in a different country, they are expected to adjust.

 “However, the culture is very different. I found it annoying that I was often stared at, when out on the streets. I don’t know if it is the way I talk or the way I dress, but it can be awkward. Then again, back home when foreigners visit, our people also get curious about them,” she narrates. She quickly adds, “Apart from this, I love the City.”

Her friend, Abis, also from Thailand, says that her eight years in Bengaluru have been peaceful.

“Earlier when I used to travel in autorickshaws, it would get very troublesome due to regular arguments with the driver. They can be really tough with foreigners. But now things are smooth.” She says that she is lucky that she’s never had to face any disturbing episodes till now.

Watch the video on: www.deccanherald.com http://goo.gl/xg5ZMY

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